Get Going
Kristin Booker • December 6, 2009

Style Lab: Five Last-Minute Hostess Gifts that Cost Almost Nothing

Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. Just started a brand new day job and all sorts of things but I’m back and we’re going to kick it into high gear immediately. Let’s get started, shall we?

So, it’s that time of year and we’re all running from party to party, trying to figure out what to wear, how to get there and how to avoid getting too drunk on sneaky cocktails or avoid eating too much at the holiday party. Wait a minute…did I forget to get a hostess gift? Ah yes, see, most of us forget to take a customary hostess gift when we arrive, which usually sends most of us on a frenzied run to the nearest mall or sheepishly walking in with a random bottle of wine that still has the price tag on it.  Get creative, people! Here are five fool-proof and very fun last-minute hostess gifts that will have them in awe of your gift-giving skills:

Candy, candy, candy! This also works if you’ve been invited to a potluck dinner and you cook so infrequently you have sweaters in your stove, a la Carrie Bradshaw. Head to your local Target (or if in NYC, head to our beloved Dylan’s Candy Bar) and grab multiple bags of candy, an elegant glass vase and an adhesive bow. Make your purchase and on your way out, dump all the candy into the vase, then stick the bow on it. Your host or hostess can use the vase for flowers all year and you’ve just given her a fabulous set of treats for the holidays.


Vintage Cookbooks – Bounce over to your local Salvation Army or a vintage book store and give your budding Martha Stewart a vintage cookbook. It’s unexpected, the recipes stand the test of time and it’s going to cost you less than $10.

Classic Cocktail Kit – Again, this is where Target is your best friend. Head over to the music area and grab a CD that has sort of a swingy cocktail vibe (Michael Buble, Jamie Cullum, Diana Krall or anything truly classic and amazing like Frank Sinatra always works), then head over to the housewares department and grab a martini shaker and two glasses. Walk over to gift wrap and nab a gift bag, one package of paper and a bow. Pay, put them together and arrive on time with gift in hand.

Take a Moment Packages – Look, this might sound trite but who in the world is going to pass up free money and free music? If you want to watch someone scream like a kid at Christmas, throw an iTunes gift card into a small gift bag with a copy of Us Weekly and a bath bomb from Lush and watch them squeal with delight.

A Drive-By Gift Bag – This is the ultimate in “Oh-shit-we-forgot-to-get-a-gift” giving and it makes for an absolutely hilarious host or hostess present. Grab a plain shopping bag from your own house, then drive (or walk) to your nearest gas station and attack. Fill the bag full of junky snacks that you think they might like (or that you like, whatever works), candy, a couple of magazines that are just ridiculous (again, tabloids are a favorite – people will act like they hate them but when given the chance, they’ll watch the car crash just like the rest of us) and throw in a couple of lottery tickets. It’s hilarious and the next day they’ll thank you silently when they realize they don’t have to leave the house to indulge in their junk food-head candy binge they’ve been silently plotting for weeks.

So go ahead and use these. If you show up to a party where I’m going, I promise right here and now…I won’t even take credit for these ideas. It’ll be just our little secret.


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