Skip the scented candle, and ditch the tea towels. Hostess gifts are usually given to women who entertain—probably a lot—so give her something delicious that she can serve at her next soiree. Better still, give her something locally produced, which is fresher, more chic and more thoughtful.
Here are some of our favorite ideas:
The morning after: Perfect for the hostess with weekend guests. Coffee from Link’s Sweet Bean, fresh roasted in Wilmette and available at area markets including Fresh Market, Lincolnwood Produce, The Grand and Sunset Foods. Granola from Annie’s Edibles, sold at Village Market in Lake Bluff and The Bent Fork in Highwood. And add a coffee cake from Sweet Molly’s, available at The Grand and online.
Decadent delivery: For the hostess you want to impress. Chefs and foodies rave about caviar from the great lakes. It’s produced by Collins Caviar and available delivered (on ice) or through Schaefer’s or Lincolnwood Wine and Spirits. Pair it with a bottle of champagne (probably not locally produced) but the experts at Good Grapes, which specializes in bubbly, can help you find the perfect bottle.
Fabulous French: She dreams of Paris, so bring a little taste to her. The newly launched Macaron Chicago has special flavors of their traditional French meringue cookies for the holidays. Order a 12-piece box of gingerbread or carmel fleur de sel macarons.
Spicy chef: Friends who love to cook should be encouraged. Give her a gift box of delicious spices. Three local companies blend their own and all are terrific. The Spice House, in Evanston and online, has the most variety, but Urban Accents and Pelago Valley both have unique mixes packaged for hostess gifts.
Sweetest thing: Top Hat in Wilmette makes hot fudge that any sweet-lover will adore. Available as solo jars or in hostess sets, you can find their products around the North Shore including Anton’s Fruit Ranch and Zier’s. Partner that with a tray of brownies or homemade toffee from Sweet Molly’s for the sweetest gift.
Cocktails and Savories: For the hostess who’s all about the cocktails, give her some unique nibbles to accompany her martinis. Sonoma Farm, which sounds like California, but is located in downtown Chicago, makes an unbelievable pickled brussels sprout (sounds weird, but delish) as well as lots of other savory spreads and condiments. Available at larger Jewel stores. Pair with a homegrown spirit, like North Shore Vodka, available at Sunset Foods.
Pasta for the pressed: She works, volunteers and juggles kids’ schedules. Make her week easier with a delivery of homemade pasta and sauces (all frozen, so she can use as needed) from Convito’s in Wilmette.
Cheese and more: Caputo Cheese Market in Lake Forest makes their own mozzarella and an amazing fresh cheese called burrata (a creamier version of mozzarella). Their cheese experts can help you pick out lovely accompaniments and will pack it all on ice for giving.
Need more gift suggestions? Try these great guides:
Ideas for Men
Ideas for Women
Ideas for Babies and Small Children