Holiday Gift Guide 2012: What to Buy For Holiday Parties

To help take the pressure out of your gift-buying decisions, California Home+Design is playing Santa's little helper and hooking you up with a designer's gift guide every Friday until the holidays are on top of you like a hastily fallen pine tree. Last week we featured What to Buy For the Outdoor Lover, and now we're switching gears to bring you a slew of party-perfect holiday items that make great hostess gifts or additions to the soiree-filled season. 

By Sarah Virginia White
Photo credit: Aerin
Coaster Cluster

These coasters might be rock hard, but we find them absorbing. Each set of four is handmade from Brazilian agate. $195,

Photo credit: Alessi
Party Parrot

Can't afford to buy a vintage your oenophile friend would love? Lighten up his cellar with this parrot sommelier corkscrew. $63,

Photo credit: Farmshop and Apolis
Grab Bag

The holiday giftbag from SoCal companies Farmshop and Apolis contains culinary delights from California artisans, including sea salt from Happy Girl Kitchen, preserves from SQIRL and olive oil from Bozzano Olive Ranch—all in a stylish jute bag. $198, Farmshop LA, Brentwood Country Mart, Los Angeles or order online by Dec. 1 at

Photo credit: Molla Space
Animal Attraction

Liquor won't linger in these shot glasses, where animal heads crown the bottom of each ceramic vessel (meaning they're either in-hand or upside-down on the counter). $28,

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Glittering Decanters

Lift your spirits with these gold glass decanters in a subtle crosshatch pattern. $155, Empiric, 7918 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles,

Photo credit: Room & Board
Pour Me

Before her death in 2011 at the age of 105, ceramicist Eva Zeisel impressed the world with her fluid, sculpture-like forms. This porcelain pitcher set was one of her last projects with KleinReid studio before she passed away. $315,

Photo credit: Of a Kind
Camo Tote

Pixelated camo and climbing-rope straps elevate the humble tote bag from LA's Farm Tactics. The cotton-lined bag can carry a serious load of party supplies, whether you're hosting or helping out. $88,

Photo credit: Flora Grubb
Living Wreath

The living wreaths from San Francisco garden maven Flora Grubb (yes, that's her real name) do more than look pretty over the holidays—they're created using live succulents that will grow and change over the course of the year. Available in 10-, 14- and 16-inch sizes. From $169, 1634 Jerrold Ave., San Francisco,

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Card Game

Even elegant soirees devolve into bouts of drinking games, and the LA-print playing cards from architect Barbara Bestor's SoLA keep the fun local. $10, 115 S. Robertson Blvd.,

Photo credit: Gracious Style
Book Club

For the hostess who most impresses you, The Well-Lived Life by Dominique Browning would be a welcome chronicle of American homes and gardens. $65,

Photo credit: Crate and Barrel

The modular honeycomb shape of the three-part hexa wine rack allows you to stack them up to five high and move them around for ideal party access. $50 for set of two,

Photo credit: Kelly Wearstler
Open Hand

For the stack of holiday party invites on your desk, this brass letter opener sure comes in "handy." But terrible puns aside, I'm putting this on my wishlist to bring some ceremony back into snail mail. $165, 8440 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood,

Photo credit: Sempli
Tipsy Glasses

The natural swirling movement of the handblown cupa tumbler will waft the enticing aroma of your chosen spirit straight to your olfactory senses. $50 for two,

Photo credit: Bounty and Feast
Crystal Candles

Head to Oakland’s Bounty & Feast to pick up these unique handmade beeswax candles in a range of colors, including fluorescent green and pink, cobalt blue, natural and black. Owner Sara Prentiss-Shaw had them molded from her own crystal collection. $15 for three, Temescal Alley, Oakland,



Photo credit: Cowgirl Creamery
Cowgirl Creamery

Pick up a trio of Cowgirl Creamery's greatest hits before your next event. The classic Cowgirl collection includes one round of three favorite goat cheeses from the North Bay dairy, including the aged Mt. Tam, the rich Red Hawk and the seasonal Devil's Gulch, covered in red pepper flakes. $65, Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Plaza, One Embarcadero, San Francisco,

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