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What to bring the host with the most (or the hostess with the mostess!)

The good news is that with the holiday season arrives party time! It's the time of year when everybody seems to be hosting (or attending) a party, and you don't want to arrive empty handed. But let's face it, sooo many host gifts are overdone or just plain boring. Flowers are great if you want to send your hostess scrambling for a vase (and last two to three days at best), and it's so hard to know if you've picked a bottle of wine that will complement or clash with the food being served.

So what to bring? If you have ever hosted a party, you can relate to that little flutter in your stomach that you get when your guests arrive with a beautifully wrapped box in hand. Those childhood memories of birthday parties past come rushing to the front, and a "I-wonder-what's-inside-but-I-don't-want-to-look-too-eager" feeling comes over you. I am always so conflicted - do I open it now and squeal and gush over the contents? Or wait for later so I don't embarrass the other guests?

If you are going to bring your host a little trinket, it better be something special inside that box! Something that can go with any decor without clashing, and something that screams "You are so special" to the recipient. And, with any luck, something that will get you on the "favorite guest" list for next time :)

Here are some of my favorite picks for great gifts that are perfect to take (or send) to your hosts! (PS - if you don't want to have to carry it yourself, let us do the work - we'll ship it right to the recipient for you!)

1) Small, Sweet, and Unique: Double Delight Votive Holders

Everyone loves a bit of candlelight, and these little darlings are so special! They each have a small tray inside that holds a tea light or votive, and the best part is that the tray is removeable so that you can fill the bottom with beads, stones, or even a tiny succulent. So, they are part candleholder, and part terrarium! They are a great and not-too-expensive way to give something beautiful.

2) But I Really Want to Give Flowers: A Beautiful Permanent Floral Arrangement

I personally think that this is one of the most thoughtful and appreciated gifts on this list (hint, hint, to any of my future guests reading this). With winter coming, chances are that your host will be constantly looking for something to brighten up their home, and buying fresh flowers on a regular basis costs a fortune (and often involves plowing your car out of a snowbank to get to the store, or at least shoveling the walk for the delivery person). With a high quality permanent floral, your host will think of you every time she wakes up in the morning and sees your beautiful, bright gift enhancing her home. It's a touch of spring all winter long (can you see how much I want one already?)

3) I'll Help You in the Kitchen: A Gorgeous Serving Tray

Whether you are going to a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner or an elegant try-to-balance-that-little-plate cocktail party, chances are your host is going to have his hands full bringing things back and forth from the kitchen. Fear not, you can save the day (or the evening) with one of these super sturdy yet supremely elegant serving trays. These beauties are crafted by posh European designer Albert L. and their luxe design is part mid century, part modern. They have great cutout handles for easy carrying so are perfect for toting around drinks or food. The neutral gold and silver colors make them an instant match with whatever decor style your host enjoys.

4) I Didn't Choose the Wine But I'll Help You Keep it Cold - Ice Buckets and Wine Chillers

Bringing the wine to a party can be risky because you don't know whether your bottle will clash or complement, but bringing a wine accessory is always sure to please! These elegant wine chillers will definitely enhance any table. They're a great way to add class to any table, and better yet, you can never have too many - I love to be able to space them out on a table. They also make a wonderful base for a gift basket that you can fill up with chocolates, little gift items, or even a bottle of wine (if you're feeling adventurous!)

5) OMG I Also Love Cute Things for the Kitchen!: Match Strikes, Spoon Rests, and Cake Stands

If you are looking for something at a reasonable price but with great visual impact, there's nothing like a unique kitchen item or gadget - the kind of thing that looks like you've spent weeks scouring boutiques for just the right something. The ones I've chosen - ahem, "curated" - here are so much fun you'll have to buy two - one for your host, and one for you.

This match strike is the perfect kitchen or tabletop piece - it's a reproduction of those found throughout late 19th and early 20th century Europe. At that time, it was common to see a match striker sitting on a bistro table or bar. The strikers served three purposes. First, the top cylindrical container was used to hold matches. Secondly, the ribbed surface on its side (or base) was used to strike and ignite the match. And lastly, the piece served as an advertising venue. Many companies used items like these to promote their wares, and were usually provided to the bar for free.

I always love a cake plate, because it's the perfect way turn anything into a centerpiece. You can showcase your baked goods, or highlight a candle or plant. This retro beauty is black with white enamel, so has a vintage minimalist look that fits in anywhere.

And for something practical and gorgeous, this spoon rest fits the bill. I love the sleek and organic whale shape, and it's the perfect size to fit right where I need it on the countertop.

6) And Finally: Money Is No Object - I'll Spare No Expense for the Perfect Gift

Sometimes, only the best will do! And when that happens, check out this great selection of Luxury Gifts - and when you are ready to give one, I'll definitely be ready to receive it!

Enjoy your hosting, or being hosted - and to show my undying gratitude to you for reading what I write, here's a little coupon for 10% off your next order! Use code THANKSSOPHIEHOSTS the next time you shop.

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