For the Hostess with the Mostest – Hostess/Host Gift Ideas

And Voila…we are Smack dab in the midst of the holiday season…and  no doubt many of us will be attending holiday soires and extravaganzas (or just quaint gatherings with friends), so I thought I’d touch upon Hostess Gifts…when is it appropriate and when is it required along with some gift ideas.  Now truth be told, I may have fall “off” a few holiday soire lists, because truly I’m only invited to a handful of parties this year (well, perhaps 9, but I’m really fun at parties).    And I shall blame Kevin for that (Kidding, of course). 🙂

According to Emily Post (and she does know all regarding Etiquette), here are some basic guidelines:  

When should I bring a Host or Hostess gift?

Cocktail party
Host and Hostess gifts are completely optional for cocktail parties. But if you’re in a generous mood, a bottle of wine or a batch of blueberry muffins for the next morning—or, for the holidays, something seasonal, like an ornament—would be thoughtful. Be sure to enclose a gift card so the host won’t wonder whose thought it was that counts.

Dinner party
Yes, bring a gift, but keep it simple and under $25. Anything that distracts the host may be a nuisance. A bottle of wine, a small potted plant, a flower arrangement already in a vase, candles, or soaps are better bets. Present the gift to your host when you arrive, or leave it on an entry way table if your host isn’t there to greet you.

Casual get together such as brunch
A gift is optional. You may choose instead to bring something to the meal—a side dish, dessert or drink. But ask: just showing up with a tray of Danish puts the host on the spot.

Overnight stay
A gift is mandatory. You can present the gift upon your arrival, during your stay, or after your exit. Consider giving your hosts something you note in the course of your visit that would be right for them, like a tray that goes with their color scheme. The longer the stay, the more expensive or elaborate the gift. For example, for a weekend stay, you may decide to send flowers. If you’ve stayed for three nights or more, a gift certificate to the host’s favorite spa or restaurant would be a good bet.

What do you give the host who has everything?
Everyone likes a thank-you. Even the simplest token can have an impact—flowers, homemade jam, or a batch of your fabulous chocolate cookies.

Should you send something if you’re not attending?
There’s no need to send a gift to a host or hostess if you’re not attending the event.

If I call a host the next day to thank her, must I also send a note? Is an email acceptable?
A call the next day is always thoughtful. For a dinner party, a phone call is enough. For informal gatherings among close friends, either a call or an email is fine. But after an overnight visit, a handwritten note is the way to go.  My friends and I say the Recapping can sometimes be better than the actual party!  But not always. 😉

If a dinner party guest brings me a special gift, should I acknowledge that thank-you gesture with a thank-you note?
A verbal thanks is sufficient. But if you didn’t get to thank your guests at the party, you do need either to call or to drop a short note so that your guest knows you received the gift.

If I bring a gift or a contribution to a dinner, do I still need to send a thank-you note afterward?
If you’ve brought a gift or contributed to dinner and said thanks verbally for a wonderful evening, a written note isn’t necessary.

When to give?
If it’s a dinner party, offer your gift when you arrive. Overnight guests can give upon arrival or during their stay. A gift can also be sent once you return home, once you’ve had a chance to see what the host may need.

More specific Hostess Gift Ideas –

A hostess gift says, “I appreciate being invited.” It needn’t to be extravagant or showy. But when in doubt, give chocolate. (San Francisco Chronicle).

Bottle of Veuve Clicquot (or other bubbly) with a set of snappy cocktail napkins – one of my favorite hostess gifts

Gift certificate for a foot massage or a manicure or pedicure – you can NEVER go wrong with this (and you can get a killer deal on some great local ones via Groupon or Amazon Local).

Home-made cookies or candy – my friend Shari’s husband makes the world’s best toffee…it’s worth an invite for them to come over, to get some toffee.

Scarf – I’ve even blogged about scarves…and works for Men and Women!  And you don’t have to get them from Etcetera or J. Hilburn (though it would be nice if you did)…Target, Kohl’s or T J Maxx are great places to find scarves less than $15.

Book on a subject you know she (he) loves –  Fashion, Decorating, Comedy, etc

Gift certificate for a Movie – would provide a nice little outing for the host and or hostess after a lovely event. 

His and hers slippers

iTunes cards, so if they’d like, they can buy new music during the party add it to the playlist, and Voila…and before you say no one would ever do that, I got the idea from my friend Stephanie who has been doing this for years!

Frame, and take picture of the group, or hostess, and send photo after party

Bottle of Wine of Liquor – I heard a commercial for “Bailey’s Irish Cream” and I must acquiesce, that’s a great hostess gift during the holidays.

Conversation cards – $25 – with topics to start witty and engaging conversations

Game – can be one to be used at party.  May I suggest Apples to Apples?

Chocolates – Godiva, Vosges, Fannie May, or a personal favorite of theirs.

Cookbooks – there are so, so many to choose from.  I have never gotten rid of a cookbook, I always keep them.

Mug with Starbuck’s gift card – with a note “Thanks A LATTE for the Great time (or the invite)”

Snow Globe – I mention these, because I collect them, and think everyone should as well. 🙂

Centerpiece to be used for event – it doesn’t have to be a floral arrangement.  These were made from old wine bottles.  There may be a few of those floating around my house.

Powder room hand soap and lotion – Williams Sonoma has a wonderful Evergreen-scented version for the holidays

Fingertip Towels for Powder Room – monogrammed fingertip guest towels

Ornament – I like to hang an ornament around a bottle of wine, with snappy cocktail napkins.

Bath Products – I still love these, but heard someone on a talk show speaking about how every teacher gets “hundreds of bath products for Christmas each year”…I guess the teachers will be super clean!

Stationary  You can give monogrammed, or themed (I have lots with shoes and purses), and of course, “funny, snarky stationary…My friend Stephanie gave me some that said, “I have so much fun, I should be famous”…and even with 65,000 views on my blog, my kids still don’t think I’m famous.

Five “After Dark” Shopping totes – my friend Kim suggested these, and they’re a great idea!  They’re $40 for 5 of them ($8/piece), and they’re great to use at the Farmer’s Market or grocery store or to carry an extra pair of shoes. 

Good manners are always becoming.   Be a good guest.  Say thank you.  Be appreciative, so you receive another invite. 🙂



Deck the Halls:

(Thanks, LAP)


  1. FAB as always T! Here’s something to add to a most marvelous roster of ideas… as a gag gift or, well, for anyone who doesn’t have a fireplace. Walgreen’s has a DVD for THREE DOLLARS, yes, THREE DOLLARS, of five fireplace scenes PLUS a Christmas music DVD. The fireplace includes crackling audio… fun!

  2. Love these ideas. I’m very tempted to invite you to a very small party at my house, in hopes you bring some Veuve!

  3. My Dearest T…..You simply have the best ideas and this blog has wonderful ideas. I believe in this gift process and practice it all the time. A little something always goes a long way and you most certainly will be invited back! And always remember, a hand-written note is appreciated by the recipient and only takes a moment of your time to do. It is a lost art and one that should be brought back. Happy Holidays!

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