The Perfect Host Gifts for Your Holiday Parties

BCLiving talks to local experts in chocolate, wine, flowers and food to bring you the best ideas for host gifts

Credit: iStock

Expert advice on what to bring to a dinner party

‘Tis the season for dinner parties, but what to bring for your host?

BCLiving asked Chocolatier Thomas Haas, Sommelier Caroline Musselli, Gloria Cheung from The Flower Factory and Caren McSherry of Gourmet Warehouse to pick their favourite host gifts.

Thanks to these expert tips, you won’t be as stressed as Jerry Seinfeld over the last chocolate babka when you head to your next holiday soiree.

Credit: Thomas Haas

Chocolates: Thomas Haas, Chocolatier

Chocolate is always a sweet offering when it comes to host gifts, and what to choose “depends on whether you want to bring a gift or something that’s a part of dinner,” says renowned Vancouver chocolatier Thomas Haas.

If you’re looking to bring a gift, Haas suggests his popular two-tier boxes. They start at just $32, a price point he feels is appropriate for a host gift.

“Bring a beautifully packaged gift box, which might end up in the kitchen hidden from the guests so the host can have it later.”

“Besides chocolate, very popular obviously are macarons nowadays,” adds Haas. “Often customers do a little combination of a one-tier gift box and a six-piece macaron box so they can have something chocolate-y and mini dessert-like.”

If you would like to contribute to dinner, Haas advises going for dessert. “Our cakes and desserts are still the most popular items to bring for a dinner party.”

Wine: Caroline Musselli, Certified Sommelier and Manager of Liberty Wine Merchants Point Grey

Choosing the right wine to bring to a dinner party can be a difficult decision, but Sommelier Caroline Musselli of Liberty Wine Merchants recommends a direct approach.

“If the guest’s intention is to bring wine to go with the meal, they should ask the host what the menu is and get something to pair with it. There is no official etiquette for this scenario and guests should not be offended if the host decides not to open the bottle and hosts should not feel pressured to open the wine at the party.”

The other big question is how much to spend: “Anything between $20 and $30 is enough to get something excellent,” says Musselli.

Recommendations for Sparkling, White and Red for Dinner Parties

Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rose NV, $27.99

“Celebrations always call for bubbles! Fresh and vivacious with delicious aromas of strawberry and watermelon, this sparking wine is dry with delicate bubbles.”

The Stump Jump Sticky Chardonnay/Riesling/ Semillon/ Pinot Gris 2010, $19.99 (375 mL)

“This luscious wine is a liquid dessert! Ripe with a floral bouquet along with marmalade and apricot notes, its zesty acidity balances its sweetness.”

Nichol Pinot Noir 2011, $29.99

“Nichol is a small estate wine in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. This Pinot Noir is a lovely medium-bodied red with aromas of strawberry and rose petals, along with savoury notes such as thyme.”

Food: Caren McSherry, Gourmet Warehouse

Just like chocolate, if you’re looking to bring a food item as a host gift, you can choose something that will be served along with dinner or something that is meant for your host to keep. Food expert Caren McSherry from Gourmet Warehouse has recommendations for either scenario.

Reale White Balsamic with Gold Flake, 250 mL Bottle $39.99

“This is really taking balsamic to the next level! White balsamic vinegar with edible gold leaf is the height of decadence, and perfect for gifting. Did we mention it is over-the-top delicious? Who says you can’t have it all? This is the perfect addition to holiday meals.”

Bittered Sling Gift Set, 6 Assorted Flavours $49.99

“What better way to get the best set of flavours in one package? Grapefruit, orange, plum, and more! Your bartender will have a lot to shake about.”

Clearbrook Farms Tart Shells, Bite Size (24) and Large Size (12) $8.99

“Appetizers made easy. No more fussing or worrying about pastry mishaps. These lovely little butter tart shells solve entertaining and baking dilemmas. It’s as easy as open and plate. All you need to add is your favourite sweet or savoury filling.”

Cucina & Amore Truffle Spreads, Sundried Tomato, Basil Pesto, Artichoke $9.99

“This is the delectable answer to quick party food. Use as pasta sauce, pizza topping or even an omelet filling. These spreads are versatile, flavourful, kosher and gluten free.”

Tartine Tarts Flatbreads, Alsatian Tarte Flambée & Caramelized Onion $9.99

“Amazingly delicious would describe this locally made flatbread. We’re not sure how something so easy can be so good! From freezer to oven, this is the perfect emergency food… or just everyday food because they taste that good.”

Flowers: Gloria Cheung, The Flower Factory

Bringing a bouquet of flowers to a dinner party may be thoughtful, but your busy host then has to take the time to put the flowers in a vase. Flower expert Gloria Cheung of Main Street’s The Flower Factory recommends three different easy-to-take florals for your holiday dinner party.

Terrarium Style

“A terrarium-style arrangement that can be embellished with holiday ornaments or holly/greens to be more festive makes a great gift. After the holiday season, you can remove the extra decor for everyday use. You can even plant in a more seasonal bulb floral such as Amaryliss or paper whites that can be removed later.” (pictured bottom right)

A Mini-Wreath

“A mini-wreath that can be hung on a wall or placed down on a table and hold a candle in the centre is perfect for the festive season. The one pictured on the left is made of succulents.”

Holiday Centrepieces

“Chose from an assortment of containers including birch and ceramic. The containers can be refilled through the season and used again at a later date. Traditional greens can blend with more trending flowers like orchids, as seen in the top right photo. Orchids and flowering bulbs such as Amarylis tend to last longer as well. The green bases used can also last longer than the flowers and can be replaced with a few blossoms to extend the life of the arrangement.”

Holiday Party Host Gifts