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    7 Unique & Budget-Friendly Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

    By now, your calendar is probably packed with invites for holiday get-togethers from friends, family, and military connections. No doubt you’re excited to mingle, but since you’re a considerate guest, you’re probably also thinking about:

    1. What does the “festive attire” dress code actually mean? Ugly sweaters and reindeer ears? 
    2. What should I bring as a gift for the host? Of course, wine is fine, but sometimes it's best to bring something a little more thoughtful. 

    If you have multiple events to attend, the costs of host gifts can add up quickly. These ideas have a budget-conscious theme in mind. However, for future parties, keep your eye out for great deals on gifts that you can buy in bulk. Post-holiday sales are the perfect time of year to stock up. Many items like candles or candy work well year-round if they don’t sport a holiday motif.

    7 Unique & Budget-Friendly Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

    1) Mercury Glass

    Mercury glass is collectible, festive, and works with any home décor, but the cost per piece can be prohibitive. The workaround to achieve this expensive silver look is in a simple can of Krylon Looking Glass spray paint. Gather the florist vases you have at home or run through a Dollar Store and find sizes and shapes of any clear glass you like. You can also paint inexpensive candlesticks and tree ornaments. 

    After applying and drying, drop in any items you wish: flowers, wrapped Christmas chocolates, small tree ornaments, or votive candles. Tie festive ribbons for a finishing touch. 

    mercury ornmaments.jpgvia Flickr kkmarais

    2) Travel Ornaments

    We have a Christmas tree at home covered with ornaments from our travels, thanks mainly to the military and our PCS schedule. Every year, we hang the ornaments and reflect on the memories from each destination: skiing at Squaw Valley, trips to Disneyland, Hawaii, and many more. 

    If you’re attending a holiday party and need a gift, bring the host an ornament from their current state or one that reminds them of a place they love, like Big Ben from London or a cable car from San Francisco.

    Are you hosting this year? Read 5 Do's and Don'ts for Hosting Holiday Parties to make it your best event yet. 

    WA ornament.jpg

    via Flickr USDAgov

    3) Baking Kit

    A baking kit gift is quickly prepared during the holidays because the components are priced well and easy to find. Start with a pretty mixing bowl and add a color-coordinated spatula and a favorite cake or cookie mix.

    Other items you can add are dishtowels, measuring spoons, or a quality bottle of vanilla. HomeGoods or TJ Maxx are the perfect stores to shop for this type of gift.

    measuring spoon.jpg

    via Flickr Julie Magro

    4) Pasta Dinner

    Everyone is pressed for time during December and struggling to put real food on the dinner table instead of feasting on a collection of Christmas cookies. A party host would be thrilled to receive a preassembled spaghetti dinner. Fill a colander with pasta, a good jar of sauce, and a bottle of red wine or a loaf of Italian bread, and the meal is complete. Easy weeknight dinner!

    Plan ahead: If you find bargains on any of the above, you can tuck them away and gift them to new neighbors to say, “Welcome to the neighborhood”! 



    5) Shop a Special Store

    We all have lived somewhere that didn’t have our favorite go-to stores and restaurants, so become your host’s hero and bring a basket of goodies from their most missed market. Trader Joe’s is a popular example of a desperately missed shopping experience.

    During Christmas, specialty stores are filled with holiday goodies. Round up a few of their best items and bundle them for a pretty presentation. They’ll be so grateful! Starbucks and other regional stores like Wegmans are also sorely missed.

    cookie butter.jpg via Flickr user Stars Apart 

    6) Local Flavor

    Does the city you live in have the best donuts on the East Coast, or is it the location of the most popular craft beer on the West Coast? Well then, share the love and bring the best of the best to your host.

    Ice cream, chocolates, and potato chips are all produced somewhere, and your current town might just be the place. For a twist on the local theme, bring a gift from the location where you and the host met. Items from a shared locale have a lovely sentiment behind their purchase. Riesling from Germany or cheesecake from New York are easy examples. 

    mini donuts.jpg

    Photo from Canva

    7) Don’t Forget the Kids!

    It’s a nice extra to remember the kids over the holidays. They’re probably tucked away in the basement with orders to “behave or else” or under the care of a babysitter off-site. Parents never want to buy the cheap plastic candy cane filled with kisses or chocolate bites, but kids clamor for them, so the party guests that bring candy for the kiddos won’t be forgotten.   

    If candy is a no-no, travel-sized games of classics like Connect 4 or Hungry Hungry Hippos are a fun way to pass the time in the car. Retro card games like Go Fish, Old Maid, and Hearts entertain, too.

    kids drinking milk in Christmas pajamas

    Photo from Canva

    As with any gift, the thought counts when preparing a token of appreciation for the host. It needn’t be expensive or large, but a handcrafted touch will convey a level of luxury that a plain candle in a jar just couldn’t do.

    Are you feeling festive? MilitaryByOwner is, too. Our blog has decorating inspiration, tips for winter travel, and ideas on managing guests staying over the holiday vacation. Sign up for our newsletter and daily emails for the most up-to-date information!

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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