The holiday season is officially in full swing, and in case you missed your mom’s session on Etiquette 101, we’re here to tell you that showing up to any gathering empty-handed is a major faux pas.

Sure, you can bring the perfunctory bottle of wine or bouquet of fresh flowers. Either one would certainly be appreciated. But haven’t these gifts become a bit expected? If you want to stand out from the crowd this holiday season, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve rounded up eight of the best host/hostess gift ideas, all of which are unique and practical. Useful is the name of the game here. And the best part? These gifts are all under $50, which means you’ll have plenty of cash left over for your holiday shopping—and you get to save that bottle of wine for yourself. (Don’t mind if we do!)

Now just go buy some wrapping paper and make Mom proud.

1. Brunch spreaders

Photo by Earlywood 
Brunch has arguably become everyone’s favorite meal of the week. Now by some genius way of invention, there are spreaders made specifically for brunch. Your host’s family will love using these for spreading everything from cream cheese on bagels to jam on toast. If you want to make the gift even more special, you can include some fancy jam or bagels, too. Hopefully, you’ll score some brunch invites in the new year.

What to buy: Brunch spreader set, $26; Wayfair Red Barrel Studio Berne brunch spreader, $30


2. A personalized throw blanket

hostess gifts
Monogrammed throw blanket from Mud Pie


Baby, it’s cold outside! A fuzzy throw blanket will always be appreciated this time of year. Make it look like you put some extra thought into it (hey, you did!), and opt for a monogrammed or personalized throw. The result will look anything but cheap.

What to buy: Mud Pie herringbone initial throw blanket, Amazon, $38


3. A fancy home fragrance

Photo by Arete Culture 
Sure, scented candles are fine. But aren’t they just so … blah? If you want to take your gift-giving game to the next level (or at least past the 1990s), give an oil diffuser for your host’s bath instead. It will create a spa atmosphere and release a gentle fragrance for everyone to enjoy. It’s the same price as a bottle of wine or nice bouquet of flowers—but will last much longer.

What to buy: Anthropologie Voluspa limited edition, $20


4. Wine markers

hostess gifts
Make your mark with these metallic wine glass markers.


Let’s be clear: There’s nothing wrong with showing up with a nice bottle of pinot noir (talk about useful!), but if you want to give your gift some extra oomph, add these metallic wine glass markers to the mix. Your host—and your fellow guests—will be glad to put them to use right away, preventing any refrains of, “Hey, that was mine!” Plus, these pens won’t just make their mark on wine glasses; your host can use them to write on her dishes and label the hors d’oeuvres.

What to buy: Vino Marker metallic wine glass pens, Amazon, pack of 7 for $9.95


5. Pet food and water bowls

Photo by Peter A. Sellar 
Everyone will be bringing gifts for the humans, but don’t forget the furry ones. Upgrade the family dog or cat’s bowl set, and be rewarded with lots of sloppy kisses and petting time. (Score bonus points if you bring them a treat, too.)

What to buy: Francesca’s Eat & Drink dog bowl set, $42

6. Wall-mounted bottle opener

Wall-mounted bottle opener


Enough with the random wine openers already! (Let’s be honest—we all probably have about a dozen of them lying around.) A wall-mounted beer opener, on the other hand, will certainly come in handy on game days. If your friends are always looking for the beer opener when you come over, they’re sure to love this gift.

What to buy: Williams-Sonoma’s wall-mounted bottle opener, bulldog, $17


7. Succulents

Photo by Le jardinet 
Flowers are beautiful—for maybe a week, if you’re lucky. An easy-care plant like a succulent will last a long time, though—adding permanent cheeriness to your host’s home and cleaning the air. You can also deliver your gift in a festive planter for an extra nice touch.

What to buy: Succulent plants, $14 for 5


8. Ice sphere molds

Ice sphere molds


You might have seen these in a chic gastropub or cocktail lounge. An ice mold creates the perfect sphere shape for a drink, so you don’t have to worry about cubes melting quickly and diluting your cocktails. How fun would it be for your host to serve these ice spheres at the next cocktail or dinner party? So fun you might just want to keep the mold for yourself!

What to buy: Silicone ice sphere molds, set of 2 for $13

The post Save the Wine for Yourself: 8 Affordable Hostess Gifts That Your Friends Will *Actually* Use appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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