From office parties to festive dinners, from elegant soirees to family gatherings, the holiday season is filled with a flurry of social engagements. And with each RSVP you might be wondering, should I bring a hostess gift? And if so, what kind of gift? We know the feeling, we’ve been there too! While shopping for your best friend or true love may not present any difficulty in this merry season of gift-giving, choosing the right hostess gift can seem completely daunting! So to take the guesswork out of choosing a hostess gift, we created a quick reference guide to hostess gift giving etiquette.
1. Always bring a hostess gift: The first rule is the most important: you should always bring something! A hostess gift is a way of thanking someone for the time, energy, and resources it takes to throw a party. And keep in mind that presentation goes a long way – even a little tissue, cute gift tag, or thoughtful DIY wrapping instantly elevates any present.
2. A hostess gift needn’t break the bank: A hostess gift doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, since it really is the thought that counts. It’s standard to spend between $15 and $30. Some of our faithful standbys for hostess gifts are a nice bottle of wine (you can ask a knowledgeable salesperson for assistance in a wine shop), a flower arrangement (in a simple vase to make things easier for your hostess), a beautifully scented candle for the home, small potted plants, or fancy edibles like chocolate truffles, nice jams, spiced nuts, gourmet tea or coffee, and specialty olive oil.
3. A hostess gift for ever type of party: While you should always bring a gift, what you bring should take its cues from the kind of party you’ve been invited to. If it’s a more casual dinner party with good friends, your gift can be something more low key like a bottle of wine or a specialty food gift. Remember that anytime you bring wine or food to a dinner party the hostess is not obligated to serve it, so never assume or suggest that the Pinot you brought be opened! If you’re going to a fancier dinner party, or to the home of someone you don’t know as well, a more formal hostess gift like flowers or something lovely for the home is a nice touch. Around the festive season it’s also nice to bring something holiday related, like an ornament or a holiday gift basket.
4. Best friend or co-worker or mother-in-law?: In addition to considering the formality of the occasion, before choosing a hostess gift you should consider your relationship with the hostess. Is this an office party or gathering at your boss’s house? Then leave the more personal gifts like soap or bath salts for a party at your best friend’s house, and opt for flowers. If you know someone’s reading taste, then bringing a book you think they will like from a list of this year’s best-sellers is a charming gift. But if you don’t know someone’s tastes, it’s better to stick to faithful standbys like a nice bottle of wine. If you know your hostess has a green thumb, then you can bring a houseplant, but if you’re not sure, it’s best to bring a floral arrangement rather than something she will have to water and take care of long after the dinner party.
5. An old-fashioned thank you: In this modern age, it’s quite likely that you will text message or e-mail your hostess after a wonderful evening to say what a lovely time you had. But you should also take the old-fashioned route when it comes to saying thank you this season! We believe in reviving the lost art of the handwritten thank you note, so pen your sincere thanks to your hostess on some pretty stationery. Because nothing can top a simple handwritten note of gratitude.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a charming hostess gift, be sure to take a peek in our holiday gift guide to bring along to your next festive fete! Happy holidays!