Our Favorite Host Gifts: Winter 2023
It's giving giving season, and the holiday party invites are piling up! A bottle of wine - whether thoughtfully selected or regifted with the best of intentions - is always welcome at our house, but just in case you want to step up your host gift game this holiday season, we've got a few ideas for you from a few of our friends - all tried and true hosts themselves - about what they're gifting this holiday season.
But before we get into it, how about a drink? This year we’re toasting with Mamo’s new coupe glasses, a contemporary interpretation of the classic French champagne glass. Arley Marks’ signature bipartite silhouette combines a flute-like chamber that doubles as a stem, with a wide-mouthed top perfect for everything from dirty martinis to ice cream sundaes. Mix and match the half-tone colorways to suit your mood and ensure that no one accidentally swipes your drink.
Available from: Mamo
For writer and recipe developer Zaynab Issa, the perfect host gift is a little luxury - something they definitely don’t need, but probably want. Case in point: Flamingo Estate’s Olive Oil & Persimmon Vinegar set, a dynamic duo to elevate their everyday home cooking. The hand picked and pressed extra virgin olive oil from fourth-generation Ojai farmer Phil Asquith is fresh, vibrant, and peppery, while the Fuyu and Hachiya persimmon vinegar, sourced from regenerative White Buffalo Land Trust in sunny Summerland, is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. TL;DR: This is the Aesop duet for your pantry.
Available from: Flamingo Estate
Care of Chan’s director of production Dani Dillon takes a similar approach, gifting alimentari staples from Bronx-based Italian importer Gustiamo. She’s smitten with their wide selection of products for every taste and price point (Martelli pasta! Pastaio Via Corta tomato sauce!), but when she wants to blow someone’s mind, she’ll bring them a bottle of “life-changing” balsamic vinegar by La Cà del Non. This is the real deal Modenese stuff, aged in wooden barrels for over 12 years to yield a viscous and vibrant balsamic that pairs with everything from hunks of nutty aged parm to ripe peaches and vanilla gelato.
Available from: Gustiamo
Whereas primo balsamico is best used sparingly, excellent olive oil can and should be enjoyed in abundance. Courtney Storer, chef and owner of Coco’s to Go-go, is gifting her friends a handle of Baroncini Olive Oil, a Sicilian blend made from Nocellara del Belice and Cerasuola olives, that’s equally appropriate for cooking and finishing. The bright yellow tin not only looks great on your countertop, but keeps the liquid gold inside safe from sun damage.
Available From: Baroncini Import & Co.
For the foodie host with robust curiosity, Common Things founder Komal Kehar suggests Licking Rocks teacups and lichen tea from Vienna-based design studio Simiaen, a pairing inspired by natural symbiosis. The tisane blend, produced in collaboration with St Charles Apothecary, harnesses the flavors and superfood nutrients of lichen that grows on Austrian pannonia green stone. The cups, inspired by Roman wine chalices, are carved from offcuts of the very same stone.
Available from: Common Things
For the everyday gourmand, a tried and true wine and cheese pairing is always welcome. Brooklynites might consider housemade wara, a fresh milk Nigerian cheese that’s remained a menu staple at the acclaimed Dept. of Culture. Chef-owner Ayo Balogun makes the traditional Fulani cheese, which can be enjoyed raw or cooked, preferably with a crisp South African chenin blanc.
Speaking of classic holiday fare, the Gucci Osteria Beverly Hills panettone is arguably the status treat of the season, prepared in collaboration with the panettone GOAT Roy Shvartzapel and sold in a collectible tin. This year’s special offering is light and airy as ever, studded with pecans, amarena cherries, and chocolate. There’s not so much on Rodeo Drive that’s worth your money these days, but to ignore this festive treat would be a BIG mistake. HUGE.
Available from: Gucci Osteria Beverly Hills
‘Tis the season to get cozy, and for Dream Awake founder Estelle Bailey-Babenzien, the right socks are crucial. She’s gifting hosts slouchy socks from Noah, which you can dress up or down, keeping your tootsies warm and toasty from the party to the afters, even if it’s just on your couch. For an extra treat, she’ll throw in a bar of Kettl’s matcha chocolate with soba crunch, studded with nutty roasted buckwheat from Nagano. Throw in a roaring fire and you’ve got yourself a lovely little night in.
Take your Japanese hygge fest to the next level with a selection of pantry essentials from Sonoko Sakai. Social media consultant Rachel Karten swears by the acclaimed chef and cookbook author’s quick curry brick and pumpkin crumble muffin kit: “The holidays are hectic,” she admits, so why not indulge your host friend who loves to cook with a couple “shortcuts that don’t compromise on flavor.”
Available from: Sonoko Sakai
For the host with a keen eye who’s ready to turn up, a handsome set of shot glasses will certainly be well received. Care of Chan creative production associate Caro Jelert is a fan of the colored crystal offerings from Colombian designer Natalia Criado for “schnapps, soju, vodka, or whatever else gets you through the holiday season.” Like we said, the holidays are a little hectic.
Available from: Natalia Criado
Should your host prefer something sippable to get the party started, Care of Chan’s Olivia Johnson recommends vintage French martini glasses by Luminarc. The black stems bring a decidedly ‘80s flair to the classic form - whip them out during a midweek business lunch for the full effect. Make that return to office extra festive!
Available from: Chairish
For a less boozy taste of a bygone corporate era, consider gifting deli cups by Suzanne Sullivan. Gabriel Cohen, partner at Fredericks & Mae, calls them “a New York Classic but more refined… mooshier.” The glazed porcelain cups are individually handmade, riffing off Leslie Buck’s iconic blue and white Grecian-inspired cups beloved by diners and street vendors citywide. Return to real dairy at your own risk.
