Sharp-eyed readers will recognize that last month I continued my latent ‘My Favourite Things’ series with a sneaky entry about ‘Crisp Apple Strudel’. My primary purpose in doing that was in fact, so I could call this year’s hostess gifts post, Doorbells & Sleigh Bells. As always, these gifts are all reasonably priced, and designed to be stockpiled so you can break ‘em out for everything from an open house party at a coworkers to family dinner at the in-laws. Enjoy!
Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings by Lindsay S. Nixon – $23
By now I think I’ve nearly covered all of Lindsay S. Nixon’s amazing, foolproof, uber healthy vegan cookbooks (check out past reviews of Happy Herbivore titles here). I was wondering what this breakout chef would come up with next, and was delightfully surprised when I heard it was going to be a holiday book. The cookbook is divided up in to various types of celebrations – from winter holidays wherein a Hot Toddy would be mighty comforting, to a tailgating or appetizer-focused cocktail party, where she pulls together creative options like a Vegan Taco Bar. With over 130 recipes that’ll appeal to ominvores and vegetarians alike (including mouthwatering choices like Cola Barbecue Sauce and Hot Chocolate Muffins) this book takes the stress and fuss out of holiday cooking – and makes a lovely hostess gift particularly if you’re headed to a holiday dinner event.
Tea-Scented Candles – $19.50 each @ DAVIDsTEA
If you’ve ever brewed a cup of DAVIDsTEA, then you’ll know that the scent is one of the best parts of the entire drinking experience. A heady mix of rich flavours and earthy herbs and spices, go ahead – take a deep breath before sipping and you’ll see what I mean. Apparently so do the wizards over at DAVIDsTEA, because they’ve ‘bottled up’ their teas and released them as scented candles, housed in adorable mason jar containers. Made from clean-burning soy wax, now your home can smell like the bestselling fruity nutty Forever Nuts, or the country charm of Blueberry Jam, or for the holidays, the perennially popular blend, Santa’s Secret. An awesome choice for any DAVIDsTEA diehard that have already snapped up their winter teas – but wouldn’t mind bringing a little more heavenly scents into their lives.
SPARQ Home Wine Pearls – $24.99 @ The Shopping Channel
You’ve seen whiskey rocks – but since most of us are sipping on wine over Christmas dinner, chances are this gift idea is a little more practical. These unique wine pearls are designed to be chilled in the freezer until it’s time to break out your dinner drinks. From there, simply pop one or two into your wine glass or cocktail tumbler, and these nifty ‘pearls’ will keep your drinks icy cool until the very last drop without diluting them as you would with ice. They’re also great if you’re breaking open a fresh bottle that hasn’t had time to chill – by adding the wine pearls it’ll be chilled out in no time. Because they’re made of stainless steel, they won’t absorb the scents and odors of your freezer either. Each set comes with 4 pearls – buy a bunch for everyone you know and you’ll never have a lukewarm sip of wine again.
Epicure ‘Good Food. Real Fast.’ Kits – $24.50+
Canadian brand Epicure has long been heralded to take the guesswork out of various seasonings – but now they’ve gone one step forward and made mealtime that much simpler. The brand has recently launched four, ready-to-gift meal kits that include a selection of their signature herb and spice blends (or other cuisine-specific items) along with free meal cards to give you a range of ideas to make simple, healthy, affordable meals – pretty much the trifecta of any busy host’s wish list for making a meal. Not shopping for a chef? They’ve also got a fun ‘Good Cocktails’ set filled with gourmand salt for rimming your margaritas and two tea blends that when iced, make magical drinks for any shindig. I love this as a go-to gift for hostessing in particular, because chances are whoever’s opening that door for you also loves to spend some time in the kitchen. What’s great is that unlike a lot of pre-prepared spice blends and similar products, Epicure is really committed to crafting products that are good for you, meaning no MSG or artificial colouring / flavours, plus a careful eye on sodium and sugar levels. And with their new silicon steamers, it makes your meal that much healthier. The result is magnifique – no matter what’s cooking!
Kiss My Face ‘Olive the Season’ Pure Olive Oil Soap 3-Pack – $11.98
Soap is always a great hostess gift because more often than not, the host – whether entertaining for an evening or hosting family for a week – is using up some of their precious soaps and lotions. Kiss My Face has a special holiday-themed gift set of three of their ultra-nourishing, all-natural Olive Oil Soap bars. With just three ingredients – 86% of which is olive oil harvested from radiant orchards – it’s guaranteed to be a hit with the host’s entire family, no matter how sensitive their skin. This pint-sized package comes ready-to-gift, with a built-in gift tag and festive packaging. It’s also a great pick for any Secret Santa exchanges or as a stocking stuffer for any Kiss My Face fans.
Teeny Tiny Bakery Mini Cookies – $5 for a Five-Pack
Cookie chef Jackie Long should probably be considered a master at the art of torture. After all, she creates these incredible, amazing, beautiful works of art. And then you find out that they’re cookies. And they’re delicious. Do you bite in and ruin her creations? *Wipes crumbs* Um yes. But they also make showstopping gifts! Teeny Tiny Bakery produces cookies in a range of sizes and designs, and offers up creative items like customized ‘ornament’ cookies with your monogram on them, or, to pull an example from last year, a paint-your-own ornament cookie that included edible frosting-paint and a brush so you could take part in the creation and destruction of something beautiful. Also fun? You can order 25 mini-cookies to create your own advent calendar, for just $25 + shipping. You can find Teeny Tiny Bakery at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto, but you can also contact them directly to find out how to get your paws on these almost-too-good-to-eat treats, with shipping across Canada.
