’Tis the season for festive get-togethers: cocktail parties with work or family friends, memorable meals around the family dining table, or glitz and glam functions to toast the new year. If you’ve got such a Christmas-time fête in the works, don’t forget a gift for the host. But what?
Heather Wolsey, owner of Seasons Gift Shop on McKenney Avenue, recommends consumable gifts; something the host can use and that won’t gather dust on a shelf. She points to tea lights, napkins, Christmas candles, fragranced gift soaps and tea towels, or truly consumable fare like dip mixes, cheeseball mix, or brie toppers.
“It should be something useful for the household, not a personal item like bath salts, especially if it’s a party at a work colleague’s house,” says Wolsey. “Other popular choices are wine aerators or three-pack wine markers, so you can write a name on the glass (which later washes off). We have them in gold, silver and metallic red for $12. That’s just right, because a host gift should be $20 and under.”
Edmonton event consultant Randall MacDonald puts it this way: No wine, flowers or chocolates for a host gift. Consider the pineapple – this year’s ‘seen everywhere’ item (on napkins, plates etc.) “You can decorate the pineapple tops with ornaments for a Christmas tree, which is great in small spaces. Or set a few in a cluster along the dining table as a unique centrepiece,” says MacDonald. “It is said to symbolize hospitality, so it makes perfect sense as a host gift.”
MacDonald wags his finger at wine, “unless you know there’s a particular wine the host has been wanting to try – and remember it’s a gift for the host, not for you and other guests to enjoy at the party. And flowers are a pet peeve: if I’m hosting a party, all the food and décor are covered. It throws me off my game to have to look for a vase.”
“Whether it’s an ugly Christmas sweater party, or a high-end affair, the host has put time, money and effort into it. Always bring a gift,” he says, though it can simply take being observant to figure out what that should be. “Take a cue from the party invitation: for a glitzy, black-tie affair, how about a Sinatra Christmas CD? If you know the host loves bubbly, how about Champagne flutes? Even a unique Christmas ornament is a thoughtful option.”
Though millennials aren’t entertaining the same way, MacDonald says – maybe because of living in smaller spaces, lack of interest or lack of money – it still doesn’t negate a gift for the host. “If it’s a BYOB game night on the couch, modify the gift. Just don’t show up empty-handed.”
If you know the party host well, Kayla Loyek, manager at Edmonton’s Wedding and Party Centre, says to personalize the gift. She points to glassware, wine totes, flasks, beer mugs and even cutting boards and coasters that can be personalized for the host. “We even personalize handheld mirrors and mini pie boxes – perfect for a one-bite, homemade tart,” she says.