Plenty of invites and so many bottles of wine are endlessly toted to party after party. It’s time to be more thoughtful with your choices of gifts you bring to the hostess.  As the style contributor for Marie Osmond's show, I shared a variety of choices that satisfy everything from a host with a sweet tooth to a green thumb.


Let the host have a reprieve from the kitchen. Bring the hors d’oeuvres so friends and family can have a chance to socialize before sitting down to the main meal.  Or if it’s a causal gathering watching football or playing board games, this mix of savory and sweet options from Hickory Farms satisfies everyone’s snacking needs.


HickoryFarms.com $25-65

The host has enough to deal with after the party cleaning up so make the next morning easy by filling a basket with gourmet goodies to take care of breakfast. If you’re spending the night, be sure to get up and make the host breakfast as an extra bonus.

Gourmet goodies and basket all from HomeGoods, $30

Sure you could bring wine, but if your host is a dog lover, why not bring treats for their animals. Make sure it’s a healthy treat and add a dog toy or canister to hold the treats.

Dog treats from Wellpet.com

Does your friend have a green thumb? Everything he or she touches just grows with abundance?  Or perhaps a friend who would like to do some planting? Give them a garden they can grow inside or enjoy when the weather turns warmer.

Herb garden, butterfly habitat and bonsai trees from Overstock.com

Sweet tooth? Skip baking and bring the host some our her favorite candy and instead of wrapping it up put it into lacquer boxes that she can place on a coffee table or once empty use for jewelry. Going to home with kids then bring along Nestle holiday boxes with candy inside and trivia to keep them occupied.

Nestle holiday candy and lacquer boxes from Home Goods

The host has enough to take care of without taking out the camera and snapping lots of photos. Take the pressure off him or her and offer to take all the photos and instantly share with all the guests using the new free app from Familiar.

Free photo app from Familiar.com

Share one of your favorite recipes with the host and wrap it up in a new apron or pot holder, napkins and wooden spoon.  I’m a fan of sharing a carrot soufflé recipe that I make every holiday.

Apron, napkins, pot holders from HenHouseLinens.com

Carrot Soufflé recipe

A delicious side dish, dessert or breakfast!


1-lb. cooked carrots

   (I use a 1-lb. bag of baby carrots)

3 eggs beaten

½ cup sugar

½ cup melted butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1/3 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Cook carrots and mash them. 

Put mashed carrots into a blender and add milk. Blend.

         Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl. Then add mixed ingredients into blender. Blend again.

Pour into a butter greased round soufflé/casserole dish or small ramekins for individual servings. 

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350°.

It will rise like a soufflé and get slightly brown on top.



Craft and work station, a tiny indoor forest and faux taxidermy. We're all over the place this week for our Friday Favorites, but we're certainly amusing and you've been telling us that you love our choices. We aim to please!

Alison's Pick

Redwood Forest Growing Kit, Overstock $48.49

Serenity now. I'm missing a green thumb so while I find joy in the thought of growing my own indoor forest and using the adorable scissors to trim it's lush greenery that couldn't house a hobbit; in truth I'd probably kill it. But as a gift this item is top notch and it comes in a steel box with blue ribbon so no wrapping required.

Christina Moffitino's Pick

Metallic Bark Pillar Candles, $23 Pottery Barn

Creating a winter world in your home is as easy as dimming the lights and sparking a candle. I'm really getting ready for the winter season by investing in chic holiday decor. They're perfect for holidays and still stylish enough to keep by bedside all year long. These candles create the atmosphere to pour yourself a cup of cocoa and relax to some  good ol' Christmas music. 

Street Swag

Lauren's Pick

Murphey Wall Mount Craft Desk, $140 Overstock

If you're like me and you have a passion for the crafts and/or you're trying to save a few pennies for the holidays by doing handmade gifts, then your room is probably a MESS! This murphy craft desk is a huge space saver and keeps all my artsy knickknacks all in one place. I use it for sewing, scrapbooking, stationary, jewelry, or sometimes just writing. It's the perfect gift for DIY-ers and crafty kids in the dorms. 

Endless Amusement

Christina Wright's Pick

White and Turquoise Deer Head, $110 Etsy

I need to find a way to convince my husband that we must have this faux taxidermy deer on our wall!! I am building a collage of frames in the living room, and this would be a perfect accent piece to add a bit of whimsy to the room. It's my favorite color too! Modern taxidermy, without actually killing animals...I like it!

Simply Modern Weddings

Creating a Poolside Living Room

by Brian Patrick Flynn republished from Hayneedle.com

Poolside lounging: something I gave up in my mid-twenties after finding those strappy pool chaises more irritating than a nagging aunt. As I’d try to unwind and get my brain out of work mode, they’d instantly start digging in — first to my skin, then into my soul — until suddenly what was supposed to be fun, quickly turned into a battle of strap vs. skin. Keeping this in mind, I stuck with a “No Strappy Seating” rule when outfitting the poolside area of a Sherman Oaks, CA house as a cool, calm waterfront (well, that is if pool water counts as waterfront) living room for a young social couple. (That would be me & my husband.)

My team and I showed up, pulled out our designer bag of tricks, then went all California preppy on the space — using a Southampton-meets-Los-Angeles sectional rather than a strappy-naggy-aunt-ish lounger. Check it.


Thanks to the Royal Teak Miami Sectional, what was a lackluster space is now a rich, preppy poolside living room. Configured as a 6-seater L-shaped sectional, the modular teak mastermind allows the homeowners and their guests to lay out by the pool with just as much comfort and style as the home’s indoor spaces. The navy blue/white upholstery is indoor/outdoor so it’s durable and totally low-maintenance, and the frame is made of rich teak which is super heavy and sturdy. So when those damn Santa Ana winds come into town, this navy blue bad boy ain’t goin’ nowhere. To punch some prepster pizzazz into the space (she’s from NYC and well-versed in all things Southampton, and he’s sharply dressed in J.Crew), we added custom plaid and tartan pillows in an all American palette.


With a pool this fancy, we couldn’t just toss any old big box retail floats into it. Instead, we stuck with Splashnet Xpress Cool Wave Foam Swimming Pool Floats which have quilted, upholstered construction as well as an integrated head pillow.


Bucking the trend of poolside furniture which looks like, well, poolside furniture, we instead opted to go with the Immer Mid-Century Modern Style End Table-White with a powder-coated steel base and a marble top. Since most of the area is covered, it’s safe from the elements; however, should rain actually make its way to Los Angeles (for a few hours one day this summer), the table gets covered by a tarp. With the main level of the house one flight of stairs up, forgetting things like towels and drink ware once situated near the pool can be a major annoyance. That being said, towels and serving accessories are carried down and laid out in the Set of 2 Wood Iron Serving Trays.

For pattern with a multi-purpose twist, we used the Chooty & Co. Tidal Bay Square Tablecloth not only as an option for adding poolside picnic space on the floor in front of the sectional sofa, but also to double as extra cover-up for any bathing-suit-shy guests. Hanging on the arm, it totally looks like a throw blanket; however, it totally is not a throw blanket.

To add layers of life to the space, we brought in three Square Resin Wicker Vista Planters, then outfitted them with bushy greenery. In the event that any of the woven strands get nicked or come loose, replacement strands are also shipped along with the planters. So nice, right?

Thanks, Brian. We love relaxing by our pool.

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