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Holiday Gift Guide Part 4 — Mindful Gifts For The Modern Hostess

The holidays are fast approaching, which means it’s time to take a cue from Santa and start reviewing the names on that “Nice” list — especially since, unlike the red-suited, full-bellied, white-bearded man, most of us don’t have a team of handy elves who can manufacture just about anything or a stable of reindeer to deliver these trinkets. If you’re shopping for someone who loves to open her home to others, whose warmth and kindness makes her abode feel as welcoming as a loving embrace, whose easy laughter and flair for storytelling keeps crowds entertained for hours at a time, then consider these suggestions — all perfect for the hostess who exudes an effortless joie de vivre.


Alexandra Llewellyn Ebony Tulip Backgammon Board, $4302. Available at ModaOperandi.com

Charades and Pictionary battles may be surefire crowd-pleasers but, for more intimate gatherings, this seasoned entertainer will rely on a classic game of wits: backgammon. Unlike the humble black-and-white set John Locke toyed with on Lost, this luxurious edition by London-based designer Alexandra Llewellyn doubles as a conversation piece thanks to its rich ebony and leather composition, hand-applied lacquer accents, and hand-painted tulip motifs in perky shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, and orange. The world’s oldest board game is now more enchanting than a secret garden.


CB2 Arrow Ring Holder, $9.95. Available at CB2.com

Jewelry boxes can be an excellent way to organize earrings and bracelets but smaller baubles, like rings, often get lost in those cavernous chambers and slots. A much simpler way to keep track of all that finger candy, this clever stacking device allows you to loop each ring through the brass-plated aluminum arrow’s rear fletchings, down its gleaming shaft, and through the sharp arrowhead, landing safely on the grooved mini rubberwood stand.


Tocca Beauty Crema da Mano Collezioni, $32. Available at Sephora.com

She’ll be shaking hands, pressing her palms against her friends’ shoulders while whispering secrets in their ears, gently pinching children’s cheeks, and offering loving hugs to family members, so it’s essential that this welcoming soul keep her hands silky smooth. This fanciful hand cream set features five moisturizing, skin-softening, quick-absorbing hand creams formulated with coconut oil, shea butter, and aloe, each one boasting one of Tocca’s signature scents. The Cleopatra hand cream, for instance, fuses together watery cucumber and sweet, crisp, grapefruit for a scent that’s juicy and clean. The Florence hand cream, meanwhile, combines three undeniably feminine floral aromas — violet, bergamot, and gardenia — for an aromatic experience that’s coquettish but and playful. The Colette hand cream opens withs zesty citrus notes like mandarin and lemon, then enchants with romantic jasmine and violet, adding an aura of mystery with spicy touches like pink peppercorn, incense and amber before simmering to a creamy and seductive vanilla and sandalwood base. Liliana, a celebration of youthful enchantment inspired by roaring 20s parties, blends together sweet peach with muguet, gardenia, and white peony for a fruity floral fête. And last but not least, the Simone hand cream combines tropical frangipani with watermelon and ylang ylang for a beach-y affair.



Teavana Multi-Color Teapot Set, $149.95. Available at Teavana.com

A steaming cup of green tea or of spicy Chai can offer warmth and comfort on rainy or chilly afternoons (especially when paired with biscotti, scones, or buttery cookies) or perfectly punctuate a satisfying dining experience. This Teavana set, which incorporates a 32 oz. teapot, four 6 oz. cups and four matching saucers, will add a joyful energy to any table with its vibrant array of colors, starting with the retro teal hue of the teapot itself. The perky red, violet, yellow, and orange shades of  the cups, along with the golf-toned metal handles, add a ’50s charm to the collection.


La Soula Say It In French Collection “La Vie Est Belle” Gold Bar Necklace, $98. Available at LaSoula.com

This woman approaches life like a juicy apple she can’t wait to bite, enjoying its flavor slowly, prolonging every moment of sensory pleasure, every savory revelation. She sees life as a celebration, and that’s why this pendant perfectly captures her spirit with its proclamation that “La Vie Est Belle,” that “Life Is Beautiful.”


