5 gift ideas for party hosts, from Quench experts
Holiday season means holiday parties – if you haven’t attended one yet, just wait. They’re right around the corner. Bringing a gift for your host is a time-honoured tradition. If you want to really wow your favourite host(ess), wrap up something more unique and exciting. We asked our experts to give us their gift ideas, so that you can show up to your next party with confidence.
Most people default to gifting wine – which is an acceptable gift, no question! However, bringing alcohol to a party comes with the expectation that you will drink it that evening. “That’s not really a present. That’s self-catering,” explains Jordan St John. “You should still self-cater. They’re not likely to have the beer you like even if they are great hosts.”
Looking for a good brew that will excite your hosts? Try a bottle of saison.
“A large bottle of saison, as it’s very food friendly and usually capped with a cork and cage signalling a ‘fancy’ brew. Some of my favourites are Oast House Saison, Saison Du Pont, and Four Winds Saison.” Crystal Luxmore
Reading is a relaxing past-time for most people. If your host is a reader – or interested in learning new things – consider bringing a book on their favourite topic. “A book [is] the gift that entertains and informs long after the dinner party is over,” explains Ron Liteplo. Choose your book wisely. Ron Liteplo suggests picking something light and easy. Try one of these:
“Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany, a tiny combination cookbook, wine list, household guide, and culinary history. Want to know how to cook a swan? This book is for you. Or pick up Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, published each year and a great companion when poring over a restaurant wine list.” Ron Liteplo
“I fell in love with the recently published book The Lager Queen of Minneosta. As a beer lover, a sister and storyteller this book ticked every box, and all I want to do is share it! I loved this book so much, it was so nice to read a book about beer that wasn’t technical, and is centred around strong women. If I was going to a fellow beer enthusiasts house, I would gift them the book, and pair it with the juiciest, freshest IPA I could find at my local shop.” Tara Luxmore
Treat your host to something delicious they can snack on after everyone has left. The options are endless here. You can whip up a lovely treat at home or find a local bakery, chocolatiers, fromagerie or what have you, and pick up a gift basket.
“On any number of occasions, I have baked a loaf of bread, and popped it into a fancy box, along with a recipe and a card. Works every time.” Duncan Holmes
“I’m partial to a really nice bar of chocolate. Easy to wrap, doesn’t take up much space, and can be tucked away by the host to enjoy later once the hoopla has died down and there’s no food left in the fridge. Plus dark chocolate has all those health benefits. Based on the West Coast, I’d recommend anything from Victoria-based Sirene Chocolate, which crafts international-award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate in a backyard workshop not far from where I live.” Holland Gidney, part of Quench’s copy desk
“I highly recommend a top-notch extra virgin olive oil if you can find one from the most recent harvest. The 2019s should just be starting to trickle into the market. Olive oil is at its best when fresh and this is as fresh as it comes. A little drizzle on soup is magic. Many great wine producers in Portugal, Spain and Italy also make delicious olive oil though generally in small quantities so the bottle is extra special. I go through a bottle every few weeks so I am always grateful for a new bottle too.” Michaela Morris
Add a splash of colour and fun to your host’s life with fun, unique decorative and useful items. Make it that much more meaningful by gifting something sentimental or with a fun memory attached.
“I like to bring fresh cut flowers or a potted plant (seasonal). I love to receive flowers, it always feels special. Plus, if the host hasn’t thought about a table centrepiece, stick the cut flowers in a vase and one is ready-made for them.” Crystal Luxmore
“Whenever I travel abroad, I try to bring back a few articles made by local craft people, often a home decoration item or something for the table (a nice plate or platter, for example). They always come with a story.” Gilles Bois
“My go-to is a wine- or food-themed dish towel. Bonus points if I can find one made of quality linen that won’t leave lint on crystal glassware. A pair of matching cloth pads for handling hot pots and pans would be nice, too. These kitchen accessories regularly wear out with time and use, so hosts often appreciate them greatly. I recall one towel with a vintage chart for Bordeaux going back to the year 1800. Others I’ve given away had scenes of chateaus or vineyards. I once found a collection of grape types printed on oven pads. Occasionally these items appear in gift stores but winery retail shops are your best bet.” Konrad Ejbich
“The most memorable host gifts I’ve received have been produced, with the help of earth and sunlight, by the givers own hands and toil. In one case, it was a trio of garlic bulbs and a bouquet of beautifully fragrant dried lavender flowers; another was the gift of stunning plants dug up from the guests’ yard and brought to grow in ours. More thoughtful and meaningful than anything that could be bought, these offerings also serve to reinforce the connection between food, fellowship, friends and soil. A bonus: the gifted garlic was, by far, the best I’ve ever had the privilege of cooking with!” Joanne Will
If you know that your host is a wine lover, chances are they already have a cellar full of wine. Instead of adding to their carefully curated collection, give them a useful accessory.
“Wine glasses. Everybody who likes wine always needs wine glasses – especially at a holiday party. A four- or six-glass set of quality white wine glasses will always be welcome, possibly that same evening.” W. Blake Gray
“If you want to make your host a friend for life, buy him or her a Coravin – a device for extracting wine from a bottle without removing the cork. The Coravin inserts a needle through the cork and allows you to pour off an ounce or two or more and then replaces the head space with an inert gas. They aren’t cheap but they make an amazing gift. (Only don’t try to use them if the bottle has a glass stopper under the protective foil!)” Tony Aspler
“A Champagne stopper. With it, Champagne morphs from a ‘special occasion’ beverage to a nightly aperitif. It allows you to have a glass of Champagne and stopper the bottle, maintaining the fizz, for another day — or two, or three. If you choose a less expensive sparkling wine, such as the fruity and lively Roederer Estate Brut from Anderson Valley or the crisp and edgy Simonnet-Febrve Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé, you can halve those expenses and still ‘celebrate’ on a nightly basis.” Michael Apstein