This is a challenge to all of the fun, fashionable females out there: it's time we come up with equally fun and fashionable hostess gifts. We are too good to be stuck in this rut! I'm just as guilty as you are. It's the last minute and I'm running to a dinner or cocktail party and, never fails, I end up with the requisite flowers or wine under my arm. Certainly a tired, overused gift is better than no gift at all, but I believe that deep down we are all capable of better.
Here's what I'm thinking. Instead of flowers, why not give a luxurious designer candle or elegant soap? If you've never experienced a truly high-end candle you are in for a treat. These are not you average discount store candles. While a regular candle may fill the air with a fragrance that mimics your favorite air freshener scent, a handcrafted candle makes your home into a work of perfumed art.
One of my favorite designer candle lines is Tocca. These adorable mini versions of Tocca's signature candle scents come with a coordinated matchbook and are available in nearly all of the same scents as Tocca's full-size candles. Stella fills your home with the sweet, fresh scent of Italian blood orange while Feu de Touch is a rich, floral gardenia.
→ Buy Tocca Candles - Candelina Mini Candles, $20.00, at tocca.com.
For delightful and delicious-smelling soaps I recommend Fresh Petit Soaps. They come in many scents and and each is wrapped in it's own unique handmade paper -- no gift wrapping needed! I've given these beautiful soaps as gifts over and over again, and each time they receive a very warm welcome. My favorites are sumptuous Fig Apricot and fresh Bergamot Citrus.
→ Buy the Fresh Petit Soaps, $12.00, at fresh.com.
If a cocktail party is where you are headed, why not skip the traditional gift of alcohol and instead opt for a gourmet mixer. Surely the hostess will already have plenty of basics, so a mixer will give new life to the party. Stirrings makes gourmet mixers in all of the expected, and some not so expected, varieties -- Blood Orange Martini is pictured here.
→ Buy Stirrings Cocktail Mixers, $7.00, at stirrings.com.
Now that we are all armed with a few good hostess gift ideas, let's go forth and give in style! The trend will surely catch on among all of our friends and the thoughtfulness will be repaid upon us in time. Happy hostessing!
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on July 27, 2006. It has since been updated.