Bay Formalities

Hostess Gifts — When are They Appropriate?

By Annie Horgan

          It’s inevitable. You accepted an invitation to a party weeks ago and you’re dressed and walking to the car when you realize you’ve forgotten a hostess gift. Is it really necessary and if so, what to do?

A hostess gift is always the best way to say thanks for the hospitality, whether for a meal, cocktail gathering, a long weekend or sometimes just because. It doesn’t need to be expensive or even well thought out. Just make it appropriate for the occasion. A generic gift like chocolates or a nice bottle of olive oil with a festive ribbon will always be appreciated. Emily Post says not to bring food and if you bring a bottle of wine, don’t expect the host to open it for that occasion. And never bring something that requires more work for the host. If you bring flowers, bring them in a vase.
Tips for gifts: It’s all about the packaging. Have personalized gift or wine tags made. They’re inexpensive and add such a nice touch to a gift. Like my friend Vicki, who is always prepared, keep some generic gifts at home. When you need them, you have them on hand. While we travel, we purchase hostess gifts to have available for any upcoming occasion. While vacationing, we have the time and there are always nice gift shops to choose from. Here are a few easy generic ideas suitable for most anyone and any occasion:

  • chocolates
  • seasonal plant
  • candles
  • flavored oils (Cleo’s is a favorite)
  • homemade treats
  • dish towels
  • ornament fitting for the season
  • small book
    Keep those gift tags and a pen in your glove compartment, then should it be necessary to pick up a bottle of wine or champagne (always fun and festive) on the way to a party, you’ll be ready.

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