Shop Localista: Snaring Super Hostess Gifts in South Orange
The soiree season swings into town. Here are gift ideas for any host that'll set you apart- and get you invited back!
Ben Salmon, the gregarious proprietor of South Orange's most celebratory shop, Kitchen a la Mode, likes to think outside the box- and the bottle- when it comes to picking the perfect hostess present. "Anyone can walk in with a bottle of wine- and while wine's great, why not throw in a little something extra that'll set your gift apart?" he suggests. If you're shopping for a sure-fire way to win your host's approval, you really need go no further than his jam-packed sliver of a South Orange storefront.
Salmon has selected every item in his colorful, creative place, with gifts that run the gamut from high end to hilarious, whimsical to wild and classic to cool. "I love to entertain, and I love for people to be entertained when they shop here," he says. Quick to offer creative advice and ask questions to ensure your selections are the absolute best for your specific needs, Ben is also one of the shop's best selling points. After asking you a few fun questions about the host you're buying for, he can effortless list unlimited ideas that are intriguing and tailored to your price point.
"A great gift is always thoughtful, or shows you've put thought into picking it out. It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to show some initiative," he says before throwing out some suggestions. How about walking in with a cute card volunteering for dish duty after the event, complete with crazy-cute glamorous dish gloves and a chic scrubber? Why not combine that bottle of wine with an artisan-looking slate cheese board and a set of serving utensils? What about bringing a bag of nuts with an adorable squirrel nut cracker?
Basically Ben believes the secret to giving a great gift is simply thinking about your host while you're picking it out. (Be warned, though: you'll be hard-pressed to browse this shop without thing of all the things YOU'D like for yourself, too…Or leave without buying a few!)
The fine folks over at Cait & Abby's take another approach to a host's heart: the stomach. "You really can't go wrong with giving something delicious," says owner Raul Saade. The bakery's bestselling specialities include their famed carrot cake, artisan loaves of bread, pastries and cookies. They also have some handy pre-wrapped offering like chocolate Babka ($9.95) and plain or marbled pound cake ($6.50) for the shopper in a hurry. (The bakery is all-kosher and it is all beyond delicious!)
If you're the sort or shopper who'd rather browse from the comfort of your computer, you can still shop local for a perfect hostess present. ETSY has a search engine that can help you connect with South Orange artisans like arribachica who creates marvelous sophisticated Mexican folk-art pieces and throw pillows with hipster flair or the ceramic skills of ceramicmind, where you'll find stunning and affordable hand-crafted pottery. I love this 'squat ceramic creamer' for $20.
Whatever you choose, as long as you put in some effort, your host will surely be glad to have chosen to put you on the invite list!
Happy Shopping- and guesting!