Housewarming parties. Dinner parties. Anniversary parties. Birthday parties. Baby showers and bridal showers (when you’re the honoree). Overnight visits. Themed parties. Holiday parties.
It can get exhausting to find unique gifts to serve as mementos to thank your hostess (or host) for his or her hospitality.
Likewise, it’s sometimes confusing to determine whether giving a hostess a gift is appropriate.
I asked Myka Meier, the founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, to weigh in:
When are you required to bring a hostess gift? “You should bring a hostess gift when you are invited to someone’s home for any reason. It can be something small and thoughtful, and it constitutes a thank-you for an invitation to host you. Never show up empty handed. This obviously doesn’t mean you should turn up with a Tag Heuer automatic watch but you should arrive with something that shows that you’ve put time into your gift.”
When is a hostess gift not required? “When you are invited to someone’s home for an event or dinner, you should always ask the host what he or she would like you to bring. Sometimes the person may assign you to a dish. In that case, the dish would be your contribution. It would be extra generous (and unnecessary) to also bring a hostess gift.”
How much should I spend on a hostess gift? “There is no specific amount; rather, it’s the thought behind the gift. For instance, bringing homemade cookies would be as suitable as monogrammed cocktail coasters or an expensive candle from the host’s favorite store.”
What is the not-so-obvious thing to bring as a hostess gift? “Flowers that are not already in a vase or container. It is the hostess’s sole responsibility to ensure her guests feel comfortable and welcome when they enter her home. The moment you will arrive with flowers, the hostess will need to cut their stems and find a vase to fill with water. While she is trying to accommodate the flowers you got for her, she has not been able to do her job as a hostess and may have missed greeting guests as they arrive.”
Here are nine of my favorites.
Scented candles. I love scented candles and usually wouldn’t splurge on one for myself. My favorites are from the Seventh Avenue Apothecary in Tampa, Florida, which is family owned and operated by a group of great women.
Rifle Paper Company recipe box. How perfect is it to gift a recipe box for a dinner party hostess? This Citrus Floral Recipe Box is made by the Rifle Paper Company (a Florida enterprise flagshipped in the charming town of Winter Park) and is available for $34. They also offer a diverse online section of other gift ideas to suit your hostess’s taste or hobbies.
Michael Aram pomegranate catch all. I love the pomegranate catch all from the Michael Aram collection. At $49, this natural bronze beauty is perfect for the hostess to place in her kitchen for her “whatevers.”
Corkcicle. This little device is $17.95 of goodness and is ideal for the wine aficionado hostess. You freeze it, then stick it into a wine bottle so it stays cold. If you purchase them through the Corkcicle website, you get 15% off your first purchase. Good reason to buy them in bulk. Cheers!
Hen House Linens kitchen towels. Bright and colorful, these towels from Hen House Linens will spruce up any kitchen.
Gourmet Cheeses. It’s fun to give the hostess something she can look forward to enjoying when the party’s over. You can get gourmet cheeses almost anywhere (and who doesn’t like cheese?) but I prefer to shop local and purchase mine at Cheese Please in Tampa. It’s run by two hilarious and personable guys who have a knack for fine cheeses and chocolates.
Menagerie wine pourer/ aerator. I discovered these gems at a tasting at the Gundlach Bundschu winery in Sonoma. There are 64 styles made from original hand-sculpted designs and forged from high-grade stainless steel. At roughly $29 a piece, they combine quality, functionality, durability, and style. My husband is an avid hunter, so I got him the elk pourer, but as a University of Florida alumnus and fisherman, he would have been equally thrilled with the alligator or fish pourers.
Funny cocktail napkins. For the hostess with a sense of humor, funny cocktail napkins make the perfect gift. I love these “Real Housewives” themed cocktail napkins from Caspari, which also sells boxed note sets, candles, matchboxes, and picture frames online.
Bathroom guest book. For the regular entertainer, make every trip to the powder room an event to remember with the Bathroom Guest Book available at Z-Gallerie. This witty little book is a great conversation piece, and at $14.95, each guest’s deep thoughts on the loo will live in infamy.
Cheers to being a gracious guest!