If you ask me, a Martha Stewart wannabe is the easiest person in the world to buy for. Give them something beautiful to display, something they can use at their next party, or something they can drink at this one, and you’re done. Trust me: tote along any of these surefire hostess gifts, and you’re guaranteed a repeat invite.
Jennefer T. ~ Fall is such a cool time of the year, in more ways than one. I no longer have to worry about wearing my burqa-esque swimsuit cover-up, the kids are back in school, and I finally get to begin planning (without guilt or being mocked) the six-week extravaganza I call the holidays.
With fall also comes the urge to stay in, light fires, buy pumpkins and – despite my knowing it will all come home to roost in January when my cholesterol skyrockets and my pants pop open – eat and drink. What better way to kick off this season than with a few edible, drinkable and servable gifts for surprising your loved ones, party hosts or most importantly, treating yourself!
I’ll be traveling for Easter this year, but it’s a crying shame. Lately, I’ve been seeing so many ideas for an adult-friendly Easter fête that I’m wishing I had the chance to host a swanky brunch soirée.
It all started when I spied these fantastic egg-shaped placemats from Chilewich (who else?). They say Easter without screaming it from the rooftops, and would be the perfect nod to seasonal décor without going overboard: elegant, easy and still right on message for the season. Plus, they’re subtle enough to be useful throughout the summer, instead of being relegated to the back of a drawer.
I’d add an oversized bunny – in deep dark Vosges chocolate studded with pink Himalayan sea salt – as a centerpiece (just be prepared with a tiny hammer when it’s time for dessert)…
And maybe a grown-up version of an Easter treat for your guests (sold out online, but still plentiful in stores)…
That’s it – a celebration that’s perfect for all of your childless friends. To make my life even easier, I’d pick up a spiral-sliced ham, soft-boil some eggs (leave them in the shell, and they’ll also look gorgeous on the table), whip up an easy hollandaise (I spilled all my secrets at Shelterrific last year), and have everyone make their own Eggs Benedict. Add a bit of roasted asparagus and some bakery-grade English muffins, and you have the world’s easiest party in the bag.
Of course, if you’re up for a lower-key version of the festivities, you might consider wrapping up one of Creature Comforts’ spot-on Easter basket ideas for grown-ups. They’re exactly what I’m hoping the Easter Bunny brings me!
Since this week has been all about how to be a good hostess, I thought I’d cap the week off with a few suggestions for your favorite Martha Stewart wannabe. Whether she’s a crafter, a baker, or just a damn fine host, these gifts are guaranteed to please even the pickiest holiday hostess.
Perennially stumped about the best wine to bring to a party? Allow me to simplify: buy a case of this warm, fruit-forward Chianti and you’re set for the season. Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Brolio 2007, $20
If she’s a good host, I’m guessing she’s a crafter at heart. Any knitter, whether she’s a novice or a pro, will drool over the DIY options in this book. Vogue Knitting: Classic Patterns from the World’s Most Celebrated Knitting Magazine, $30
I can’t think of much I wouldn’t love to receive from DL & Company. But their Fleur de Bois candle smells exactly like the holidays, without being cloying, and the blown glass holder is gorgeous all on its own. And these mini candle-and-diffuser sets are infinitely more gorgeous than their price tag suggests. DL & Co Fleur de Bois candle, $100; Mini Diffuser & Candle set, $24
What could be better than brownies from the legendary Sugardaddys Bakery? A brownie bit trifle kit, complete with a crystal trifle bowl, that’s what. Just try to give this one away without sneaking a bite! Trifle kit, Sugardaddys Bakery, $58
Getting gorgeous letterpress cards in the mail every month? Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. Plus, chances are good she’ll send you one to thank you for the perfect gift. Mailbox Monthly, by Satsuma Press, from $48
Doormats are a tricky business, if you’re picky about them (as I am). This one is guaranteed to stop traffic…at least long enough to remind guests to wipe their feet. Mountain doormat, Angela Adams, $45
I hear bundt cakes are the new cupcakes, but the perfect host would know best. Show her you’re up on your culinary trends by treating her to a treatise on the hottest thing in baked goods. Even better paired with a classic bundt pan. Cake Simple, by Christie Matheson, $13; NordicWare “Heritage” bundt pan, (my personal favorite, but a variety of styles from $20)
Show her you love her OCD side with a bottle of citrus-scented hand wash. This has a light, refreshing scent that works for everyone, and the oldey-timey packaging is a serious bonus. Village Perfumer hand wash (comes in 6 scents), C.O. Bigelow, $12
Today’s guest is Connie, the wonder woman behind The Daily Obsession. TDO is one of the first blogs I ever read religiously – I loved it so much, I was an editor there for years. Connie is always impeccably dressed, knows the perfect gift for any occasion, and can instantly make anyone feel at ease. It’s no wonder she’s our expert on how to entertain with style.
