Make a Great First Impression With These Perfect Gifts for Meeting the Family
Meeting your significant other's family for the first time this holiday season? We've got you covered with thoughtful gift ideas guaranteed to make a great first impression.
We all know the dos and don'ts of meeting a significant other's parents for the first time: don't argue about politics, don't talk with food in your mouth and, of course, do bring a gift. Especially during the holidays, a sincere, thoughtful gift tells his parents that you're invested in your relationship with their child and that you care about building one with his family. But if you're still struggling to find the perfect present, don't stress! We've compiled a list of great gifts to buy or DIY just in time for the big day.
THE BEST DIY GIFTS:
Volunteer to bring a delicious homemade dessert to the holiday gathering. They'll be super impressed by your thoughtfulness and, of course, your mad baking skills.
Make This: Cranberry Orange Linzer Cookies
Cookie Cutter Peppermint Fudge
Cookie cutters aren't just great for baking, they also make cute containers for decadent fudge you can gift to friends, coworkers, neighbors or any sweet-tooth on your holiday gift list. Get the recipe.
Christmas Ornament Cookie Pops
Festive and oh-so-tasty, these colorful ornament cookie pops are almost too pretty to eat -- almost! But, with a gooey chocolatey filling, we bet you'll want to give eating them a try. Get the recipe.
Greeting Card Cookie
Homemade chocolate chip cookies are always a favorite goodie. Embellish CD tins with our free printable templates to turn this tasty treat into a clever holiday card. Get the recipe.
Cranberry Pistachio Sablés
French for sand, sablé cookies are essentially shortbread with a signature toothy texture. This version ups the ante of a classically delicious shortbread with the addition of chewy cranberries and crunchy pistachios and the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Get the recipe.
Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Crispies
A year-round favorite treat gets a delicious update for the holidays. Add the flavors of chocolate and peppermint to crisp rice treats before packaging them as homemade gifts for family and friends. Get the recipe.
Hazelnut Hot Cocoa
Chocolatey hot cocoa knocks the chill off even the coldest of winter days. Share the warmth this holiday season by packaging the rich ingredients in a canning jar so the recipient can whip one up whenever they need a warm and creamy pick-me-up. Get the recipe.
Holiday Breakfast Kit
The holidays are a harried, stressful time for most of us. Give a friend a (delicious!) reason to relax with a cup of coffee or tea before hitting the malls for another marathon shopping day by boxing up homemade cinnamon biscuits and a flavorful spread. Get the recipe.
Fluffy white chocolate mousse layered between light-as-air homemade meringues give this gorgeous dessert a dreamy texture. Hand-deliver this impressive treat to wow the foodies on your gift list. Get the recipe.
Coffee and Caramel Pep-Corn
Give crunchy, sweet caramel corn a flavorful kick with the addition of espresso. Package the "pep-corn" in tubes covered with our free printable template for a one-of-a-kind homemade gift. Get the recipe.
Maple Nut Toffee
Take the traditional taste of toffee up a notch with the addition of real maple syrup. Topped with a layer of semisweet chocolate, this toffee is so irresistible that you'll want to box it up as gifts quickly before you're tempted to keep it all for yourself. Get the recipe.
Tangy Citrus Marmalade
Marmalade is surprisingly simple to make and, canned in pretty jars, it's a holiday gift they'll enjoy for many months to come. Pair your homemade marmalade with a basket of freshly baked croissants or scones for a treat they'll never forget. Get the recipe.
Lemon-Filled Honey Shortbread
Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies
For many people, classic oatmeal cookies are a nostalgic treat. For holiday gift-giving, try our recipe for a thick, hearty cookie that pairs the clean taste of citrus with chewy dried cranberries. Get the recipe.
Chocolate-Dipped Kettle Chips
Coat super-crunchy, salty kettle-fried potato chips with semisweet chocolate and a thin layer of caramel and chopped nuts to create a sweet-meets-salty snack that satisfies all your cravings at once. Get the recipe.
Coconut Hot Chocolate Spoons
Gift friends with a colorful coffee mug and silver teaspoon they just swirl in hot milk to create a delicious homemade hot chocolate. Our free printable tag adds the perfect finishing touch. Get the recipe.
