Best Hostess Gifts- Your Party-Goer Guide
By Ashley Kromrey
For the social butterfly, this time of year means running around to parties, dinners, and other gatherings. An invite is exciting and flattering, but when you have more than one invitation, it can be a little overwhelming to coordinate. Before you get flustered with over thinking, here is the dish on simple etiquette when it comes to the best hostess gifts. Because the purpose of bringing a gift to a party is to show the host gratitude and make them feel at ease. Know your options to wow your host with the best hostess gifts, or at the very least have them look forward to something nice.
Flower facts. Standard rules on bringing flowers to a party, don’t make the host/hostess drop whatever they are doing to find a vase. Instead, bring the bouquet either already in a vase (a Mason jar is fine) or give a potted orchid; they last longer than a traditional floral arrangement and go with most decor. If you are in a bind and stuck bringing a bouquet sans vase, make sure you take initiative and place the flowers in water and arrange them yourself. For a hostess who cooks, the best hostess gifts are nice potted herbs like rosemary or thyme, with which your host can use to cook with year-round.
Never whine over wine again. If you must bring another cliched bottle of wine, it’s okay if you don’t know the hosts particular taste. The best hostess gifts are all-around wines, like a moderately priced Pinot Noir. This selection of wine is red, tasty, subtle but not too full of tannins. Be sure to attach a note, as your host may receive a few bottles and may not know who it is from, or dress up the bottle in a wine gift bags. If you were on point and bought their favorite bottle, attach a simple note, “I know you love said wine. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy your company.” It is etiquette to not expect your host to serve the bottle you gifted that evening, as the wines are most likely chosen already for the meal. Remember, take the price tag off! Bonus point best hostess gifts: Pair that wine with a stylish cork screw, wine glass charms, or rich gourmet dark chocolate.
Present your present nicely. Before you leave the house take the time to place your gift in a nice basket or bag, or use twine or a nice ribbon. Don’t be afraid to open and re-pack whatever you bought. If you have baked goods, take the biscuits or pastries out of the bag or box and wrap them in a decadent napkin or towel instead. Extras can really add the right touch of class, use ribbons, baskets, tea towels, nice napkins, ornaments, pine-cones. One way to dress up a bottle is to hang a dangling ornament, or tie with fresh greenery. Grocery store gifts are an option now that they have stepped up their artisan game. Buy the package that looks prettiest, like that same bottle of wine you bought because it had a great label.
Catered party for the non-cook? Maybe your friend, colleague or family friend is having the party catered. Not sure if they have a flair for cooking? Great easy gifts can range from a box of blank note cards to cute paper napkins, cocktail picks, even an ornate picture frame (add in a memorable photo). A fun gift are decorative party straws complimented with a 6 pack of soda or old-fashioned candy (a little nostalgia). A nice coffee table book is also appropriate if you know your host’s interests.
Think ahead gifts are great for your host to look forward to using that shows you care. One fantastic idea is a magazine subscription for your frequent reader friend. Purchase the latest issue of their favorite magazine, tear the subscription card out for yourself to fill out on their behalf, then gift the magazine together with a greeting card that says “Hope you enjoy a year of said magazine!” Traditional gifts that are useful are fancy guest soaps, lotions, and monogrammed paper linen guest napkins.
For the Chef a excellent gift option is an olive oil and vinegar set, opt for the good stuff. Think specialty and fancy when you purchase premium jars of gourmet jam, high-end spices, and pink sea-salts, salsas and sauces. Homemade items made from the heart are always favorites. Cooking related items are also a nice idea like a pretty trivet, a cutting board alongside a few artisan cheeses, good quality kitchen towels. A traditional welcome gift is bringing a whole pineapple. Today pineapple prints are displayed on doormats and in hotels. The gift of giving this fruit dates back to 16th century England, where it symbolized hospitality and luxury.
A Basket of Thanks, is a caring way to give your host and their family a nice treat to enjoy so they don’t have to think of the next day’s meal. Take into consideration they will most likely be tired from prepping and then cleaning. Tuck in the basket an endearing note saying, “Enjoy tomorrow! Thanks for tonight!”. Brainstorm breakfast, whether you bake or buy, its easy to wrap up a few scones, a loaf of fresh bread, flaky croissants etc, from a local bakery. Include two types of premium brand jams, and dress it all up with ribbon or nice new kitchen towel. Is your host is a coffee feign? How about a diy barista basket with fresh ground coffee beans, flavored syrups, and a cute mug. Don’t let your host think about cooking the next night, by crafting a family style Italian meal prep package. Buy two bags of different artisan pasta, canned tomatoes (San Marzano), a bottle of olive oil, a tube of tomato paste, red pepper flakes (the glass jars are most presentable), a fresh whole head of garlic. You can add in an artichoke or fresh bread. Make it the best hostess gift and grab a garlic press in the baking aisle at the grocery store.
Amidst the joy and celebrating, it’s important to take the time when you get an invitation, to assess who is hosting. Old friends or new, consider the person’s tastes, interests, and what makes them special, that’s ultimately what makes the best hostess gifts. Whatever gift you decide to bring, just remember to not be empty-handed when you ring the doorbell.