Shopping: Perfect hostess gifts

Brittany Kress, Columbus Alive

Is it just me, or do get-togethers seem to turn more formal as the leaves turn colors?

A six-pack just doesn't cut it for a dinner party like it would for a barbecue. (Besides, it's about time you said a real "thank you" for all their hospitality during the summer.)

No, for occasions like these - and the even-more-formal holiday parties to follow - you need to come armed with a delightful little something that shows you're glad they're hosting

Decorative wine cork, $18.50

Helen Winnemore Craft, German Village

You can find a wine cork just about anywhere, so it's best to base your decision on looks. A topper like this is a real charmer - it's handmade and heavy-duty but looks dainty. Any hostess will love you for it.

She'll love you even more, of course, if you bring a bottle of wine with it. But if this alone is enough of a gift to you (and we think it is), just carry it in a cute bag with a little tissue paper and a big smile.

Lucha libre coasters, $8.50 each

Wholly Craft, Clintonville

Coasters are always a reliable hostess gift. Anyone who has people over often is sure to need more. And these coasters certainly stand out. They're handmade by Columbus' own Mary Martineau of the North Market, and you can find plenty of other quirky, cute and pretty hostess gift ideas (like an amazing Ohio-shaped cutting board) alongside them at Wholly Craft.

Screen-printed tea towel, $10

Gifts for hostesses are usually picked up the day of (or even en route to) a party, but wouldn't it be nice to have a stockpile of items at the ready?

Something like this sweet kitchen towel, printed with original artwork of sushi and available on Etsy. Grab a few now and wow every hostess. Score extra points when you tie it around the neck of a wine bottle (a riesling would match the sushi theme well).

Assorted chocolates (price varies)

Winans Fine Chocolates & Coffees, German Village

They might serve it to guests that night or they might save it for themselves to enjoy later. Either way, a sweet gift is an all-around winner, especially if it's a selection of chocolates from a new shop in town. At Winans, which opened recently in German Village, you can choose a gift set or an assortment of chocolates from the candy counter.