What I’m most grateful for this Thanksgiving is that someone else is cooking. So instead of ordering turkey, I’m shopping for host gifts. Keeping a stash is less work than running an errand every time, but sometimes the cupboards are bare. So this is a mix of grab-on-the-go and order ahead, with some ideas on how to take a gift to the next level for someone who’s done something really nice for you. These are also my universal standbys for hosts who don’t like “stuff,” because all of them are consumable or easy to pass along.
Prince Vladimir Tea by Kusmi, $25
I’m all about tea, and you should try Prince Vladimir. I first had it over high tea at a schmancy hotel in San Francisco. It’s fragrant, caffeinated, and widely appealing even to folks who don’t usually love tea. This one is loose leaf, but the teabag version is a little cheaper.
Upgrade: Pack it with some steepers, a set of handmade mugs, or a pretty teacup.
Mt. Tam Triple Cream Brie by Cowgirl Creamery $18
This is the cheese version of homemade whipped cream. It’s so much creamier than all other cheeses, and they have it at my corner store. So while I don’t keep cheese in my cupboard, I do…
Upgrade: I buy silver plated cheese spreaders whenever I see them at garage sales or thrift stores (they’re like $3), but you can get new ones at Williams Sonoma or Sur le Table. Tape one to the top of a block of cheese with colorful Washi tape, and you’re Martha H. Stewart. If you want to go wild, throw in a little bag of raw almonds and a bar of nice chocolate.
Bulleit Bourbon, $27
If you know your hosts like whiskey, or booze in general, Bulleit is a solid mixing bourbon that’s also fine on the rocks. Makes great Manhattans, so…
Upgrade by throwing in a jar of:
Amarena Cherries, $16
These are nothing like maraschino cherries. The texture is dense, and the cherries have a rich, fruity flavor. Incredible in Manhattans, but also great as dessert topper.
I used to keep a bag of these on my desk because it satisfies every sweet craving. Chewy chocolate covered dried cherries, slightly salty crunchy hazelnuts, and so on. Then I kept pouring the whole bag into my face so I had to stop.
Upgrade: Recchiuti chocolate is ludicrously good, and they make options in every price range — all the way up to a giant box that’s a few hundred dollars, which makes a great gift for an entire office. They’re also little obscure, so people will think you’re their personal Willy Wonka.
I’ve been talking about these for years, they’re just so freaking cute. Are they any good? Well. They’re not great. I mean, it’s canned champagne? But they’re too perfect for a brunch, a picnic, a girls’ night out. They have telescoping straws stuck to the side. I mean.
Upgrade: Eh. If someone is cooking you Thanksgiving dinner, or letting you crash with them? Go with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.
And let me know if you have any go-to host gifts. I’m always looking to increase the stash.