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Best Hostess Gifts: Proper Gifting Etiquette

We all know that planning an event, whether it be a small dinner party or a weeklong visit from relatives or friends, can be a lot of work. For a dinner party you must plan a menu, check with guests for food allergies, buy the ingredients and accompaniments needed, and put it all together with enough time for you to get ready before the people arrive. Overnight visits include preparing the room(s) that will be occupied by the company, planning meals and activities, and organizing your home in other ways to make guests more comfortable. Many guests like to acknowledge those efforts with a present, often called a host/hostess gift.

What should I bring as a host/hostess gift?

This question is not so easy to answer, as it can vary based on the type and size of the event, how long you will be there and how well you know the person hosting. The default gift for a small dinner party is often a bottle of wine, or some other beverage of choice. Vivino offers this wine selection guide for events that is very handy. Be sure that if you are trying to bring a food gift that it’s wanted for that meal or can be used later. One way to bring these items to them is in a reusable wine bag or gift bag, it’s a great gift that they can re-use for themselves or pass it on the next time they give the same gift to another host.

Maybe your party, group or event is alcohol-free, check out these host gift ideas for some fun alternatives! Coasters, food dish covers, or candles are all good choices and if you know the host well you grab something that matches their style(s).

How to choose the perfect hostess gift?

Longer stays are a bit more complex because the person has opened their home, which typically includes more of their time and effort. Besides being a clean and courteous guest, you’ll want to show your appreciation with some sort of gift and offer to cook or take them out for a meal. These kitchen towels in black and white would be a nice gift, that is not going to clash if you don’t know what color scheme your host is currently using.

Now this is where your personal relationship can influence your gift choices. A set of something like matching placemats, napkins and coasters that complements their décor can be very thoughtful. Check out our tablescape collections to find just the right thing.

What makes the perfect hosting gift?

The better you know your host the more intimate your gift choice should be, and gender can also influence your selection. Take a few minutes to reflect on your relationship, and what you know is valuable to them. Then start looking for things that align with that vision.  Example: your host is a woman who lives near a beach and visits often, then a beach cover-up might be a nice option that’s harder to get the wrong size for.

The best gifts almost always have a personal element to them, they are tokens to show appreciation and they can show your host how you feel about them. Even wine can be a personal gift when you know their favorite type, brand or flavor. Suppose your host is an old college roommate, and you have known each other for 20 years, grab a bottle of their favorite high-end liquor and then use the wine bag as beautiful eco-friendly packaging.   

 When should you not bring a host/hostess gift? 

If the host insists that you do not bring anything, then respect their insistence. There are some more subtle ways to show your appreciation for sure. Clearing the table and or doing the dishes is good thanks, appropriate for a dinner party. We have even seen some fabulous guests quietly step in to help the host(s) socialize by helping to make sure drinks are kept full and company is enjoying themselves!

When attending gatherings that don’t provide an appropriate opportunity to give  in that setting, you can tell your recipient that you have a gift for them in your vehicle. Remember to escort them out if they leave early, or ask them to escort you if leaving first.oA get-together at a restaurant, for example, isn’t always the right place. Often those places don’t like to see outside items brought in, especially if it’s a beverage. Instead buy the table a bottle or a round of drinks. At a larger formal party like a fundraiser or a work holiday party may not call for a gift either, according to Emily Post. A post event thank you note, or a reciprocal invite is rarely in poor taste, when you still want to show some appreciation.