Hostess Gifts That Will Get You Invited Back

It's that time of year again… when sometimes all you can manage is picking up a tub of pasta at the deli before dashing off to another holiday party. But with a little bit of thought, you can give a hostess gift that goes beyond the bottle of wine - and doesn't require a last-minute stop at the store. Our entertaining experts share their best suggestions.



1. Give something that's useful and that has personality
. "If they have dogs, a doggie treat. If they have kids, something for them. If they are gardeners, a cool tool for the garden," says lighting designer Greg Yale.
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2. Choose a specialty item,
one the host may not buy for themselves. For example, if the host enjoys cooking, give a bottle of infused olive oil. Denise Gee, author of Porch Parties, recommends flavors like Meyer lemon, white truffle, and rosemary.
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3. Splurge on packaging.
No matter the present or budget, it will look and feel much more special if it's beautiful wrapped. "For me, it's all about the packaging. I like to do a trio of candles nestled inside a beautiful hatbox with a big, bright bow," says party planner David Tutera. Tip: Stock up on beautiful ribbons when they go on sale after the holidays.
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4. Try a bottle of champagne instead of wine.
It always puts everyone in a festive mood. Designer Nathan Turner loves to share Laurent-Perrier rosé with his friends.
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5. Be creative in how you give.
If attending a holiday party hosted by close friends or family, whom you also want to give a Christmas present to, a fun idea is a Flip video camera. Jes Gordon, event planner and author of Party Like a Rock Star says, "Take a Flip video camera and film the party, then leave it behind. They get a great gadget and a record of the evening."
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6. Give something that's surprising
. Try a box of Côté Bastide's Pamplemousse potpourri. Definitely not your grandmother's bowl of dusty, dried flower petals, this looks more like a collection of tiny gemstones, and is sure to dazzle, explains the owner of J. Design Antiques Garden in Oldwick, New Jersey. It's a perfect present because it's unexpected, beautiful, and the scent isn't overpowering, either.
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What is the best hostess gift you have received? What's the best present to give?


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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.