'Tis the season for hosting parties, folks. And since you're likely going to be an attendee at one of many this year, it's the right time to start thinking about how you're going to say thank you for all those invitations.
Bringing a host or hostess gift isn't always everyone's first priority when they're attending a party. We can understand that. If it's an elegant event, you're likely going to spend most of your time leading up to that night worrying about what to wear. If it's a casual shindig, you might be scrambling to find someone to cover your shift, or looking for a babysitter, so you can actually show up.
But as busy as you are just preparing to be a guest, think of how busy the host will be.
We never show up as a guest to a party empty handed. Whether it's a dinner party, a friendly gathering with cocktails or a holiday celebration, when we cross that threshold into someone's home as an invited guest we've come prepared with gifts for party hosts. Entertaining a group, no matter how large, is never a small task and bringing something to present to the host is a great way to show your appreciation for the invitation. But it's also a way to thank them for the effort they've put into providing you with an awesome night at their expense.
When people are browsing in the shops, we always ask if there's something we can help them find. Sometimes they respond with a sigh and admit they're looking for a hostess gift but have absolutely no idea what to buy. Other than not having the time, we've realized this is the other problem people face when gift buying for party hosts. What do I buy? What do they like? What's appropriate?
Helping shoppers come up with gift ideas is a practice we're familiar with by now, but that has generally only extended to our in-store visitors. So, as a way to make that help accessible and available to people even outside of New England, we put together a list of great gift suggestions for hosts and hostesses to guide you through the season.
Boston General Store has had a working relationship with Manready Mercantile for as long as we've been in operation. They're based in Houston, Texas (which some of you may know plays a special role in BGS's story) and their collection always includes really well-made wares that tend to be perfect gifts for party hosts.
The Noble Series Soy Candle, hand poured and presented in a whiskey rocks glass that can be re-purposed after the candle is finished, has been a mainstay in our shops for years. Its uncommon packaging and inviting fragrances always gets a lot of attention during the gift-giving season. As popular as this candle has been in the past though, we're actually going with Manready's new candle line – The Bold Series Candle – as the perfect host gift this year.
The Bold Series Soy Candle is also hand poured in small batches and made with the same quality materials as Manready's Noble Series, but what got us so fired up about their new stock was its travel- sized tin and its seriously unique scents.
The fragrance combinations that make up Manready's Bold Series Soy Candles are inspired, and unlike anything we've seen or smelled before, making them a perfect gift for any party host. There's Geranium + Currant or Green Tea + Neroli, which both offer clean, crisp, blossoming scents that will definitely help revive the spirit during this upcoming season of early sunsets and indoor days. Amber + Iris, Cardamon + Clove, Karmawood + Vetiver, and Labdanum + Leather all invoke a more rustic, cozy, and tranquil atmosphere that pairs perfectly with fall and winter in New England.
The travel-size tin with 2 ounces of soy wax and nine hours of burn time makes it a classic gift for a host or hostess during any occasion.
The Bold Series Candle, Manready Mercantile, $12
Curio Spice Co.
Spices play a role in our culinary lives throughout the year because seasoning is vital to food and drink no matter where we are on the calendar. But there should be no doubt that the cold-weather months rely more heavily on flavors from spice than others. From the ciders and mulled wines to the pies and the roasts, spice and seasoning are kings and queens come October.
If you are heading to a party between now and the end of the year, think about giving your host or hostess the gift of spice. Spice mixes are an ideal present for people who enjoy entertaining groups and show thoughtfulness on the part of the giver.
Curio Spice Co., based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, creates a selection of spice blends and kits from sustainable sources around the world, working with farmers directly and aiming to tell their stories.
Anything from Curio will make for a great party host gift since their blends are made with unique or sometimes hard-to-find spices, and all will add an incredible depth of flavor to food. However, there's one Curio product that earns preference over them all: The Pickling Kit.
Curio's Picking Kit includes a 16 oz. glass pickling jar, a recipe booklet with two quick-pickle recipes, and two pickling spice blends: a hot Moroccan blend with chilies, rose petals, and long pepper as well as a mild Madagascar blend with baie rose, wild pepper, turmeric and allspice leaf. It's a gift with a DIY element that would allow your host to even use its final product during a future hosting event! What guest wouldn't like pickled vegetable appetizers?
Pickling Kit, Curio Spice Co., $16.50
As far as natural and organic goods go, almost no maker offers more in those terms than Dram Apothecary. Founded by Shae Whitney, a native to Colorado with a background in Food Science, Dram provides bitters and syrups made from wild, hand-foraged plants and herbs for everything from cocktails to baked goods.
The scorching days of summer have passed and we've moved onto chilled air and leaves of changing color. Nothing pairs better with this period than pine – not just the smell of pine, but also the taste. The problem? Who's making pine flavored food items that actually taste good? Dram Apothecary, that's who.