Thanks for being patient, friends…I’ll be back Monday morning, with bells on!
With the upcoming holidays, many of us will be turning into hostesses and entertaining up a storm! To save myself a lot of last-minute stress, I have a checklist of items to track down now, so I’m fully prepared when the festivities begin.
Let’s start with fashion! Dressing when you’re a hostess can be a bit of a challenge. Between moving through the kitchen and re-filling everyone’s wine glasses – not to mention probably not having enough time to get truly decked out before guests arrive – the key is to keep it basic, easy and flattering.
Made of soft, comfortable jersey, this Diane von Furstenberg dress fits the bill. It’s got a sexy scoop in the back, and ruching around the waist – perfect if you accidentally overindulge. Most importantly, it’s going to be easy to thrown on last minute and make you feel great all night. Simply throw on some fun accessories – like a statement necklace from Elva Fields and a pair of festive heels (love this glittery version from Zara!). Plus, you can easily wear this dress beyond the holiday season, and who doesn’t love that?
For the home, it’s nice to pick some special items to make entertaining a bit more fun and again, easier! Start with a classic serving tray. Whether it’s sleek or rustic, it will make your life a lot easier when you need to cart dishes – from appetitizers to the post-dinner clean up.
If you’re planning on having a cocktail/drink station where guests can refill drinks at their leisure, make sure to set out an ice bucket and a cocktail shaker, along with simple glasses. Plus, your guests won’t be able to resist shaking up their favorite cocktail in these gorgeous shiny Nick Munro designs.
Along with dessert, coffee or tea service is a must for any party, so pick out beautiful new versions to ensure every guest will be impressed. Our favorites? This festive red Stelton Coffee Press is just the thing for the holiday season. For tea lovers, it doesn’t get prettier than the New Norm Kettle Teapot, and its clever built-in tea egg ensures your tea will never over-steep.
However you entertain this season, be sure you keep it casual and cozy – if you’re relaxed and stylish, your guests will be as well. Happy holidays! — Connie
time to hunker down, dear readers…with only a week left to the big day, we’re getting a little limited with the online shopping opportunities. sure, the free express shipping offers are imminent, but after last year’s blizzard (which led to closed airports and no packages), i’m taking the road more cautiously traveled. so, from here on out, i’ll only suggest something if you could pick it up at your friendly nearby megamart.
anyway. if you’re heading to some wonderful friend’s house for christmas eve, christmas day, or perhaps some boxing day festivities, i know all of my readers are more than thoughtful enough to know they need to bring something. the question is what. wine is so cliche, flowers only work if they arrive in a vase (don’t make your hostess stop what she’s doing to arrange flowers!)…what to do?
if you haven’t a clue, nest‘s holiday fragrance this year knocked me off my feet with its festive goodness, and is an easy but thoughtful choice. with notes of pine, pomegranate, orange, cinnamon and cloves…well, it’s like christmas in wax. it also comes in a gorgeous flocked red and gold box (yep, just got to say ‘flocked’ on the blog!), making it gift-wrap optional. and the price point is actually great – grab one candle for $28, or my preference is this collection of six votives for $32.
