Hostess Gifts For All Your Holiday Parties
I am a big proponent of bringing something to every party or dinner to which I am invited. Mother taught me to never, ever show up empty handed. After all, your host or hostess took the time and expense of buying food, preparing it and doing all of the housework necessary to entertain. In particular during the holiday season, it is important to acknowledge and show your gratitude-after all-you didn't have to do anything other than show up looking pretty now did you?
I love to give host/hostess gifts that have a unique twist. They can have a traditional sensibility, but I like to bend them a little bit, enough to let them be a surprise.
WASSAIL, WASSAIL, ONCE A MONTH
Instead of bringing a standard bottle or two of wine, why not make it an experience for the party-thrower? A gift that keeps on giving long after you have gone home sated from his or her sumptuous (let's hope) meal? Impress and indulge your host or hostess by signing him or her up for a wine of the month club membership, so they can continue to enjoy carefully selected wine, chosen by experts in the field.
Most wine retailers have an assortment of terms that range from 3, 6, or 12 month lengths and can range in price from $75 to $350 depending on how long the term is. I like the choices available through wine.com.
If the price point on this is a little too ho-ho-high, another option is to set them up with a wine tasting at one of your local wine merchants. Bring that favorite bottle to the party, with a card and a certificate that allows them to attend any number of classes offered. In San Diego, Wine Steals offers not only a selection of great wines, but classes at each location, winestealssd. com.
The San Diego Wine Company is a great option for their huge selection, sandiegowine.net. In Los Angeles go to lawinetasting.com for a long, broad list of places to choose from. For the best options by location every- where else in California or the U.S. try localwineevents.com, an amazing resource for all things wine related.
THE WISE MEN BROUGHT SPICES...
How old is that can of paprika-really? Everybody knows that it's older than it should be-and more often than not should have been replaced long ago in all of our kitchens. Why not help out your host or hostess to do so and give them a refreshed collection of spices in tidy decorative jars? You can do this locally buy hitting up many of your local farmer's markets, or food co-ops successfully, but you will need to find containers for them. For me though, that is half the fun of it-stainless steel, glass, are just a few of the myriad of options. Let you imagination run away with itself!
For pre- packaged options try San Francisco-based Le Sanctuaire, their selection is incredible and the vast website includes much more than just spices-olive oils, vinegars, truffles, rice and pastas-le-sanctuaire.com. Another highly recommended site is in my home state of Wisconsin, it's called Penzeys and they have gift sets, many individual spice options and seasoning blends that are lovely. penzeys.com
Much of the same thing can be said for cheeses- your gracious host doesn't imbibe? Then try a cheese of the month club! Good for the palette, great for the soul and an education to boot! I found this fantastic website for you to shop: vivantfinecheese.com
SALTS - THEY AIN'T JUST THE BRAND WITH THE UMBRELLA ON IT ANYMORE
Who knew? It was such a surprise to me when I first learned about the innumerable choices one has when it comes to salt . . . Flaked, crystal, mined, pearl, smoked, flavored, table, cooking and finishing. How is one to choose?
Take flake salt for instance; it crumbles easily, dissolves quickly and is considered a finishing salt, best sprinkled on salads, vegetables and desserts just before serving. Then there is Bolivian Rose, Himalayan and Peruvian Pink, all of which are mined and have a healthy mineral content which some say is good for you! The smoked salts are great for vegetarian dishes because they imbibe the dishes with a rich texture that is sure to please.
There are two places that I suggest: The Salt Farm is a small San Diego- based seller with a nice selection of natural, infused, blended and smoked choices for you to choose from. I like the idea of supporting the smaller sellers in that they tend to be passionate about what they do, so you get great service and support. etsy.com/shop/saltfarm
For sheer quantities though check out Salt Traders, they have it all and in nice packaging too! You can select Kona Deep Water, Danish Viking Smoked, Fleur de Sel de Gurerrande or Guavawood Smoked Sea-jarred, labeled and ready to gift to your lucky hosts. salttraders.com