(credit: istockphoto)

(credit: istockphoto)

When it comes to throwing a good party, America’s Host Liza Utter knows a thing or two about hosting and entertaining guests. No matter the occasion, her Life’s a Party brand has become the ultimate resource for aspiring hosts across the country. With a client list that includes the likes of Tom Hanks and Michelle Pfieffer, Utter has earned herself a reputation for being the ultimate party host. So who better than the queen of all hosts to share her expert tips and ideas for hostess gifts this holiday season?

Liza Utter
(310) 457-1258

Related: Hot Holiday Gift Ideas From Lifestyle Expert Laurie Graham

Something Is Better Than Nothing

As a general rule of thumb, never show up to a holiday party empty-handed. If you don’t have time to get the host or hostess a gift before the party, then at least make plans to send a thank-you gift within 24 hours along with a thank-you note for the hospitality. “Not bringing some kind of gift of appreciation to the host or hostess is like forgetting to say thank you,” shares the queen of party hosting. “You won’t be called out on it, but it will be noticed.”
Make It A Heartfelt Gift Reflecting The Occasion

Anytime someone invites you to a holiday gathering, it’s an honor of sorts and an intimate gesture in some cultures. Regardless of budget, your gift to the host or hostess should be as intimate as the invitation itself. “The gift should reflect the heartfelt sentiments of the occasion,” says Utter. “A heartfelt gift does not mean expensive or elaborate – it could be a bowl of beautiful organic fruit from the farmers market, a treasured homemade dessert, a CD of beautiful or fun hand-picked music just for the host.” Whether the host is someone you know well, or have never met before, a heartfelt hostess gift can be the catalyst that forges new friendships and deepens existing ones.
Give A Gift You’d Want To Receive

Avoid cliche gifts like a bottle of wine or perfumed candle. You want your gift to stand out from what everyone else will no doubt be bringing. Your gift should reflect your appreciation to the host or hostess rather than an obligation. Utter recommends bringing something you love that you’d like to share with the host – “your favorite cooking spices, an assortment of gourmet chocolate bars, your favorite cookbook inscribed with your thoughts as to why you love the book.”
Bring Something Fun And Engaging Everyone That Can Enjoy

One of Utter’s favorite fun gifts to bring is a dinner table game, such as TableTopics. Marilyn Denis called TableTopics the best host and hostess gifts in 2013. “These are gifts that keep on giving and won’t be thrown out with the fruitcake,” says Utter. “Of course, a very nice bottle of champagne is always nice and festive for the holidays. Take off the price tag and dress it up with a ton of curling ribbon and a card, and you’re good to go!”
Use Your Imagination And Get Creative

For a gold mine of hostess gift ideas, Utter recommends visiting your local bookstore. “Cookbooks are great gifts. Share any book that is fun, uplifting or adventurous so your host will enjoy your company long after you’ve gone,” says Utter. Other hostess gift ideas Utter offered included monogrammed cocktail napkins, a set of fancy kitchen towels or even party sparklers. “You can even give them a handmade gift certificate that says ‘next time, my place’ with a date set,” shares the party queen. Just keep in mind that presentation is everything. Whenever possible, take the time to wrap your gift to show the hostess you appreciate the time they spent planning the holiday festivity.

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Niki Payne is a freelance writer covering all things Entertainment in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.