Mincemeat Thumbprint Cookies
Mincemeat -- which, don't worry, doesn't actually contain meat -- is a centuries-old holiday favorite. Made with a variety of diced fruits, the flavor is complex and spicy. Surrounded by a rich, crumbly cookie, these little goodies are a perfectly balanced, not-too-sweet treat. Get the recipe.
Pear and Fig Tart in a Jar
These fruit-and-cream tarts are simple enough for novice chefs to make, thanks to a pie crust shortcut. Individually portioned in clear glass jars, they're just the right size for holiday gift-giving. Get the recipe.
Friends and family will flip for these crunchy, chocolatey cookies filled with rich mascarpone cream and then rolled in mini chocolate chips. The mascarpone cheese makes these cookies unsuitable for shipping; they're best for treating guests in your home or for local delivery. Get the recipe.
Chocolate Stout Pudding
Featuring the rich, complex flavors of Ireland's favorite brew, fill lidded jars with this thick and creamy chocolate dessert to treat friends who enjoy a good pint. Get the recipe.
Tasty Pecan Tassies
These tart-like goodies are the perfect mix of nuts and cookies. Make this traditional holiday treat with real maple syrup; friends and family will love the homey taste. Get the recipe.
Creatively package scratch-made marshmallows, cookies and chocolate with handmade skewers in a campfire-ready tin. Outdoorsy types will be sure to thank you when they're enjoying hot, gooey s'mores. Get the recipe.
Glass Jar Terrarium with Orchid
In this modern terrarium, floral designer Laurel LeMaistre used a combination of natural found material, such as birch bark and swirled branches along with petite orchid plants, and polished river stones. Orchids are a staple flower for all modern design, and their simplicity and longevity make them a perfect choice for terrarium work, says LeMaistre, a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.
For a gorgeous gift that won't require a lot of maintenance, choose easy-to-care-for plants and materials like orchids, river stones and birch bark. Arrange inside a glass terrarium for a chic look.
Make This: How to Create a Terrarium
Grow a Mushroom Garden
The California company Back to the Roots offers DIY types the opportunity to skip the foraging step, and just grow their own mushrooms -- up to 1 1/2 pounds of oyster mushrooms all inside a handy cardboard box in as little as 10 days. Endorsed by no less a foodie goddess than Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, this kit is a great learning opportunity for kids and a bonding activity for the whole family. (Image courtesy of Back to the Roots)(Image courtesy of Back to the Roots)
Lure Birds and Save the Planet
The sustainably-minded company Birds Choice uses recycled plastic and milk jugs, recrafting them into lovely birdhouses designed to attract the bird of your choice, in this case the jaunty, red-headed woodpecker.(Image courtesy of Birds Choice)
An Airport for Birds
This Thru-Feeder made from recycled material, allows a variety of birds to stop in for a nibble with an easily removable and cleaned seed tray. Comes with a lifetime guarantee not to crack, split or fade. (Image courtesy of Birds Choice)
Sitting Pretty Feeder
Have a penchant for up-close-and-personal birdwatching? This window mount feeder brings the birds right up to your window to eat, so you can just sit back and watch the feathered parade.(Image courtesy of Birds Choice)
Lifestyle expert James Farmer loves birds and wreaths in equal measure, which is why the bird seed wreaths from Burpee are at the top of his wish list this season. (Image courtesy of Burpee)
Sunshine for Birds
Want to make the birds in your hood happy? Hook them up with this sweetly beaming bird seed ornament from Burpee. The fine folks at Burpee tell us they fly out the door every year, so get yours now. Image courtesy of Burpee
The Holiday Goes to the Birds
What says Christmas like providing food to those less fortunate? Keep those lovely birds who sing their hearts out for you, happy with a wreath made of birdseed they can pick at all winter long. Birdseed wreaths run from $14.95-$15.95. Image courtesy of Burpee
Tis the season to gift 20 pound books that express your giftee's devotion to all things botanical. Filmmaker and photographer Andrew Zuckerman's lavishly illustrated coffee table book features blooms so colorful and lush they become almost psychedelic. Image courtesy of Chronicle Books
Get Your Bloom On
Fashion designer Carolyne Roehm has a side passion as a photographer and this massive book features her twin love of design and botanicals. Beautifully arranged still lifes of daffodils, Meyer lemons and vases; gardens of blooming lilacs; ballgown pouffs of peonies, all convey the majesty of nature. Image courtesy of Random House
Green Under Glass
