25 January 2010

Guest Etiquette Tip: Don't Forget a Gift for the Host!

Following up on an entertaining etiquette post earlier this year, we thought we'd offer some ideas to help gracious guests with what to bring the host or hostess.  Here's a short list of items ~ all around $40 or less ~ shared by other Savvy Hosts as hostess gifts they greatly enjoyed receiving (or giving!).

1. Flowers or potted plant ~ fresh cut flowers are always appropriate, but if you are feeling a little creative, consider a seasonal green plant or potted herbs (see Photo from www.proflowers.com).  Note: if you are incredibly organized, you can arrange for these to be delivered directly to the host on the day of the event ~ we use ProFlowers for easy online ordering and delivery (flowers arrive in a long box!).
2. Wine or champagne ~ this can be a challenge if your host is a sommelier (or similar), but don't stress too much on the points and ratings.  Either bring a bottle of something you know and enjoy ~ or simply ask at the wine store for an "interesting" recommendation within your price range.  For a celebration, a bottle of sparkling wine or champagne is a guaranteed winner ~ and even authentic French Champagne can be found around $30-$35.
3. Chocolates or candy ~ even local grocery stores now stock gourmet chocolate truffles and sea-salt caramels.  It's easier than ever to find a lovely gift box of something sweet to offer your host. The Savvy Host is crazy for Vosges ~ conveniently available online, at Whole Foods, and in the airport!!
4. Nuts or specialty snack ~ prefer salty rather than sweet?  There are many options to choose from - but try to find items that are well-packaged for a gift.  We like the 1lb assorted tins from Garrett's Popcorn (a Chicago classic starting at $28) or Dean & Deluca's Asian Snack Mix ($14) or Harvest Nut Mini Bar ($22) both available online.
5. Specialty Candle or Soap ~ we're not referring to tapers or a box of Irish Spring of course ;-)  Our favorite candles are 100% soy Colette's Candles, packaged in an elegant mini-hatbox in such delicious scents as French Fig, Mod Lavendar, Southern Pear and California Chai ranging from $18-$26 (available from SavvyHostMarket!).  Gift sets of hostess soaps are also a good idea - Mistral offers a beautiful wooden gift box set of 9 bars for $19!.
6. Serving Piece or Utensil - there are many unique and distinctive serving utensils or pieces that could make a perfect gift for the host, especially if their event or gathering is more elaborate.  We like Wild Eye Design's High-Heel Cake Server ($20), our Bauhaus Bread/Fruit Basket in Red, Black or Silver ($26.95 - see photo below) or the Island Bamboo Salad & Pasta Servers ($24.99) from Amazon.
7. Hors d'Oeuvres accessory - especially around a holiday occasion, we find that sets of accessories to use with the cocktail nibble or hors d'oeuvres are appreciated.  Cheese knives or spreaders are very popular hostess gifts.  Even a special demitasse spoon set for the host who loves their cappuccino or tea works well. 
8. Napkin Rings - One of the easiest ways for a hostess to update table decor is with a unique set of napkin rings. And, with so many hosts and hostesses focusing on "green" entertaining and eco-friendly households, there is renewed interest in using cloth napkins which beg for napkin rings.  Stockholm Enamel Napkin Rings in Black & White (set of 4, $19.95) pictured to the right with the Bauhaus Bread/Fruit Basket.
9. Wine or Bar accessories - another creative area of host gifts revolves around the bar and around wine.  Hosts and hostesses will enjoy accessories that add pizzazz to their wining & cocktail-ing including wine stoppers, wine drip collar, or wine grips, specialty olive & garnish picks, and humorous cocktail napkins.
10. Themed item to match the occasion - if the gathering has a theme - a "Mexican Fiesta" or an "afternoon BBQ" or an "Italian Pasta Night" consider bringing a hostess gift to complement the theme ~ a CD of Louis Prima music, or a Molcajete (pictured above from Crate & Barrel, at $32.95) for making guacamole, or Grill Charms (pictured below at $19.95) for the BBQ enthusiast who has every possible grilling accessory.

The moral of the story ~ a gracious guest doesn't forget a host/hostess gift!  Any of these gift ideas ~ and so many more creative options within a reasonable budget ~ will keep you on any Savvy Host's "A" list.


Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle said...

It's always a nice gesture and doesn't have to be expensive. I have a boutique and carry a great small cheese knife by a well known French firm. $8 but still a special thank you.

But I think some people confused. I've had people bring a bottle of wine to an event at my home; if we didn't get to their bottle, they'll grab it on the way out and take it back with them! I would rather they not bring anything than further this practice!

And not a great time for re-gifting. People know, trust me!:)

the savvy host said...

you hit the nail on the head about re-gifting ;-). thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm a Southern gal transplanted to Montana, and the best hostess gift I've received during this season of houseguests: 4 pounds of real, stone ground grits from Charleston, South Carolina, and a jar of Duke's mayo! Regional specialties are always a winner, especially ones the hostess has to otherwise order via internet.
Courtney Fullerton

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