Gourmet Salt Set – $29.99 @ HomeSense
Have you ever tried cooking with gourmet salt? The results are pretty astounding. For example, I don’t eat bacon – I do however, make ‘coconut bacon’, which always drops the jaws of my friends and colleagues when I share the mere concept with them. How does one replicate the crispy, smoky goodness of bacon you ask? With smoked salt – which makes up just one of the little vials in this nifty gift set that’s perfect for hardcore foodies and experimental kitchen dabblers alike. Housed in a cute wooden rack, your host can also refill this set once they’ve gone through a favourite blend.
Parachute Coffee Subscription – $25 / Month
This one’s for all those caffeine-lovers in your life. As if it were sent from the gods above, on the first Monday of every month, Parachute Coffee delivers a box of curated beans from some of Canada’s top roasters. Inside the box, you’ll also receive a handy card giving you the scoop on where your coffee has come from, how to best prepare it and what to expect when you take that first, soul-awakening sip. It takes the guesswork out of accessing unique, special blends of coffee and should introduce you to new, well-curated roasters from across the land. You can subscribe for as little or as long as you want, and shipping and tax are included. Introduce your best friends to the service as a fun hostess gift pick, and let one of them surprise the other at Christmas with a year-long subscription.
Oil & Vinegar Dipping Plate – $14.99 @ Shoppers Drug Mart
At my work’s Yankee Gift Swap last year, one of the most hotly coveted items was an oil & vinegar set – and it wasn’t half as nice as this one. Laden with a rich olive oil and tangy vinegar perfect for dipping a fresh, crusty loaf of bread in, this cute set also comes with its own stand and a handy plate for serving. I love gifts like this because they can actually be used almost instantly. Bring along an artisanal baguette and I guarantee, the host or hostess will happily set this out for people to munch on while they put the finishing touches on their dinner. And any leftovers make for a great addition to the hosts’ charcuterie board on Christmas morning.
Patch NYC Glass Box – $16 @ West Elm
I recognize that many of the gift ideas on this list are edible, so I thought it’d be nice to highlight something that can’t be consumed. Namely, this beautiful glass box created by design studio Patch NYC for West Elm. Whether the host uses it to stash spare change or dresser clutter or puts it on display filled with their favourite festive treats, it’s an affordable piece that looks super luxe and blends in with just about any decor. Consider stuffing it with mini candy canes or other holiday faves as an extra ‘sweet’ gift.
Rosemary Fusion Tablette Bar – $13 @ Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut
Here’s an interesting concept: what if chocolate was simply the canvas for the creativity of a master chocolatier? After you’ve mastered the art of making a perfectly creamy, dreamy chocolate bar, your imagination can pretty much run wild – at least, that’s what the thinking appears to be behind Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut’s award-winning Rosemary Fusion bar. I held a mini-group tasting of this one and everyone was astonished at the range of flavours, starting with the brand’s signature rich chocolate, but quickly offset by an infusion of savoury rosemary and thyme, and finished up with a dusting of salty, spicy habanero sea salt. It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t work, but does, thanks to the high quality ingredients and perfect blend of flavours that excite every last one of your taste buds. A supreme gift for the gourmand chocolate lover in your life.
Great news! I’m arming one of you with a hostess gifts prize package so you can show up at every event with a lovely item in hand and quickly win favour as the best gift-giver on the planet (after me, of course). If you win this sensational prize package valued at over $320, you’ll be scoring:
- A copy of Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings
- A DAVIDsTEA Santa’s Secret Tea Candle
– A set of wine pearls from SPARQ Home
– All four Good Food. Real Fast. kits from Epicure + a Silicon Steamer
– A 3-Pack of Olive Oil Soap from Kiss My Face
– 10 Packs of 5 Mini Cookies from iBakery
– A one-month subscription to Parachute Coffee
– A $25 Shoppers Drug Mart gift card
– A Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut Rosemary Fusion Tablette Bar
Interested? Here’s how to enter:
1) Leave me a comment by midnight November 20, 2014 telling me which of the featured host gift ideas in this post are your faves.
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around November 21, 2014 to select the winner(s), who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entries: You can do as many or as little of the activities below – for each one that you do, be sure to leave your activities in separate comments. As in, one bonus entry per comment. Got it? Got it. Here we go:
Ben Bella is the publisher of Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings - Follow them on Twitter and Tweet about the book (don’t forget to tag @cdngiftguide + link back to this post). Provide a link to your Tweet in a separate comment below.
DAVIDsTEA is on Twitter. Follow them, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet that links back to this post. Provide a link to your Tweet in a separate comment below.
SPARQ Home is on Twitter. Follow them, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a snappy Tweet that links back to this very post. Provide a link to your Tweet in a separate comment below.
Epicure is on Facebook. Like them, leave a comment on their wall with the product you’re most keen on trying, and link back to that comment here. Boom – another entry for you.
Kiss My Face is on Twitter. Follow them, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet that links back to this post. Provide a link to your Tweet in a separate comment below.
The Teeny Tiny Bakery is on Pinterest. Follow them, repin your favourite cookie, and link back to that Pin in a separate comment below.
Parachute Coffee is on Instagram. Follow them, like or comment on a photo, link back to that photo below.
Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut is on Twitter. Follow them, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a scrumptious Tweet that links back to this very post. Provide a link to your Tweet in a separate comment below.
Shoppers Drug Mart is on Twitter. Follow them, send out a Tweet tagging them and me (@cdngiftguide) that links back to to this post. Provide a link to your Tweet in a separate comment below. Good on ya – you’ve got another entry!