for those of you tempting fate, neiman marcus still has free two-day shipping on any order – use code NMRUSH.
well, this is it – happy chrismakkah, everyone! i’ll be around a bit next week…i’m sure i won’t be able to resist sharing a few after-christmas sales. but posting will be light, and drinking will be heavy…’tis the season, after all.
for those of you that are entertaining family and friends, or just needing some R&R this week, i thought i’d leave you with a few words of advice from interior design guru bella mancini on using my favorite jo malone scents to make the world a little less hectic and a little more festive:
• During the holidays, some of my favorite moments are those spent in the silent, early morning hours. I love to turn on the tree lights, start a fire, sit on the sofa and drink my morning coffee. Jo Malone’s Fragrance Combining Candle enhances this special moment. I light it near my hearth, and it illuminates brightly while smelling of sweet holiday scent.
• When holiday entertaining, I place a small bouquet of fresh cut eucalyptus and large white roses on the sink in my powder room. I then spritz Pine & Eucalyptus Living Cologne, which smells like freshly cut pine trees, into the air and on hand towels. Voila – the bathroom not only looks gorgeous, but it smells gorgeous, too!
• Before holiday overnight guests arrive, I spritz their bed linens with Jo Malone Acqua di Limone Scent Surround Spray. Its lime, citrus scent is refreshing and clean.
• The Wild Fig & Cassis Home Candle is my absolute favorite – I adore its wintry, woody fragrance so much that it has become my home’s signature scent! When staying with my in-laws during the holidays, I love to bring something special from my home to theirs, and this candle is undoubtedly the gift I always bring!
i hope each one of you dear readers has a truly wonderful holiday…whether you’re lighting candles, stuffing stockings, or skipping out to maui! thank you for a fantastic year, and here’s to much more fun together in 2009!
the moment the weather turns cool, i start craving warm, comforting scents like cinnamon, clove and winter fruits. short of keeping an oven full of pie at all times, my best shot for maintaining those classic fall scents in my home is via candle. so, i’ve taken it upon myself to run an exhaustive test, and i’ve come up with my list of favorites for this fall season.
the new joya collection at barneys has my undivided attention. i haven’t stopped burning their fantastic candles since they arrived. they’ve collaborated with one of my favorite ceramic artists, sarah cihat, to develop candles that smell amazing, last forever, and are housed in truly gorgeous containers. my personal favorite is the pomegranate white pepper ($48), which has the deep sweetness of pomegranate, but the snap of white pepper, ginger and cardamom keeps it from being too cloying.
i know it’s a second pomegranate scent, but the pomegranate noir from jo malone ($65) is so different, they’re both worth loving. in the jo malone version, the pomegranate is more prominent, probably because of the raspberry notes in the background. but by adding patchouli and frankincense, this turns into a much more complex fragrance. overall, if you’re after a true pomegranate, i’d go with the jo malone…but if you’re after just a generally light sweet scent with a hint of spice, the joya is for you.
i have to admit to some work bias here, but honestly, pacifica’s tibetan mountain temple ($20) is my hands-down favorite for homey, spicy scents this season. it’s not intended as a holiday candle, but the scents of ginger, orange and vetiver combine to make this as comforting as a scent can be. i can’t get enough! archipelago’s gingered grapefruit ($24) is another great option, but the grapefruit makes this one much sharper – a great candle for day to keep you awake, where the pacifica is a night-only burn for me…it just makes me cozy, warm and relaxed.
for something really different, i’ve been obsessively sniffing the new agadir candle from tocca ($36) since it arrived. it smells exactly like sweet pipe tobacco, a scent i’ve always secretly loved, especially when the air outside is crisp. the particular beauty of this scent (besides the gorgeous trademark tocca packaging) is that this is a scent your other half can’t pass up…it’s as manly as a candle gets.
what’s your favorite cold-weather scent?