Terrariums are the perfect hostess gift because they're something people covet but will rarely buy for themselves. At Garden in Atlanta, Georgia owner and landscape expert Matthew Klyn makes his with a mixture of succulents including echeveria, sedum, pencil cactus and hens and chicks and they're decorated for the holidays with small ornaments, snow, red and green pebbles and birch cut-outs. $40-$400. Image courtesy of Garden
This garden sculpture keeps springtime alive all year long. Created by California artist Susan Regent, the steel iris is just over two feet high and will adopt a rust patina after it spends a few seasons in the elements. $135.95. Image courtesy of The Growers Exchange
Keep Your Best Friend Cozy
Why should those who walk upright have all of the sartorial fun? Outfit your dog in a cozy fleece vest and you may find him fetching your slippers with more of a spring in his step. Leave it to the outdoorsy folks at Orvis to make sure even Fido is covered in the winter gear department. Image courtesy of Orvis
Nothing is quite as emblematic of the promise of spring like the hopeful ivory blossoms of paperwhites. Beautifully presented in a sea-grass basket, these paperwhites will bloom in about six weeks. Image courtesy of Orvis
Our go-to gift for the gardener who has every gadget under the sun, this honey hive lease lets the bees do the work and the recipient reap the rewards! Lease options include early summer, late summer or a single flavor lease that lets you choose between blueberry (harvested in Maine), raspberry (harvested in Vermont), wildflower (harvested in the Catskills) or cranberry honey, which is harvested on Cape Cod. Recipients receive a lease document, three progress reports and a minimum of 30 ounces of 100% natural honey delivered to their door. $39.95-$59.95. Image courtesy of Rent Mother Nature
Herb in a Box
We love the smart, sleek design of this grow pot, which looks great on any shelf long before the basil starts to sprout. Made of sustainable bamboo, the top converts into a drainage saucer. $20. Image courtesy of Spoon Sisters
Gardening Go Guide
Destined to be displayed proudly on any gardener's bookshelf, Trowel & Error is more than an adorable play on words. This handy guide offers up more than 700 inventive tips like how to use spoiled milk on sick plants and why baby powder keeps hungry rabbits at bay. $13.95. Image courtesy of Spoon Sisters
Skip the basket to gather your veggies and instead don a gorgeous linen apron. Scoop up those baby eggplants and heirloom tomatoes in this pretty garment designed by blogger-turned-designer Valerie Rice. Image courtesy of Valerie Rice
Herbal Circle of Life
Dried dill, savory, marjoram, sage, lavender and fresh rosemary is harvested by hand on a family-owned farm and shaped into this lush and lovely wreath, which looks just as good as it smells. $69. Image courtesy of Viva Terra
Mums are one of the most fleeting flowers of fall, but they're in season year round thanks to these stylish slippers. Crafted of felted wool from a group of women in Kathmandu, these blooms will brighten up even the coldest winter day. $75. Image courtesy of Viva Terra
Want to bring a little hip to your garden? Stake one of these vibrantly colored and super-cool planters in powder-coated aluminum from California husband and wife designers Wallter in your garden for some mid-century pop. Image courtesy of Wallter
At $92 each, these powder-coated aluminum planters aren't cheap, but if a design-savvy gardener in your life is looking to add some color and cool to their green space, these whimsical planters from Wallter are just the ticket. Image courtesy of Wallter
Air plants with their unique growing habit, deserve a vessel that does them justice. These whimical glass orbs from West Elm are an appropriate showcase for your ethereal plants. Image courtesy of West Elm
Every gardener yearns for an organizing device to keep all of the tools of the trade close at hand. This tool basket is a charming solution in rattan with a removable canvas liner you can wash when things get messy. $39.95. Image courtesy of Williams Sonoma
If you love your chickens, you'll want to give them a home with some style. This one has not only a built-in run, but an attached planter to grow some herbs or tomatoes and add a bit of green to the old homestead. Image courtesy of Williams Sonoma
Hot Off the Presses
Anxious to gift your favorite DIY homesteader with something unique they'll really use? We think this wine and cider press promises seasons full of crisp apple cider and sparkling vino created in this centuries-old design. Image courtesy of Williams Sonoma
Cut that expensive grocery store middle man out of your life, and DIY your own butter. This clever kit shows you how to whip up some rich, creamy butter to grace your homemade bisquits. Image courtesy of Williams Sonoma
DIY Rustic Bread Board
You don't need to spend a lot of money to give a beautiful, vintage-style gift. This rustic bread board is easy to make with just a few everyday tools and materials. Include a fresh loaf of delicious homemade walnut bread and you'll definitely be invited back next year.
