7 Budget Gifts You Can Bring to a Holiday Party


For party hosts, the holidays are happiest when guests are thoughtful enough to bring a little show of gratitude for all the behind-the-scenes vacuuming, shopping, and turkey basting that goes into putting on a killer soiree. (See also: 8 Holiday Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Cheer)

For guests, the key is finding a gift that shows tact without breaking the bank. So what can you bring that's both gracious and budget friendly? Read on for our roundup of the best pennywise hostess gifts that are sure to keep you on the guest list permanently.

1. A Great Bottle of Wine

Simple, flavorful, and inexpensive are the mainstay traits of every great party wine. "This means that, while we may love riesling, for instance, we'd avoid it because many people don't love it, or at least don't know they'd love it if they gave it a chance," write wine experts Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher of The Wall Street Journal's "Tastings" column. Instead, Gaiter and Brecher recommend muscadet from France, a widely available dry and juicy white that rarely offends (Domaine de la Quilla makes one that retails for about $11). They also suggest petite sirah from California, an earthy, blackberry-infused red that's delightful in cold weather (Bogle, Concannon, and Guenoc are some of the top producers, with bottles averaging between $10 and $15).

Just be wary of wines being pushed on you by salespeople, the columnists warn. Often it's not so much because it's the perfect party wine, but rather that there's a glut in the market and the store wants to unload their inventory.

2. Festive Wine Glasses

One of the most imperative tasks of the holiday party host is making sure there's enough glassware. But it's easier said than done when there are those guests among us who have the unseamly habit of using a fresh glass for every drink. So why not help out by bringing one painted with pilgrims or snowflakes?

Check out this turkey wine glass by Marge ($18.95) or this wine glass painted with acrylic holly berries by Lolita ($18.50). They're functional, fun, and will be beyond appreciated by that straggling party guest who wandered in late looking for a spot of eggnog, but can't find a clean cup.

3. Homemade Dessert

Cashew snowballs, nutmeg shortbread, linzer cookies with spiced jam, gingerbread cookies with royal icing, eggnog, and jarred creamy caramel sauce are all examples of crowd-pleasing holiday desserts that travel well and are simple to serve. They're also made with relatively few ingredients, which means they're budget-friendly (we calculate about $25 or less for a batch of any of the aforementioned delights) for those of us who don't mind doing a little holiday baking.

4. A Mason Jar Filled With Everything You Need to Make Your Own Holiday Cookies

If you're clumsy in the kitchen — or short on time — simply package all the dry ingredients you need make those gingerbread cookies in a mason jar. And don't forget to include a tag with the recipe and a festive holiday bow. In addition to relieving you from baking duty, this gift comes with an added bonus for the party host, too: They can bake and enjoy this delicious cookie batch all for themselves long after the party guests have gone home.

5. Party Crackers

Party crackers — also called Christmas crackers — are a holiday party tradition dating back to Victorian England. And today they make for a fun and unexpected gift for party hosts and guests alike. These aren't the kind of crackers you eat, by the way. They're fun party favors filled with riddles, rhymes, toys, and, of course, wearable tissue paper crowns that tumble out of the packaging when you "pop" the cracker open. This set of 12 party crackers dressed in crimson bows and berries will only set you back $24.99.

6. A Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, or Fresh Pine Garland Centerpiece

Holiday plants dress up the table while allowing the hostess to enjoy them for weeks after the party is over. But many of the most popular plants will cost you upwards of $40. The red or white amaryllis, for example, is one of the priciest flowers you can buy during the holiday season. Luckily you can get a beautiful potted poinsettia plant for about half that price. A Christmas cactus or fresh pine garland centerpiece are just as lovely and will only cost you about $10.

7. A Cinnamon, Peppermint, or Warm Apple Pie Scented Candle

The holiday season is full of delectable aromas — cranberry sauce, pine needles, gingerbread. And luckily these tantalizing scents have been bottled up in colorful wax jars so we can bask in their goodness even when there are no cinnamon apple pies baking in the oven. We recommend this gingerbread votive ($12.50) by Bath And Body Net or this turkey and stuffing scented housewarmer ($19.99) from Yankee Candle.

What clever, affordable, and adorable hostess gifts will you be bringing to holiday parties this year?


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