Available from: Fredericks & Mae
Whatever your drink of choice, Net Nets bags are the perfect solution for imbibing on the go. Care of Chan’s director of marketing Gaby Domingo likes to gift a juicy bottle with these handmade macrame bags, which are perfect for summer park picnics or toting a bottle to your next holiday party. Plus, they double as “a charming carrier for your Nalgene” for those times when you’re off the sauce.
Available from: Yowie
Even the most outspoken native New Yorker can succumb to the winter blues. To keep the SAD at bay, Care of Chan’s managing director Alexandra Stylianos is gifting the Miami Winter coffee blend from Per’La specialty roasters, along with chunky ceramic mugs by Felt+Fat. The light and fruity roast with notes of pineapple, orange, and strawberry might be the next best thing to actual palm trees and ocean breezes when the days turn dark and cold.
In some circles, gifting knives is considered a faux pas, but we’re with chef and editor Magdalena O’Neal in suggesting a set of Opinel table knives are an excellent choice for “anyone who eats, cooks, hosts, or enjoys having pretty things on the table.” Their bistro style steak knives come in a variety of colors and can be engraved for an extra special touch. “Give the gift of four,” she suggests, adding “because that’s how gifts work, right? You get people things you secretly want for yourself.”
Available from: Opinel
For the host who diligently tuned into every week of Dream Academy, treat them to The NewJeans x Nudake Red Ribbon Cake Knife, a conversation starter for the Super Shy girlies that “actually cuts cake beautifully too” according to Gia Kuan. The founder and principal behind the eponymous consulting agency notes it’s a limited edition piece that you can only find in Korea or through a specific webstore, making it an extra rare treat for the host who serves with style.
Available from: Weverse
If a saber isn’t quite your style, consider instead the Babyboop from Italian design brand Alessi. Creative director and content creator Tyler Mitchell recommends this three section serving piece to bring a little modern edge to any tablescape. It may be sold as an hors d’oeuvre set, but we’re here for filling it with any and all combinations of snacks, sauces, and culinary accoutrements. Think martini garnishes; sundae toppings; hot cheetos and takis; there’s really no way to go wrong.
Available from: Alessi
On the topic of tinned fish, even the hostess with the mostest will appreciate a little caviar. Care of Chan founder Sue Chan saves this special treat for the friend who’s constantly looking out for others: “There’s no way to go wrong with this gift. Tie it with a lushy black or red velvet bow for the chicest, most elegant host gift. If you really want to level up, include a bottle of champagne.”
Available from: Regalis Foods
Time and again we’ve sung praises of the beeswax taper for its superior light quality and environmental benefits. Stacy Snyder, producer and owner of Stacy Danielle Snyder Studios, is upping the ante this holiday season with scaled wax candles. These ephemeral works of art are made from molds that have been passed down through the generations in Oaxaca, and are usually burned before weddings and other important ceremonies to bring good health and abundance.
Available from: Obakki
While unscented candles are best for the dinner table, the right scented candle can work wonders when it comes to setting the festive mood, adding warm light and a little je ne sais quoi to your living room or bathroom. Photographer Brad Ogbonna likes to show up with a bottle of natural wine and a candle from D.S. & Durga: we chatted with David Moltz, the co-founder of this Brooklyn-based atelier about his holiday-specific scents, but frankly we can’t imagine a host who would up their nose at any of their highly covetable candles.
Available from: D.S. & Durga
For those fragrance aficionados who have a hard time committing to just one scent, consider gifting your host a variety pack of incense matches. Producer Esther Robinsun-Abrams swears by these to bring some instant freshness to any space, even when traveling. Their 16 artfully crafted scents include holiday classics like frankincense and holly berry, alongside evocative year-round blends like Rain and Goddess of Egypt.
Available from: Incense Matches
For the bon vivants in your life, Care of Chan account associate Lauren Neman recommends a copy of La Bonne Table. Written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans, this posthumous collection of semi-autobiographical essays offers a taste of the author’s restaurant and hotel experience in pre-WWII New York. Copies can be hard to come by, which is perhaps unsurprising seeing as the New York Times claimed there exists “no other book so certain to divert, no matter what page you open to. It is an epicurean snack bar.”
Available from: Abe Books
On the topic of books, nonalcoholic spirit Aplós just released Cocktail Commissions, their inaugural recipe book celebrating remarkable drinks for unremarkable occasions. This invitation to indulge in the ordinary pairs thoughtfully crafted beverage recipes from award-winning mixologist Lynette Marero with escapist photography by Sergiy Barchuk, Sophie Tajan, Louis Dewynter and Daphne Lejeune.
Available from: Aplós
We need not remind you that gifts need not reinvent the wheel in order to feel special. Care of Chan programming manager Jake Stavis is gifting these playing cards from East Village housewares designer and antiquarian John Derian. Card games are an easy social lubricant for guests who already don’t know each other, and these cards, based on an early 19th century English deck, are nice enough to keep out on your coffee table for impromptu gaming.
Available from: John Derian
In that same spirit of keeping it classic, might we suggest a bottle of something a little fancy? Yola Mezcal just launched their Mezcal de Pechuga, an aromatic and full bodied-blend with seasonal citrus, guava, pineapple, and tejocote. This traditional Oaxacan style is distilled with fruits and spices beneath a turkey breast, which imparts a distinctive and complex flavor fit for moments to remember.
Available from: Yola Mezcal
Another little luxury from under the sea: Pearls! Timelessly chic, a pearl bracelet is something you can throw on everyday. Carol Lim, creative director and co-founder of Opening Ceremony, is partial to the (freshwater) offerings from Presley Oldham. The artist makes pieces for "any and every person," bringing a little elegance to any outfit.
Available from: Presley Oldham