Holiday Gift Guide: FOR THE HOST

Every year, we put together lists of our favorite gift items for the season- and this year, we are SO excited with what we’ve found!

One of the first people you may find on your list are hostess gifts for those holiday parties that will surely begin before you know it.  We even like to keep a few in our closet, just in case you find yourself at a party last minute.  One thing you definitely don’t want to do is show up empty handed, and what host wouldn’t LOVE any of these gifts?!

 

These disco ball drink cups might just be my favorite item on the list.  What a fun, festive way to treat your guests- with their favorite holiday cocktail hidden inside!

Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

 

Marble is classic, neutral, and sure to coordinate with any decor your host has.  Add a unique touch with an initial!

Williams Sonoma

Williams Sonoma

 

You’ve probably caught on by now how much we love Anthropologie’s funky finds, and this serving set is no exception.  We love how unique the handles are!

Anthropologie

Anthropologie

 

Kouboo has come out with tons of beautiful new items, and these hand-woven rattan place mats are so gorgeous, we couldn’t decide which color we liked best!  Which one is your favorite?

Kouboo

Kouboo

Kouboo

Kouboo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite gifts to ever receive was a box full of my friends’ and family’s favorite recipes.  Whether you fill it with your own recipes, or leave the cards open for your host to fill, this is sure to be a huge hit for the host who loves to cook, or a great gift for a new couple!

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RawSpiceBar was generous enough to send us a pack of spices to test out, and when they arrived we were delighted to see that they were Oktoberfest themed- how fun (not to mention, absolutely delicious)!  This is such a fun, special way to gift your host with monthly spices and new recipes for them to try.  Pair your RawSpiceBar subscription with cute little spice jars like the ones below- it’s the gift that will keep on giving!

RawSpiceBar

RawSpiceBar

 

 

World Market

World Market

 

We’ve all been to parties where maybe we don’t know the host all that well, but would still like to bring something nice, other than your typical bottle of wine or flowers.  This sweet little porcelain tray from Jonathan Adler is the perfect gift, without breaking the bank.

Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler

 

When all else fails, you can NEVER go wrong with festive cocktail napkins!  These ones can even be reused after the holidays…score!

Wisteria

Wisteria

 

 

What was your favorite hostess gift to give (or receive)?  We’d love to hear some more unique ideas!

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Hosting an Impromptu Oscar Party

Just realize the Academy Awards are Sunday night?  Call a few of your friends and host an easy, fun, and festive Oscars party with these great ideas!  I can just see cosmos in those Hollywood glasses, can’t you?  Have fun and enjoy the Oscars!

 

HGTV

HGTV

 

 

Good Housekeeping

Good Housekeeping

 

 

102345954-BetterHomesAndGardens655drinkcart0744.jpg.rendition.largest

Better Homes and Gardens

 

 

102345956-BetterHomesAndGardenscocktailtable0590.jpg.rendition.largest

Better Homes and Gardens

 

 

Birthday Express

Birthday Express

 

 

Sweet Boutique via Sweet Designs

Sweet Boutique via Sweet Designs

 

 

Do you have a favorite award show snack you love to host with?  Share your ideas!

 

 

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Holiday Gifts For the Host (Without Breaking the Bank!)

Last year our “Holiday Gifts for the Host” was such a big hit we decided to update it for 2015.  I asked some of my favorite party goers what are some of the favorite gifts they have received, as well as some of my own… so, here’s what we came up with!

 

This is one of Jillian’s picks- she loves mercury glass, and just loves the sparkle of these baubles.  They’re perfect for a bottle of wine or her husband, Christian’s favorite scotch!

World Market

Mercury Glass Bottle Stoppers- World Market

 

 

Last year, Justin and Lydia gave me this set as a gift and I just love it.  The acacia wood is beautiful and I love the hammered cheese servers!

Acacia Wedge Server- Crate & Barrel

Acacia Wedge Server- Crate & Barrel

 

 

Is your hostess a great cook?  Does he/she always seem to have goodies that she sends to her friends and family?  A personalized embosser will make their delectable gifts look like they came from a pro!

