Gone are the days when every party ended with a goody bag. I’m sure you’ll agree that the best part of grade school parties was the paper bag full of Blow Pops and Silly Putty that you received when it was over. Unfortunately, most people don’t observe that particular tradition past the age of ten, and as a result, adult parties don’t tend to include goody bags. In fact, it’s the other way around when you’re a grown-up.

A polite guest always brings a hostess gift when showing up to a party. There’s no better way to say “thanks for the good time” than with a thoughtful gift. If you’re going to be partying it up this holiday season, here are some fresh new ideas that any host or hostess will appreciate.

Something Tasty

Give the gift that won’t be re-gifted: tasty food. If you choose to bring something edible, make sure your hosts understand that the treat is for their own enjoyment; you don’t want them to feel compelled to share it with guests. If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, here are some culinary concepts for your busy (and rather hungry) host.

A loaf of bread
Bake an out-of-the-ordinary loaf that your host can enjoy as a snack. Consider making holiday breads like banana bread, cranberry bread, or this tasty-sounding rocky road bread that I found on Bake Space. For a delightful presentation, wrap the loaf in a cute kitchen towel and tie it up with a ribbon.

No baking talent? No problem! Give your hosts the gift of hot-out-of-the-oven brownies or cookies with minimal work. Simply layer dry ingredients in a mason jar, slap a bow on it, and attach baking instructions. For directions, check out this brownie recipe. It makes a gorgeous gift, and it’s easy to put together.

Splurge on some gourmet chocolates. I guarantee that you’ll be thanked profusely.

Something Decorative

If you’re fairly confident in your host’s personal taste, you can bring a decorative gift. Here are a few gift ideas for the host that appreciates knick-knacks.

Homemade candles
Store-bought candles are cliché. But homemade candles? Simply genius. Check out this tutorial on Overstock.com to learn how to make simple fragrance candles.

Christmas ornaments
Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, an ornament is always a great gift at Christmas time.

An air-purifying houseplant
You might be scratching your head in confusion at this one, but small plants make a great gift because they not only look nice, but they’ve been shown to reduce stress. If you’re going to gift a plant, buy one that has a purpose. Air-purifying plants can absorb the nasty chemicals left behind from cleaning, painting and doing other household things. Check out this list of air-purifying plants to find the perfect little green pet for your host or hostess.

A vase
Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT bring a bouquet of flowers. You don’t want your hosts to feel compelled to leave the party to put them in water. Bring a vase instead, or if you’d really like to go the extra mile, put flowers in the vase and gift both.

Something Just for Fun

A board or card game
Check out “Table Topics” cards from Uncommon Goods. Each box comes with 135 cards to get guests thinking and talking. Help liven up the party, and give your hosts something to enjoy for years to come.

Wine, beer, or liquor
Yes, wine is a “tired” gift, but it’ll never be refused. CBS News has a great article about the etiquette rules for gifting alcohol that you can find right here. In short, remember that alcohol may not be an appropriate gift for all events. For instance, you don’t want to show up to Great Aunt Erma’s formal Thanksgiving dinner with a six-pack of Budweiser – unless, of course, that’s how Great Aunt Erma rolls.

Fun shot glasses
If it’s a less formal event, and you plan on bringing fine whiskey or something of that nature, it could be fun to include a pair of quirky shot glasses – but only if it’s appropriate!

Something Kitchen Related

Is your host into cooking? Pick out something your host wouldn’t normally spend money on for themselves; think “quirky but useful.” Here are a few of my favorite ideas for a kitchen-savvy host.

Wine charms
Wine charms are a great way to dress up even the most boring wine glasses. Your hosts will love showing them off next time they throw a party.

Unique salt-and-pepper shakers
Antiques stores everywhere are full of quirky salt and pepper shakers. Pick up a funky pair – they won’t cost much, and they’ll give your hosts a laugh.

A pretty apron
If you’ve got a hostess who likes to entertain from the kitchen, buy a pretty and party-worthy apron so she can stay clean and feel fashionable all night long.

Bringing a hostess gift to a party is not old-fashioned; it’s polite. It doesn’t take a lot of effort or money, but it’ll sure be appreciated. What do you plan to give to your holiday hosts this season? Shoot us a comment to share with other Zing readers!

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