Organizing and pulling off a holiday dinner or get-together among one’s closest pals is no easy feat. Between expertly brining the turkey, executing vegan and nonvegan dessert options, and subtly driving the conversation in a way that keeps everyone happy (i.e., with as few mentions of politics, residential real estate, and Lena Dunham as possible), it’s a miracle that anyone would even volunteer to host these damn things.
So forget the generic bottle of wine: at your next shindig, make sure you show the party giver a little love with one of these thoughtful and original host(ess) gifts—many of which are made in Vancouver.
Spice of life
For the condiment king or queen—or anyone who dines with a bottle of Tabasco by their side—there’s Jonny Hetherington Essentials’ hot sauce trio ($33). Locally made from mostly B.C. ingredients, the gluten-free and vegan products provide dishes with a kick of heat tempered by the sweetness from peaches, beets, and pineapples. If your recipient shies away from spice, check out Jonny’s artisan ketchup trio ($24), which uses fresh tomatoes and offbeat ingredients like goji berries.
Find them at Urban Fare (various locations).
Bump and grind
Take a friend’s culinary game to the next level with the Milton Brook mortar and pestle ($58.50) from Wade Ceramics. The trusted U.K. label has been producing ceramics for more than a century, earning a reputation for high-quality housewares, and this handy set is no exception. Crafted from unglazed porcelain, which lends the surfaces a textured feel that better grinds seeds and spices, the minimalist device makes cooking up homemade guac, pesto, and other ingredients a cinch.
Find it at Lee Valley Tools (1180 Southeast Marine Drive).
No dinner is complete without dessert, but even better is a dessert that the party giver can eat in peace, quiet, and solitude—preferably with a large spoon and directly out of the package—after guests finally leave the premises. Enter La Glace’s recently released take-home ice creams ($15 for 500 mL), which come encased in mint-hued glass jars that are as rich as the West Side shop’s French-style treats. Choose from five flavours, including the vegan Coco Pandan and seasonal Pain d’Epices and Rum and Eggnog.
Find them at La Glace (2785 West 16th Avenue).
Whether your recipient is an experienced or budding gardener, there’s no denying the versatile and sustainable nature of Strathcona 1890’s urban seed collections (from $17.50). Capable of thriving on spatially challenged patios, balconies, and rooftop greens, the seeds grow into plants and edibles like parsley, dwarf sunflowers, and radishes and are non–GMO, to boot. The beautifully decorated canisters revolve around themes like the Bee Garden, a blend of pollinator-friendly perennials such as forget-me-nots, and the Junior Farmer, which includes easy-to-grow snap peas and carrots.
Find them at Nineteen Ten (4366 Main Street).
Help your host get some well-deserved shut eye with a chic sleep mask ($46) by Strathcona Stockings. Lovingly handmade in Vancouver, the piece is crafted from lustrous silk—with an organic-cotton interior—and is available in quirky patterns like vibrant Art-Deco florals, pink snakeskin, and earthy watercolours. Pair it with a calming essential oil like lavender or frankincense and rest easy knowing you’ve passed on the precious gift of zzz’s.
Find them at Eugene Choo (3683 Main Street).
For the candle connoisseur or West-Coast-Best-Coaster, there’s Hollow Tree’s luxe collection of coconut-wax candles ($42 each) that celebrates the history and spirit of B.C. and the province’s dense forests. From the sandalwood-spiked Lumberjack and musky Arbutus to the jasmine-and-sage infused Fireweed, the fragrances are produced in the French town of Grasse—widely considered the world’s capital of perfume—and then hand-poured in reusable ceramic jars in Whistler.
Find them at Kiss and Makeup (1791 Manitoba Street and 1545 Marine Drive, West Vancouver).
Let’s be real: any dinner host is gonna need a stiff drink or 10 after dealing with famished friends, extended family, and unexpected plus-ones for hours on end. And while wine is fine, we’re asking for something a little stronger this year in the form of Odd Society Spirits’ single-malt whisky ($50 for 500 mL). A limited-edition release, the small-batch libation boasts notes of sugar plums, vanilla, black currants, and burnt sugar and is distilled from 100-percent B.C.–grown barley.
The coveted whisky—last year’s lot sold out in less than an hour—is available at Odd Society Spirits (1735 Powell Street) beginning December 17 at 1 p.m.
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out the Georgia Straight's 2017 holiday gift guide here.