Personal Embosser- Williams Sonoma

Personal Embosser- Williams Sonoma

 

 

I recently went to a cooking class with Claudine Pepin (daughter of the legendary Jacques Pepin) and she gave me a great tip – I love to have fresh herbs on hand, but they never seem to last in the refrigerator.  She suggested getting some pretty small vases, add water and your herbs, and they will stay fresh for weeks.  And of course, the added benefit is always having something fresh and pretty on the table.  These vases would be perfect for an assortment of different herbs!!

Jayson Home

Ceramic 12-Bud Vase- Jayson Home

 

 

No matter how many wine glasses I have, I can always use more.  These are so festive, and the stemless may mean they won’t fall over and break as quickly!

Flurry Etched Snowflake Stemless Wine Glass- Crate & Barrel

Flurry Etched Snowflake Stemless Wine Glass- Crate & Barrel

 

 

Okay, so this guy is just adorable, and you can never go wrong with a cute ornament!

Corrugate Polar Bear Ornament- Pottery Barn

Corrugate Polar Bear Ornament- Pottery Barn

 

 

I have a little teapot collection and one of my favorites is a cast iron one that Jillian gave me years ago!

Blue Geometric Cast Iron Teapot- World Market

Blue Geometric Cast Iron Teapot- World Market

 

 

Have you gotten a host gift that really stood out?  What will you be bringing this year for your holiday party host?

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Gifts for Your Thanksgiving Hostess

For those of us lucky enough to be going to their family/friends’ home for Thanksgiving, it’s nice to have a little something to bring for your hostess that’s not your usual bottle of wine (although that’s always welcome!).  Think small and easy.  Fresh flowers are beautiful, but unless they are in a container ready for display, they require the hostess to stop and find a vase, cut the stems, and arrange… just one more thing to do on a busy day.  Here are some small, easy-to-wrap gifts.  Or perhaps you can incorporate the napkins, wine dish, or knives into a dish you’re bringing!

Whatever you bring for your hostess, remember that it’s the thought that counts!  So bring a smile and a helpful hand (maybe with a little something special in it)!

 

Cotton and Birch Co via Etsy

Cotton and Birch Co via Etsy

 

 

Crate & Barrel

Crate & Barrel

 

 

Midnight Owl Candle Co via Etsy

Midnight Owl Candle Co via Etsy

 

 

Rehabulous via Etsy

Rehabulous via Etsy

 

 

Uncommon Goods

UncommonGoods

 

 

Anthropologie

Anthropologie

 

Crate & Barrel

Crate & Barrel

 

 

 

Big Dipper Wax Works

Big Dipper Wax Works

 

 

What gift would be your favorite hostess gift to receive?

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8 Steps To The Perfectly Stocked Guest Room

I know it’s only March, but now is the time to start thinking about summer.  And when you have a house on Cape Cod, that means overnight guests.  I’m starting to spruce up my guest room and thought you may be interested in getting yours ready as well.  Think about the last time you visited friends or family – what would you have loved to have seen in the room?  Here are some of my “must haves”.  I hope they work for you, too!

1.  I know this seems like a given, but cozy sheets and an extra blanket are a treat. The guest room is not the place for the old worn out sheets that should have been tossed.  You have guests in your home so make them feel special!

Serena & Lily

Serena & Lily

 

2.  I love to sit up in bed and read before I go to sleep, so extra pillows are a necessity.

Sferra

Sferra

 

3.  A basket with small size toiletries is a nice touch – and don’t forget a toothbrush! It’s the #1 most “forgotten” item in our house!!

Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn

 

4.  Don’t forget to leave out a fresh set of soft towels.  It saves you from rummaging through the linen closet at the last minute.

Matouk

Matouk

 

5.  A bedside table with a light, and perhaps a book of short stories or a magazine is a nice addition.  Do you live in an area that people visit to see the sites?  In Chatham, the beach is the place to be, so a few pamphlets listing the local beaches is always nice.  Maybe you live in the city?  Leave a walking map of the local attractions!

West Elm

West Elm

 

6.   I can’t go to bed without a glass of water at my bedside, so a carafe with a glass would make me feel right at home!

Crate & Barrel

Crate & Barrel

 

7.  Everyone loves fresh flowers, but not everyone loves a strong fragrant bloom next to their bed.  Think pretty but not so fragrant!  Leave the roses and lilacs in the living room!  Opt for the tulips or daisies, or something that’s beautiful with a subtle scent.

