5 Simple DIY Hostess Gifts for Holiday Events

Take Charge on 11.12.12

Photo: Charlene Prince Birkeland

Several years ago I hosted a baby shower and one of the guests thanked me by giving me a jar of homemade peach jam. It was unexpected; I'd thrown many a baby or wedding shower and never received a hostess gift. I hadn't really even thought about it. This simple gesture of gratitude was appreciated--and enjoyed. I'm am a foodie and love to cook, but at that stage of my life, my son was only a year old and making jam seemed frivolous when I was scrambling just to find time for a shower. That precious homemade peach jam was delicious and comforting, and I savored every last bit of it.  

With the holidays approaching, you'll probably be attending a dinner (or five) to celebrate the season. Emily Post says you don't need to bring a host or hostess gift when you're going to a dinner party thrown by "close friends who dine together frequently," but I disagree. Why wouldn't you thank your close friends--or a family member--for taking the time to create and share a meal with you?  

I do agree, however, with Ms. Posts' belief that a host and hostess gift be simple and small, like that divine jar of peach jam that was so good I still can remember it. Chances are high that if your host or hostess is inviting you over for a meal, he or she enjoys spending time in the kitchen. So give them a treat they will appreciate and use in future cooking endeavors. 

Check out these tokens of appreciation that are definitely simple and small, and also easy on the wallet. They range from super easy to make (or purchase) to let's-get-crafty. Added bonus? Your kids can help you make all of these items. Baking or getting crafty is perfect activity to teach you both how to slow down.

1. A jar of jam (naturally!). Whether it's homemade jam or purchased, it definitely won't go to waste. Visit a market that sells locally-made or specialty preserves. One of my favorite brands is Blue Chair Fruit Company because  they create these magical pairings of fruit that are pretty much divine. They sell their jams and marmalades online and at stores throughout the U.S. 

2. Cinnamon sticks wrapped in a festive bow (see photo). The spice is emblematic of cozy fall and winter desserts and hot apple cider. Wrap a half-dozen sticks in a pretty bow or natural twine. Your host/hostess can use it as holiday decor or in future dishes. 

3. Homemade caramel sauce. Have you ever tasted homemade caramel? Pure decadence on a spoon. Make a batch and store it in a mason jar, wrapped with a bow with a tag that lists how to use the caramel. (Need ideas? Try these: Over ice cream, in coffee, on homemade crepes, pancakes or French toast, in cupcakes). Your host or hostess will adore you.  

4. A bag of homemade marshmallows. My kids love making homemade marshmallows every year but we always have far more than we need. One batch goes a long, long way. So we bag them and give them away as gifts. Package them up for a host or hostess with a tin of cocoa for a cold winter night. 

5. Homemade limoncello. The Italian aperitif is a delicious and (usually) a welcomed treat, especially when it's homemade. If you have a lemon tree and your bounty is plentiful, try bottling your own limoncello this fall and winter. It takes only a few weeks, beginning to end, and you'll have enough limoncello to give out as gifts and store in your freezer to enjoy year round. 

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