Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The hostess with the mostest

I love giving hostess gifts... so easy and so thoughtful. After dining in friends' homes a number of times, I don't usually bother (so many friends stop being "company" after a few years), but it is nice to have as you approach the holiday party season.

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:

  1. Flowers. In a vase, even a cheap one. (Never make a host/hostess hunt for a vase when they are mid-meal prep).
  2. Plant. No vase needed and can perhaps be transplanted to the yard.
  3. Candle--- go with pretty and unscented unless you know them really well. And their allergies. Soy candles are great.
  4. Hand towels or dish towels. A nice dish cloth or hand towel (embroidered, or having a design) is a nice gift and always handy!
  5. 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.
  6. seasonal or themed notepads, sticky notes, etc. 
  7. a favorite coffee or tea--- make sure the coffee is already ground. 
  8. an ornament for their Christmas tree (this is pretty easy this time of year)
  9. a coffee table book or a book for the hostess to read
  10. a centerpiece--- who couldn't use a nice holiday centerpiece
Also, my top few things to avoid bringing the hostess:
  1. 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."
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  1. Acknowledge the gift. 
  2. Say thank you!
  3. Set is aside.
  4. open it later. 


  1. Great list! And I completely agree with you that a hostess should set the gift aside and open it later!

  2. I really like the idea of adding the note saying it's for her for later. Thanks for the great ideas!

  3. Great list! Love the sticky note idea. And the put it aside for later note!

  4. Diane1:30 PM

    Excellent Ideas! And yes flowers are always wonderful but having them in a vase is priceless....

    Have a Happy Holiday Season...and yes, hostess gifts are my favorite to give and receive...

  5. I agree on all counts! When I get wine as a hostess gift I usually ask if they would like me to open it or save it and I do as they say. Luckily they almost always say to save it!

  6. Great tip on setting aside the gift for later! I always feel awkward if the hostess opens it right away in front of everyone else. While it is their own preference on when to open it, I feel like it becomes a competition to see who brought the best gift, when that's not the idea at all.