With the holiday party season officially underway, you may be wondering what to give the busy hostess at the parties you will be attending. Here are some easy ideas that mix items from the grocery or department store with things from the dollar store.

I found a pretty floral candy dish for $1.25 at my local dollar store. Just add some brand-name wrapped candy or a can of Planters mixed nuts and you're good to go.

This gift only looks expensive. In reality, $6 was all it took to put together a gift with two wine glasses, cocktail napkins, a reindeer ornament and some After Eight mint sticks on a silver-colored tray. Just add basket wrap and a bow.

If you're thinking of taking flowers for the hostess, a pretty vase from the dollar store filled with a bouquet of grocery store flowers makes a thoughtful gift. That way, your hostess won't have to search for a vase in the middle of a busy evening.
How about a useful gift of three holiday kitchen towels in a colorful round baking dish? I got a small fluted baking dish in red that's about 6 inches round and 3 inches deep for $2, but any department store will have something suitable.

Two-toned red or green striped Christmas kitchen towels that have a nice thickness to them are only $1 each at the dollar store. Roll the kitchen towels so that they stand upright in the baking dish and tie with a pretty ribbon.

I found a small rectangular serving dish in white and a pair of nut crackers for a total cost of $2.75. Line the dish with a Christmas doily, add some whole mixed nuts and the nut crackers. This 7 1/2 X 6 X 2-inch deep dish fits nicely into a cellophane candy bag. Then just tape the end closed. You can get about 20 Christmas candy bags for $1.

For a more casual affair, how about a metal bucket with beer, bottle opener, playing cards and whole peanuts. I got a large aluminum bucket for two bucks at the dollar store, as well as a bottle opener, playing cards and a bag of Planters peanuts in the shell for $1 each. Just add four bottles of the beer of choice and use basket wrap to pull it all together.

I save the brown paper that dollar stores use to wrap my breakable purchases in and use it to build up the bottom of gift baskets, or in this case, buckets. Then use some tissue paper or shred before adding the gift items.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes ideas and tips for home decorating using only items from the dollar store. Marlene's new e-book Christmas-Dollar Store Style will show you how to decorate, entertain and create beautiful gifts for Christmas using only items from the dollar store.

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