Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, best friends, in-laws: The holiday present-giving list seems endless. Add the hosts and hostesses who are feeding you at all the cocktail parties, dinners, and last-minute get-togethers, and the onus of holiday giving can seem like an endless commercial bacchanal. Make it easy on yourself, and make your recipients happy: Here are our suggestions for gifts that work for almost any social situation.
The Sure-Bet Gift
Unless you’re invited over to a sugar-free household, something sweet always goes over well. These pralines are sweet, addictive, and indulgent.
Box of Pralines, $13 at Boule
The Balance Gift
Plenty of resolutions get made and quickly broken this time of year. Help your host start the New Year with the best intentions with a Moleskine 2007 daily planner.
Moleskine 2007 Planner, $16.95 at Mxyplyzyk
The Splurge Gift
There is inevitably the gift you’ll give for no other reason than to impress (your boss’s wife’s parents, perhaps). Highland Park 18 Year Old Scotch does just that—and it will even cut the edge off of making small talk with your boss’s wife’s parents … if you can persuade your hostess to crack it open.
Highland Park 18 Year Old Scotch, $79.99 at BevMo or your local fine spirit retailer
The Symbolic Gift
Just because it’s the dead of winter doesn’t mean things don’t grow. Give a forcing bulb and let your host try his hand at making something bloom.
Set of 12 paperwhite bulbs, $12 at Smith & Hawken
The Homemaking Gift
Here’s a candle that’s elegant and subtly scented.
Frasier Fir Multi-Wick Candle, $24 at Amazon.com
The Supporting-Role Gift
Bring some coffee to help end the night on a high note.
Espresso Temescal, $16.75 at Blue Bottle Coffee Co.
The Conversation-Piece Gift
If you’ve been invited to a friend of a friend’s place, you need to come equipped with an icebreaker. These cups are good-looking and are bound to stir up the conversation.
Crinkle Cup, $20 at Clio
The Cleansing Gift
No matter how great the event is, cleanup is always a drag. This gingerbread cleanup kit from Mrs. Meyers will ease the pain. Maybe you’ll even be inspired enough to whip up some cookies.
Gingerbread Holiday Clean-Up Kit, $15 at Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
The Aspiring-Epicure Gift
Help your host reach her gourmand potential with a cheese-knife and cheeseboard set. And if you’re really in the giving spirit, you can bring some cheese to take it for its test run.
Cheese Knife Set with Marble Top Cheese Board, $79.95 at Cooking.com