12 Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas Under $40

1. Monogrammed bottle stopper: These might seem like a silly luxury, but they actually come in handy--especially after a party when a few half-full bottles remain and the corks and caps were accidentally swept up into the trash. Get one with your hosts initials, or buy a few to spell out a word like "LOVE" or "THANKS." $22, C. Wonder

2. Flour Sack Potholders: A set of cute potholders to help lift those hot baking dishes. These can also be used as trivets under hot serving platters. You can never have too many! $16, House 8810

3. Air Plant & Pod: I first learned about air plants during a Secret Santa gift exchange at my old office. Someone else had gotten it as a gift and I was terribly jealous. The delicate-looking plants are actually quite hardy and don't require a green thumb or soil. Just a few drops of water and they can grow in any number of clever looking planters, like this bright yellow wooden pod from Etsy.  $11, Etsy

4. Chocolate and Orange Panettone: Growing up in an Italian neighborhood in NJ, panettone was a common hostess gift. My dad would usually eat a few slices of it with tea or turn it into French toast for breakfast. This new chocolate chip version from Bauducco is a new favorite of mine. Incredibly moist, packed with chocolate, and just a hint of orange flavor. It's so good, Eugene and I ate it all in about 2 days. $7-$10, most major grocery or drug stores

5. Retro Cake Tin: This gorgeous retro style cake carrier and box is modeled after vintage English cake boxes. Fill it with your favorite coffee cake or a couple loaves of banana bread for the party hosts to enjoy the morning after the big bash. $39, Williams Sonoma

6. Cheese Knife: This one is supposed to look like a little mouse, but I think it looks like a little bird, too! Either way, it's inexpensive and totally adorable. I'd buy one of my favorite cheeses to gift along with this. $13, Modcloth.com

7. Gold 5-Piece Flatware Set: I've been dying for a set of gold flatware, and this affordable and elegant collection from West Elm is really lovely & festive. $29, West Elm

8. Teak Measuring Spoon Set: If you know the host is a baker, she'll definitely appreciate this gorgeous set of wooden measuring spoons that are pretty enough to leave hanging from a hook in the kitchen. She'll be sure to think of you next time she bakes up something delicious! $20, Merchant No. 4

9. Whiskey Stones: Pop these stones in the freezer and they'll keep your whiskey (or other beverage) cold without watering it down. Great gift for the bachelor host or the couple who enjoys fine spirits. $20, Uncommon Goods

10. Lillet Rose, St. Germain: Everyone brings wine to the party. Mix it up this year and bring your hosts a bottle of something a little more interesting. Like delicate Lillet Rose aperitif--their first new product in 50 years!--or, my own husband's favorite,  St. Germain elderflower liqueur.  In the mood to DIY it? Make them a bottle of Homemade Coquito--I promise you it'll be a hit! $20-$30

11. Patterned Bowl Set: A small set of pretty bowls is perfect for the ladylike host. She can use them for her breakfast cereal, as candy dishes, or even on her vanity to hold jewelry and other bits. $40, Modcloth.com

12. Retro Travel Dish Towel Set: Do your hosts have a bit of wanderlust? Get them a set of these kitchy retro style dish towels featuring midcentury-style travel imagery. $16, House 8810

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