Looking for the best products to gift — and to get — this holiday season? Check out Underscored’s Holiday Guide here.
Have you found yourself swimming in holiday party invites? First, don’t worry, we’re all a little weird after the past year. And here’s an easy way to start a conversation: Show up with a thoughtful and interesting gift for the host or hostess.
“A host/hostess gift should be geared to the person receiving it or the occasion being celebrated,” says Carolyn Kraut, owner of Hands of Time Concierge. “For example, my favorite gifts for foodies depend on whether they cook and entertain in their home or enjoy good food by eating out or ordering in.”
Our experts shared their picks for gifts — we’ve also included a few editor faves — and there’s nary a bottle of wine or bouquet in the lineup below!
Brightland The Pair ($44; brightland.co)
“For foodies who cook or entertain at home, I like specialty salts, flavored balsamic vinegars, cookbooks, cheese and wine pairing books and books containing cocktail recipes,” says Kraut.
We’re big fans of Brightland’s olive oils, and the brand’s vinegars are equally impressive — the flavors and packaging are truly gift-worthy.
Brooklyn Brew Shop FarmSteady Fresh Cheese Making Kit ($30; nordstrom.com)
Don’t bring cheese for a friend who likes to cook; bring them this fun kit so they can make their own!
Portland Soda Works Set of Cocktail/Soda Mixers ($28; nordstrom.com)
Perfect for the cocktail — and mocktail — enthusiast, these small-batch, all-natural syrups are brewed with seasonally selected whole ingredients and natural sweeteners.
Cheryl’s Cookies Holiday Dessert Charcuterie Board ($49.99; cheryls.com)
We love a board, and this “charcuterie” board featuring dessert treats, including 15 cookies, red velvet cherries, jelly candies and more, is sure to delight your favorite friend or family member with a sweet tooth.
Uncommon Goods Heart of the Home Serve Board ($75; uncommongoods.com)
Speaking of boards, this sweet board is cut to look like a classic home, with each “room” set to hold their favorite snacks. The center heart is reserved for the name, initials and a significant date honoring the host or hostess of the house.
Thrive Market Subscription ($59.95 for one year; thrivemarket.com)
Health-conscious types love this so-called “Costco of healthy eating.” The direct-to-consumer subscription site offers deals on everything from organic hand wash to seaweed snacks.
Harry & David Classic Hearthside Gift Basket ($159.99; harryanddavid.com)
This basket with a hand-tied bow is packed with goodies sure to please any palate, including juicy pears, a mini chocolate cake, chocolate-covered cherries and savory bites like salami and cheeses.
Simply Organic Ultimate Starter Spice Gift Set ($43.16, originally $52.95; amazon.com)
The perfect housewarming gift for a recent grad getting into cooking, this spice set has pretty much every spice they’ll need for basic recipes.
Smith & Truslow Gourmet Seasoned Sea Salt Gift Set ($55; amazon.com)
Savory fans will love seasoning their food with this six-jar, all-natural gift set.
Saltverk Gift Box ($44.99; amazon.com)
Adventurous cooks will love this mix of all-natural, sustainable, unrefined, flavored Icelandic salts. The salts are made with geothermal energy, leaving zero carbon footprint — and did we mention they taste amazing?
‘Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion’ by Shelly Westerhausen & Wyatt Worcel ($15.38; amazon.com)
They’ll learn how to pair cheeses, meats and fruits and make them look gorgeous with this highly rated book.
‘Drinking Like Ladies: 75 Modern Cocktails From The World’s Leading Female Bartenders’ by Misty Kalkofen & Kirsten Amann ($16.29; amazon.com)
From gin to whiskey and tequila to punch, this fun book has a twist and a toast for every tippler, whatever your poison or potion.
Wine Spectator Subscription ($59.95; amazon.com)
“For someone interested in wine, travel and restaurants, a one-year subscription to Wine Spectator is nice,” says Kraut. They’ll think of you every time they get a new issue.
Diptyque Feu de Bois/Wood Fire Candle (starting at $38; nordstrom.com)
Scented gifts require some care, Kraut warns, saying, “Candles can be hit or miss, depending on the recipient’s scent profile. Scents are tricky, but if you get one in a beautiful container it won’t matter if the host/hostess doesn’t care for the scent.”
“Diptyque candle scents feu de bois and tubéreuse have been available for over a decade and are loved by so many people,” says Kraut.
Simpatico Hobnail Candle — Fir & Grapefruit ($38.02; amazon.com)
“When unsure of the recipient’s scent profile, I like to pick something light that comes in a pretty container, says Kraut. “My go-to is Simpatico. These candles come in pretty hobnail glass containers in a variety of colors and scents.”
Jo Malone London Sweet & Spirited Travel Cologne and Candle Set ($75; sephora.com)
“Spa gift sets or a collection of scented soaps, essential oils, aromatherapy products are popular,” says Kraut. This Jo Malone set hits all the marks.
Purelis Bed Bath Body Gift Set Eucalyptus Mint Aromatherapy ($49.99; amazon.com)
This minty aromatherapy basket packed with bath salts, soaps and more body treatments will make bath time special for an exhausted host.
Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash & Hand Balm Duo ($149.99; amazon.com)
It’s tough to go wrong with this editor-favorite Aesop hand wash and cream set, the perfect gift to impress when you don’t know the host that well.
Viva Sol Cornhole Set ($173.68, originally $189.99; amazon.com)
“There is no shortage of ideas if the host/hostess has a hobby or a keen interest in a sport or two, and there are so many ideas for gardeners,” says Kraut. For your active friends, an upgraded cornhole set can be the perfect way to kick off a summer party.
Pink Rose Plant (starting at $29.99; plants.com)
Have this pretty plant delivered so your host can put it on display for the party, and bonus for you, you don’t have to carry anything.
Scuddles Garden Tools Set ($26.99; amazon.com)
Perfect for a first-time homeowner or someone with a new interest in gardening, this little kit will set them up to tend their property.