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Creative Gifts for the Host or Hostess

Bringing a small gift is a customary gesture to thank your host or hostess for their hospitality this holiday season, but keep in mind that a little creativity goes a long way in helping your gift stand out among the plethora of candy and candles they’ll receive. With a little forethought and imagination, homemade gifts can be not only inexpensive but also easy to make - and the packaging as much fun as the item itself. Here are but a few ideas to get you started.

Scented Sugars

Add a little something extra to coffee or tea, baked goods or a simple bowl of fresh fruit and are so easy to create. Layer granulated sugar with aromatics that are edible such as rose petals, citrus peel or vanilla beans. Mix in small batches and seal each variety tightly in a decorative jar so the scent can infuse the sugar. Add a label and you have a sweet little gift at the ready.

Flavored Oils

Can also make a statement, and are so versatile when it comes to cooking. Choose interesting jars that have a drip spout or pour top and are wide enough to accommodate the herbs or spices you choose. Olive oil is a perfect choice for the base of flavored oils but you can also choose peanut, grape seed or avocado oil. The rule of thumb is two tablespoons of flavoring per cup of oil. Gently heat the oil in a pan with your flavoring for about five minutes and then cool, strain and pour into jars. Fresh herbs and spices can be added to the jars for presentation and identification. The oils themselves can be used in salad dressings, for drizzling over food or simply as dipping oil for bread. 

Spice Rubs and Grill

Seasonings are a great gift for the grill master host. The spice rub starts with a base of salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, oregano and thyme. You can customize the flavor of the rub by adding cumin, coriander and chili powder for a Southwestern flair; turmeric, curry powder, ginger and cardamom for an Indian flavor; or tarragon, marjoram, rosemary and dill for Mediterranean cooking. A basic grill seasoning begins with salt, pepper, granulated onion, chili powder and garlic powder. Both need to be stored and gifted in an airtight container such as a metal tin. 

Liqueurs

make for a festive and interesting gift and are easy to assemble, however they need time to rest and develop their flavors so a little advance preparation is required. Limoncello and Kahlua start with alcohol, water, sugar and the flavoring of lemons or vanilla and coffee. Irish Cream is also a popular choice but requires a few more ingredients to prepare. Bottle these liqueurs in colorful glass containers and label for gift giving throughout the holidays.

Sugar scrubs

Can keep the winter blues at bay and provide a natural way to soften hands in our dry climate. The scrub begins with three parts sugar to one part grape seed oil. A few drops of essential oils in a combination of scents (Orange-Mint, Rosemary-Spearmint, Lemon-Lime) complete the package. Store in a wide-mouth jar so the scrub can be easily extracted.

Garbage Disposal Refreshers

Are a versatile and inexpensive gift. Start by mixing baking soda, salt, lemon peel and liquid dish soap. Add in lemon juice until the mixture looks like course sand. Mound the mixture into balls and dry overnight. The refreshers can be gifted in a Mason jar or box with instructions to drop one or two down the drain for a fresh smelling sink.