For me, the holidays come down to pre-planning. And holiday hostess gifts are the most perfect example of how preparedness can create a more successful experience! Of course, ‘success’ looks different to everyone, so the first step is pinpointing exactly what YOU want out of the season ahead. Only by understanding your goal can you create the right conditions to bring that vision into fruition.
This holiday season, I want to really let loose and celebrate. There has been so much heaviness in 2020 that I want to shake it all off and milk every possible drop of goodness out of these last months. Especially after our recent emergency evacuation, I’ve been feeling so grateful for our family and the home we’ve created together. Which makes me want to throw up my glass in a great toast to say: WE MADE IT! And we’re stronger than we’ve ever been because of it.
Giving The Gift of Abundance
With my goal in mind, the last thing I want is a December full of rushing and eleventh hour present-wrapping trying to make Christmas happen. Instead, I want to kick up my heels and gaze at a beautifully-decorated Christmas tree with a wine glass in-hand. I want to RSVP an emphatic ‘Yes!’ to our pod’s white elephant gathering—without scrambling last-minute for hostess gifts. And that is what I am going to prepare for.
It’s funny how many ideas I came up with when given time in advance to noodle on it! Naturally, when I’m running through Target on the day-of, I can’t find a single thing. I know this has everything to do with my mindset: moving from a place of abundance will beget abundance! But running on empty (aka, thinking about the cookies I still “need” to bake and how little time I have left to do so) will only create burn-out.
So do yourself a favor this holiday season and pick up a little something-something in advance! This way, when the invitation comes, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You get to skip the obligation part and just feel happy and excited to be celebrating! And if you’re still stuck on WHAT to bring even when you’re 4 weeks early? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:
1. A Plant
Better than a bouquet, this permanent addition to the home brings a fresh chi along with it. Nearly everyone I know was brushing up on their green thumb back in June—and there’s no reason to stop even after quarantine! Plants are proven reducers of stress & anxiety, plus they clean the air while adding natural beauty to any decor scheme.
The Sill is my favorite place to pick up a plant without leaving the house. The site has clear plant care information: great to print and include for those beginning gardeners! And of course, the pots are all so cute!
Hey, it’s a classic for a reason. Candles make the ultimate hostess gifts, providing a lovely, scented memory of the occasion. They even glow with a friendly warmth! It’s hard to go wrong, especially with options at every price range. I recently tested a few options, from Bath & Body Works to Le Labo, to help you decide where to save—or splurge.
3. A Bottle of Something Special
Upgrade from the standard bottle of wine to something with a little more zest! While we’ve been giving bars a wide berth, I’ve found myself missing a fancy, $13 drink. Enter St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. A good mixer will elevate a wide-range of spirits, and with its gorgeous art-deco bottle, this aromatic elixir will elevate your bar cart, too!
4. Holiday Puzzle
Wrap a puzzle and give the gift of satisfaction. There’s no greater feeling than laying the a hard-found piece into a jigsaw! And these aren’t the puzzles from your grandmother’s house. Modern puzzles feature stunning scenes for every sensibility and style. I particularly like Piecework’s “Disco Queen” for a sparkly (and challenging) take on holiday festivities!
5. Beautiful Book
The coffee table book is alive and well. Amber Lewis’ latest offering Made for Living is a feast for the eyes with full-bleed pages of gorgeous interior spaces. This one is definitely worth spending time with, and a treat for quiet Sunday mornings when you can’t bear to turn on the TV.
As I’m sure you guessed, bits and baubles for home decor go over gangbusters at our white elephants. Bringing a coveted piece from Studio McGee’s Target Collection is sure to see a few steals! My personal favorite from the collection is the wooden bead garland, which adds gorgeous texture to any mantle, shelf, or side table.
7. Something Sweet
It NEVER hurts to stock up on your favorite sweet treat for the holidays! Whether you need to break out a sample plate for surprise guests, or return a neighborly gesture, having a few boxes tucked away helps take the edge off of entertaining. My signature “something sweet” is from Fran’s in my hometown, Seattle. Fran literally made salted caramels famous! I keep the extra boxes in the garage, so I don’t eat them myself.
8. Tree Ornament
Anthropologie is my favorite store to wander around in, holiday season or not. But come late November, the creative displays and tinkling playlists really get me in the Christmas spirit! So it’s an easy win to enjoy a leisurely lunch break surrounded by pretty things, pausing to pick up a few knick-knacks for neighborhood gifting. It’s the best spot to snag some super-cute ornaments to have on-hand—though my girls always always find something they want to add to our own trees!
9. Card Game
Card games are a great way to let loose after dinner, opening up an opportunity to get a little silly! Incohearent takes you all the way there: muttering gibberish and laughing hysterically. Take turns decoding phonetic phrases to guess the true meaning and earn the card. Bring it to a friend’s house for a little friendly competition.
10. Olive Oil
A bottle of olive oil is like a drop of golden sunshine to last through the coming winter—not that we’re hurting for sun in California. 😉 Nevertheless, a luxurious culinary offering makes cooking all the more fun. And Brightland’s custom-blended cooking oils are a natural, local product that looks good on the kitchen counter.
11. Cutting Board / Serving Tray
The best hostess gifts are lovely, useful items that the recipient wouldn’t think to buy for themselves. Which is why serving trays are such excellent gifts! Their multitude of uses mean they’re guaranteed to come in handy. Whether using them in interior design to create levels and contain curios—or as actual serveware, having something pretty to place is an instant win!
Target has dozens of options that look chic and won’t break the bank. I really like this wooden option from Magnolia, which comes in both rectangular and circular sizes.
12. A wreath!
Omigosh, I LOVE wreaths. They set the perfect tone for a festive season, and there are so many amazing varieties! In fact, I love them so much I put two live wreaths above our bed last year, and after waking up covered in needles, Travis finally said “never again.” 😂 At least we smelled good!
This year, I’m being forced to go faux. I’m picky about my fake fir, so I’ll be buying Balsam Hill! But if you’re bringing one along to a holiday gathering, I recommend taking the real thing. Insider secret: Trader Joe’s will give you the best options, and the most bang for your buck!
Whatever version of a holiday fête hovers in your future this year, I hope this list helps you get ahead of the game! Remember: preparation is the key to keeping your season merry & bright.
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