My mom taught me that a hostess gift should be "what it is: a gift for the woman who did all the darn work!" So... here are some of my ideas:
- Flowers. In a vase, even a cheap one. (Never make a host/hostess hunt for a vase when they are mid-meal prep).
- Plant. No vase needed and can perhaps be transplanted to the yard.
- Candle--- go with pretty and unscented unless you know them really well. And their allergies. Soy candles are great.
- Hand towels or dish towels. A nice dish cloth or hand towel (embroidered, or having a design) is a nice gift and always handy!
- box of chocolates. I always add a note "for you to enjoy later," so they don't feel the need to share it with us.
- seasonal or themed notepads, sticky notes, etc.
- a favorite coffee or tea--- make sure the coffee is already ground.
- an ornament for their Christmas tree (this is pretty easy this time of year)
- a coffee table book or a book for the hostess to read
- a centerpiece--- who couldn't use a nice holiday centerpiece
Also, my top few things to avoid bringing the hostess:
- A bottle of wine. yes, it's traditional, but if the hostess has already paired the wine with the meal, she may feel pressured to open your bottle, even if it doesn't complement the meal. If you bring wine, insist it's "for you, for later."
- cookies/dessert: unless asked to bring something. As the girl hosting a cookie swap on Friday, the last thing I need in my house is more sweets.
- salad, side dish, etc... you may think your helping, but parties & dinners are usually pre-planned when it comes to food, so again, unless you are asked (or it's a potluck)...
As the hostess, let's review a few things about receiving a hostess gift.
- Acknowledge the gift.
- Say thank you!
- Set is aside.
- open it later.