The Only Hostess Gift You Need To Give This Holiday Season

What’s better than a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers? Sea salt.

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Three jars of flavoured sea salt with turquiose bows

Photo, Sian Richards.

Hostess gifts that stray beyond wine or chocolates inevitably end up buried deep inside junk drawers. But not this season, because we’ve got the best idea for a small token of your appreciation: sea salt.

Fancy salt is a little luxury that most people wouldn’t buy for themselves. It’s something your hosts will keep front and centre on their kitchen counter and reach for over and over again, reminding them of your impeccable gift-giving abilities. If you don’t know your hosts and their tastes well, sea salt is a safer bet than wine or chocolate since it’s gluten-free, vegan and suitable for households that are leaning into the low or no-alcohol sipping trends.

Unlike everyday kosher salt, sea salt is used sparingly to finish dishes and desserts to give them a little extra zing. The Chatelaine kitchen team uses it in its pesto-burrata saladsalted caramel ice cream and double chocolate brownie cookies.

Sea salts are pricier than their table and kosher salt counterparts, but as a gift they’re as affordable as a bottle of Merlot. A box of Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (the standard for chefs and foodie-types) goes for about $10 and can easily be found online and in specialty grocery stores. If you’re really ambitious, you can flavour it yourself using chili flakes and paprikalemon zest or herbes de Provence, and then package it up in a mason jar and festive bow. Le Saunier De Camargue Fleur De Sel is another trusted brand (with its own nice packaging), and Loblaws sells it for $12.

If you prefer to buy Canadian, there’s a burgeoning homegrown sea salt industry. Companies like the Newfoundland Salt Company in Bonavista, Newfoundland, Vancouver Island Sea Salt, Salt West from Sooke, B.C., and Tidal Salt from Halifax ship across the country (while Pure Sea Salt in New Harbour, Newfoundland currently take orders via email) making it easy to order a few jars or gift sets to bring to your next holiday party. 

If you’re looking to DIY your host or hostess gift, here’s how to make flavoured sea salt. When giving it as a gift, top a small glass jar with a printed sticker and some ribbon and voilá, a beautiful DIY present.

Smoked chili sea salt recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 2 tsp hot, red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Combine salt with chili flakes and smoked paprika in a small jar. Cover with lid and shake until combined. Keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Lemon salt recipe

  • 1/4 cup lemon zest
  • 1/4 flaky sea salt

Instructions

  1. Heat a small non-stick pan over medium. Add lemon zest, stirring constantly with a spatula, until dry, about 3 min. Let cool, 3 min.
  2. Combine with salt in a small jar. Cover with lid and shake until combined. Keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Herbes de Provence sea salt recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 tbsp dried lavendar
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary

Instructions

  1. Combine salt with lavender, thyme and rosemary in a small jar. Cover with lid and shake until combined. Keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Originally published November 2017. Updated December 2019.

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