Modcloth

Modcloth

Anthropologie

Anthropologie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.  Make sure to leave a space in the closet for a few hang-up clothes and a suitcase rack!

Winsome Dora Straight Leg Luggage Rack, Wayfair

Winsome Dora Straight Leg Luggage Rack, Wayfair

 

Okay, the guest room is ready to go – now let’s get the weather to warm up and the snow to melt, or no one will be visiting me in Massachusetts!

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Christmas Tablescapes

Hosting Christmas dinner?  Need some last minute ideas to set that perfect table?  Every year I try to mix it up a little with my tablescapes.  I’ve done the fresh greens, the table full of candles, the long and low floral arrangements, the ornaments in bowls… every year I look for something just a little bit different.  Here are a few inspirations to help you create something beautiful for your table!

 

White is always fresh and crisp.  This is a lovely yet simple table.  I LOVE the mini gingerbread houses!  Such a great idea, but honestly, a little too advanced for me!

Good Housekeeping

Good Housekeeping

 

Loving the woodland look this year.  But not ready to get out the chainsaw!

Elizabeth Anne Designs

Elizabeth Anne Designs

 

This is such a pretty and natural array of greens and candles.  May be a possibility!

Ruffled Blog

Ruffled Blog, Photo by Park Road Photography

 

I know these are tablescapes from weddings, but I love the garland idea for the holidays!  And fresh fruit is always a great addition on tables for the holidays.

Green Wedding Shoes

Green Wedding Shoes

 

More natural centerpieces!  I love the simple place cards!

Simple Bites

Simple Bites

 

Festive, fun, and colorful!

AO At Home

AO At Home

 

The more of these natural tablescapes I see the more I think I’m going to be out in my yard tomorrow doing some greens cutting!

Nest of Bliss

Nest of Bliss

 

So sparkly and elegant!  I love the array of varied height milk glass candlesticks!

Rustic Wedding Chic

Rustic Wedding Chic

 

So many great ideas.  I think I’m leaning towards some fresh greens and a natural look for this year, and I certainly hope it’s warm in Boston tomorrow, because I think Ill be doing some green cutting!  What is your Christmas tablescape?  Send us your pictures and we’ll post them!!  Good luck!

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Holiday Gift Guide, Day 6: For the Life of the Party

It seems there is always that friend or family member that’s the first to invite everyone over to watch the game, or to crack open the bottle of wine.  How about something that pays homage to their party spirit!

 

Whether it be a wire sculpture or a game to add to their collection, here are some fun ideas to nurture their party spirit!

Wire Script Sculpture, Anthropologie

Wire Script Sculpture, Anthropologie

 

Toulouse Dartboard Set, Jonathan Adler

Toulouse Dartboard Set, Jonathan Adler

 

Bond Poker Set, Ralph Lauren Home

Bond Poker Set, Ralph Lauren Home

 

And keep a few sets of these napkins and place mats on hand for hostess gifts to those impromptu parties put on by your Life of the Party!

Margarita Cocktail Napkins, Jonathan Adler

Margarita Cocktail Napkins, Jonathan Adler

 

Food For Thought Placemat, Kate Spade

Food For Thought Placemat, Kate Spade

 

Behind every Life of the Party is a frustrated party planner waiting to be unleashed.  Help them out with this Reviving the Art of the Hostess Book!!

Dinner Diaries: Reviving The Art Of The Hostess, Anthropologie

Dinner Diaries: Reviving The Art Of The Hostess, Anthropologie

 

And who wouldn’t love this Cake Dome on their party table.  I just may have to pick up one myself!

Victorian Cake Dome, Wisteria

Victorian Cake Dome, Wisteria

 

Here’s a new twist on wine tags – uniquely colored and engraved glasses, or just write your name across the “chalkboard”!  Maybe just a fun Martini glass?  These are so colorful!

Say the Word Colored Flutes, Kate Spade (engravings read: clink, fizz, cheers, pop)

Say the Word Colored Flutes, Kate Spade (engravings read: clink, fizz, cheers, pop)

Mosaic Chalk Martini Glass (Set of 2), Golden Hill Studio (Available via Wayfair)

Mosaic Chalk Martini Glass (Set of 2), Golden Hill Studio (Available via Wayfair)

 Chalk It Up Stemless Wine Glasses Set of 4 , Classic Hostess

Chalk It Up Stemless Wine Glasses Set of 4 , Classic Hostess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you’ve checked off the Life of the Party on your list. Check in tomorrow for Day 7 of our Holiday Gift Guide, For the Fitness Fanatic!

