Even when your hosts tell you there’s no need to bring anything, present them with a touching gift that’s not meant for the dinner table. A gift for your dinner host shouldn’t cost more than $50, and none of these do. In fact, most of our top picks are less than $30. You see, a present of this type is more of a token, a show of appreciation for all the work and money that goes into preparing a home and meal for guests. It’s good etiquette. And it’s thoughtful. You want to to be thoughtful, don’t you?
So if you’re invited to any dinners or small get-togethers this holiday season, consider giving your host a gift, if not one of the items on our curated list, then something like these ideas.
Mulling Spices | Buy Now
Mulled beverages warm and soothe you on cold winter nights, so giving your hosts a few bags to make it happen will help them relax after their work is done. The ancient practice of mulling involves infusing warmed juices (like cranberry), ciders, or wines with spices. This gift includes three 15-gram bags — enough for three bottles —of organic cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom pods, and dried orange peels. The mix creates a well-rounded brew. The pack also has instructions, a reusable drawstring wine tote bad made of cotton canvas and a gift card for personalization. Buy it here.
Balsam & Clove Soy Candle | Buy Now
Formulated for Sur la Table only, this aromatic soy candle captures the scents of the winter holiday season: Woodsy notes of cedar, forest pine, and clove fuse with sweet hints of geranium and clementine. It’s not a candle for the table, but something for your host to enjoy another time … or in the bathroom. Made in the United States, each candle burns cleanly, thanks to non-metal, lead-free wicks. The candle should burn for 25 hours, but don’t burn it for more than three hours at a time. Buy it here.
Gourmet Breakfast Gift Basket | Buy Now
This takes the thoughtful host gift to the next level. Give your host a wonderful breakfast for the morning after the event, one that they don’t have to make. It should be especially welcome after all the cooking and preparation they’ve already done. This breakfast set contains baked goods made fresh at the Meeting Place on Market, a café and bakery in downtown Lima, Ohio. The box includes two large, old-fashioned coffee cake pieces; four mini-loaves of two various flavors, such as banana-nut and pumpkin breads; two coffee samplers, 1/8 pound each for one pot of each; and 1/4 pound of chocolate espresso beans. One of the coffee samplers is a seasonal flavor and a customer favorite, and the other one is the house Lima Bean Blend, a medium roast, mild blend of beans. Custom messages and colored packaging are available at checkout. Buy it here.
Cheese Knife Set | Buy Now
Set this gift to work right away on your hosts’ cheese plate or board (with their permission). Four cheese utensils — a Parmesan knife, cheese fork, chisel knife, and narrow spear — are packaged in a book-style gift box. Crafted of gold-polished stainless steel with a brushed satin finish, the tools help hold, slice, break, and shave cheese like a real cheesemonger. Buy it here.
Screen-Printed Tea Towels | Buy Now
Your host will actually use these absorbent and elegant tea towels, which are handmade in Portland, Oregon, in an Otomi print in cobalt blue. That design is heat-set, so it will stay for years to come. The 22-inch-by-38-inch flour sack towels are machine washable and dry-able, and they get better with wear. Buy it here.
Hand-Stamped Spreaders | Buy Now
Handcrafted in India, these cheese spreaders are stamped with the phrase “lay it on thick” and come individually boxed for a charming host gift. Your cheesy pun lover will especially get a kick out of it, but really, anyone will love the compliments this entertaining touch will bring. Buy it here.
Mexican Spice Hot Chocolate | Buy Now
Bakers know Valrhona is one of the best chocolates there is. And if your hosts don’t know, they will when they whip up their first cup of this exclusive hot chocolate with a hint of heat. The blend of ancho, chipotle, and cinnamon with premium Valrhona cocoa and chocolate creates a luxurious mouth feel and sophisticated flavor profile. The harshest winter chill is no match for this steaming, rich cup of awesome. Buy it here.
Nyåkers Gingersnaps Tin | Buy Now
Nyåkers makes these cookies with real ginger in Sweden. Crispy and festive, they make a great host gift. Plus, the tin is pretty enough to keep and reuse. This gift has been a No. 1 pick for the last five years, according to World Market. It earned a 4.8 out of 5 rating from 111 online reviews. Buy it here.