‘Tis the season for parties and gatherings. That means it’s also the season for practicing and perfecting social etiquette. Today we’re tackling host gifts. If you’re invited to someone’s home for a meal, party, or event, it is only right that you bring a small gift to show your appreciation to the host. This person is inviting you in, feeding you, entertaining you, and cleaning up after you when you leave. Give them a token to show you acknowledge their hospitality. What you bring depends on the occasion.
For attending dinner at someone’s home, flowers or a bottle of wine (assuming they drink) is appropriate. No need to buy an expensive arrangement from the florist–go to the supermarket and pick up a $15 bouquet from the flower section. You can get away with spending the same amount on a bottle of wine as a host gift. People used to be very strict about what food should be paired with what wine, but these days the general consensus is drink what you like. If you don’t know much about wine, go to a wine shop or liquor store and tell the clerk how much you want to spend, and ask what recommendations they have. Tie some ribbon around the neck of the bottle and curl the ends with a pair of scissors or buy an accompanying wine gift bag. You can also buy these bags in sets or bulk if you think you’ll be giving a lot of wine this season. I especially love the Etsy shop Towne9 for wine gift bags:
For going to a party, beer, wine, or a bottle of liquor is always appropriate. Food is typically welcome, too, especially if it’s a casual party where there are appetizers out, and people are expected to graze all evening. Ask the host for an idea of what kind of dish would be most helpful (if she’s already got 10 people bringing dessert, she might appreciate a salad or dip instead of more brownies). One caveat to this suggestion: don’t bring food if it’s a fancy, catered affair. You don’t want to be Michael Scott.
Store-bought potato salad on sterling silver dishware. Klassy.
Besides the usual booze and food (see rules above), I love holiday gatherings as an opportunity to gift something a little different. Sarah had the great idea to bring a centerpiece to a gathering. What a nice gesture–it saves the host from having to buy something costly to decorate the table, or make something, which takes time that s/he probably doesn’t have what with all the cooking. Centerpieces are especially great if they’re made by you. I’m doing this one from lifestyle blogger Jessica Burns for my own Thanksgiving table–totally easy and it really captures the spirit of the season:
If you want to branch out a little, consider bringing more personalized gifts, either in addition to a standard gift, or instead of one. For instance, if your host is crazy about their dogs, a little package of gourmet doggie treats would be most welcome. If your host recently had a baby, an age-appropriate toy or book for the newcomer is a sweet gesture. Think about what is going on in the host’s life, and personalize a gift with that information in mind.
Happy Holidays from the gals of The Pretty Guinea Pig!