If you’re planning on visiting friends or family this year, you can always arrive with wine, chocolate, flowers, coffee or handmade treats in hand—and those will no doubt be greatly appreciated. But if you’d prefer to bring along a more unique gift for your gracious hosts, our list has plenty of affordable ideas.
For Water Enthusiasts
You can never have enough beach towels, so this is a perfect present for families who love to swim and frolic in the sand. The bold pattern on the Cabana Stripe Beach Towels ($7.99 each) is cheerful, too!
For Outdoorsy Types
A basic flashlight is handy, but it doesn’t exactly say “gift.” This Aquamax Waterproof Crank Flashlight ($19) has a few tricks up its sleeve, namely that it floats, is waterproof up to 10 meters and is rechargeable. Cranking the handle for just one minute gives its owner 25 minutes of LED light.
For Non-Fussy Foodies
Heidi Swanson’s award-winning blog, 101 Cookbooks, provides delicious and nutritious dishes, all lovingly photographed. In her new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes From My Natural Foods Kitchen ($13.80), she shares healthful recipes simple enough to make quickly.
For Busy Chefs
Pick up a set of colorful Melamine Mini Bowls ($6.95 for four). Cooks can use them for prep or they can put tiny bits of nibbles in them for snacky little hands.
For Star Wars Fans
If your friends speak geek (and we mean that as a compliment), they’ll appreciate a set of Darth Maul and Luke Skywalker Star Wars Chopsticks($19.99)
For Music Fans
The talented Ben Harper is back with a 10th album, Give Till It’s Gone ($7.99). Many of the songs feel raw and full of pain (some assume this is due to Harper’s recent breakup with actress Laura Dern). It’s good listening and will please a range of listeners.
For Kids of All Ages
Tokyo-based artist Taro Gomi is famous for his funky coloring books, including Scribbles, Doodles and Squiggles. In Play All Day ($19.99) he’s created a book that feels more like a delightful toy chest. It’s filled with fun stuff to punch out and play with, like a ring-toss game and finger puppets. Perfect for the household with kids and creative types.
For Grill Masters
A jar of Dulcet Moroccan Mustard ($6.50), with its blend of Dijon mustard, garlic, and Moroccan spices, is great for hosts who love barbecuing in the backyard.
For Eco-Minded Households
It bugs me to no end when eco-friendly bath products cost so much more than the other stuff at the drugstore. That’s not the case with Mrs. Meyers’ retro-looking line. The Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap and Refill Set in Lemon Verbena ($9.99) has aloe vera gel, olive oil and essential oils. Other wonderfully fresh scents include basil, lavender and geranium. All products are earth-friendly and not tested on animals.
Tell us what your favorite host/hostess gift is to give or get.