Our founder Laura is famous among friends for her perfectly-planned gifts, whether she’s hosting, attending, or sending. Here, Laura shares her best tips for holiday gifts, including how to create a signature hostess gift you can give to just about anyone.

Anyone who loves giving gifts dreams of having abundant time to create a unique gift for each recipient on our list, whether they’re business partners, party hosts, out-of-town relatives or dear friends. But this fantasy often dissolves when the demands of the holiday season loom large and you find yourself pressed for time and inspiration.

Here are my favorite tips for getting ahead of the holidays and creating gifts you can give with complete confidence.

Tip 1: Create a “signature hostess gift” now, before the holiday rush.  Buy 4-6 of them and keep them in a closet, wrapped and ready to give. 

This gift should be as versatile as possible: something equally appropriate for a party host, a service provider you can always count on, or a relative’s new significant other who turns up for Christmas dinner with a gift you weren’t expecting. These things happen to the best of us, but with a little preparation, you’ll be able to handle them with grace.

Tip 2: Aim for a price point around $50, including gift-wrapping.

Here’s an easy rule of thumb: it’s a bit more than you’d normally spend on a bottle of wine for a party host, and a little less than you’d generally spend on a relative or nanny. But aiming for this price point guarantees you’ll have a respectable emergency gift that will work for almost anyone in a pinch, and that’s the beauty of it.

And don’t underestimate the cost of the wine gift bag, ribbon and card you’d have to grab at the drug store on your way to that party: those can add another $10 to that $25 bottle of wine anyway. So having something all wrapped up for emergencies will be a bargain in the long run.

Tip 3: Pick something that represents you.

Just because you don’t know exactly who will be getting the gift doesn’t mean it can’t be meaningful. If a recipient understands why your gift is meaningful to you, they’ll be even more grateful that you’re sharing something special with them.

For example, your gift message might be something along the lines of “…this year I’m giving Glencairn Glasses because I love to drink my own whiskey from them and they have excellent craftsmanship.” Or “Please enjoy my hometown’s favorite salted caramels with a delicious port I recently discovered…”

Great gifters know that it’s these “why” stories that make your gift memorable (and fun to give!).

Tip 4: Gender neutrality + long shelf life don’t make a gift boring.

Candles are a perennial gifting staple because they’re considered a safe choice and have a long shelf life, but they tend to skew more feminine and scent preferences can be very personal. If you do decide to give candles, aim for clean, classic containers and subtle fragrances.

Barware, home entertaining items, and spa products can be just as universally give-able as candles, but with a whole lot more personality. Think about small items that are fun to collect: salt shakers, interesting playing cards, fun drink picks, party games, ice cream spoons, chic pens & notepads, etc. Don’t gift items as hostess gifts that most people only need one of — no one wants to receive a white elephant they’ll have to re-gift.

Although food items are a gender-neutral choice and often a “go-to-gift” for business gifting, be sure to select food products that will still be delicious at least 6 months after you buy them.

Tip 5: Don’t shy away from whimsy.

Gifts should be fun for both the giver and the receiver. Don’t hesitate to toss in a bit of whimsy. A confetti popper, a classic childhood candy, a simple pin — sometimes it’s the $2 add-on item that makes the gift distinctive and fun.

Tip 6: Next year, get even more ahead of the game!

Congratulations! Following these tips this holiday season can make you a gifting hero while reducing the stress on you. Next year, think about getting even more of a head start.  Vacations are a fabulous time to pick up those unique “little somethings” that become your signature gifts for the holidays. A set of $15 linen napkins you purchased from a street vendor in Laos are more priceless to your friends at home when they know you’ve been waiting to gift them for 6 months.

Here are some examples of great signature gifts from our own collection to get your creative juices flowing…

Knack’s Signature Hostess Gift Ideas

Just Your Cup of Tea

Looking for something tea-licious to give to someone special in your life? This simple but lovely gift includes nourishing organic white tea with hints of ginger and lemon, a nature-inspired green porcelain mug, and American wildflower honey sticks.

Never Enough Chocolate Gift

We all know the importance of a balanced diet, so don’t go filling up on just one kind of chocolate. This gift set is a treasure trove of cocoa-y goodness with a little something for everyone. All the products in this irresistible collection are made with great care and a passion for chocolate – it’s perfect for someone you truly want to delight.

Pour Some Sugar on Me

Send a luxurious spa gift that is sweet in every way. We’ve included two bottles of exfoliating sugar cubes in the scents of Dream and Coconut from Harper + Ari. The cubes can be used in the shower or bath and it only takes one cube to give a healthy exfoliating treatment. Simply crumble the cube, add a bit of water to make a paste, massage into skin and rinse. For additional pampering, she can indulge in a bit of chocolate. She’ll have two bars to choose from – a dark chocolate bar with rainier cherries and pecans, and a rich chocolate bar made of  72% dark cacao.

Popcorn Snack Medley

Looking for the perfect popcorn flavor medley? This is it. Send this gift for the whole family to share or be the favorite college parent. This mix includes two Pop on The Cob popcorn cobs (easily pops in the microwave), a tin of toffee pretzels, dark chocolate covered cherries and sea salt peanuts. We like them swirled together or everyone can add their favorites.

Black Tie

Dress up your giving routine with this versatile, stylish gift. This set includes a hand-poured soy wax candle created for Prosperity Candle’s Burmese Candle line and a trio of delicious chocolate bars from jcoco. The “Gratitude” candle, created by refugee women from Burma, is an evocative blend of lemon infused with jasmine, cedar and a hint of musk. The decadent chocolate comes in flavors of 80% Dark Chocolate, Arabica Cherry Espresso Dark Chocolate, and Boharat Middle Eastern Spice Dark Chocolate.

The best part of having a stash of signature gifts on hand? Being ready for anything. Plus, you’ll get to savor the feeling of checking something off your list and knowing you’ve got a back-up plan when good intentions fail the test of reality.