They may be old fashioned, but hostess gifts are still a lovely sentiment.
Hostess gifts are a nice gesture that has stood the test of time, and because it’s not done as often as it used to be, it will be that much more appreciated when it is put into practice. In fact, because hostess gifting is less common than it used to be, you should be discreet when presenting your hostess gift (as other guests may not have thought to bring a gift.)
When someone is kind enough to open up their home to you, either for an evening or for an extended amount of time, it’s polite to bring a gift to them. If you aren’t certain what to bring, you can always ask. In fact, we hope you were taught good manners and that you should always ask, “What can I bring?” to an event.
No matter what, never show up empty-handed. There really aren’t many exceptions to this rule of etiquette.
If you have a super gracious host that tells you to bring “just yourself,” should you bring a gift? Yes.
If you are given a small task like bringing a bag of ice (not to be confused with rice, believe us – this has happened), should you bring something in addition? Yes.
If it’s a last-minute casual get-together, is a gift really necessary? You betcha.
You don’t have to go nuts. Baking cookies every time you visit your dentist is bordering on cray, and we certainly aren’t suggesting that. Hostess gifts don’t have to be homemade or pricey. They are simply an acknowledgment of what went into planning an occasion and a lovely gesture of appreciation.
If you are not familiar with this concept, or if you have never really known the etiquette for bringing a hostess gift, let us enlighten you.
We’ve got the dirt on last-minute gifts (that won’t seem like a disregarded thought), unique gifts, inexpensive gifts, and more. Read on.
For a Dinner Party
Running late? Picking up a bottle of wine on the way to the party won’t conceal the fact that it was a last-minute oversight. Wine is a nice gesture but if you want your gift to be a little more thoughtful (and at least appear not to be last-minute), give the hostess something in addition to the wine, such as a wine opener or a set of new wine glasses.
For non-drinkers, last-minute gifts can include fresh flowers. Don’t forget a vase! Why? The hostess has prepared for several days, if not weeks, for this special event. When you arrive she will likely be busy with last-minute preparations as well as welcoming her guests. Bringing a ready-made bouquet in a decorative container will save her from having to leave her current tasks to locate a vase and start arranging. Remember, you want to compliment the host’s efforts with a gesture of gratitude, not burden them. Not to mention a decorative vase that they can keep is a lovely way for them to remember the occasion.
In fact, you can apply this idea to spruce up any hostess gift. Bringing an appetizer or a side salad? Transport it on a serving platter that can be added to the host’s collection. Throw in a new set of decorative tongs as a finishing touch.
For a Casual Get Together
Yes— even when you are having a last-minute BBQ or card game— you want to contribute in some way. Sure, anyone can show up with a bag of chips or M&Ms that can be thrown into a bowl, but if you want to be just a tad more generous, bring the bowl and leave it as a parting gift.
For an Overnight Stay
This one can get tricky because there is often a question of when to offer your hostess a gift of gratitude. While you don’t want to show up empty-handed, some etiquette experts suggest that waiting until after your stay will give you an opportunity to give a gift that will complement their home. This is the perfect opportunity to send a Greetabl gift to your people!
Truth? Either gesture is thoughtful and considerate. But giving both gifts in the case of an overnight stay will not be too much.
After all, it can take a lot to host an out-of-towner, so an extra gift is a small price for your host’s generosity. When you first arrive, consider bringing a delicious baked item that can be kicked in for breakfast the next day – either made by you or purchased from a local bakery. Then, surprise them with a gift in the mail that matches their home decor after you’ve left, accompanied by a letter of gratitude and your reason for choosing that particular gift. This can include coffee table books, decorative photo frames (bonus points if you can include a photo of you and the hostess during your time at their home), candles, aromatherapy, kitchen or bar items, or anything else that is customized for their home.
Whatever the occasion, bringing a hostess gift indicates that you know how much time and effort goes into hosting an event, and shows your appreciation for them. It is a social grace that should never be forgotten.