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Ask A Boston Expert: Ideas For Hostess Gifts

It can be tricky to give good gifts. Hostess gifts are especially troublesome because it is hard to find something creative and unique on such a small budget. Don't give yet another bottle of wine to your host — everyone else will have that covered. Instead, spice things up with this advice from the owner of one of Boston's best gift boutiques. Marian Klausner of Shake the Tree saves us from our holiday party stress by providing hostess gift ideas for every type of friend and every type of party.

Marian Klausner
Shake the Tree
67 Salem St.
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 742-0484

Marian Klausner is owner (and chief mover and shaker) at Shake the Tree, a trendy and eclectic boutique in Boston's ever-bustling North End. For more than 15 years, Shake the Tree has provided a selection of wonderfully curated gifts including candles, chic kitchen items, jewelry and accessories. As the 2014 holiday season ramps up, you may find yourself in need of more than just one hostess gift in the coming weeks and months. Whether you are headed to a work party, a housewarming party or a party with close friends, Klausner knows just the gift to thoroughly delight your host or hostess. Klausner gives us five of her top picks for impressing friends and family alike.

Aunt Sadie's Candles (Courtesy of Shakers and Coaster (Courtesy of Marian Klausner)

For Friends, Old and New - Aunt Sadie's Candles

With scents to match each season, it is no wonder that Vermont-made Aunt Sadie's Candles have been a go-to gift for Shake the Tree customers for more than 15 years. "Some of our fall favorites include the apple and pumpkin pie candles," says Klausner. And with a burn time of more than 70 hours, they're sure to last longer than the dessert on your holiday table. These aromatic candles are the perfect affordable, seasonable alternative to a bottle of wine.


For the Consummate Cook - "Plenty More" 

Let's face it - some of us can't even boil water. Show off your appreciation for that hostess with "the mostess" cooking prowess by giving "Plenty More," the latest in the series of wildly-popular cookbooks from London chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Add in recycled wood serving utensils from Be Home and you've instantly stepped up your kitchen cred. This wonderfully practical hostess gift is sure to please even the most seasoned chefs.


For the New Homeowners - Frames with Flair 

If, during the holiday season, you end up heading to someone's first holiday party in their new abode, remember to keep your hostess gift simple - but make a statement. For friends who might still be settling into their new home, striped and Aztec-inspired frames in black and white are sharp - and "sure to be appreciated," says Klausner. These frames add a fresh modern look to any space and are a wonderful way to veer away from traditional hostess gifts and show more thoughtfulness - especially if you are able to fill the frame with a meaningful photo or print. This is also great for co-workers, as picture frames are a great way to spice up gray offices and hum-drum cubicles.

Related: Ask a Boston Expert: Shopping for Home Decor on a Budget

Shakers and Coaster (Courtesy of Marian Klausner)

For the Bar Flies - Shakers and Coasters 

Laugh first, then pour yourself (and your host) another with a quirky penguin cocktail shaker. And the conversation pieces don't end there. Black denim coasters from Southie's own Atlantic Coaster Co. are anything but square.


For Wine and Cheese Lovers - Wine Signs and Other Accessories

This is the perfect twist on the most classic hostess gift. Spice up a gift of wine by also including a marble cheese board and matching slicer. Boston-themed "wine signs" are charms to keep guests from getting their glasses mixed up. And as Klausner reminds us, there's no shortage of cheese shops in the North End. After all, it's a winning combination when manchego meets merlot.

Related: Boston's Best Salons for Men

Cameron Bruns is the founder of and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston's North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on

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