Make This: DIY Rustic Bread Board
No-Knit Monogrammed Mittens
Knit accessories are always a popular handmade holiday gift — but what if you can't knit or crochet? Then these personalized mittens are right up your alley — just stitch baker's twine initials onto readymade mittens, a scarf or hat for a personalized gift to keep them toasty warm all winter long.
Wow Wine Lovers
Upcylcle an old wooden pallet into this storage-rich wine rack that'll keep their favorite vintages within easy reach. Handy built-in storage for wineglasses turns this rack into a space-saving bar.
Craft a Custom Tray
Make This Classic Board Game
Encourage the kids on your gift list to step away from tech devices and reconnect with friends and family by instead sitting down at a board game. A classic, like this rustic-inspired tic-tac-toe board, is fun for all ages, and is easy for the gifter to create using cut wood slices and a live-edge board from the craft store.
Don't Forget Your Furry Friend
If your kitty goes gonzo for catnip (half of all cats do), treat them with a small, handmade toy to hold their stash. Scientists agree that smelling, rather than eating, catnip garners the biggest response but they still aren't sure what neurological reaction catnip triggers for sensitive cats. It's thought that it stimulates receptors in their brains that makes them feel initially energetic, playful and happy, then mellow and relaxed.
Easily Craft a Pretty Trinket Box
Turn inexpensive fence-post caps, from the hardware store, into a pretty jewelry or gift box. By itself, the box makes a thoughtful birthday, Mother's Day or holiday gift. Fill it with sweet treats or a small trinket for a handmade gift they won't soon forget.
Custom Smart Phone or Tablet Covers
A new tablet or smart phone top most people's most-wanted-gift list this year. If springy for a pricey tech gift isn't in your budget, get crafty to surprise them with a custom-made felt cover to protect their new gadget. Download our free patterns and learn how to sew one up with our step-by-step instructions.
Make the Container Part of the Gift
This vintage copper bundt pan is proof that practical can be pretty. Too pretty, in fact, to hide away in a box. Filled with spices, tea towels, wooden spoons and other kitchen essentials, this collection will put a smile on any foodie's face.
Upcycle Old Sweaters Into a Stocking
Don't toss that old sweater. Instead, repurpose it as a custom stocking for someone special on your gift list, then stuff their stocking with a few small wrapped surprises. This project requires no sewing machine or knitting needles and can easily be completed in an afternoon.
Cozy Up Their Cocoa or Coffee
Nothing feels better in ice cold hands than a piping hot cup of cocoa, tea or coffee — but, sometimes, a hot cup can be a bit too hot. The solution: our easy-to-craft felt cozies that are made by simply cutting felt into simple shapes then attaching them to felt bands that are a little longer than a standard paper coffee cup (7 to 9 inches long). Add self-adhesive Velcro strips to the felt's edges so the cozy will stay securely wrapped around the cup.
Make a Pet Feeding Station
Make mealtime a little easier on large or older dogs by turning an old stool, box or crate into a raised feeding station where food and water are within easy reach. This is also a great gift for anyone who treasures their pet.
Note: Some vets caution that giant breeds or dogs prone to bloat shouldn't eat from a raised feeder. If in doubt, please first check with your vet.
Kids' Craft: Birdseed Ornaments
Bird watchers and naturalists on your list will love this thoughtful handmade gift that allows them to get a closer peek at winter's colorful birds. Bonus: This easy project is a great one to make with even the littlest crafters.
Rolling Storage Crate
Fill this cute crate with books or toys as a fun gift for kids or with newborn necessities as a thoughtful gift for a mom-to-be. To create, shop antique stores or online sites for an old produce, wine or shipping crate. Thoroughly clean the crate, removing any loose staples and lightly sanding the wood to remove splinters. Purchase casters at your local hardware store and thoroughly coat them in a kicky spray-paint color. Once the paint has dried, attach them to the crate's bottom slats with wood screws.
