20 Last-Minute Hostess Gifts to Have “On Hand”


It’s the same scenario, year-after-year, whether for birthdays or holidays: As I open any gift given to me by my mom, she sits there with a sparkle in her blue-grey eyes, watching my every move as I open it. But as I (and the majority of my family) have come to know, this “glint” is not necessarily centered around seeing my reaction to what she’s picked out. OH, no. I know exactly what’s going on in her mind: Please give me back that gift bag that you had your hot little hands on for mere seconds. I mean, it’s just been used once. It’s hardly wrinkled. And you can keep the gift…really. Just GIVE ME THE BAG for my stash!

For as long as I can remember, there has been a 3-drawer set of bins in my mom’s closet with her “stash”. Inside: gift wrap, gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons, cards and a random assortment of gifts on hand: candles, cozy socks, photo frames, bath salts, body lotions. Things she would pick up as she was out and about that would come in handy in a pinch when an occasion called for gifting a little something that could work for (almost) anyone. 

Fast forward and I too, have a stash.

20 Unique, Useful + Beautiful Hostess Gifts to Have On Hand for the Holidays

What makes something stash-worthy for me? While it might not be science, there IS a formula. It’s something that’s not overly personal, not wildly expensive (around or under $25) and it’s useful, unique and/or beautiful. Major bonus points when it’s all three.

I’ve rounded up a few things I’ll be adding to my stash for holiday hostess gifting-in-a-pinch this year. I broke them down into four categories: Fancy Food + Drink, Good Looking Games, Pretty But Practical Home, & Little Luxuries. Take your pick. And oh, p.s. these gifts would all make perfect hostess gifts to bring to Thanksgiving!

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1. Pineapple Jalapeno Margarita Kit

Terrain | Amazon

Fancy up their go-to cocktail. These infusers can be filled with their favorite spirit or warm water (they make 8 cocktails & can be used twice).

2. UNO 1970s Design


Even if they already have UNO, chances are they don’t have this UNO. We love this cool, retro design.

3. Tenn Prairie Striker Match Holder

Free People

This matchstick set comes in SO many gorgeous color options, and they’re billed as perfect for “people who consider candles their love language”. SOLD

4. Wine Cooler Sleeve


For those who like to enjoy their bevvies outside. Pop this bad boy in the freezer for a few hours and it will keep any standard bottle of vino or bubbles chilled. Bonus: it lies flat for storage!

5. Touchland Mist Hand Sanitizer

Amazon | Sephora

Something they’ll need but also something on which they wouldn’t necessarily think to splurge. They’ll either love you or hate you for never wanting to go back to drug store hand sani. I say it’s worth the risk.

6. Jose Gourmet Portuguese Sardines

Amazon | Food52

Tinned fish is having a moment. And look at the gorgeous packaging on these! It’s $50 for a set of 5 and you can tie a ribbon around one or two. Print out a few ways to enjoy them (on sliced baguette or good potato chips!) and tuck the printed recipes into the ribbon.

7. ARECTECH Rechargeable Electric Candle Lighter


Ever try to light a birthday cake or candles outside? It’s like the wind starts just THEN. This pretty little lighter is not only windproof, it’s rechargeable and easy to keep on hand in a picnic bag or to pretty up a junk drawer.

8. Turkish Cotton Hand Towels


Super soft hand towels to dry those newly (and fancy) washed hands. These Turkish cotton hand towels come in really pretty colors, and have more than 3K 5-star reviews. Love the packaging, too.

9. Market Dishcloths


Scrubbing dishes. Fact of life. Form meets function with this set of sweet looking dish cloths that come in their own cotton basket.

10. S’well Bottle Brush


No doubt they have water bottles they need to clean. And there’s always something that feels special about having a wooden version of what you often see in brightly colored plastic.

11. Thisworks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray


They may run right home to wash their face and get into jammies. Perfect for a reluctant (or even frequent) host.

12. Botanical Assorted Card Set


Save them on their last minute scramble for a thank you note or a birthday greeting. Pro-tip..add some pretty stamps into the mix and they may even be inspired to pop a “thinking of you” note into snail mail. How decadent.

13. The Olympia Playing Cards


I like these, but the actual gift idea here is to stock up on really special, pretty playing card – the ones they won’t want their budding magician to nab. Tie with a ribbon, and you have a really unique (and useful) gift idea.

14. Leva Jacquard Dish Towels


S swears by these. They’re so pretty but they pull their weight in the kitchen. They absorb everything and dry quickly. These come in a set of 3, but can be separated and even just one tied with a ribbon or around a bottle of wine feels like something substantial.

15. The Encyclopedia of Cookies


This sweet book has more than 500 cookie recipes, including gluten-free, vegan, and keto-friendly options.

16. Fancy Sprinkles


This would be such a fun and unexpected gift for anyone who likes to bake (or has kids who like to “decorate” baked goods). Again, I really like these pretty little stars, but any sort of really special, fancy sprinkles would work (and don’t forget about googly eyes).

17. SuperSalt Fresh Herbs & Garlic Sicilian Sea Salt Duo


I’m a purist. Garlic, olive oil, salt, lemon…that’s kinda all that I grab for when I’m cooking basic veggies, meat or fish. But I can get behind having this little secret weapon.. Created by a sommelier and crafted in Italy with naturally dried herbs (sage, rosemary & thyme) it’s an easy way to add a little more flavor and texture to meals. And it conveniently comes in a pack of two, so one just might be making it to my countertop.

18. Emily Taylor George & Viv Bar Soap


The whimsical packaging alone makes this soap feel festive and luxe (bonus points for it being pre gift-wrapped, woohoo!)


Full disclosure, Go Puff made me do it. Jeni added the lemon cookies to our snack order when we were in the office putting these gift guides together. I was done with my selections but had to go back and add these. They are DELICIOUS and they’re really special looking. They come individually wrapped (not what makes them special looking) but that does make them last a bit longer. Not as long as some other items on this list, but at least through the holiday season. I’d throw an assortment into a pretty tin…if I don’t eat all the lemon ones myself.

20. Matr Boomie Dice Box


So pretty they won’t be banished to the game cabinet. This set is crafted by artisans who are part of a fair trade collection in India.

And there you have it. Happy gifting!



Oh Hey, Pinners…

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