Dram crafts a positively unusual Pine Syrup that elicits landscape images that stretch from the Acadian forests of the Northeast to the mountain peaks of the Colorado Rockies. The best part is that it's delicious and can be used to create a seasonal update to a classic Gin Fizz cocktail recipe or added to pies and tarts to incorporate a flavor of the season.
Pine Syrup, Dram Apothecary, $11
Merchant and Mills
With the goal of “bringing style and purpose” back to the world of sewing, Merchant and Mills, a London-based maker since 2010, provides fabric and tools that keep clothing creators and menders in mind. We hold Merchant and Mills in high regard because their products are high quality but also because they pay tribute to the movement of making things with your own hands.
One of our favorite in-house motto's to inspire our mission is, “Quality Stands When its Made with Your Hands.” and that matches perfectly with what Merchant and Mills aims to do with their collection.
All of the Merchant and Mills items we carry are extremely useful for sewing and clothing repair, so it's worth checking out. But what we think would work best as a gift from their line is their Pattern Workbook.
The book is a super functional, year-round guide to creating your own clothing for any season. Its pages offer patterns for wide-leg trousers, long-sleeve dresses, batwing wrap tops, and more. Aiming to inspire the maker in all of us, it will be one of the most unique gifts your host or hostess has ever received.
The Pattern Workbook, Merchant and Mills, $38
Producing wares in our home state of Massachusetts since 1850, R. Murphy Knives has earned the distinction of being one of the finest quality knife and kitchen tool makers around. Made from the highest grade stainless steel, with triple brass-riveted handles sheathed by durable African Rosewood, all of R. Murphy's cutlery is “made sharp and stays sharp" - a perfect party host gift.
Bringing a sharp object as a party gift won't make you dull, but your host might be a little confused by the intention though. So, we're not suggesting any of R. Murphy's knives to wrap-up this time around. What would play well as a present in a party setting is their Pie Server.
Crafted masterfully, just as their chef's tools are, the R. Murphy Pie Server is built to last a lifetime and has an affordable price point, possibly making it the gift that goes the longest way on this list. Plus, we all know how much pie gets served this time of year. You'll be the guest your host always wants to invite back, especially when they have pie to share.
Pie Server, R. Murphy Knives, $36
In our experience, people can be hesitant to buy wearables as a gift, more so when it's for a person they aren't particularly close with (i.e. a party host). But we try to urge people to think outside the conventional gift-giving box and take risks. Hosts and hostesses will appreciate anything you present to them, but a unique gift will make a lasting memory.
Upstate Stock Co. is fairly new to our maker repertoire, but we couldn't wait to start carrying their gloves and hats in the shops this fall. Their apparel is knitted in Upstate New York, hence the name, and finished in the booming industrial streets of Brooklyn, New York.
The Ragg Wool Fingerless Gloves are made responsibly, and entirely, in the U.S., so it supports a smaller carbon footprint. Their design is simple, but the craftsmanship is rivaled by only a few others we've come across before.
Ragg wool is a durable,quality fabric, which is why it is often used in workwear, that will expel moisture and keep the hands dry. Upstate Stock sizes their gloves in two varieties, small and large, taking away most of the struggle you might have in figuring out size. Smaller hands get the small, and larger hands get the large. Keep in mind that the gloves will stretch out a bit and form to the hand.
Ragg Wool Fingerless Gloves, Upstate Stock Co., $29/$39
BRING A GIFT TO THE NEXT PARTY
Our suggestions here are only that; suggestions. They're items we'd see ourselves gifting to a host when invited to a party or gathering. We looked at our stock and tried to choose a variety of products that ranged in size, as well as price, but that consistently shared two important qualities.
One (as always) they had to be quality wares that were made with the principles we find important in the world of manufacturing. Two, they had to be functional. We know it's the thought that counts, but it always seems wasteful to give a gift to someone if it can't be functional in some way.
The guide includes something for mostly everyone, but if you have a host or hostess whose tastes lie outside of what we've offered up, it may still work as inspiration for a gift that is more bespoke to them.
Try to be a great guest this year and don't forget about the hosts – it might be your turn to play that role at some point too!
- The Boston General Store Team
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Here at Boston General Store, we love spending time outdoors this time of year. The New England landscapes have so much to offer when it comes to outdoor activities, especially camping and hiking, and we like to take full advantage of that.
Today, some folks are opting for an upgraded kind of camping experience, called glamping, and while we understand lengthy stays out in the wild aren't everyone’s style, we definitely prefer to keep our excursions a little more unpolished. But, that also doesn’t mean we like heading into the woods empty handed.
We take what we need to get by and leave all the rest at home.
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