Trying to determine what to bring to your holiday parties (or gift to those people whom are hard to shop for)? Wine or alcohol is great, and it is THE host or hostess go-to gift, but I suggest we reconsider what we are bringing to the hosts of our holiday parties. Here are some gift ideas this holiday season.
High quality staple ingredients: Anyone who cooks regularly is going to appreciate a high quality olive oil (Spanish olive oil is my go to), vinegar, spices, and gourmet salts (truffle salt? yes, please). Here are some suggested locations in Houston for purchasing your high-quality ingredients.
Texas Hill Country Olive Oil has excellent olive oils and vinegars and can be found at some Whole Foods Market locations, Central Market, or farmer’s markets. https://texashillcountryoliveco.com/
Wonderful spices can be found at Penzey’s on West 19th in the Heights or online! https://www.penzeys.com/
Interesting serving ware: I love seeing the new cool dishes at places and online. Pretty patterns, modern shapes, hand shaped, hand painted, all very cool. Do I buy one for myself? No. Would I be thrilled if I was gifted one? Yes.
While not Houston based, the Poketo Shop features design forward has so many items that we love. https://www.garmentory.com/sale/poketo/lifestyle-home
I have found many of my favorite serving platters at antique shops. Look for a consignment shop near you and go vintage!
Cool candles: Have you seen the new shapes and styles candles come in these days?? Add a touch of cool to your host’s table with a new crafted candle. All The Feels is a too-cool, laid back boutique located in Midtown. They carry local artist’s wares, such as handcrafted candles. https://allthefeelsshop.com/
Cutting boards: A nice wooden cutting board serves multiple purposes. It provides food prep and food display. While not cheap, these are pieces that can last you years if you treat them right.
Check out @jb_blocks on Instagram. We love his beautiful cutting boards.
Knives or nice kitchen shears: I never seem to have enough kitchen shears. A great chef’s knife, or a set of new pairing knives is a nice choice, too. You can go as practical or fancy as you want here.
Dr. Stephen Pustilnik makes knives that many top Houston chefs praise. Get your own custom chef’s knife from Houston Edgeworks. https://www.houstonedgeworks.com/
Serenity Knives is also another favorite and has been known to show up at the Heights Mercantile Farmer’s Market. https://serenityknives.com/
Cloth napkins: Paper napkins are fine, but fabric napkins level your dinner party up. The nice thing about linen napkins is you can wash them, pull them out of the dryer, and they are good to go. Iron them for a sophisticated look or skip the ironing for a more rustic vibe. Embroidered cocktail napkins are always classy, too.
Hibiscus Linens is based in Houston, and has beautiful napkins and other table linens at a variety of price points. https://www.hibiscuslinens.com/collections/signature-collection/products/black-ladder-stitch-dinner-napkin
Specialty jams/sauces/syrups: Who doesn't love going to trying the jam and sauce samples at Nutcracker Market? Anything easy to pour over cream cheese, serve with crackers, or put out with cheese makes a fantastic appetizer! Sweet or savory, this gift is sure to please.
Brenham Kitchens has some delicious jams, salsas, and more. http://www.brenhamkitchens.com/shop
Local honey: See above comments. Great for pairing for with a cheese board or drizzled on your toast. Honey comb, flavor-infused honey, take your pick!
Bee2Bee Honey Collective has neighborhood specific honey! https://bee2beehoney.com/
Uncommon Bee Farm is known for it's creative infused honey. Garlic, jalapeno, elderberry, and cinnamon are just a few of the flavors to choose from.
Gourmet cocktail mixes or garnishes: I stray away from buying liquors as gifts due to personal preference on this. But if you know what your host likes to drink, step up their game with a gourmet cocktail mix or garnish. Who can say no to a homemade sour mix, an easy cocktail mixer, or fine garnishes like luxardo cherries or stuffed olives?
Make your own sweet and sour mix! https://www.bonappetit.com/story/homemade-sour-mix
Acasa Margarita Mix comes in two flavors (regular and spicy) and can be found at Urban Harvest Farmer's Market and Henderson & Kane https://acasamix.com/collections/frontpage
Liber & Co. Cocktail Syrups are an Austin-based company with a variety of syrups and mixers https://www.liberandcompany.com/collections/syrups
Spec's Midtown is a wonderful place to look for gourmet and local ingredients for cocktails.
Specialty chocolates: An easy dessert for a party is clementines and fine chocolate. A easy dessert for one is a glass of red wine and a few bites of a high-quality chocolate bar. Can’t go wrong here. Check out the two local chocolatiers listed below.
Migaloo Chocolates https://migaloochocolatier.com/
Cacoa & Cardamom https://www.cacaoandcardamom.com
Centerpiece: If this is your gift of choice, this is one you should offer notice to your host about in advance. DO NOT just buy the drugstore bouquet. Make it thoughtful. Not a fan of the premade centerpieces? Central Market will assemble one for you after you pick out your own flowers from their curated selection. Local farmer’s markets often also have beautiful and unique arrangements to choose from.
Local Flora Farm http://www.localflorafarm.com
House cleaning gift card: While not an obvious choice, this is certainly memorable, especially if you are keen to duck out before it’s time to help with dishes. Your host will certainly appreciate it.
Experiences: So, you don't want to give "things" and you want to give experiences. Here are a few experiences to consider gifting this year! Whether it's a cocktail making class or a farm dinner, here are a few experiences to give!
Fiori Flower Arranging or Cocktail Classes take place a few times a month! Check their website for upcoming classes. https://fiorihtx.com/houston-fiori-events
Looking for a farm dinner? Check out Blackwood Farms (Hempstead) https://blackwoodliving.com/dinners/, Finca Tres Robles (East End) https://www.fincatresrobles.org/calendar-1, and Historic Hill House (Willis) https://www.historichillhouse.com/
More into wine? Mutiny Wine Room offers wine tastings and hosts wine dinners throughout the year! https://www.mutinywineroom.com/
Kick-off those New Year's resolutions and consider gifting a gift card or class pack to a fitness studio! We love Dance House Fitness, HIP Fitness, Atrium Yoga, and many of the spin class studios!
Why not give the gift of Houston Dinner Club? Contact us for information about vouchers for future dinner events.
Still looking? Here are some shops in the Houston area that we love for unique gifts.
Kuhl-Linscomb – Upper Kirby
All the Feels – Midtown
Asch Building – Woodland Heights
Henderson and Kane – Washington Ave.
Space - Montrose
Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market – every Saturday morning at the corner of Buffalo Speedway and Westheimer
Central Market – River Oaks
While we love shopping local, for those of you who need to buy your gifts online, check out online shops on Garmentory and Society 6 for a variety of unique goods that support local artists and small businesses!