Tis the season of gatherings - with friends, family, co-workers - and some of the most intimate gatherings happen at their homes, where you can relax and enjoy some holiday hospitality. But when you're invited to someone's home, tradition dictates a hostess gift. What is a hostess gift? According to WiseGeek, "a small gift is generally considered appropriate for dinners and parties...The ideal gift is tasteful and elegant, reflecting the presumed good taste of the host or hostess, and it is also something which the recipient would not personally buy for him or herself." Sounds like a tall order, right? You need to reflect their taste, bring something they wouldn't get themselves, and you don't want to spend major $$$. And, if you know them well, you don't want to go for the expected flower arrangement or bottle of wine. So how can you find something appropriate, off the beaten path, that communicates your appreciation?
Luckily, I have a few go-to places to find unique tokens that will be enjoyed, remembered, and most importantly, get you invited back.
You wouldn't think that a brand devoted to building professional (and supremely stylish) women's wardrobes would be the place to go for a hostess gift - but think again. Besides being my go-to for modern work clothes, MM LaFleur has curated a delightful selection of small gifts for savvy women.
This season, MM LaFleur has partnered with Paris-based illustrator Géraldine Roussel to create a series of stationery featuring sassy ladies doing what they do best - all wearing MM LaFleur clothes, of course! My favorites are the greeting card collection (one of which states, "You're the Tina to my Amy"), and the notepad with an illustration of a woman wearing a sheath dress and lampshade in her "Spontaneous Moment of Brilliance". I love all these as ideal hostess gifts for a ladies-who-lunch brunch, girls' night in, or women's group party.
If your hostess needs some workwear advice, the "Wear to Work" book can be her wardrobe bible - and if you're looking to give a combo hostess/holiday gift, the scarf necklace can take her from desk to dinner in an instant!
All gifts pictured available at mmlafleur.com/shop/gift-finder
Looking for something quirky, fun and memorable? Then Jonathan Adler is your guy. Yes, he can help you deck out your house in Hollywood Glamour or Sixties Kitsch, but Jonathan also has trinkets and baubles that are useful, and bring a smile to anyone's face. Everything here has loads of personality - so you're sure to find something appropriate for most any host or hostess. A few ideas:
- Is she a jewelry lover? Gold animal-shaped ring bowls
- Does he have a fireplace? An ice cream cone shaped match holder
- Do they cook at home? Salt and pepper shakers that come in Mr & Mrs, Mr & Mr or Mrs & Mrs versions
Go check out the website, and you'll get as lost in tounge-in-cheek decor as I do!
All gifts pictured available at jonathanadler.com/gifts
MARK AND GRAHAM
If you have a little time, a personalized gift is always appreciated - and Mark and Graham is my destination for unique monogrammed items. Most gifts deliver in 6-8 business days - so as long as you're planful, your hosts get to enjoy something eminently practical, but created especially for them.
My favorites for those who entertain are: chambray drink wrappers embroidered with each family member’s initials, a bartender's prep board (complete with drink recipes), or a show-stopping wood buffet board.
For the shopper/traveler, I love: monogrammed tote bags, colorful luggage tags (so they can easily identify their bags), or simple zipped pouches that hold whatever they need - and double as a cute clutch in a pinch!
When you're monogramming, you can go for traditional initials - but select pieces allow something a little less common, like a serving tray that calls out their street address, a cake serving set etched with a special date, or an ice bucket that says, "On Ice".
All gifts pictured available at markandgraham.com/shop/gift-shops - with handy gift suggestions based on whom you're shopping for!
And if you're looking for an uncommon gift for someone special any time this holiday season (and one that keeps on giving), how about a Gift of Style, aka time with a personal wardrobe stylist? Check out the many ways you can help them feel better about how they look, get dressed easier everyday, and de-mystify the process of shopping for their lifestyle, body type and budget.