WASHINGTON, December 16, 2014 — The holidays come with holiday parties, and holiday parties come with hostess (and host) gifts.
Here are some gift ideas that are relatively easy and inexpensive to compile:
Gift baskets. Combining a few themed gifts together is a great way to thank your host for inviting you to their event. You can raise the wine and chocolate gift to another level by packaging them – along with a candle and some cheese and crackers – in a pretty basket. Create a spa theme by putting bubble bath, bath salts, aromatic soaps, candles and even a good book in a basket.
Baked goods. Everyone loves fresh baked goods. Bring breads, muffins, pound cakes or cookies. For a special baked treat, try making sugar donuts. This recipes is from Epicurious.com
Makes about 18 doughnuts – 40 min Start to finish: 40 min
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 12 cups vegetable oil
Sift together first four dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
Whisk together 1 cup sugar, buttermilk, butter, and eggs in another bowl, then add to flour mixture and stir until a dough forms (dough will be sticky).
Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently 8 times.
Flour dough and a rolling pin, then roll out dough into a 12-inch round (about 1/3 inch thick). Cut out as many doughnuts as possible with floured 3-inch doughnut cutter and transfer to lightly floured baking sheets.
Gather scraps, reroll, and cut more doughnuts in same manner.
Heat oil in a 5-quart heavy pot until thermometer registers 375°F. Working in batches of 3, slide doughnuts into oil and fry. Once each doughnut floats to surface, turn over and fry 50 seconds, then turn again and fry 50 seconds more. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Cool slightly and dredge in remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar.
Alteration can be to make hand formed, balls from the dough, instead of circles and toss in sugar. If serving, provide “dipping” sauces – vanilla bean cream, chocolate and caramel for a decadent treat.
Communities very own Chef Mary offers some easy cookie ideas ideas perfect for a platter or boxed and bowed as a gift. Because who doesn’t like cookies?
Make-it-yourself-kits. Another take on the gift basket idea is a kit that includes a recipe and many of the ingredients. Put some Chinese spices, rice, and a recipe book inside a wok and tie it with a ribbon, or include a paella recipe book, spices, rice and other ingredients in a large paella pan for a nice hostess gift.
You can even collect the ingredients for home-made chocolate chip cookies, wrap them in festively-colored cellophane and tie them to a cookie sheet.
Potpourri. Store-bought potpourri in an elegant container is another great idea. You can take it a step further by making your own simmering Christmas potpourri from StoneGable who suggests that your simmering potpourri includes dried lemon peel, whole cloves, star anise, dried cranberries, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon sticks, dried orange peel and mulling spices . The combined scents of lemon, cloves, anise, cranberries, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and orange to create a comforting and seasonal aroma.
Remember, the stand-bys of wine, chocolate, flowers and candles are still good choices, and are great last-minute ideas. A small rosemary “tree” or evergreen are also festive gifts for the party-thrower. Another lovely gift to keep on hand is a small basket with hand towels (either festive or decorated paper) and lovely hand soaps for your hostess’ poweder room.