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Hostess gift shopping

It's getting close to holiday party season, and that means hostess gifts. I love to bring food- or cooking-related gifts, preferably something a little more special than a box of After Eight. So I'm curious to know - what do you all bring for the host? And where do you buy it?

I've been giving the ice wine/brandy by Kittling Ridge. It's got a nice kick to it, and it's somewhat local. But I'd like to branch out...

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  1. I like going to William Sonoma. They have some great food-related gift boxes, oils and sauces, spices, etc.

    1. William Ashley's gourmet store at the Manulife is filled with great gifts in a wide price range and they'll even gift wrap it for you. What I buy depends on the host and the type of party.

      3 Replies
      1. re: fickle

        fyi - William Ashley is having its crazy annual warehouse sale now -

        1. re: JamieK

          Good to know! I've actually never been...

          1. re: piccola

            well, be warned. What I mean by crazy is that you can't even get near it unless you schedule wisely.

      2. I usually get:

        French AOC Butter from SLM.
        Olive Oil from O&COn in First Canadian Place

        If I have time I bring some savory truffles, homemade, dusted with chile powder, star anise or cardamom.

        1. I always stock up on hostess gifts at the One of a Kind Show. Last year it was small, hand made, maple cheese boards that I could keep on hand and then buy cheese to give with it when the time came.

          1. If you want truly original, try the products from Forbes Wild Foods, or Gourmet Sauvage. They share a kitchen for some products.

            Jonathan Forbes, or his associates, show up at many of the farmers markets with some interesting fresh items, such as puffball mushrooms, chanterelles, morelles, sea asparagus; as well as an amazing selection of preserves, sauces, and ingredients made from foraged local foods. Local Wild rice, Birch syrup, wild mustard, spruce tips, Ox-eye daisy capers, pickled cattails. Also many jams and jellies. Very fun to play with.

            Also available at Culinarium on Mt. Pleasant (great store), or About Cheese.

            1. -Scones, jams, and teas for the host's breakfast the next day (various sources, and I keep baskets on hand in a closet to put things in)
              -Small pottery items, often purchased at the Art Gallery of Hamilton's shop (mugs, little dishes and spreaders for pates, etc.)
              -For people with children, a small item for the child/children - a little book or toy, or some crayons and paper. This keeps the kids amused for a bit during dinner - always appreciated.
              -At Christmas, an ornament for the host's tree. This year I am purchasing them from Unicef.
              -Nice mugs (Unicef has a lovely set of two) and a pound of organic coffee. Currently we are giving Freakin' Good Coffee, which we buy at a local health food market, Goodness Me.

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodiemommy

                I love the tins/ boxes of chocolates at "Williams Sonoma". Also try one or 2 of their baking mixes, plus a nice red spatuala, a bottle of good quality vanilla and wrap it all in a nice basket. Give it to me too.

              2. Things I would take or love to get myself from someone as a hostess gift:

                - Unique spices in pretty jars
                - Drink mixes (gourmet and unusual)
                - Homemade preserves
                - A jar of preserved lemons (for moroccan food)
                - Gourmet salts
                - Gourmet Mustard/sauces
                - Chocolate?
                - Pickled peppers
                - Oils or vinegars
                Pepper mill, sea salt mill
                Gourmet candy or something homemade/baked goods.
                Something from a nice bakery

                Gosh.. so many things.. and of course any interesting kitchen gadget, like my mother got a hand chopper thingy as a hostess gift and we just loved it!

                I like herbs, if they're potted they make a lovely gift however I hesitate to bring things in the house because a lot of time the soil can be infested with gnats, fruit flies or little bugs that just spread out everywhere!

                1. Well, I must admit I am not nearly as ambitious as some with respect to hostess gifts; but, I think a beautiful box of truffles from The Belgian Chocolate Shop, Soma, or Swiss Master Chocolatier (for example), is always much appreciated.

                  1. Last year, I gave truffles from the Belgian shop. This year, in reflection of the times, I'm downsizing a bit and mostly giving one or two of the more interesting Kozlik mustards along with one of their little wooden spoons.

                    With one of my more enthusiastic foodie friends, I'm giving black truffle salt. You can get a small amount at Selsi's downstairs at the SLM for only $9.50, but a little goes a loooong way with that stuff, it'll probably last her a year or more.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: JamieK

                      All of these sound very enticing - but just for a different take, if you're shopping on a limited budget you should check out Home Sense. They often have on-offs of nice sea salts, fleur de sel, olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and european jams and marmalades. - you need to dig a bit to find the good stuff, but I rarely leave empty handed. Another "budget" stop is costco where they have some astonishingly good olive oils at excellent prices, and I notice around this time of year the bottles get a little more gift-like in their presentation. I also recently picked up fleur de sel there - i don't know what it's like yet as I haven't tried it but if it is good, that's a nice little gift.

                      1. re: sochow

                        Homesense and Winners, yes! I adore their kitcheny - foodie sections, it's just wonderful!

                        Just make sure you check expiry dates as I've seen things that were past their dates sold. But if you check and everything is good then it's a great place to shop.
                        They really have quality things at a fraction of the price.

                    2. I scored some nice balsamic in gift boxes, very old stuff. I got three of them and am using them go hostess gifts.