Kate Spade Raise A Glass Tidbit Set, $30. Available at KateSpade.com

From bacon-stuffed mushrooms to artichoke and parmesan crostinis, bite-sized gourmet appetizers will look all the more enticing when showcased atop these graphic plates. Each 4-piece set incorporates two white plates with cheeky black polka dots and two with black-and-white horizontal stripes. Best of all, they’re made of durable melamine,so they’re less likely to chip, crack, or peel.


Jonathan Adler Newport Ice Bucket, $198. Available at JonathanAdler.com

Guests will feel like they’re attending an exclusive, no-expense-spared, decadent Jay Gatsby fête when they lay eyes on this Art Deco-inspired ice bucket, fashioned out of handmade soda glass with a black container and featuring an intricate overlay with a pattern of interlocking hexagonal shapes in a gleaming 24k gold hue.


Tata Harper Glow On Demand Set, $48. Available at TataHarperSkincare.com

She’ll look as luminous as any chandelier, as effervescent as any Prosecco, when she relies on this party-perfect skincare kit. The Tata Harper Glow On Demand Set incorporates several complexion pick-me-ups. Since gorgeous skin starts with a proper cleansing routine, the set includes two cleanser alternatives: the Regenerating Cleanser, formulated with exfoliating apricot seed powder, salicylic acid-rich willow bark to fight and prevent acne breakouts, French pink clay to draw out toxins from deep within pores, and debris-fighting pomegranate enzymes; as well as the Purifying Cleanser, formulated with Kaolin clay, willow bark, sunflower seed oil, pomegranate extract, aloe, clove flower oil, and other botanical ingredients that work to battle excess oiliness, reduce pore size, and restore the skin to its optimal moisture balance. The Hydrating Floral Essence, meanwhile, contains hyaluronic acid, gotu kola, and jasmine and tangerine hydrosols that draw moisture to the skin and lock it in place. This lightweight mist can be applied post-cleansing, before any rich serums and moisturizers, and it can be sprayed above makeup throughout the day, so that busy entertainers can refresh their makeup and revive their complexions at a moment’s notice. For a pre-party glow, meanwhile, the kit includes the Resurfacing Mask, a power-packed beta-hydroxy treatment that effectively sloughs away dead and dull surface skin cells, revealing new layers of smooth, radiant, supple skin — all without the irritation associated with some harsh peels. And, in the holiday spirit, the kit contains one added special treat: the multi-tasking Very Naughty Lip and Cheek Tint, a creamy red shade that can be applied to give cheeks a believable flush or to pouts for a come-hither, mistletoe-ready effect.



AHeirloom Texas Shaped Cutting Board, $48. Available at AHeirloom.com

Dicing onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes for use in spicy Tex-Mex dishes will seem all the more fun when the chopping action happens atop this 100% renewable bamboo plywood cutting board, shaped to resemble the Lone Star State. Want to give the budding chef in your life a taste of her own home state? Then select the state of choice at AHeirloom.com and add a heart, house, or star detail on a specific city or place that holds meaning to the gift recipient.


Michael Aram Butterfly Gingko Pitcher, $300. Available at MichaelAram.com

Whether she’s serving water, lemonade, or iced tea, the hostess with the most us will parch her guests’ thirst — both for fluids and for aesthetically pleasing décor — with this oxidized stainless steel pitcher, featuring natural bronze butterfly-like shapes seemingly fluttering atop the twig-like handle. Measuring 9.25″ in height, this sculptural pitcher was inspired by Aram’s fascination with the gingko tree’s double leaves, which are reminiscent of butterfly wings, hence giving birth to the more fantastical elements of the vessel. “The idea that the leaves [of the tree] could evoke the beauty of butterflies was magical to me, like trees that can metamorphose from flora to fauna in the blink of an eye,” Aram said of the inspiration behind his design.


