Chances are the holiday party invitations are rolling in. As any good guest knows, showing up empty-handed is a social no-no. But there are only so many bottles of wine and boxes of candy that even the most gracious host will appreciate. So forget about the tried-and-true and set your sights on small gifts a host might find useful. Here are 13 ideas to get you started.
Related: Dazzle Your Guests: 16 Budget-Friendly Christmas Dinner Entrees
Heading to a dinner party? Treat the hosts to a set of Scotch glasses that can be engraved with a personal message or monogram ($10 each at Things Remembered).
A naughty-or-nice holiday hand towel or two for the kitchen ($5 each at Bed Bath & Beyond) is certainly useful when cleaning up party spills and messes. Target, Kohl's, and other retailers stock many options under $10.
WOODEN COOKING UTENSILS
Cooks can never have enough utensils. A set of bamboo spoons and spatulas ($10 on Amazon) that don't scratch cookware will get a fine workout over the holidays. Add a big red bow for a festive touch.
SILLY COCKTAIL NAPKINS
Draw chuckles from host and guests alike with funny cocktail napkins. Each pack of 16 costs about $2, so bring along two or three different kinds.
WINE GLASS CHARMS
Help wine drinkers keep track of their pours with festive wine charms to affix around the stems of their glasses. A set of six holiday-themed charms costs about $10.
Fancy soap adds a fresh scent to the guest bathroom. World Market sells a three-pack of vintage-wrapped holiday soap for $7.
CUSTOM NOTE PAD
A personal touch on notes or even shopping lists is a nice change from random pieces of scrap paper. Send in a picture along with the host's name, and Shutterfly will produce a 75-page notepad for $15.
For the host who covets fresh ingredients, assemble an herb set from small jars ($9 for 12 on Amazon), a bag of soil, and young herb plants. Pot the herbs one to a jar, print pretty labels for each, and finish off with a red bow. If plants are nowhere to be found, enclose a couple of seed packets.
A homemade gift of potpourri can simmer away and sweeten the party air. Combine cinnamon sticks, dried fruit (lemon or orange slices work well), bay leaves, whole allspice, and nutmeg. Tie everything in a baggie with a nice ribbon or in a Ball jar ($9 for 12 at Target). Buy ingredients in bulk and prepare one jar for each party. Include a set of instructions: Bring to a simmer in water and replenish water as needed.