Spread Holiday Cheer With a Wine Elf
Seriously, how cute are these little guys? I wouldn't mind seeing a whole band of them spreading cheer at one of my holiday get-togethers. To dress up a bottle of wine as a holiday hostess gift, cut felt into an 8x10 rectangle and faux fur into a triangle roughly 2 inches wide by 4 inches long. Wrap felt rectangle into a cone shape, securing the edges with fabric glue as you wrap. Glue the faux fur "beard" to the inside of the felt "hat" and finish with a small pom-pom "nose."
Tell your little hero that you think they're super by stitching up the perfect gift. Personalized with their initial or name, this action-ready cape guarantees hours of imaginative playtime. Our step-by-step instructions will help you whip one up for every super kid on your gift list.
Kids' Craft: Ruffled Rose Headband
With just a little help from a crafty adult, kids can turn a plain elastic headband into a sweet hair accessory, perfect for girls big or small. Inexpensive materials and easy steps ensure girls can make enough of these to hand out to all their friends.
Make It Easy for Them to Stash Their Stuff
Anyone with kids will tell you that they could always use more toy storage — especially if its stylish enough to blend in with the "adult" furniture. Well, they'd be thrilled to receive this spacious chest with an upholstered top so it can also be used as a bench or coffee table. Put your wood-working skills and our step-by-step instructions to work to make one as a surprise for the parents on your gift list.
Craft a Fashion-Forward Keychain
These trendy leather tassels are popular with fashionistas both as keychains and purse fobs. The real leather versions are pricey -- making them instead out of faux leather is much more affordable and you'll be surprised how easy these little fashion accessories are to DIY. Follow these instructions from our friends at HGTV Magazine to craft them up in all the colors of the rainbow.
Make This Upcycled Jewelry Box
Old cutlery boxes are easy to find at estate sales or in antique or thrift shops — usually at bottom-dollar prices. With just a little elbow grease, you can turn one of these bargain boxes into a massive jewelry box that any fashionista on your list will be thrilled to receive.
Felted Sweater Vases and Candleholders
Wool sweaters are great — until you toss them in the washer and accidentally shrink them down to doll size. But, don't throw them out. Exposing wool to hot water, soap and a little agitation (all things that happen in the wash) not only causes the wool fibers to shrink, it also felts them, creating a super soft, nubby texture and preventing the knitted threads from fraying when cut. Put your doll-sized mishaps to good use crafting one of-a-kind handmade gifts, like Alicia of Thrifty and Chic who used hers to turn plain glass vases into trendy handmade gifts.
Monogrammed Men's Leather Valet
Does the man on your gift list need somewhere to stash his stuff? Easily turn an old frame and upcycled leather into a personalized tray to stylishly hold his keys, watch, cash — everything he needs to grab before heading out the door.
Leather Christmas Stockings
Give any mantel a high-fashion makeover with stockings creatively recycled from old leather or vinyl coats. The finished stockings can be embellished with rivets, colorful stitching or stamped with the recipient's name or initials.
The green thumbs on your list will appreciate this handy caddy filled with potting soil, pots, an assortment of seeds and other necessities for getting a head start on spring planting. Make a gift to nurture their green thumbs with our step-by-step instructions.
Put a playful spin on classic game taxidermy with silhouette pop art. Paint the surface of the cardboard backing in a picture frame, then trace the silhouette of a buck head to the backing with a pencil. Cover the traced silhouette with colorful buttons, fastening them in place with hot glue.
Infused Liquor Party Favors
As easy as mixing together a few common kitchen ingredients with standard liquors, these three festive flavors make delicious holiday cocktails and party favors.
These DIY flavored liquors are great conversation starters and make much more unique gifts than the standard bottle of wine or whiskey. Tip: Check that the family has no religious or moral objections before gifting liquor. You definitely don't want to offend!
Make This: DIY Flavored Liquors
THE BEST ALL-IN-ONE GIFTS:
Vintage Hostess Gifts
Silver Ice Bucket
Silver-plate pieces can generally be found for around $20, especially at yard sales. Pick up an ice bucket or champagne chiller, fill with a bottle of bubbly and tie on a bow to create the perfect hostess gift that can be enjoyed at holiday parties for years to come.
