Under $50 Gifts for the Modern Host

Athena Calderone, Eye-Swoon, Gifts for the Hostess on @SavvyHome

Photo: Sarah Elliott for EyeSwoon


I’m all for bringing a bottle of wine at dinner—my mother always taught me never to show up empty handed. But since we bring wine at every dinner throughout the year, shouldn’t holiday dinners be extra special? Most hosts will go the extra mile to make a holiday dinner unforgettable, so it seems only fitting that we would follow suit with a great gift. Why not show up with a great bottle of olive oil, an ultra-luxe shower gel, or a great coffee table book? Here are a few of my favorite gifts for the host.


Shop Gifts for the Host

Goop Enriching Face Oil ($110) | Normann Copenhagen Floe Tealight Holder ($18)

The Modern Etiquette Guide to Hostess Gifts

The Modern Etiquette Guide to Hostess Gifts


Not all hostess gifts come equal… While you may bring a good bottle of wine or a designer scented candle to a dinner party, you’ll want to splurge a little more if you’re staying with someone for a few days to a week.

If you have no idea how much you should be spending on a hostess gift, a good guide to follow is to estimate how much they’re spending on your dinner/stay/etc. If you’re ravaging their fridge and wine cellar every day for a week, it might warrant a bigger present than if you were simply crashing their couch, and drinking their tap water for two days.

Keep your budget in mind while shopping too. While you might want to splurge on a nice gift for a friend who’s hosting you over the Holidays, there’s no reason to open a credit line for it. Make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re spending, and that goes for all gifts.

These rules, of course are only suggestions, as it’s the intentions that count in the end. Which brings me to my next point: thoughtfulness, and personalization trumps the price tag. Getting something that’s significant to the host can go a long way, even if just a tiny gift.

Also, when in doubt, monogram. A gift will always more thought out if it’s monogrammed. But bear in mind it can take a week to ten days to get something monogrammed, so plan ahead.

Here are a few ideas that have proven to be crowd pleasers over the years: a scented candle (and I don’t mean Glade), a nice scarf, a coffee table book (or cookbook), leather gloves, luxury bath products.




Photo: Diana Yen for Lonny

6 Best New Cookbooks to Get you Back in the Kitchen this Fall

Fall 2015's 6 Best New Cookbooks

These titles will give you the cooking bug again, guaranteed.

If you follow me on Snapchat (@SavvyHome) or Instagram, you may have seen me wandering around my favorite Montreal cookbook store a few weekends ago. I was initially there to find a gift for a friend, but I was blown away by how many incredibly cool new cookbooks just came out this Fall.

Here’s a round-up of my best new cookbooks to try this Fall… Buy one for yourself, or check off the foodies on your Christmas list early! These titles are guaranteed to bring you back into the kitchen for long evenings of wine, cooking and fun with friends.



Tulum’s most talked about restaurant Hartwood just came out with a cookbook. I’m so eager to check out this restaurant when I’m in Mexico next year, but in the meantime I can at least try my hand at the recipes that made them world-famous.


The Nomad Cookbook

Anyone who’s ever had NoMad‘s chicken pot pie can attest that this new book is a must-have for innovative yet simple, hearty cooking. Test your culinary skills against one of New York City’s best restaurant.


The Mission Chinese Cookbook

During Canadian Thanksgiving this year, my niece and uncle treated the whole family to a traditional cooking Chinese feast. Neither of them are Asian, but my uncle lived in Shanghai years ago, and my niece recently did a student exchange in Hong Kong. Their passion for cooking Asian food is contagious, so I want to learn more with The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook.


Montreal Cooks

I couldn’t make this list without leaving out Montreal Cooks, a Montreal cookbook, written by the owner of the above-mentioned cookbook store, Appetite for Books. It features 80 recipes from 40 of Montreal’s most talented chefs and let me tell ya, this city is full of them!



It’s no secret around here that Yotam Ottolenghi is one of my favorite chefs, so you can bet that his new book Nopi will make its way into my kitchen stat. I hope it features a new variation on his delicious stuffed eggplants.


The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual

Because every dinner party is better with a good drink, venture in the world of craft cocktails with the purveyors of the World’s Best Cocktail Bar The Dead Rabbit. Your guests will be very impressed.


Photo: Hilary Robertson, interior design by Ali Cayne.

Make an Entrance: 5 Steps for a Fall Foyer Makeover

London Home by Hackett Holland • Make an Entrance: 5 Steps for a Fall Foyer Makeover


First impressions are everything, your entrance is no exception.

Get a head start on entertaining season by upgrading your foyer in five easy steps. It’s a quick project you can easily tackle on the first weekend of October, pumpkin spice latte in hand.


Mark D Sikes' Hollywood Home • Make an Entrance: 5 Steps for a Fall Foyer Makeover

Choose a signature scent

The best way to get started is to tackle the easy stuff first. Choose a signature scent for your home and light a scented candle in your foyer 10 minutes before guests arrive. A new scent is an easy way to update your foyer for the season and it’s the easiest way to leave a good impression on your guests.


Tribeca Loft by Joanna Jones • Make an Entrance: 5 Steps for a Fall Foyer Makeover

Set the mood

Good lighting is everything so make sure your entrance is covered in that department: a statement ceiling lamp, a pair or sconces or a simple table lamp should suffice. Installing dimmers on each light fixture is a quick way to create the perfect mood.


Eva Chen's Lucky Mag Office • Make an Entrance: 5 Steps for a Fall Foyer Makeover

Keep clutter at bay

Making a list of every item you keep in your entrance is the best way to asses what your storage needs are: keys, mail, gloves and handbags should all have their dedicated spot. Have fun shopping for cute trays and baskets for each item on your list.


Michelle Smith's Sag Harbor cottage • Make an Entrance: 5 Steps for a Fall Foyer Makeover

Brave the elements

With hurricane Joaquin on the horizon and winter looming, a few accessories can come in handy: a hat or coat rack, a boot tray and an umbrella stand. Making sure that each item you bring into your home has a dedicated space will dramatically reduce clutter in other parts of the house. Use a regular and wipeable tray to store your dirty boots. Invest in a pair of Wellies and a solid umbrella while you’re at it.


Lisa Sherry's Georgian Home • Make an Entrance: 5 Steps for a Fall Foyer Makeover

Lessons in layering

Come winter, people need a space where they can sit down and comfortably put on their Sorel boots. And let’s be honest, you need a spot to throw your handbag when walking through the front door. Invest in a sturdy and stylish bench, and tuck it under your console to maximize space.

Once everything is in its place, add a few accessories. A runner in the hallway will create warmth and a sense of coziness in the space. Hanging or leaning art against the walls will create perfectly layered look.


Photography House & Garden | Mark Sikes | Joanna Jones | Brittany Ambridge | Michelle Smith | Lisa Sherry