We’ve all been there. You’re headed to a party. You’re already fashionably late, but don’t want to show up empty handed. Oh, hey. There’s a grocery store on the way—why not stop and pick up a little something? That’s where things get complicated.
See, a bottle of wine may seem like the way to go, but everyone is going to bring a bottle of wine. That means you’ll have to sit there and watch the $30 bottle you bought land on the beverage table with a bunch of other bottles and get totally lost in the shuffle. No one knows who brought what. The host probably won’t remember you brought anything at all! And that’s not to mention that lots of people don’t really drink anymore.
Before you throw up your hands and just stay in for the night, allow me to suggest some of the best things to bring to a holiday party if you only have time to stop at the grocery store.
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Nestle After Eight Chocolatey Thins
I know, I know, you’re like, “Hey Gwynedd, I’m not 400 years old.” Well, I may have crows feet and about as much energy as a late-model iPhone you forgot to charge overnight, but neither am I. And I’m telling you, these mints will be a hit. They’re thinner and more delicate than Andes mints, and have an addictive snappy quality. I was recently at a party where someone tossed a box of these on the dessert table and they drew a crowd of stoned people who wound up just kind of huddling around and going awfff about how good they are (I may or may not have been one of the stoned people). People will love you for buying these. Trust me.
Okay, once again this seems like a very elderly recommendation, but these shortbread cookies are delicious and they really say “holidays.” They’re light, buttery, and really good for dunking if you’re going to the kind of civilized gathering where a carafe of coffee appears at the end of the night. The boxes are cute, regardless, but opt for a tin if your grocery store of choice stocks them around the holidays.
While Ferrero Rocher typically sucks all the air out of the room during the holidays, you shouldn’t snooze on Almond Roca. Out of their little foil wrappers they may bear a striking resemblance to pieces of cat poop covered in kitty litter, but they are delicious: crispy, nutty toffee enrobed in chocolate and rolled in bits of almonds. You’ll typically find these candies in a cylinder-shaped container on the same end cap as Ferrero Rocher; buy a little gift bag from the card aisle and you’re all set.
Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider
Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider is only a few bucks a bottle, but it still feels as fancy as a bottle of wine that everyone can enjoy, drinkers and non-drinkers alike. It’s wonderfully effervescent, sweet without being cloying, and it scored the top spot in our ranking of the best sparkling apple cider you can buy. Their flavors are good, too. The Sparkling Apple-Cranberry, for instance, is great as a mixer with whiskey.
Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Babka
We all remember the babka episode of Seinfeld, right? I know Jerry and Elaine had their hearts set on bringing chocolate babka to the party, but cinnamon babka is just right for the holidays. If you’re not familiar, babka is kind of like a cross between bread and cake, making it (in my opinion) the perfect thing to bring to a dinner party in particular. Even if the host already had bread and cake on the menu, you’re not really stepping on any toes.
Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!