Go on the hunt for a sweet vintage piece you can fill with inexpensive treasures for the host or hostess. A silver-plate champagne bucket can usually be found for around $20 at most antique stores or yard sales and is the perfect vessel for unique glassware, whiskey stones and, of course, champagne! No need to wrap, just tie with a bow and seasonal greenery for a pretty presentation.
What's more fitting than to fill a vintage sugar jar with sweets? Fill a small jar with classic holiday candy for a simple gift. You can find a great deal on jars with missing lids, ones that are orphaned from a set or those with small chips or cracks.
Be on the lookout for vintage wooden crates with original paint or unique typography when flea market season is in full swing. Fill crates with shredded paper and seasonal fruit, such as citrus and pomegranate. The crate can become functional storage afterward.
Vintage canning jars can be picked up at flea markets or antique stores for just a few dollars, and they make great containers for small, simple gifts. Fill a jar halfway with Epsom salt to represent snow, and drop a pretty ornament inside.
Vintage wooden bread boards have become more popular over the past few years, but can still be found for a bargain. Pair a wooden board with some homemade bread or an artisan loaf from a bakery. Wrap the loaf in brown paper and tie it with some butcher twine, greenery and a tag.
Teacups can be found by the dozen at yard sales and thrift stores. Pick them up to give as small gifts to those who enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Tuck some favorite flavors or blends inside the cup, tied in a bundle with twine or pretty ribbon.
Wooden Totes and Caddies
Silver Champagne or Ice Bucket
Silver-plate pieces can generally be found for around $20, especially at yard sales. Pick up an ice bucket or champagne chiller, fill with a bottle of bubbly and tie on a bow to create the perfect hostess gift that can be enjoyed at holiday parties for years to come.
Pretty ironstone china casserole dishes or soup tureens are great presents on their own, but are better when filled with monogrammed linen napkins, silver napkin rings and some flatware. A collection like this makes a thoughtful gift for a newlywed or someone who loves to entertain.
Vintage buckets can be found in all shapes, sizes, materials and colors. This metal dry-goods bucket makes a great holder for a live rosemary plant to give to the chef or gardener in your life. Buckets can also be filled with miniature Christmas trees or winter flowers like paperwhites. Include tips on caring for the plant on the back of the gift tag.
Why give a gift in a disposable paper box when a vintage wooden trinket box can often be found for less at thrift stores? Fill it with desk accessories, decks of cards, makeup or accessories. No wrapping is necessary for this gift — simply tie on a pretty ribbon.
Gift cards have become a popular holiday gift option, especially for those on your list who are difficult to shop for. Instead of purchasing a gift-card case, tuck them into a small, vintage book. It's even better if the book relates to something the recipient enjoys. Books also make a great holder for cash gifts.
Wire File Baskets
Give the aspiring author or poet in your life pretty notebooks or stationery showcased in a vintage wire file basket. These multifunctional pieces would also be great for gifting cookbooks, tea towels and craft supplies.
For Coffee Lovers
Coffee Lover's Gift Basket
Create a thoughtful gift basket for your coffee -dependent friends. Place a mug and their favorite coffee inside of a woven or wooden basket. Take the gift to the next level by including a French press.
Flynnside Out Productions
If you know his parents adore coffee, impress them with a beautifully-packaged woven basket filled with their favorite gourmet brew, mugs, biscotti and a french press.
For the Chef
Kitchen essential gift baskets are a classic choice for homeowners spending their first holiday in a new home. Make the basket as practical as it is stylish by outfitting it with basics every homeowner is sure to need. In addition to tools and gadgets, mix in a few pantry essentials such as spices or gourmet condiments.
For the DIYer
Do you have a friend or family member who's addicted to home renovation? Create a do-it-yourselfer gift basket filled with a mix of vintage-inspired tools and gadgets, along with protein- and carb-filled foods, to keep them motivated through their next project. For a tough, industrial look, choose baskets made of mesh, chicken wire or galvanized metal.
For the Baker
Give the gift of fluffy flapjacks by filling a basket with chef-quality ingredients certain to take Sunday morning breakfast to the next level. Place the pancake mix along the bottom of the basket, then use condiments to decorate the top along with spoons and spatulas.
