Dinner party? Sweet. Weekend at your friends’ beach house? Even sweeter. And then, on your way there, you realize that you meant to bring something—flowers or wine or that salad you promised to make. You can always make a quick stop at the grocery store or gourmet shop for a last-minute gift. But even better is bringing a “hostess gift.” It’s an old-fashioned term for good taste and proper manners, and those never go out of style.
My recommendation is to stock up on a few types of hostess gifts so you’ll be prepared to show your appreciation every time you’re invited for a meal, a barbecue or a weekend away.
The hostess gift is similar to a holiday and birthday present, in that is should reflect the personality or tastes of the recipient. What sets the hostess gift apart from other gifts is that it also celebrates the recipient’s hosting, cooking, dinner-party-throwing or bar-tending skills. Let’s take a look.
For the wine connoisseur, there is always wine. But, I get a bit nervous when buying wine for that friend who actually knows something about wine. It’s like picking out a book for a librarian. Instead, I like to bring something that goes well with wine—which is, in my humble opinion, just about anything. (In a hurry? Get some fancy cheeses and put them on a gift plate.)
For the friend who knows nothing about wine, you might want to bring a guide to wine pairing—printed on organic cotton kitchen towels.
For the math guy (or gal), I like this “pi” bottle opener. I think it’s new enough (that is, I haven’t seen these in big chain stores yet) that the pi bottle opener is worth stocking up and bringing to most parties—from Super Bowl Sunday to Labor Day barbeques—and it will very likely be well received.
And speaking of barbecues, it’s easy to find a gift for the grill-master. Grilling is enjoying a resurgence of popularity (thank you, Paleo diet), and that makes finding a hostess (or host) gift a snap. Stores including WorldMarket, Target and even Whole Foods carry grilling tools and sauces, spices and relishes to use on the barbecue.
If you have the time, homemade gifts are always particularly lovely. And by “homemade,” I mean logging on to Etsy.com and typing “hostess gift” into the search box. My current favorite Etsy find is an herb garden kit for your favorite chef.
Finally, for that friend who has everything, think ahead so that you are not running around town looking for a unique treasure at the last minute. The next time you visit the farmers’ market, stock up on fruit preserves and local honey. Throw a couple in a gift bag; you’ll be ready for the next get-together and your hostess will thank you.
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