When going to a dinner party or visiting someone, it is polite to show gratitude by bringing a gift for your hosts. This doesn’t need to cost a lot of money and neither does it have to be complicated. The cost and size of the gift is not important, instead the focus should be on what the person will like. Here we’ll look at some creative, some unique and some affordable hostess gift ideas for the next time you’re invited over.
A personal gift to the host or hostess
If you know the host or hostess well creative hostess gift ideas could include a rare book on their favourite subject or the latest album from their favourite band. If you are not so well acquainted, traditional hostess gift ideas include a bouquet of flowers, a food-basket, or a bottle of wine. Use your discretion when choosing your gift so as not to cause offence, remember the gift is not for you, so don’t gift a tray of cheese to a vegan!
Grand gestures embarrass the hosts and can make you appear desperate for acceptance. Home-made gifts add a personal touch so consider making gourmet sugars with lavender or rose petal that are easy to make and can be placed in pretty little glass jars with delicately created labels for a custom touch. Sweet breads and other baked goods can be wrapped in colourful cellophane, placed in a box and tied with twine. If you’re not a baker, a set of herbs like basil, oregano, and marjoram in decorated pots and placed together in a pretty container are both practical and decorative. You can also create your own customised tea bags to include chamomile, ginger, fennel, or mint for a unique blend of different variations to be wrapped in cheesecloth and boxed.
When you arrive, pass across your gift at the door so that it can be put it away before other guests arrive. If the gift is wrapped let your host or hostess open it at their own discretion.
Hostess gift ideas for dinner do not usually include flowers as these require the hostess to scramble to trim stems and find a vase. However, a casual mix of flowers arranged in a pretty vessel is acceptable.
Don’t expect your gifted food or drink to be served while you are there. If the hostess wants you to bring a dish to share, she will ask when giving you the invitation.
Sometimes the host may choose to share your gifted food and drink during the party. If that happens, etiquette states that you wait until everyone else has had a chance to try whatever it is before you. Also, it is up to the hostess to tell everyone where the gift came from, so do not announce this to the group yourself.
The same etiquette rules apply for Christmas hostess gifts as to other hostess gift ideas. What is different at Christmas is that you can add to the range of gifts to include an ornament, holiday-themed baked goods, or holiday-flavoured liqueur. There are plenty of great Xmas gifts that will make a favourable impression.
A gift for a host or hostess who has invited you to stay overnight should be a little more than a dinner party gift in acknowledgement of the preparations made for your stay, including extra laundry, cleaning, and additional meals. Some ideas include tickets to dinner and an event. A gourmet food basket, a wine basket with a couple of wine glasses. Perhaps there is an item the host or hostess has specifically mentioned wanting.
A house-warming party or open house is an event where your gift could be something suitable for the new home. This could be something simple like dish-towels (use them to make a cloth carrier for a couple of bottles of wine), picture frames, non-scented tapered candles, a basket of home-made treats or something you know the host or hostess want. If you want to give a traditional house-warming gift, give it a modern twist, with a painting of a shoe or adding luxury items to a food basket.
Meeting Future In-Laws
If you are visiting the home of your future in-laws, a gift can help alleviate everyone’s nerves. Remember, they’re likely to be nervous too. Consider flower arrangements in a vase, a basket of wine and cheese or a coffee or tea basket
Etiquette after the dinner, party, or overnight stay
As soon as possible after you return home, send a handwritten thank you note to the host or hostess, even if you brought a gift. The note is just a simple show of gratitude and does not have to be long. If you have some good photos from your visit, send these to your hosts.