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Perfecting the Art of the Hostess Gift

It's that time of year—when you are likely either traveling to others' homes to celebrate the season or doing the entertaining yourself. In either case it's a busy time, so stocking up on items to use for hostess gifts means one less thing you have to worry about later.

While you may have time to peruse Pinterest and collect a million good ideas, actually executing them can be a challenge. Before we get into the DIY projects, how about a few things you could purchase and then personalize?

First, stock up on some seasonally themed ribbon and decorative tags from the fabric or craft store, so you can quickly personalize your gifts. In fact, keeping a little bag of these items in the car or your purse can elevate that last-minute party store bottle of wine in a paper bag. A multipack of gift bags, inexpensive baskets or decorative plates, white tissue paper, and cellophane for wrapping up gift baskets are also good supplies to keep on hand at home.

Many people shy away from store-bought gifts because they seem impersonal, but they don't have to be. Does your area have a great winery or brewery? Stock up with a half-case of wine or mix and match six-packs for a local flavor gift. Check out your local farmers or holiday market for nonperishables such as honey, preserves, sauces, flavored vinegars, or handmade soaps and candles. Create your own gift basket, using a decorative holiday towel as a liner and festively wrapped candies to fill in any gaps between your goodies. Wrap up in cellophane tied with a bow to keep everything together in transit.

For those of you looking for simple DIY options, start collecting canning jars and decorative bottles, useful for packaging these items:

  • Make a sugar scrub for dry winter skin by combining 2½ cups sugar (white, brown, or turbinado) with ½ cup olive oil. Include spices such as ground cinnamon or ginger, as you desire. Add a vanilla bean or cinnamon stick to each jar for a decorative touch. Wide-mouthed jars work best for scrubs.
  • If you enjoying canning, take advantage of the apple and pear crop to make preserves or fruit butters. Can in small jelly jars, so you have plenty to give away. Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam recipe is my long-time favorite, and it's relatively simple, if you're a newbie to canning.
  • Make a large batch of spiced nuts, and package in small jars for convenient giving. Try this simple recipe: Sugar & Spice Nut Mix.
  • Create an aromatherapy experience by filling a decorative jar with coffee beans, then nestling a tea light at the top.
  • Use decorative bottles to steep vodka (mixed with sugar to taste) with vanilla beans, ginger root, cranberries, or peppermint sticks for mixing festive holiday cocktails. Click here for recipes.

Whichever options you choose, load up a tote or cardboard box with all of your gifts and presentation supplies, so when you're down to the last minute, you've got everything together to assemble a gift bag or basket that's sure to please.

Please share your best (easy) hostess gift ideas in the comments section for this article!

Written by Jennifer Reynolds, West Michigan Woman staff writer, and looking to find the balance between holiday cheer and holiday overload!


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