By Candice Sabatini
You’ve been invited for a weekend to their country or beach house… Yay! Heaven, right? Lucky you. You know the drill. Be the perfect houseguest – pick up after yourself, volunteer for dinner prep, and bring your hosts a unique and wonderful gift. We’ve got some suggestions that they’ll covet so you’re sure to be invited back again soon.
I’ve been a fan of note cards from R. Nichols for over ten years now. His whimsical depictions of daily life always make me smile and my recipients constantly mention how much they love his graphics. His mission is to create joy, and what better way to bring a smile to your hosts faces than with a darling candle of Nick’s designs? The bicycle rider, called Cruiser, has the scent of orange blossom in the breeze – and the hard working lawn mower called Mow has the irresistible scent of freshly mowed grass. Other smile inducing images range from gardening, relaxing in the bath, a cactus garden to a bouquet tossing bride amongst others. You’ll have a tough time choosing one. So buy a few to keep on hand for a last minute gift; $48.
Leave it to natural perfumer extraordinaire Mandy Aftel to come up with something truly unique in the culinary world. A spritz or three of one of her Chef’s Essence Sprays will magically turn even a mundane dish into something gourmet. Get super creative and mix a few together. Flavors include ginger, peach, lime, basil, butter, pink pepper, tarragon, blood orange, even sarsaparilla just to name a few. Spray as little or as much as you like to increase the flavor of a finished dish. Your hosts will delight in using on everything from appetizers to desserts to champagne. I found that the ginger spray elevates Trader Joe’s chicken potstickers to a whole ‘nother level and the butter spray turns an ordinary egg into buttery goodness beyond compare, but without the calories. So butter up your weekend hosts by bringing a few bottles and watch them play gourmet. No need to be shy with the flavoring as each bottle contains over 200 spritzes. Prices range from $18-$26.
A pretty ceramic pitcher on the table always adds a festive touch whether it’s filled with ice water, sangria or flowers. This lovely handmade Aqua Fish pitcher is from Le Souk Ceramique, a small studio in Tunisia that specializes in freehand painted pieces using food safe paints and glazes. It’s dishwasher safe, holds 60 ounces and is from the StyleVisa catalog of irresistible gifts for everyone. The Aqua Fish pitcher is only $26 so maybe bring some lovely coasters or set of bowls as well? Your hosts will be thrilled.
The piece de resistance after any meal is chocolate, and bringing incredible gourmet chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat to your friend’s weekend maison will earn you big points. They’ll swoon over luxury confections stylishly presented in an elegant box tied with a lovely ribbon. But of course, the best part are the chocolates themselves which consist of a variety of truffles, milk and dark chocolates, pralines, ganaches, covered almonds and every other luscious chocolate fantasy you have. Prices range from a small tasting for $8.50 to an over-the-top selection at about $200. There’s something for everyone’s budget. Pick them up at one of their three NYC shops or order online and have them delivered.
You simply can’t go wrong bringing a gift from L’Occitane as it’s one of those brands that everyone loves. Whether your friends have a fancy shmancy mansion or an old fish shack, a scented gift from the new L’Occitane au Bresil will make them smile. The Vitoria Regia collection celebrates the scents of Brazil with items created from the night flower and the day flower, which also contain notes of orange, lemon, apple and the flowers of Brqzil’s Amazon region. Both women and men will enjoy these scents. Spoil them with eau de cologne, hand cream and bath soap.
Available at L’Occitane shops or online at http://www.loccitane.com