Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to select a hostess gift (and why you should)

With the holiday season upon us, I'm going to venture a guess and say that the majority of you fabulous readers will be guests in another person's home over the next several weeks. It might be for dinner, a holiday party, or even an extended visit. No matter the occasion, I'm going to suggest that you plan ahead and take a hostess gift.

(Yeah, that's me all right. In a ruffled hostess apron. With sneakers and a hoodie. Want to come to dinner at my house?)

I think it's a good rule of thumb to never show up for a visit or a get together empty-handed. If it's casual, like an impromptu neighborhood Christmas party, then a plate of holiday goodies is a fabulous thing to fill your hands with. And if it's a potluck and your last name starts with S so you're bringing an appetizer to share, you're off the hook as well.

Otherwise, consider taking along a token of your appreciation for the hostess with the mostest. There's no recommended budget for hostess gifts, so don't get hung up on a dollar amount. To use an old phrase, "it's the thought that counts."

Here are a few tips to make selecting a hostess gift quick and painless:

1. Consider the host or hostess and their tastes.
If they're vegetarian, don't gift them a smoked sausage and cheese basket. If their kitchen is decorated in whites and blues, don't bring them bright red and black dish towels. Easy peasy, right?

2. Remember, it's a gift.
Don't take a bottle of wine to a party and present it to your host, and then snatch it back so you can open it and start drinking. Since I'm using wine in this example, your hostess may have special wines already selected that match her menu items, and your gift (while thoughtful!) is best saved for when she can enjoy it with the perfect food. Don't be hurt if your gift isn't immediately used; if you gave your friend bodywash for Christmas you wouldn't start to cry if she didn't immediately strip down to jump in the shower, right?

Side note: The hostess in this previous example is pickier than I am, and if you bring me wine we'll open it, k?)

3. Be a little creative.
A pretty box of cookies wrapped up from a local bakery is a much better gift than a plastic bakery container of cookies from a giant chain grocery store. Going back to the wine example (I'm not single-minded or anything), take a moment to find a cute gift bag, or even make your own label with your crazy craftin' skills.

Image from Queen & Co

4. When in doubt, there are always classic fallback options.
Wine, dessert, flowers, jam, kitchen soaps or artisan bread are all great gift ideas.
(But don't be afraid to branch out!)

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of Salim Virji

Hostess gifts may seem a bit old fashioned, but when you think about it, so are handwritten letters and thank you notes (just ask our ailing US Postal Service). But 'old fashioned' doesn't have to mean outdated -- good manners never go out of style. So start writing those thank you notes and start thinking about making nice gestures toward the people who go out of their way to host you in their home.

Sharing this at Someday Crafts and


  1. I completely AGREE and love this post! Its just the little things that set people apart yk?
    great post!

  2. It is always fun to store my "extra" wine at your house, and even better to know that I am following the "rule" of gifting the hostess and such....but my fav part for sure-sies is drinking that wine with you....and of course hanging out. (since we do SO much of that)

  3. What good ideas! especially love the bread suggestion...

  4. Thanks for this post, it has me thinking about what to bring to the homes I'm going to visit this winter. This is my first visit (I came over from H is for Handmade) but definitely won't be my last!

  5. Honest, I'm not stalking you! (well.. maybe a little..) But, it's official, I'm loving your ideas, so I'm your newest follower!

  6. OMG. Now you've got me stressing over what to bring to your house on Thanksgiving. Honestly.

  7. Dude, I said you don't have to take stuff to a potluck. You're bringing pumpkin pie and wine and a salad. ;)

  8. But my last name doesn't begin with "S"!

  9. Uh oh... you better bring me a present then ;)


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