Say thank you to your host with a timely and memorable hostess gift

By Deborah Carroll

Feature Writer

The holiday season is here, bringing with it invitations to celebrations, parties and other merry events. From decorations and food, to the right mix of personalities, creating an event that will be both enjoyable and memorable for your guests is no small task, often requiring weeks or even months of planning and preparation and then several whirlwind days of setting up, cooking and arranging the smallest, last-minute details, not to mention post-party clean up.

In spite of the pre-party preparations, most hosts and hostesses manage to doff the apron, light the candles and stash the vacuum just in time for the first guests to arrive, all the while looking cool and composed, as if it was nothing.

A polite and grateful party guest, however, knows better and recognizes the importance of properly saying thank you to his or her hosts with a thoughtful and appropriate hostess gift.

In addition to wines and craft beer, The Vault, on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, now carries an assortment of Stonewall Kitchen products, such as pretzels with a maple mustard dip and gift-boxed jams and jellies, as well as pancake mixes, syrup and crackers.

According to Susan Hall, owner of The Vault, FIORE Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars offers citrus and berry, savory and gourmet gift packs as the ultimate cook’s chemistry set, taking the guesswork out of finding the perfect hostess gift.

Hard goods including wood art cutting boards, Maine-made pizza paddles and wine bottle holders are also available at The Vault.

Wrap a bottle of wine or a gluten-free Maine-made mead in a batik wine bag, select a few gourmet edibles, a package of clever cocktail napkins or other wine accessories and put it all in a wicker basket for an unforgettable gift.

Laurie-Ann Ouellette, of Sweet Pea Designs in Lewiston, creates unique, unusual and extraordinary floral designs because, she said, “What hostess doesn’t want a beautiful floral arrangement for her table?”

“A design can be geared toward any occasion, and you don’t have to think about it because it’s delivered,” said Ouellette, who also suggested that, “If you go to a jeweler or wine shop, have it delivered with flowers.”

Orphan Annie’s, located on Court Street in Auburn, is filled with treasures and you’re almost guaranteed to find a beautiful and functional hostess gift there.

“How could you go wrong with a nice antique vase and fresh cut flowers,” said Daniel Poulin, proprietor of Orphan Annie’s. Poulin also recommended filling an antique glass pitcher with a fresh floral design for your hostess’ holiday table. “Then, when the flowers are wilted and gone, your hostess will have a beautiful pitcher to enjoy.

“Stemware and sterling-silver serving pieces are always nice,” said Poulin, and blue or cut glass candleholders also make a graceful and festive hostess gift that will match nearly any décor.

Poulin also suggested filling an elegant ceramic “sweets epergne” — a serving tree of sorts — with gourmet chocolates from one of our local chocolatiers, and your hostess and her guests will enjoy your gift both now and later.

Eight or nine years ago, Rachel Desgrosseilliers, of Museum L-A in Lewiston, literally climbed into the back of a truck destined for the dump to retrieve doodles, sketches, hand-painted artwork, prints and more, many depicting brightly colored florals and intricate paisleys, as well as antique cars and German motifs, all of which had been created long ago by workers in the design department at Bates Manufacturing Co. “They were cleaning out the mills,” explained Desgrosseilliers, “and this important part of our history could have been lost forever.”

These items have been integrated into the “Work Art” line of products available at the Museum L-A Gift Shop in Bates Mill No. 2. Giving a set of six or eight note cards featuring these decorative and historic images, as well as other photographic note cards by a local artist with images of modern L-A, would make a thoughtful and useful gift for your host or hostess, and your purchases will help support the efforts of Museum L-A to preserve the history of our cities, so your gift is twofold.

With a hostess gift in hand, your host/hostess will be pleased to know that you appreciated her, or his, time, love and effort spent creating this year’s memorable holiday gathering.

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