Oh, the hostess gift. A lost art in my humble opinion. I'll be honest, this tradition is something that I have also forgotten to take part in in recent years. However, this holiday season, I am hoping to revive this lost art. It is a lot of work (and money) to throw a party. The cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the decorating (if you are into that sort of thing). I will guarantee you that no hostess is throwing a party to rake in the gifts. However, it is nice to receive a little something to remember the occasion by or know that someone else was grateful for the excuse to gather. Does this mean that I will be stopping at the grocery store everytime my nearest and dearest friends invite me over for an ugly sweater party? Not unless they say we are low on wine.
We do, however, already have some parties on the calendar where co-workers are hosting housewarming parties and holiday soirees and I don't intend to show up empty-handed.
Common Questions before giving a Hostess Gift
Alex, what are you even talking about?
A hostess gift is a small token of appreciation you bring to the host(ess) of a party or someone who has opened their home to you for an overnight stay.
What occasions would I bring a hostess gift to?
- Dinner Party
- Housewarming Party
- Holiday Party
- Any party where a single person or couple is hosting in their home for someone else (graduation party, birthday party, baby shower) that isn't their immediate family.
- When someone hosts you overnight
Where can I skip the hostess gift?
- Any sort of large formal function (wedding, gala, company party, etc)
- A Potluck
- Graduation party, Birthday Party, Baby Shower where it is held by multiple people or in a public space
Some things to Consider
...aren't there always "things to consider?"
- Keep the hosts' interests in mind. If you aren't sure, stick with something simple like a bottle of wine, flowers or an item that can be used for future entertaining.
- You don't need to make a big production that you brought a gift. Slip a small tag on it thanking them for opening their home up to gather and place it on an entry table or corner of the kitchen counter.
- If you do have the opportunity to hand it to them a simple "thanks so much for having us is all that is needed"
- It is definitely acceptable to send a hostess gift after the fact. Pop something small in the mail, drop it by on their doorstep or hand it off if you are lucky enough to see them in person afterward.
How much do I spend on a Hostess Gift?
I'd say under $10 for a party and $25-50 for a long weekend or more. It's not about the cost of the item, it is about the thought. In my personal opinion, dropping a thank you card in the mail or leaving it at the party is just as thoughtful and a great inexpensive option.
Do I wrap a Hostess Gift?
You can, but there is REALLY no need. Add a tag or a card and you are good to go. If you love to tie ribbons and have a bursting collection of wrapping paper, then by all means.
Should I expect to eat/drink what I bring that evening at the party?
Most definitely NOT. The host has every right to tuck the bottle of wine, cookies, chocolate, or generous gift away for another time. They aren't expected to share or serve the item at the party.
What you are really here for...
Here we are, friends.
SO, YOU ARE HEADING TO A PARTY
- Bouquet of Flowers
- Bottle of Wine
- A local 22oz Bottle of Beer
- Roll of Freezer Cookies
- Local Chocolate (Huge Fan of Theo Chocolate here in Seattle)
- Coffee (For their hangover the next morning)
- What are the chances you did any canning this past summer?
Jams and pickles are AMAZING hostess gifts
- Flavored Salts/Seasoning Mixes
- Silicone Wine Glasses
- Local Soap
- Whiskey Stones
- Potted Plant (If they have a green thumb)
SO, YOU STAYED WITH THEM FOR A WEEKEND
- A book that you know will interest the host
- Bottle of liquor in a spirit you know the host is fond of
- Bottle of wine you would guess the host will enjoy
- A kitchen utensil or two (Go for something unique!)
- Picture frame sent after the stay with a photo from the trip
- Gift certificate for a dinner out
- Locally Made Good -- My favorite Seattle Item: Glassybaby
- A New Growler -- Bonus points if it is already filled with local beer
- A Magazine Subscription
- Your favorite game (One you also think they would enjoy)
- Coffee, tea or honey from your hometown
My own personal goal is to be more mindful of this over the holiday season. In order to not lose my mind doing this, I am planning to stock up on a couple of options and have them at home ready to go. Personally, I think I will go with a couple bottles of wine and pre-make some freezer cookies. Once I decide which to make I'll share the recipe.
What about you? Any hostess gifts you've seen and loved? Something you've considered before or do you think this is an outdated tradition?