Anyone can show up to a holiday dinner party with a so-so bottle of Chardonnay. Make your mark as a good guest by honoring the host and hostess with a stylish, thoughtful, and practical gift that’s a little indulgent (or maybe a lot). Don’t hesitate to spend generously because no recipient really means it when they say “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” You definitely should, so choose a hostess gift that’s personal and memorable, and you’ll be guaranteed a return invitation, next time with preferable seating-chart placement.
Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rose: For the flamboyant, gourmet and voluptuous hostess, this pretty-in-pink package is her champagne dopelganger. Nectar Impérial Rosé ($73) is a gourmet expression of the Moët & Chandon style, distinguished by its bright fruitiness, its seductive palate and its elegant maturity. The assemblage reflects the diversity and complementarity of the three grapes varietals. Insist she hide it from the event’s guests to save for herself.
Voluspa: Had the Three Wise Men been born in the modern era, they’d have been wise to trade their gifts of frankincense and myrrh for Voluspa’s 2014 holiday fragrances: Cinnamon Ceylon & Copal, Spruce Cuttings, and Visions of Sugar Plum. The entire product line is heavenly, but two options make particularly nice hostess gifts: the Classic Maison Candles ($38) – housed in iridescent, lidded glass jars – and the Home Ambience Diffuser with 18 fine rattan reeds for fragrance distribution. Both come in festive packaging, and will stimulate the olfactory senses for months without irritating phthalates, parabens or sulfates. If you simply can’t decide on your favorite fragrance, the Voluspa Maison Holiday Votive Candle Gift Set ($50) includes all three.
Olivina Napa Valley: If the hosts have been cooking all day, they’re bound to enjoy a gift basket of artisanal Napa Valley products created by James Beard Award winning chef Susan Costner-Kenward. Olivina’s Body Butters, Hand Creams and Bath Soaps are the ultimate luxury, made with farm fresh ingredients such as grape seed extract, olive oil, almonds, and pure Shea butter, naturally scented with olive, Meyer’s lemons, orange and clove, lavender or honeysuckle rose.
Grand Central Beauty S.M.A.R.T. Skin Perfecting Set: Even better than a facial gift certificate is a top-quality facial kit for home-spa use again and again and again. An award-winning chemist for created this collection from Grand Central Beauty, which smoothes, moisturizes, reduces redness, and improves skin tone with anti-aging benefits. The pretty pink box includes a mask treatment, polisher, serum and primer, plus a cleansing sponge and hairband ($150) — everything she’ll need for baby-soft results.
Vivienne Westwood Watches: If you’re the kind of guest who habitually arrives late, apologize with the timely Christmas 2014 watch by Vivienne Westwood. The Black Sloane Showpiece ($650) is made of glistening gunmetal detailed with faceted crystals, encrusted within the black backdrop and Westwood’s famous gold-outlined Orb. For the man of the house, you can’t go wrong with the Black Barbican ($630), detailed with gold highlights, marked indexes, multi-functioning movements, and supple black leather band.
V.K. Nagrani Cufflinks: This treat for the host with the most will put a tiger in his tank. He’ll find it hard to resist putting on these pussycats — silver cufflinks from the collection of British gentlemen-stylist V.K Nagrani — to purr his way through power meetings and cocktail summits. Should his spirit animal be a lion, wolf, bear, rhino, cobra, gorilla, eagle or elephant, never fear, they’re all powerful symbols in this accessories line. ($195)
Downton Abbey & Upstairs Downstairs DVD Collections: After guests have gone, the hostess will enjoy reveling in upper-class shenanigans by binge-watching the best of British television from PBS and Acorn/RLJ Entertainment, such as “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” and “Jeeves & Wooster Complete Collection,” starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. But nothing can beat “Downton Abbey” and its thematic predecessor, “Upstairs Downstairs,” now available in “The Ultimate Collection” ($200) with all 81 episodes on 25 digitally-remastered DVDs. “Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Seasons 1, 2, 3, & 4” ($50) is a 12-disc boxed set filled with romance, heartbreak, and scandal. Created by Academy Award®-winner Julian Fellowes, the compulsively watchable epic brings to life all the drama and intrigue of the inhabitants of a lavish English country manor, home to the Crawley family and their servants, from pre-war England through the social upheaval of the 1920s. Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith lead the acclaimed ensemble cast.
“Big Shots: Rock Legends and Hollywood Icons” (Insight Editions) & “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” (Princeton Architectural Press): Tis the season for deluxe edition book buying, especially to contribute to the coffee table reading at arty cocktail parties. Every big shot will appreciate this hugely impressive “Big Shots” ($75) book gallery of iconic celebrity photos by Guy Webster who created some of the most memorable images from 1960s Hollywood. He captured raw and natural shots of 100s of stars, stripping away the staged images of Natalie Wood, Jack Nicholson, Bob Dylan, Jane Fonda, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Dennis Hopper, and more. Brian Wilson’s foreword alone is eye-opening, to say the least. For the contemporary art lover, “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” ($40) is a beautiful, strange, mysterious anthology of the vast visual work created by the new wave pioneer and DEVO co-founder. Fantastically bold, his surreal images surprise, mesmerize and amuse.
Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Le Grand Hamper: If you really want to shower someone with a truly showy hostess gift, this London-curated, $1,560 gift basket rivals them all. Inside the wicker hamper are white truffles, fois gras, bonbons, chocolate, oils, teas and a teapot, Panettone and an embarrassment of wine riches: delicate Gosset; aged Pomerol; a muscular Grand Cru red Burgundy from Chambertin Clos de Bèze; superlative 1970 vintage Port. Still other delights make this one of the most indulgent hampers available.
Based in Los Angeles, Vicki Arkoff is Editor at Large for Pursuitist and a founding editor for Holiday Goddess, the online destination for chic women travelers from the editors of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Conde Nast Traveler, and BBC. Her travel and lifestyle reports can also be been seen in Atlas Obscura, The Awesomer, DaySpa, The Chicago Tribune, CNN Travel, JustLuxe, Lonely Planet, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Toronto Star, WellSpa 360, WestJet Magazine, Where Traveler, Where Guestbook, Yahoo News, and dozens more. She's co-author of the bestselling Holiday Goddess books (HarperCollins and iTunes) including 'The Holiday Goddess Guide to Paris, London, New York, Rome,' a travel Top 10 staple. As editor, Vicki's other books include 'Sinatra' (DK), 'Inside Mad' (Time-Life) and 'Virgin Los Angeles' (Virgin Books). She is one of the Usual Gang of Idiots for MAD Magazine, an entertainment reporter (Daily Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, CREEM), and authorized biographer for pop culture icons from the Beach Boys to Beastie Boys, Paul McCartney to MC Hammer.