by Geraldine Campbell
We are entering a period of time when hostess gifts are, once again, a thing you may be thinking about. Entertaining! It’s happening! And while it’s perfectly acceptable to bring yourself and a good, solid hug, it can also be nice to celebrate reuniting with friends and family with a small gift.
As it turns out, I have some opinions about hostess gifts. They should be (in no particular order): practical, affordable, and thoughtful. Ideally, they should also be intended for consumption at some point in the future. In other words, your host should not feel obligated to open your gift and use it straight away.
Allow me to give you a few examples.
1. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is the essential pantry staple that absolutely everyone needs, so do your friend a favor and pick up a bottle. You want one that’s slightly more special than everyday olive oil, but not so special that it will sit around like fancy china (and costs nearly as much). We like Cobram Estate’s California EVOO, which also gets the California Olive Oil Council seal of approval.
With the exception of my mom, who has always and will always drink Melitta coffee that she’s buys in bulk when it goes on sale, I have never known any coffee drinker to be anything but delighted when presented with coffee. In terms of bang for your buck, we love Trader Joe’s Cafe Pajaro beans, which are organic, fair trade, and dark roasted. One note though: Try to find out if they have a grinder; if the answer is no, or you’re not sure, you can grind the beans in at TJ’s.
Buy It: Trader Joe’s Cafe Pajaro, $8
3. Sea Salt
I cannot think of a better $8 gift than a box of Maldon sea salt. I keep this sea salt in a bowl on my countertop and use it to season everything from salads to chocolate chip cookies. It makes me feel fancy and it will make your friends feel fancy, too.
Buy It: Maldon Sea Salt, $8
The right toast, the right butter, the right jam — if you do it right, jam on toast can be downright heavenly. Allow us to introduce BRINS jams and marmalades. The lemon saffron has gotten quite a bit of buzz, but we also love the idea of cherry chai and wild blueberry sumac. Can’t decide? Get two of the minis.
Buy It: BRINS Lemon Saffron, $10
5. Sourdough Bread
This obviously isn’t for your gluten-free friends, but for everyone else, I highly recommend a loaf of sourdough from a local bakery. Sourdough is one of the most nutritious and most delicious breads and I love the idea of supporting local businesses. I recently picked up a gorgeous boule from Winner, a bakery in Brooklyn, to gift to my friend. We did eat some of the bread (with butter and sardines and good salt) that night, but there was plenty leftover for her to enjoy on her own (or freeze for the future!).
Buy It: Winner Sourdough, $9 (or your local bakery!)