By Michelle Ventress

This year, don’t spend countless hours fretting over what to give the many hosts and hostesses of the upcoming holiday parties. The Emily Post Institute, the self-proclaimed “civility barometer” for society, encourages hostess gifts for overnight stays, dinner parties and cocktail parties. The professionals suggest keeping the gift under $25 and thoughtful but not overwhelming. We’ve scoured the city for local, creative items that will make your hostess gift-giving fun and memorable. The following is a list of our favorites.

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Locally Produced Honey

Check out local farmer’s markets to purchase locally grown honey. Honey saves well out of direct sunlight in a well-sealed container. Stock up on honey now and be prepared for hostess gifts all year long as honey has an indefinite shelf life due to the high sugar content. Many believe honey is the best natural option for relieving seasonal allergy symptoms. Honey also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities which are effective for alleviating ailments from sore throats to healing burns.

Wine and Spirits

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Sure, the classic bottle of wine might be overdone when it comes to hostess gifts. This holiday season, put a little extra thought into that bottle of wine and forgo that generic bottle of wine from the adult beverage superstore. Smaller, locally owned markets and specialty shops are your best bet for finding the perfect bottle of wine. Or, if you’re brave enough to make your own wine, consider a trip to Vintner’s Cellar in Rancho Cordova. If your hosts would prefer sake, brandy, beer or champagne, you can choose local options for those as well.

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What frazzled hostess wouldn’t appreciate unwinding after a dinner party with a box of gourmet chocolates? All-natural, preservative-free chocolates and custom color boxes add a little maturity to the gingerbread men and gum drop sweets of the holiday season. Consider Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates on L Street or Le Grand Confectionary in Sacramento for your chocolate gifts.

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A Gift for Fido and Fluffy

If you know the hostess of the upcoming cocktail party is mildly obsessed with her Siamese cat or treats her Great Dane like a child, a gift for the family pet might be a well-received creative idea. The holidays are often stressful for pets and thinking of them during the holidays will warm a true pet lover’s heart. A fun treat jar filled with homemade dog treats or a container of cat grass is a simple way to give a personalized gift that the host and their pet will appreciate.

Handmade or Home Baked Gifts

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If you have the time, homemade gifts can often be very much appreciated. Whether you put together hot chocolate mix in cute jars wrapped in festive ribbon, make scarves for friends and family, or have taken up making your own jam, homemade gifts show that you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to think of the hostess and have made this gift just for her. Make sure you include a card or note with your gift.

Michelle Ventress is a freelance writer and editor in the Sacramento area where she lives with her husband and two dogs. When not writing, Michelle enjoys traveling, gardening and volunteering.