If you’re lucky enough to not be the host for the upcoming holidays, do your host a favor and bring a thoughtful gift!
If you can bake, try Martha Stewart’s lime meltaways. I blogged about them here.
The Barefoot Contessa’s Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake is really impressive and not too challenging. Food Network has the mini-cakes version that appeared on her show, but the whole cake, which is made in a bundt pan, is found in Barefoot Contessa Parties.
If you’re not really a baker but you can turn on an oven and you own a spoon and an 8×8 pan, you can make some jazzed up brownies. Start with a box of Ghirardelli Double Chocolate brownies and get cracking. Peppermint Brownies are perfect for the holidays and a cinch to make. Pour half the prepared batter in the pan, layer six large peppermint patties across the pan (or a bunch of smaller ones) and cover with the remaining batter.
Nothing goes better with brownies than peanut butter so microwave a few tablespoons of peanut butter for 15-30 seconds to soften it, pour three stripes across the batter and run a knife perpendicular to the peanut butter to swirl it through. Wowee zowee.
If you know your hosts are wine drinkers, choose a bottle for them to enjoy when they’re not crazed with guests. And please, step away from the white zinfandel! If you’re a wine novice, ask the salesperson for a suggestion and don’t be afraid to communicate your budget (even if it’s $10), there are a lot of good choices at every price.
Of course there are many great websites with beautiful gifts. Check out Terrain, Wisteria, Beekman 1802, and for gorgeous personalized photo gifts that are surprisingly well-priced, you can’t beat Pinhole Press. I bought a ton of gifts there this year.