If you are invited to a party or event it is considered good etiquette to bring a little something. And no, plopping a bottle of soda on the table usually doesn’t count. During the holiday season party invitations are plentiful so to help take the pressure off figuring out what to bring I have outlined some simple tips on selecting a hostess gift.
When to Give a Hostess Gift
Hostess gifts can be given anytime you are attending an event at someone’s house, but depending on the occasion other items can replace the hostess gift. For instance, if you are attending a pot luck dinner and are bringing food to share with the group it is not necessary to bring a hostess gift. That being said if it is your first time at someone’s home or it is a special holiday it is a very nice gesture to bring a small gift. The gift does not have to be elaborate or expensive and it can be food, but it would be nice to bring something that doesn’t necessarily have to be served during the event you are attending.
Another time a hostess gift is not necessary is when you are attending a birthday party or an occasion where you are bringing a gift for the guest of honor. So the rule of thumb is to always bring something with you when going to someone’s house – if attending an event where you have been assigned something to bring or are bringing a gift for a birthday or special occasion it is not necessary to bring a hostess gift.
What to Give
When deciding on an item to give, think about the person you are giving it to. Do they like to cook or garden, do they have another special hobby that you can theme the gift around? A bottle of wine or spirit can be a nice if the person likes to drink. Other ideas can include food items such as a box of fine chocolates, genuine coffee, or specialty items like truffle salt, good vanilla, or flavored olive oil.
Nice housewarming gifts can include anything personalized, like hand towels, kitchen towels, an apron, or other linens. If you plan in advance you can find some really nice out of the ordinary items to personalize like coasters, bottle openers, stationary, and silver items. Additional household items like glasses, bar tools, a special platter or bowl are always very thoughtful items to bring.
If you are a crafty person or a great baker bringing something homemade is sure to please. Small containers of homemade cookies, muffins, or chocolate covered strawberries are some welcomed items. During the holidays a homemade ornament or even a special drawing from a child will bring the host/hostess some cheer.
What Not to Give
Most people love flowers, but don’t give a bouquet of flowers out of water. It could be a major hassle for the host/hostess to find a container for the flowers, cut them, and arrange them in a vase while they are in the midst of hosting their event. Giving a plant like Rosemary in a planter during the fall/winter months is a great fragrant gift. Lilies or tulips in a planter would be great during the spring and hydrangeas are nice for summer months.
Unless otherwise asked, don’t bring a dish that needs to be heated or cooked completely during the event. Again, this puts extra pressure on the host/hostess to make this item when they are trying to get everything else they need to get done.
The most important thing to remember when deciding on a host or hostess gift is to be thoughtful and have fun with it. Purchase or make something that you know anyone could enjoy. In the long run it is the thought that counts and the recipient will be grateful for the kind gesture.