Before you know it, the holidays are going to be thisclose, and we’ll all be racking our brains over the same dilemma: what kind of gift should we bring for the relative, in-law, or fabulous friend who hosts us—plus our families and sometimes our pets—for a day, weekend, or week of festivities?
Over the years, and much trial-and-error gifting—this one’s not personal enough; that one is too personal for the host’s significant other to enjoy—we’ve come to realize that the best holiday gift you can give is something the host won’t indulge in for him- or herself during this busy, costly time of year. We now opt for a gift basket full of treats both edible and sensory, with a variety of items to tickle adult tastes—which often end up by the holiday wayside as we focus on making merry for the kiddos. This gift basket puts the focus back on the grown-ups, and serves as the foundation for an easy romantic evening for two. Even better: you can easily customize this gift basket for the recipient, with a few simple switch-outs.
Here’s how to get started on making the ultimate gift basket for the holiday host or hostess:
- Choose a sturdy canvas storage bin in a fun print. Storage bins make a much prettier and neater presentation than boxes, are heavy-duty enough to handle weightier items, and can be reused all over the house well after the holidays have wrapped. Neutrals are a safe choice, but if you know your host or hostess loves color, have at it. Or, like we did, go with a silvery and natural palette, in honor of holiday décor.
- Pick up a great bottle of wine. Note: great wine doesn’t mean “superexpensive wine.” If you’re unsure of which brands, varietals, or vintages make a nice impression, ask the experts at your local wine shop for their favorite picks under $15. If your host or hostess is more of a spirits fan, an aged whiskey or smooth apple vodka makes a terrific gift. What if they don’t drink? Easy-peasy: substitute hot chocolate mix, a couple tins of high-end tea, or a pound of top-notch coffee beans. Add drinkware to match—a pair of wineglasses, tumblers, or mugs.
- Include some casual yet elegant table linens. Not only do napkins and placemats add a pop of print to the basket, but they look fun rolled up and tied with a matching ribbon. We like to roll a set of napkins around the wine bottle, not only to help cushion the bottle during transit, but also to cover the label on the bottle, especially if it isn’t much to look at.
- Be scentsible. Candles are a great way to set the mood for an intimate dinner or cuddle by the fire. Choose a subtle, relaxing fragrance, like this lightly fruity floral from Jo Malone. Jar candles are the easiest option, but if you’ve got a pretty pair of candlesticks to add to the basket, tapers work just as well.
- Stock up on snacks. Skip the meats and cheeses and think no-refrigeration-needed nibbles—cookies, crackers, chocolate, truffles, dried fruit, nuts. Our current must-haves for the gift basket: Anna’s Swedish Ginger Thins, and jcoco’s Dark San Juan Sea Salt truffles.
Heaven in a wrapper.
- Get cozy. We like to add a soft, toasty throw to the basket, which serves triple duty: it’s perfect for movie night a deux on the sofa, it makes an easy wrap for puttering around the house on a chilly day, and it’s the ideal extra layer on the bed as temperatures drop.
What’s in your ideal holiday gift basket?