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Holiday Gift Guide, Day 1: For the Host (All Under $25!)

Today is day 1 of our 7-Day Holiday Gift Guide, and it’s dedicated to the “Host”.  This one is so much fun to write because I have received so many hostess gifts over the years – some useful, some fun, and some really unique.  Here are a few (all under $25) that any host would love to receive.

 

Yes, we all have a cheese board, but I love this one because it’s slate and can be used as a “board” to let your guests know what’s being served.  I’ve also used it to put breads or cookies or anything containing nuts, to alert any of my guests that may have a food allergy!

Park Slope Slate Cheeseboard & Chalk, Dot & Bo

Park Slope Slate Cheeseboard & Chalk, Dot & Bo- $16.99

 

Just saw this and couldn’t resist.  Red or white?  Bring one of each!

Elf Pants Wine Bag, Pottery Barn

Elf Pants Wine Bag, Pottery Barn- $15

 

Hands down, this is the best grater EVER!  I use it for everything.  Add some Himalayan Salt cubes, some cinnamon sticks, or nutmeg pods, and I guarantee your host will love it!

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater, Available on Amazon

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater, Available on Amazon- $12.60

 

Last week, I was in San Diego visiting my daughter Jillian, and we stopped in this little store that sold the yummiest scented sugars.  They had everything from spices, to citrus, to herbal!  I wanted one of everything.  This is a great DIY project- just put it in a pretty jar and and you have a true one-of-a-kind gift.

Scented Sugars, PS by Dila- DIY

Scented Sugars, PS by Dila- DIY

 

I love a unique take on a boring kitchen item, and this is both practical and cute.  I love the corks!!  Makes filling them a snap!

Holiday Village Salt & Pepper Shakers, Anthropologie

Holiday Village Salt & Pepper Shakers, Anthropologie- $14.00

 

As you know, I’m Italian!  There is not a piece of bread that goes on my table where there isn’t some garlic and olive oil.  I love this garlic grater plate- no extra mess… just peel your garlic, grate, and serve all in the same place.  If you want to really impress your host, add some slivers of garlic, peppercorns, basil, whole allspice, and fennel seed to that bottle of olive oil!  Yum!!

Garlic Grater and Oil Dipping Dish by Donna and Randall Rollins, Uncommon Goods- $15.00

Garlic Grater and Oil Dipping Dish by Donna and Randall Rollins, Uncommon Goods- $15.00

 

Yes, we all love to give and get candles, but let’s face it, they’re all pretty much the same.  These remind me a little of a Russian Matryoshka nesting doll. They are as pretty to look at unlit as they are when they are burning.

Animal Doll Candles, West Elm

Animal Doll Candles, West Elm- $16-22

 

This cocktail shaker is screaming “pick me up”, and isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with a cocktail shaker??

Telescope Cocktail Shaker, Pottery Barn- $22.99

Telescope Cocktail Shaker, Pottery Barn- $22.99

 

I was introduced to the Corkcicle by Christian, my soon to be son-in-law.  It’s such a great idea and it really works!

Corkcicle Air, RedEnvelope $17.99

Corkcicle Air, RedEnvelope $17.99

 

How great is this!?  Chill your drink without watering it down!  Perfect for the scotch lover on your list, too!

Whiskey Wedge, Corckcicle- $16.95

Whiskey Wedge, Corckcicle- $16.95

 

 

Check out tomorrow’s blog for Holiday Gift Guide, Day 2: Gifts for the Gardener!

And make sure to check below and tomorrow’s gift ideas will be delivered directly to you via email!

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How to Be the Best Holiday Host… Without Breaking the Bank!

I LOVE the holidays and I love to share them with family and friends.  Hosting holiday dinners and parties should be a time of celebration- not a stressful, budget-busting nightmare.  I’ve learned a lot over the past 25 years of hosting family celebrations.  So, if you’re the host…and the chef…here are some helpful hints, so you don’t get SO wrapped up in preparation that you’re too tired to enjoy the celebration!

