wordpress usually has some interesting tidbits in the “freshly pressed” section of their home page. so today i’m checking it out, and i see an article entitled “10 Great Host/Hostess Gifts for the Holidays“, and i’m excited because i’m looking for good ideas for my “cheap and lazy xmas” series that i’m running this month- and hostess gifts are always tough. but i wouldn’t be writing this post unless i was either totally amazed, or horribly disappointed by the article. can you guess which one?
the list certainly wasn’t terrible- more criminally average. definitely not worthy of the title “great”, more like “dr. obvious buys a hostess gift”. um, does anyone really need to be reminded that wine is an appropriate gift? a little zazz please!
1. wine is great and all… but booze is better. nothing says classy like a bottle of really good scotch. i like johnny walker black. for about $30 a bottle (750 ml), it will last longer than a bottle of wine, give you a better buzz, and make you look waaaay continental. although if $30 is out of your price range (or your host/ess isn’t worth it), bring beer! with all the other bottles of wine that the host/hostess will get- somebody will be really jazzed to crack into the 30 pack of PBR that you brought.
2. if you must bring a kitchen gadget, skip the william sonoma and go for something with a little more personality. i heart anything by alessi, but you could also go for some sassy refrigerator decals, or an amazing serving tray. too much $$$? go vintage with something unexpected. you really want to go for that “holy shit that’s the awesomest thing ever”, not so much the ” i got the same one for my mom last year at bed bath & beyond”.
3. survivor style. bring some crazy foreign food with you. i tried pickled walnuts last year at xmas (sort of mushy and sour). do you know that they make kit kats in crazy flavors like ginger ale and sweet potato in japan? how about hitting the asian market for some seaweed flavored chips? or going all tophats and monocles with some caviar? i like to pick something that’s kind of gross/weird, but that people will be willing to try. hilarity ensues, i promise.
4. games! it’s tough if you don’t know the host/hostess very well because you don’t want to give them something they already have. however, sometimes a fun group game like balderdash or apples to apples is a great way to loosen up a lame fete. want something less structured? try a really good book of party games .
5. kick ass holiday mix tape. i made my dad a mix cd called “no more manheim steamroller please” a few years ago, and it’s still in heavy xmas rotation. holiday music doesn’t have to be grating and sing songy (or weird and new agey if you’re my dad). there is a crapload of amazing holiday music out in the world right now that doesn’t have anything to do with bing crosby (although i do love to throw a few classics into the mix). pick a playlist appropriate to the tone of the party (maybe not “oi to the world” for the office holiday party). some suggestions: sufjan stevens put out an incredible xmas album (my favorite is “come on! let’s boogey to the elf dance!), i listen to “donna & blitzen” from badly drawn boy year round, and what party doesn’t need “yellin at the christmas tree” by billy idol?
6. some down time. maybe if your host and/hostess has spent a lot of time on the preparation/throwing of the party, it might be nice to give them something to do/watch/read when it’s all over and they finally get a chance to sit down. i can’t recommend hard enough my very favorite xmas book “holidays on ice” by david sedaris, or my all time favorite xmas movie “scrooged” (bill murray when he was still funny!), but really any good book or movie (holiday or non) will do. sharing something that you love is pretty much always a good gift.
7. you. whether it’s taking over the bar and mixing everyone up cilantro stingers while the host is manically chopping crudite… playing master dj when the shuffle setting on the party ipod hits a deep pocket of yani… or staying late to help clean up before the cup rings settle in permanently… if you have no money- just show up to a party and be helpful as hell. they won’t remember who bought which bottle of moderately priced wine, but they will remember what a rockstar you are.
as always, remember that it isn’t the dollar amount, it’s the thought you put into it. and also, what lame holiday parties really need isn’t more wine, it’s laughter, good conversation, and possibly a pair of helpful hands… oh, and definitely NOT more scented candles. (seriously, go put those back).