For the Hostess

Invited to a soirée? Give the organizer a sweet gift — Michigan treats & a pretty serving dish


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You've been asked to a festive party and decide to bring a couple of boxes of fudge as a gift for the host and hostess to savor later with family. Or maybe you're to bring a plate of cookies for dessert. A perfect hostess gift provides not only made-in-Michigan delectable fare, but a unique keepsake serving piece, too!

Leather tray, $395, Ralph Lauren, Somerset Collection South, Troy, 248-637-7656, thesomersetcollection.com; vintage scallop tray by Pom Pom, $88, F&H For the Home, Grosse Pointe Farms, 313-469-1494; horn and silver trim plate, $50, Ralph Lauren; and white Belgian linen napkin, $98/four, F&H For the Home.

Cookie Craze

When Kathleen McKay, owner of Kathleen's Cookies and Boutique in Brighton, founded her bakery, she was working out of her home, "like most who get into this type of thing," she says. "I had always loved to bake, coming from a long line of crazy Italian bakers, so I thought about what I could create that would become a branded business over time." Enter Kathleen's Cookies and Boutique. A former 20-year interior designer, McKay has made her bakery's interior space as delightful as the baked goods themselves. She selected a turquoise and brown theme for indoors and out. Cookie varieties range from Lemonazing, White-Chocolate Cherry (one patron comes to the shop every Saturday and "buys up all of them") and Butter Buttons to Tuxedos, Crazy Hazels, and chocolate-sandwich Flirts. Come the holidays, McKay bakes Peppermint Schnapps and Sugar-Plum Flirts, and uses berry-red and blue ribbons for gifts. Festive greenery and ornaments often adorn her holiday packaging.

Above: Lemonazing, Tuxedo (with cocoa sugar sparkles), and  Crazy Hazel shortbreads (with hazelnut coffee), from Kathleen's Cookies and Boutique, Brighton, 810-588-4029, kathleens-cookies.com. Served on a rectangular tray with handles by Pom Pom, $218, F&H For the Home, Grosse Pointe Farms, 313-469-1494. Tan linen napkin, $45, Ralph Lauren, Somerset Collection South, Troy, 248-637-7656, thesomersetcollection.com. Below: Flirts cookies, from Kathleen's Cookies and Boutique. Served in a Cherie Lucas ramekin, $184/four with tray, F&H For the Home.

Fine Fudge

When handcrafting their delicious, textured Original Murdick's Fudge, the Benser family uses a tried-and-true recipe that goes back to 1887. Headquartered on Mackinac Island, with shops in a few other locations, fudge offerings include such flavors as Double Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt, predicted to be number one this season; Butter Pecan; and Chocolate Mint. "Our fudge was the first to be made on the island," says Bob Benser Jr., company president. "It features all-natural ingredients — and our key ingredients are from Michigan, including sugar, real cream, butter, cherries, and even pure maple sugar," Benser adds. "It's cooked to an exact temperature."

A variety of fresh fudge flavors, available through Dec. 19 by phone or website order at Original Murdick's Fudge, Mackinac Island, 906-847-3530, originalmurdicksfudge.com. Served on a pretty, white-as-snow ceramic platter, $125, BoConcept, Birmingham, 248-792-6331, boconcept.com; with a Belgian linen napkin, $98/four, F&H For the Home, Grosse Pointe Farms, 313-469-1494.

Pretzel Crunch

Lynn Kughn, owner of Brighton-based Ultimate Pretzel Company and More, knows how to create the perfect balance when blending sweet with salty and crunchy with crispy. Bite into any of her deliciously coated pretzels and you'll likely agree. Her signature pretzel is sinfully blanketed with caramel, Rice Krispies, and a "special blend of chocolate," explains the company's Barbara Bain,  "and then it's drizzled with a contrasting chocolate." More pretzel delectables include coffee-flavored goodies, mini twists with toffee, and gluten-free products. "We sell a ton of 8-ounce bags during the holidays that are great as hostess gifts," Bain says.

Prezel treats in a variety of flavors, available by phone or website order from Ultimate Pretzel Company and More, Brighton, 888-571-0088, theultimatepretzelcompany.com. Served in a  vintage wine coaster, $32, F&H For the Home, Grosse Pointe Farms, 313-469-1494; with a fine linen napkin with pink trim, $64/four, Fleurdetroit, Bloomfield Hills, 248-953-3840, fleurdetroit.com.

Cute Cupcakes

With 40 flavors of gourmet jumbo and mini cupcakes, Just Baked, a specialty cupcake bakery with 17 locations and delivery service, rocks the holidays with Egg Nog, Gingerbread, Peppermint Patty, and other varieties. "They're baked fresh daily, using real butter, eggs, and milk," says founder Pam Turkin.

Cheesecake mini cupcakes, Just Baked, 734-367-0729, justbakedshop.com. Served on a horn-rimmed plate, $65, Ralph Lauren, Somerset Collection South, Troy, 248-637-7656, thesomersetcollection.com; and Leather Buckle Tray, $595, Ralph Lauren. Belgian linen cocktail napkin, $58/four, F&H For the  Home, Grosse Pointe Farms, 313-469-1494.

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