For the Entertainer
Help friends avoid any last-minute entertaining fiascoes with a thoughtful dry goods dessert basket. Gather an assortment of finger food-style desserts, then present them in clear bags and glass containers. Should extra guests show up to holiday gatherings, the recipient will have more than enough dessert options to end the night in good spirits.
For the Tea Enthusiast
For the Creatives
As cupcakes, cake pops and s'mores continue to dominate the dessert world, why not make your own creation with one-of-a-kind ice cream cookies? Create a gourmet basket packed with ice-cream essentials and air-tight jars filled with sprinkles, nuts, caramel and hot fudge. When it's time for your friend to entertain, they can set up a self-serve ice cream cookie station.
For Cheese Lovers
Skip the store-bought baskets and hand-select a delicious blend of artisanal cheeses, chutney, almonds, gourmet crackers, a slate cheese board and spreading knives. And don't forget to include a menu!
Freshly baked quick bread or pound cake is a welcome treat no matter the season. Create a festive presentation with burlap, kitchen twine and mini jingle bells. It's a gift so simple and enjoyable, don't be surprised if you re-create it for every other holiday using a different recipe and changing out the jingle bells for more seasonal options.
THE BEST STORE-BOUGHT GIFTS:
You Can't Go Wrong With Fresh Flowers
A medium-sized bouquet of fresh, seasonal flowers is always a welcome gift. For an extra-special touch, handpick a one-of-a-kind vase that can be used again long after the flowers are gone.
Ranunculus and Juniper
Brighten up your space with bold pops of red and green using a mixture of cut ranunculus stems and branches of juniper and cedar. The slight variation in green hues will add depth to the finished look and texture against the pretty, soft shape of the ranunculus.
White and green parrot tulips are very versatile and can be used to create formal, casual or high design looks. For a classic holiday touch, pair white and green parrot tulips with Dusty Miller. The small touch of dove gray will break up the green and white and also introduce a nice, rich texture.
Birch branches are great for adding height to an area and creating a more architectural look. For a more rustic approach to holiday decorating, combine birch branches with cedar and pine cuttings in a unique container or ice bucket. Here, a vintage camping container adds a touch of woodsy plaid to the organic arrangement.
Potted evergreens are perfect for year-round use and can be especially effective during winter months for adding a touch of classic holiday charm. Keep the overall look simple by planting evergreens in pots covered in organic materials such as burlap, linen or birch bark. For a more finished look, cover the top of the potting soil with moss.
Alstroemeria is one of the most affordable and widely available flowers. For a more refined look, pick up alstroemeria bunches from the supermarket, then edit them down to a single color (red or white work best). Cut each stem low for use in a short container. Add another layer of visual interest with galax leaves placed around the container's edge.
Snapdragons, Dusty Miller and Pansies
Add a mix of short, tall and low-sitting vases with snapdragons, Dusty Miller and pansies. Use the snapdragons for height, place Dusty Miller around the base of the snapdragons, then bridge the gap between the two with white pansies.
Red Roses and Wax Flower
As a rule of thumb, choose a candle that's beautifully packaged and costs a little more than your run-of-the-mill glass jar variety. Include a box of designer matches and wrap in cellophane or with a pretty bow for a polished, thoughtful presentation. Tip: Do your research. Ask your significant other what types of scents his family prefers. Florals? Vanillas? Also, soy candles are a great choice as they are non-toxic, burn longer and produce a stronger aroma.
Our Product Pick: Snowflora Balsam & Cedar Soy Candle, Anthropologie, $18
Break the ice and get to know the family with the gift of a fun, all-inclusive, after-dinner game. A word of caution: a little friendly competition is fine but try not to trash talk Aunt Martha when the stakes get high.
Our Product Pick: The Game of Things, Walmart, $28
Warm and Cozy Throw
Who doesn't love curling up with a warm blanket on cold winter nights? Wrap this cozy gift in a pretty box with a few jars of rich hazelnut hot cocoa.
Our Product Pick: Faux Fur Throw, Overstock.com, $18
Coffee Table Book
Pick a book with an enticing cover that also pertains to the recipient's interests. Tip: Thumb through before gifting to make sure there isn't any unsavory content.
Our Product Pick: Humans of New York, Amazon, $17