‘Tis the season to party. Between those clichéd (but secretly anticipated) ugly sweater parties to counting down on New Year’s Eve, the next few weeks are virtually packed with fêtes of all varieties. And for any discerning guest, that means stocking up on host (or hostess) presents. While those convenience store-bought chocolates are always appreciated (and delicious), where is the fun in selecting one uniformed gift after another? But on the flip side, wracking your brain over every host present can become tedious and inefficient — especially if gifts for your loved ones are still a mystery. The perfect medium? Our guide, which has the chicest trinkets for every occasion.
1. Thanksgiving dinner: Frame
Consider hosting Thanksgiving dinner as getting the short stick of all holiday parties. Sure, everyone looks forward to stuffing their faces in delicious goodness, but the day is no easy feat for the host. In addition to the normal cooking and cleaning expectations, the host also must charm the pants off of hungry visitors and gracefully get them out before each guests falls asleep after consuming too much tryptophan. Our point? These people deserve a present.
After spending hours mashing potatoes, steaming the yams, and basting the turkey, purchasing anything kitchen-related will send your entertainer off into a cooking PTSD episode. A fuss-free alternative? A picture frame. We know what you’re thinking: ‘Isn’t this a painfully standard gift?’ But for most families, taking annual family photos for the holiday card follows Thanksgiving. And with all those Kodak moments at their disposal, your host will most likely want to have one displayed. This frame from Saks Fifth Avenue isn’t adorned with diamonds and pearls; however, the croc embossed detailing gives this basic present a very luxe twist.
2. Ugly Christmas sweater party: Card game
While the origins are still unknown — some believe the concept sprung from cheesy holiday photos circa 1993 while others cite Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary — one thing’s for sure: ugly Christmas sweater parties run rampant this time of year. Perhaps you and your significant other purchased matching Santa cardigans from a nearby thrift store or maybe you don the pull-over your grandma knitted every year (poor grandma, poinsettias on a sweater are not masculine), but we have a sneaking suspicion that you will not make it out of this holiday season without sporting your tacky sweater at least once.
So what are you supposed to get your host? A measly platter of fruit cake? No way. If your host is demanding that everyone makes fun of themselves by sporting a kitschy sweater, they have a great sense of humor. The perfect gift for this type of host is something that will keep the party light and fun. Forget Cards Against Humanity and pick up Game of Phones, a smartphone-centric game that will have guests making emoji art and taking selfies. Let’s face it: we all have our noses buried in our cells anyway, so what’s a better way to bond?
3. Pot-luck dinner: Recipe box
Why should one person slave over the stove when each attendee can contribute? After all, isn’t the holiday spirit all about giving and sharing? Exactly. Whether you provide that technical trifle recipe passed down a few generations or break and bake sugar cookies, a pot-luck is the perfect way to show off your cooking skills (or lack there of). But even still, whoever is hosting the foodie affair should receive a token of appreciation. A thoughtful and event-appropriate gift is a recipe box. Not only will it give any kitchen a Martha Stewart twist, but it’s a great way for your host to snag some covetable recipes. This bamboo option is both durable and versatile, and the card dividers will help your host separate their recipes.
4. Holiday movie binge fest: Snuggly throw
Forget ABC Family’s annual Christmas movie countdown: 25 days of holiday movies is simply not enough. In fact, it seems the only way you can fit in Love Actually, Home Alone, A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life — and that’s just the tip of the cinematic iceberg — is spending a whole night doing what you do best: binge watching TV shows and movies. And the person in your inner circle who organized this party is a genius. While bringing a bowl of movie theater snacks and popcorn is a predictable route, we dare you to up your gift giving game with a tactile throw. Not only is it the perfect thing for your host to snuggle up in during the film frenzy, it’s a long-lasting present that won’t vanish mid-movie. Not only is this pick from Target super plush (and at an affordable price), the neutral color will look stylish with any interior design.
5. Formal holiday party
The holiday season is not all chunky sweaters at your nearest dive bar. On the contrary, some consider the next few weeks the optimal time to host the most luxurious event of the year. At these types of soirees, five-course dinners will be served, the best champagne will be consumed, and everyone will be dressed to the nines in their finest suits and festive dresses. While these uppity dinner parties are not always ideal when you’re in the midst of last minute shopping, you have to admit that they do make you feel a little glamorous.
As for the gift? We’re kind of obsessed with this pouting Napoleon candle, which is available at Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s everything a fancy holiday party should be: Lavish, a little ridiculous, and peculiarly chic. Sure, a candle of this uniqueness may not be everyone’s taste, but you have to admit that this will get a lot more attention (and creative kudos) than that bottle of Veuve Clicquot you were originally thinking of bringing.
6. For New Year’s Eve: Bottle stopper
Call it the last party of the holiday season or the first soiree of the year, but one thing’s for sure: New Year’s Eve is a big deal. So bust out your most polished threads for a night of chaos and debauchery. And unless you’re headed to an overcrowded bar for the evening, one welcoming (and brave) friend will be hosting you and a whole group of people for the boozy evening.
A bottle of the finest wine is a standard choice, but that’s just the thing: It’s typical. For an out-of-the-box option, that keeps up with the night’s libatious reputation, bring a chic bottle stopper (like this one from Neiman Marcus) for the evening’s festivities. The hand-cut glass ball will add some glamour to any bottle while the fixture will last well into 2016 (and the years to come).
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs