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    Nov 8, 2014

    21 Easy And Inexpensive Hostess Gifts

    I know I sound like your mother, but it's bad manners to show up to a party empty-handed. Appropriately, this list is based entirely on suggestions from my mother.

    FOR THE HOST WHO LOVES TO COOK:

    1. A pretty jar or tin of fancy cooking salt.

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    Any fancy salt is great, but red or black salt is more striking and (I think) more special. Use it like you would use sea salt, on finished dishes like pasta, roasted vegetables, steak, or fish. Available here ($4.50).

    2. A jar of uniquely flavored jam or jelly.

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    Everyone appreciates having interesting condiments on hand. Available here ($7.95).

    3. A unique seasoning blend.

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    Za'atar is a traditional Middle Eastern blend of dried herbs, spices and sesame seeds. It's really versatily and great served with olive oil and bread, but unique enough that your host probably won't already have it in his or her cabinet. Available here ($8.91).

    4. A jar of apple butter (or pumpkin butter, or other in-season fruit butter) from the farmers market.

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    So many farm stands (or orchards, if you go to one) sell jars of their own homemade apple butter. If you want to cheat and order homemade apple butter online, it's available here ($8.95).

    FOR THE HOST WHO LOVES WINE & COCKTAILS:

    5. A bottle of bitters.

    Having bitters on hand elevates every cocktail party (and every home bar). Fee brothers rhubarb bitters available here ($8.45). Peychaud's bitters available here ($8).

    6. A personalized wine bottle stopper.

    These are pretty and don't take up much space. Also, there's a good chance your host will need at least one at the end of the party. Available here ($5.99).

    7. Chalkboard Wine Charms

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    The other guests will appreciate this as much as the host. Available here ($9.95).

    8. Cute cocktail napkins.

    BONUS: Funny cocktail napkins serve as a good conversation starter for everybody, all night. Available here ($6 .95) and here ($5.95).

    FOR THE HOST YOU DON'T KNOW VERY WELL:

    9. A box of good truffles.

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    Picking up a box of cheap chocolate at the drugstore is better than nothing, but it's not a very thoughtful hostess gift. Instead, bring a small (read: for the host, not for everybody at the party) box of nice chocolate truffles that feel special. Available here ($10). Here are some other great chocolate gift ideas.

    10. A fancy jar of dulce de leche or chocolate fudge.

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    Bonus points if you also bring ice cream to eat with it. Available here ($9.95).

    11. A cool artisanal chocolate bar.

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    Preferably something you've never seen or heard of before. The gift of discovery is priceless Available here, ($6 per bar).

    FOR THE HOLIDAY PARTY HOST:

    12. Flavored hot beverage stirrers.

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    It's up to your host whether these get served alongside post-dinner coffee, or saved for a cozy treat another day. Available here ($6.95).

    13. A themed cookie cutter.

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    The above snowflake is great if you're going to a holiday party, but rethink the shape of the cookie cutter based on the occasion. Available here ($8.95). And, here are some other legitimately awesome cookie cutters .

    14. A set of snowflake coasters.

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    Super adorable. Available here ($4.95).

    15. A mulled wine spice kit.

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    Bring a bottle of wine along with it and you'll really be a hero. Available here ($9.95). Or, you could DIY a whole bunch and gift them to all of your holiday party hostesses (here's how).

    FOR THE HOST YOU'RE GOOD FRIENDS WITH:

    16. A tea infuser and some loose leaf tea.

    The gift of sitting down to a relaxing cup of tea once everybody has gone home. Tea infuser available here ($3.50). Chamomile tea available here ($6.25).

    17. A set of coasters from your hometown, or theirs.

    Slightly personal but nothing overwhelming. Available here ($4.95).

    18. Nicely packaged scented soap.

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    This triple milled soap from Crabtree & Evelyn—available here ($8)—is pretty and feminine, but pick any scent that you think your host will love.

    CUTE GIFTS THAT YOUR HOST CAN SERVE AT THE PARTY:

    19. A wedge of local cheese.

    It's nice to show up with something that's not super unusual but also isn't available in the supermarket. Obviously "local cheese" depends on where you live, but this wedge of Camembert from a farm in Hudson Valley is great if you're in the New York area. Available here ($7).

    20. A really nice bottle of olive oil, for bread dipping.

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    Bring a baguette as well for a ready-to-go appetizer. Available here ($6.50).

    21. A box of unusual cookies.

    This is not the same thing as showing up with Oreos, or the box of Do-Si-Dos that have been sitting in your pantry since June because you bought them thinking they were Tagalongs. Amaretti cookies available here ($7.95).