This is where "the present drawer" comes in handy. (I will post on this, probably at length, another day.) In short, the present drawer is where one keeps some extra candles, hand soaps, small picture frames in hand in case there's a last minute "oh sh-t" moment right before you head out the door. People - don't allow your present drawer to be bare. See a candle you like on sale - buy 2, notice a nice set of dish towels is half off- grab it. Because inevitably you will forget to get something, or your spouse will mention that tomorrow night we need to go to my boss' home for drinks and you're booked solid from now until then. Also, remember to keep some nice note cards to accompany the said present in the said drawer.
For now, here are a couple things I think are nice gifts to bring to a host of a holiday get together. A bottle of wine is alway safe, but I say get them something more personal and fun (maybe throw in some wine with it for good measure anyways). If you are staying the night I think the gift should be a bit more substantial, as overnight stays require more effort and time spent by the host. (Overnight stay gifts to come later this week...)
Candles are a great option. They come in a wide range of prices and (in my opinion) it is hard to have too many scented candles. The first two items are from Anthropologie. I think a pine scent is nice for the holidays, and the small votive holders (only $8 a pop) would be a nice present if you snagged 3 or 4 as a gift. The last candle is from Calypso, which has lovely scents and packaging.
Claus Porto is a great soap brand. Portuguese, founded in 1887, Claus Porto soaps are luxurious, have wonderful presentation, and make a great gift. These almost-paper thin guest soaps are wonderful. They are small enough that the host can change the soap before each gathering as they please and not feel wasteful. It almost feels like opening a box of fine macaroons but without the calories. These soap boxes are under $20 each and a lovely gift.
Coffee tables books are also hard to have too many of in my mind. It is a great way to give an easy, personal gift to someone. Maybe you pick out a place you have taken a trip with the host in years past or have flirted with traveling to in the future. It shows you know their interests, and is fun to look at with them if you have the time.
Enjoy the parties!