The Saucy Sauce Co. All Natural Vietnamese Dressing, Marinade, and Dipping Sauce, $9.99 each. Available at GetSauceyNow.com

Any hostess who has fretted over preparing an expansive menu and mastering the art of presentation while keeping an agitated eye on the clock knows that it’s okay to take a few shortcuts — especially if it means eliminating some of that stress, saving some of that sorely needed time, and maintaining one’s sanity in the process. These all-natural Vietnamese sauces, made by The Saucey Sauce Co.’s Brooklyn-based co-founders and siblings Ken and Toan using age-old family recipes, can add brightness, spiciness, and tanginess to a number of dishes. Made with fish sauce, Asian chilies, garlic, and other flaming spaces, the Spicy Garlic Sauce can add a kick to grilled, roasted, or fried meat entrées and even serve as a secret ingredient for hot wings (just keep the milk handy should your tongue start to tingle!). The Brown Sugar Ginger Glaze, meanwhile, combines the spiciness and warmth of ginger with brown sugar. The well-balanced result is perfect when cooking chicken and chorizo, for marinating pork belly (or pernil) before tossing it on the grill or placing it in the oven, and for drizzling over steamed carrots and cauliflower.


Adam Lippes for Target Red Plaid Tray Set, $12.99. Available at Target.com

When fine china isn’t in order, entertainers can break out this stylish 4-piece melamine tray set from Adam Lippes’ limited edition collection for Target. The red-and-black plaid print is perfect for serving hot cider and steaming cocoa, especially when gathered around the fireplace.


Goldfaden MD Radiant Skin Renewal Starter Kit, $75. Available at GoldfadenMD.com

No hostess wants to ring in the New Year with her skin looking as dull and sallow as Herman Munster’s! Help the life of the party look lit-from-within with the Goldfaden MD Radiant Skin Renewal Starter Kit, which contains all the products she needs to kickstart a new regimen that will keep her skin looking lifted, supple, and radiant. The kit contains a 1 0z. bottle of the Goldfaden MD Pure Start cleanser which effectively removes oil, dirt, and makeup thanks, in part, to the grapefruit extract in the formula (it is, after all, a natural toner), all the while moisturizing and soothing the complexion via hydrolyzed wheat proteins and antioxidant-rich botanical extracts. Next, the kit contains a 1.7 oz. jar of the Doctor’s Scrub, an exfoliating treatment with ruby crystals that polish away dead surface cells, revealing a new layer of brighter, unblemished, smooth skin, as well as hyaluronic acid, which binds moisture to the skin, thereby improving its overall texture and smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles; jojoba oil; apricot kernel oil; and antioxidant-rich organic red tea extract.  Last but not least, the kit includes a o.5 oz. bottle of the brand’s Vital Boost Moisturizer, which features vitamin D to boost the skin’s immune system, hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated and strengthen its moisture barrier, vitamin C-rich grapefruit oil to brighten the skin and yield a more even skin tone, and radiance-boosting gooseberry extract to leave skin dewy. What better way to start 2016 than with bright skin and and even brighter outlook on the future?



Rosanna Kashmir Highball Glasses, $78 for Set of 4. Available at Nordstrom.com

It’s the season for glitter-covered ornaments, shiny string lights, metallic party horns, and bundles of confetti, so why not add a bit of tat sparkle to your bar or dinner table? This set of highball glasses features intricate etchings in 24-karat gold, their patterns inspired by the hand-embroidered fabrics of India.


West Elm Diamond Beaded Coasters, $42 for Set of 4. Available at WestElm.com

Forget cumbersome cork coasters! Protect delicate wooden surfaces and add a bit of sparkle to your table with these sparkling hand-woven coasters, made by a cooperative of artisan women in Guatemalan artisans. Each 4″ square coaster features azure blue and slate gray glass beads woven into triangle-heavy geometric patterns.


All for Giving Fleur de Lis Wine Glass Charms, $17.99 for Set of 6. Available at BedBathAndBeyond.com

How can you add a little razzle-dazzle to a standard wine glass? Adorn its translucent stem with an adjustable beaded rings, then let a sculptural charms dangle freely in the air as you clink your glass in a celebratory toast. Each of the fleur-de- lys wine glass charms in this six-piece set includes colored stones of a different color so each guest can feel unique. An added bonus: the various shades ensure no “Is that my glass?” slip-ups as the festivities unfold.

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