The holiday season brings parties and gatherings galore — and with that the question of what to bring your host(s). Whether it is joining them for an open-house-style party, a full meal or an overnight visit, you don’t want to show up empty-handed. A gesture of thanks in the form of a note and/or small gift shows your host that you appreciate their efforts and hospitality.

Your first question may be, “How much should I spend?” A good rule of thumb is about $15-$20 for a dinner or party; if it is a more formal affair, a close friend or if you are planning an extended visit, maybe more. But ultimately, it is the thought that counts, and you should stick to the budget that works for you. It is also important to include a note, even if it is just a quick signature of thanks.

So, now what to bring? There are many thoughtful, simple and budget-friendly ways to show your appreciation. A candle tied with a ribbon and a nice note is almost always ‘safe’ (and easy to keep extra on hand for unexpected plans). You can even find some funny, quirky, unique candles that are beyond the basic if you plan ahead. A pair of candlesticks is a nice variation on a candle gift; look for a pair of honeycomb/beeswax candlesticks or fun seasonal ones.

If you like wine and know your host also appreciates a nice wine, don’t just regift a cheap one you have been given, but instead opt for a favorite and sign the label or write a note about why it is a favorite. A bottle of liquor works too if you know what your hosts like, or purchase your favorite and attach a yummy cocktail recipe for a personal touch.

Artisan jams and jellies, clever cocktail napkins, gourmet teas and coffee, boxed sweet treats, succulents in whimsical containers and seasonal or silly dish towels are all budget-friendly items that offer fun variations from candles and wines.

Look for small, locally owned gift boutiques in your area that carry treasures you may not find in a big-box store. Just a few of our local area go-to shops include South Shore Boutique, Cottonseed Marketplace, the gift shop at Center Place, White Oak Cottage, Lena Maxey and The Green Boutique. Seasonal pop-up gift markets are also a great place to find unique and handmade or personalized gifts.

Presentation is important too, so make the effort to find a nice gift bag or box, even for the wine.

Whatever you decide, know that your hosts will appreciate the consideration behind the gift.

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