Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Presents for the party host

Heading to a holiday party? Treat your host to a potted palm, bottle of local gin, calming bath products and more


Wild North Flowers Parlour Palm

Using strictly Ontario-grown flowers, Wild North Flowers – winner of best florist in NOW’s Readers’ Choice two years running – creates beautiful arrangements that are delivered to you (so you can save on running around this holiday season). But instead of showing up to a party with a bouquet, why not pick a potted plant with a little more shelf life? This pretty palm comes in a white ceramic pot with festive gold polka dots. Best of all: it’s not poisonous to pets – unlike poinsettias – and is low maintenance. 

$58, Wild North Flowers, wildnorthflowers.com

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Georgian Bay Gin

Locally sourced water and juniper is used in every batch of Georgian Bay Gin, made just a few hours north of Toronto. The dry gin has notes of lemon and pine as well as deeper flavours of cinnamon and cardamom. Simply tie a seasonal bow on the sleek glass bottle to dress it up for the holidays. 

$39.95, LCBO (various locations), lcbo.com

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Midnight Paloma Calming Trio

It’s hard to relax during the holiday season, but this trio of chamomile bath products helps. Canadian-made, organic and cruelty free, the Midnight Paloma set contains 50-millilitre bottles of its body wash, bath soak and body lotion in a beautiful hand-painted box. You might want to gift one to yourself.

$45, Labour of Love (223 Carlton), thelabouroflove.ca

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Vancouver Candle Co. neighbourhood candles

Show some community pride with scents inspired by your favourite Toronto neighbourhood. The Distillery candle has notes of clove, balsam wood and patchouli while Leslieville is citrusy with grapefruit, orange and apricot. Candles are handmade in Vancouver from soy wax and burns for 60 hours.

$37, BRIKA (642 Queen West/768 Queen East), brika.com

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Scribble trivet 

Before your baked brie or steaming spinach artichoke dip leaves a burn mark on your nice coffee table, slide one of these artsy trivets underneath the hot dishes at holiday parties. Designed by Toronto artist Ali Harrison of Light + Paper, these bamboo trivets first start off as hand-drawn illustrations, then are hand-cut with an X-Acto knife and laser-cut. 

$40, AGO Shop (317 Dundas West), ago.ca/shop

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Darcy Decanter

Perfect for the wine aficionado on your list, this glass decanter looks stylish and aerates better than bottles. The Darcy Decanter comes in two sizes. If you’re feeling especially generous, include a full-bodied red to enjoy. 

$129 to $149, Shelter Furniture (885 Caledonia), shelterfurniture.ca

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Cahoots Hibiscus Simple Syrup

Add instant flavour to homemade cocktails with this simple syrup made in Vancouver. Hibiscus flowers, ginger and star anise provide the base flavours, and the colour adds a festive punch to everything from margaritas to spritzes. 

$20, Spruce (455 Parliament), sprucetoronto.com

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Bali Ultrasonic diffuser

Diffusers are the ideal gift for the perpetually stressed out. Add calming essential oils to this compact diffuser to decompress after the whirlwind of the holidays. Made of glass and bamboo, it can run continuously for six to eight hours and automatically shuts off when the water level is low. 

$105, Helen + Hildegard (1174 Queen West), helenandhildegard.com

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Bitmap tea towels

What do you get the party host who has everything? Beautiful tea towels. Susan Kare, who designed fonts and icons for the original Mac operating system in the 1980s, created the cubic pattern of these Jacquard tea towels.  

$44, Easy Tiger (1447 Dundas West), easytigergoods.com

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Aeropress machine

Dropping by a coffee nerd’s place this holiday season? Add a whole lot of brewing possibilities to their arsenal (for not a whole lot of cupboard space) with an Aeropress, a portable, easy-to-use brewing system that’s just as handy for cranking out a quick cup as it is for experimentation with different grinds and steep times.

$37.95, Rooster Coffee House (343 King East/568 Jarvis/479 Broadview), roostercoffeehouse.com

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Harmony eggnog

All eggnog is good eggnog – but this stuff, made with organic whole milk, is really good eggnog, and the glass bottle is a little classier than dragging a family-size carton to a holiday party. Bring a bottle of your fave cream liqueur for extra brownie points. (And if your host’s not a fan of dairy, the Carrot also stocks So Delicious soy nog.)

$7.99/1 litre, Big Carrot (348 Danforth/125 Southwood), thebigcarrot.ca

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Yongehurst Distillery liqueur

Obscure liqueurs make fun gifts. And, hey, at least you know the recipient won’t already have five unconsumed bottles. One option is to hit up the bottle shop at local distiller Yongehurst, which just released a 2015 vintage of nocino, a pitch-black walnut liqueur made from locally foraged macerated walnuts.

$49.50, Yongehurst Distillery (346 Westmoreland), yongehurst.com

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