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Five great hostess gifts

"Tis the season for parties. And, while it's acceptable to show up with nothing but a good attitude, a gift will never be frowned upon. Wine and flowers are always welcome, but here are a few out-of-the-box ideas:

1. An apron. I like CafePress--you can design your own (perhaps with your favorite recipe) or choose a pre-designed classic. The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square also has some amazingly adorable options.

2.  Something smelly and season-themed. Nest's candle "Holiday." The scent is a dreamy way to celebrate the season.The Soap & Paper Factory's Roland Pine soap is another wonderful choice.

3. Tea time. A good wintery tea will help that host relax once the party is through. I like Stash's Cranberry Pomegranate and the Republic of Tea's Organic Turmeric Ginger. Locally, the Coffee and Tea Exchange offers tons of options.

4. Gift boxes of beauty. Burt's Bees offers many choices--my favorite is the Pomegranate Spa Set, only $19.99. For an impressive gift--a gift certificate to a spa is in order. I suggest Bliss or Spacio.

5. The gift of laughter. Tickets to a comedy club are ideal for nearly anyone. Second City, iO, the Annoyance and Comedysportz run a number of shows perfect for saying thanks to any host.

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