Written by Katie Shickman
As the season of twinkling lights, mulled wine, and awkward family photos in matching holiday sweaters draws near, many of us agonize over the right hostess gift to bring to all of our seasonal soirées. Yes, a bottle of wine and a poinsettia are still welcome accoutrements to your loving presence at any festive gathering, but it’s also nice to surprise your host with something a little more unique, a little more thoughtful, a little more you.
If you want to select a plant or flower, pick something with meaning behind it. For instance, a gift of bamboo, which thrives on a sunny windowsill, shows your desire for the host to have good luck and peace. Are you more traditional in your plant selection? Then opt for an amaryllis. The blood red color or the snow white variety perk up any living space when the temperatures drop outside. The word amaryllis is Greek in entomology and has fascinating mythology surrounding it. When you give the plant, do a little research and share the story too.
Instead of buying wine from the Napa Valley or Irish Whiskey, buy local spirits. Lancaster County is home to Thistle Finch Distillery, where you can find rye whiskey, gin, and vodka. Find out what your host’s favorite cocktail is and bring a bottle from Thistle Finch and all the mixers — you will certainly be welcomed back with open arms and chilled glasses. For a less expensive and more casual option, grab a growler of a seasonal brew from Lancaster Brewing Company or Spring House Brewing Co.
Bring dessert. Many hosts become stressed at the thought of making delicious appetizers, main courses, and desserts for their guests. Desserts are the last bite of the evening and frequently receive the least attention because the host is too busy executing the other courses while refilling drinks and socializing. Offer to make your famous chocolate cake, or if you aren’t a baker, purchase a delicious confection from Bistro Barberet and Bakery or La Petite Patisserie. In order to make your gift even more special, style the dessert on a dish or platter that you purchase for the host. Consider the host’s décor and select a piece that will work with their home.
Does a specific word come to mind when you think about the host? Do you think the host is a fantastic friend? If so, try to find a small item that expresses your gratitude for their friendship in words. For instance, Festoon sells a line of marble stones with simple statements engraved on the surface. On a recent visit, the kindness stone stood out as a perfect hostess gift. After all, what is more kind than opening the doors to your home and feeding your friends?
Go homemade. When you have a particular skill, you should certainly play to your strengths and bring a homemade gift. If you are artistic, paint a small picture of your host’s home. If you take beautiful photographs, use an online service in order to make a few of your best into stationery for your host. If you spent the summer tending your garden and canning the harvest, then tie a ribbon around that jar of peach jam and add it to a little gift basket.
Bring something for the host’s pet or children because the cutest members of the household deserve a little treat while the adults drink spiked eggnog. For the pet, bring treats from Lancaster Pet Bakery, which can be found at Central Market. They have specialty treats and seasonal jars filled with snacks that look almost too good to be strictly for pets. For the kids, bring a book that corresponds with the occasion.
Pick up just about anything from Zanzibar. When you walk into the shop, you understand why anything from this delightfully smelling paradise will be appropriate. The store is full of fragrant soaps, beautiful candles, and unique gifts. They also have an excellent selection of greeting cards. Candles and soaps may not be the most original gift, but they are classic for a reason: people enjoy receiving them and may not purchase these little luxuries for themselves.
Olive oil and Vinegar from Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom. This gift is both practical and luxurious. Olive oil and vinegar are staples of every kitchen, so you can be sure that your gift will be used. Specialty or flavored oil adds an element of luxury to ordinary dressings or marinades and aged vinegar certainly makes a delicious base for a rich sauce. Ask the employees to help you create a tasty pairing and then let a little smile form on your face because you can be sure that you are about to make someone very happy.
Although these gifts don’t necessarily have Emily Post’s stamp of approval, they do have FLL’s, so go ahead and start a new tradition. Happy giving, everyone!