1.  Plan your menu carefully!  Think about your schedule and your budget the week prior to your party, and only put things on the menu that you can handle.  No one is going to know if that appetizer took hours or minutes!  Consider making things ahead of time and freezing them.  I start baking my holiday cookies the week after Thanksgiving, and Christmas breakfast cinnamon buns are in the freezer 2 weeks in advance.  Make lists – sort them by stores and schedule your menu right down to the times you take them out of the oven.  This helps if you have other helpers in the kitchen, too.

2.  Think buffet/food stations!  Yes, we all like to have a sit-down dinner.  But if it means you have to set up 5 tables with serving platters on each, consider putting all the food on the buffet!  This means 1 serving dish for each item and a lot easier to clean up.  If you’re having a dinner, you still want to make sure you have a place for everyone to sit and a table to put their plate on.  Heavy hors d’oevres and “cocktail party” food is easier to balance if you don’t have a seat for everyone.

3.  Ambiance means lighting and music!  Set the queue on your iPod to run the night.  Remember to crank up the beat for cocktails and temper down the volume for dinner!  Drip-less candles and battery-operated candles are great if you have a really large crowd and don’t have time to keep an eye on things.  Now is the time to use the dimmers on those overhead lights!

4.  Think easy clean-up!  We all want to be “green” but sometimes disposable is actually better than all the water it takes to wash all those dishes.  There are amazing products available that are hard to tell that they aren’t fine china!

5.  Most important – Have fun!  As my friend Colleen says, “This is no one’s last meal”.  The celebration and the company are why they are there.  We all want the food to be perfect but things happen.  Here’s a true story about an office party I hosted…

I really wanted to try a spectacular chocolate raspberry torte.  It took hours.  When it was almost finished, the last step was to cover it with whipped cream.  At this point I was out of time and running out of steam.  I grabbed the “whipped cream in a can” covered the cake and put in the fridge.  Serving time comes and into the fridge I go…only to find the “whipped cream in a can” had deflated and ran down the torte and down every shelf in my refrigerator.  I couldn’t stop laughing – OMG what do I do??  I went back to the party and enlisted the help of a dear friend.  Once we stopped laughing we cleaned off the cream, plated it from the kitchen and added an extra squirt of cream on its way out of the kitchen.  After all the “oohs” and “ahhs” over the dessert (which was AMAZING!) we told our story.  To this day I think about that and what I learned.  Your guests are there for your company…they are very forgiving.  And your response to unexpected surprises is infectious.  If you shrug it off and laugh, they will, too!

So, do yourself a favor and RELAX!  (And a glass of wine for the cook doesn’t hurt, either!)

To spruce up your decor, try one of these!  You can never have too much glitz over the holidays!

 

Amber Glitter Strings, Pier 1 Imports

Amber Glitter Strings, Pier 1 Imports

 

Lacquer Chargers, West Elm

Lacquer Chargers, West Elm

 

Gold Waves Square Dish, Studio A

Gold Waves Square Dish, Studio A

 

Glitter Coasters, Kate Spade

Glitter Coasters, Kate Spade

Grace Avenue Napkin Ring, Set of Four, Kate Spade

Grace Avenue Napkin Ring, Set of Four, Kate Spade

 

Mod, Chilewich

Mod, Chilewich

 

Crystal Bracelet Napkin Ring, Set of 4, Pottery Barn

Crystal Bracelet Napkin Ring, Set of 4, Pottery Barn

 

This is a great idea for a cocktail party!  Now you can eat, drink, talk, and walk….

Party Plate With Built-In Stemware Holder, Plastic, Direct Shopping Center

Party Plate With Built-In Stemware Holder, Plastic, Direct Shopping Center

Sleek and Shiny Wine Bottle Glasses Holder Heel Ivory, Jewelry Nanny

Sleek and Shiny Wine Bottle Glasses Holder Heel Ivory, Jewelry Nanny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And how fun are these?!!  I guarantee that camera will turn a few heads!  So, grab your glass and fill it to the rim, you’re going to need it!  Happy Entertaining!

Smile an Say Cheese Sliver, Modcloth

Smile and Say Cheese Sliver, Modcloth

Hang on a Prosecco Wine Rack, Modcloth

Hang on a Prosecco Wine Rack, Modcloth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love any new hints for party planning!  Please share yours in the comments section!

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