The Orange Slate

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Holiday Thriving Series: A Hostess Gift Basket

November 12, 2013


We’ve all had that moment of panic right before we walk out the door. Uh . . . the hostess gift. About that. Candles? Ran out last week. A bottle of wine? There are none that are unopened. At holiday parties I’ve been known to either A) show up without a hostess gift and just hope that so many other people brought bottles of wine that my negligence will go unnoticed B)or after much frantic searching through my drawers and cupboards, find something to regift in the nick of time.


Either of these options can be the source of a lot of guilt and stress. It’s a lot more fun (and a lot more polite!) to show up to a holiday party with a nicely wrapped hostess gift that you found without panic.

Enter: The Hostess Gift Basket.

The goal of this basket is to help you be prepared – always – for all of those little random moments during this season when you need a quick, cute, tasteful gift.

The beauty of preparing the basket ahead of time is that you can buy the items in bulk for a more reasonable price. A little forethought in this area can you save money and be more prepared!


For instance, yesterday I found some scented pillar candles on sale at Michael’s. I bought several to put into my holiday hostess gift basket. Around this time of year, Costco sells large packages of holiday goodies. These could be purchased, opened, and separated out into smaller gifts.



  • A small, tasteful basket (large enough to hold a bottle of wine, but small enough to be kept somewhere easily accessible).
  • A variety of holiday gift items (about 15). These could be:
    • Decorative scented pillar candles
    • Several tapers tied together with twine or ribbon
    • Bags of candied nuts
    • Assorted chocolates
    • Bottles of wine
    • Christmas ornaments (Stores like World Market have beautiful ornaments on sale this time of year)
  • Gift tags.
  • Ribbons or twine.




  1. Remove any unattractive packaging or price tags from the gifts.
  2. Write your name on the gift tag labels, leaving space to include the name of the receiver later.
  3. Tie each gift with a piece of ribbon or twine.
  4. Attach a gift tag to each gift.
  5. Arrange the gifts in the basket.
  6. Store the basket somewhere accessible.

Do you have any special hostess gift tricks or particular gift items that you rely on during the holiday season? I’d love to hear about them, so please share in the comments!

Other Posts in the Series: 1.Holiday Thriving Series: A Thank-You Note Basket.//


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  1. This is brilliant. I struggle to come up with hostess gifts at the last minute, and the standard bottle of wine doesn’t often work for us (a lot of our friends don’t drink). Here’s a question for you: when do you bring a hostess gift, and when do you skip it?

    I actually need a complete how-to on this whole topic. Most gatherings I go to seem so casual that people expect to bring a dish to share, but not a hostess gift. When you’re handing the gift to your hostess, do you just say, “Here, I brought you a little something”? Do certain social circles and regions of the country call for this gesture more than others? When you have a casual dinner at the home of church friends, do you bring a hostess gift? I need lots of guidance.

    1. Gwen,

      This really is making me think. I totally hear you on the wine thing….my mom used to take a homemade loaf of bread, which I thought made a great gift!

      I guess we should talk about all of the guidelines, many of which are probably outdated. (Takers, anyone???) I agree that if I’m going to a good friend’s house, normally I just contribute to the meal. I feel like a lot of the casual parties we all have these days fall under this category: bring a dish, bring some wine, whatever. I think hostess gifts are a nice gesture under certain circumstances: 1)You are being invited to dinner and aren’t asked to contribute anything, especially someone you don’t know very well; 2)The gathering is particularly formal (invitations were sent out, rsvps were required, etc.); 3)Just randomly when you want to make someone feel extra special. A few of the lovely ladies that came to my baking party a while back brought me hostess gifts. They weren’t elaborate: some chocolate and a candle, but I was SO touched that they thought ahead and make such a sweet gesture.

      I guess it comes down to this: very rarely will anyone cry if you *don’t* bring a gift or a contribution. On the other hand, I think a simple little touch can be so special and sweet and is definitely worth making once in a while!

      Thanks for making me think harder about this!:-)

  2. Ditto Gwen — I was just told by one of my friends that a hostess gift is more of an acquaintance thing. They would think it weird to get something from a friend unless it contributed directly to the meal at hand like cider, beer, or wine.

    1. Monica,

      Yeah, I kind of agree . . . unless you’re just truly making a special gesture . . . see my verrrryy looong above comment to Gwen.;-)

  3. Looking at Gwen’s question above, it got me thinking about my recent Friendsgiving dinner. Only one of my friends brought a hostess gift, but it was a small, beautiful red pointsettia plant. It brought me such joy and was the perfect way to say thank you without going over the top for a casual friends dinner.

    If I’m going to a more formal affair or to someone’s house whom I don’t know, I’ll usually do something like you have suggested here. LOVE this basket idea!

    1. Thanks, Jess! I agree . . . what really got me thinking about it was a couple of friends who brought me hostess gifts to something totally casual. They definitely did not need to, but the gesture made me feel so loved!

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