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How to Give The Perfect Gift to a Host/Hostess

Although giving your host or hostess a gift is not really expected, showing up to a get-together empty-handed can feel somewhat impolite. To help you show your gratitude to the host or hostess of a party, we have some tips on what to do — and what not to do.

What is A Hostess Gift?

There can be some confusion between a regular gift and a hostess gift, but they are generally not the same thing. A regular gift is meant to celebrate the person to whom you’re giving it, so it should be a personal item — a book they’ve been wanting, or tickets to see their favorite band. Because hostess gifts are meant to be showing appreciation to the gracious party-giver, they should be an item that might help out in future hosting activities, such as a serving plate, a tea set, or a candle. As with other gifts, the size and price are negligible — it’s the thought that counts.

What Are Some Appropriate Gifts?

There are endless possibilities of great hostess gifts, and the gift you purchase should be tailored to suit what you know of your party-giver. Just so you have a starting point, here are some examples of thoughtful hostess gifts.

A Unique Board Game

Games can be very useful for entertaining, especially in family settings.

This is not the gift to bring for a super formal dinner party, but if you’re attending a more casual get-together with some friends and family, a fun board game may be the perfect gift. Although the party-thrower doesn’t necessarily have to use it this time if they already have the event planned, next time they have people over it’ll mean less planning and more fun.

Chocolates

You really can’t go wrong with this classic treat.

Your gift doesn’t necessarily have to be something that the recipient will keep forever, and a box of chocolates makes for an elegant perishable gift. The recipient can choose to share, or keep the treats to herself. Either way, this gift is a great way to say “thank you.”

A Recipe Book

If your recipient is an avid cook, they’ll love to add something new to their repertoire.

This is such a great gift because there are so many different, interesting recipe books out there that you can really tailor your choice of book to the recipient’s specific interests in food. If you know that they happen to be vegan, for instance, bring them the newest vegan cookbook. This goes for people who love to bake as well.

Specialty Foods

Did you travel recently and happened to bring back some very special, like delicious olive oil? Give it as a gift!

This could really be anything from homemade jam to super artisan kombucha — as long as it’s a special tidbit and your host enjoys the taste, you really can’t go wrong. If you do end up bringing the classic bottle of wine, make it clear that your recipient need not serve the wine during the event, since it’s just a treat for them to enjoy later.

Guest Soaps or Lotions

Your host might appreciate some handmade soap to share with their future guests.

Artisanal soaps and lotions can spruce up a recipient’s house without threatening to clash with their decor. With so many different scents available, you can also customize your selection to suit the taste of your recipient. Not only that, but there’s no implication that this gift should be used at the event — it can be saved for another get-together.

Coffee or Tea Set

Specialty coffee or teas will be much appreciated when the host or hostess has their next dinner party.

Almost everyone loves coffee, right? And those who don’t love coffee love tea, so it’s hard to go wrong with this one. This could be anything from a set of ornate tea cups or a cute filter to a sampler of unique blends — whatever you think the recipient would appreciate most.

Coasters

You can go for plain and simple, or a more extravagant design.

Your host is guaranteed to serve drinks at some point, and this gift will help them to protect their furniture when they do. It’s a small gesture that can say “thank you for having me,” but in a more subtle way than, say, a bouquet of flowers. Keep it simple, or go all out — whatever best matches your recipient’s decor.

When Should I Bring A Hostess Gift?

You don’t always have to bring a gift, but there are some occasions in which you really should. In choosing your gift, you should consider the type of occasion as well as the interests of the recipient.

Dinner Party

Formal dinner parties where there are plenty of guests usually don’t require you to bring a hostess gift, but when attending more casual dinners with coworkers or friends — unless you dine together often — you should consider bringing a small gift. A small token of appreciation is all that’s really needed. To be considerate to those who didn’t bring anything, you should present your host with their gift as soon as they greet you at the door.

Housewarming

When invited to a new home, it’s customary to bring a gift that will enhance the house and should last for a relatively long time. Plants, specialty foods, or the classic cheese board are all great examples of housewarming gifts, and you don’t have to be discrete about presenting this gift because it’s more likely that everyone else has brought a gift as well.

Overnight Stay

If your host is entertaining you for more than just the evening, you should probably bring along a more substantial gift, depending on your relation to your host. If you forget or don’t have time to get a gift beforehand, you can always send one afterward, along with a thank you note.

Holiday Party

This is a great opportunity to give a holiday-themed gift, like an ornament or homemade baked goods, and can be a celebration of both the holiday season and the hard work of the recipient in throwing the party. As always, consider your relationship with this host — is it your boss, your best friend, or a family member?

Meeting Future In-Laws

When this nerve-wracking event comes about, you certainly want to make a good impression, starting with your gift. Make sure to ask your partner about what gifts their parents would enjoy, although something like a potted plant or gift basket is usually a safe bet. Try not to worry too much — they’re sure to love both you and your gift!

There is no simple recipe for giving your host/hostess the perfect gift, but if you consider the situation and your relationship to the recipient, there’s no reason your gift would be a flop. In addition, you also want to be considerate of the other guests who may not have thought to bring gifts — the event is meant to be fun for everyone, after all! Although manners are important, it’s not the end of the world if you make a blunder here and there when giving a hostess gift.

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