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When Should I Bring a Hostess Gift?

Posted on December 10, 2012 10:46 AM by Lizzie Post

When is a hostess gift appropriate?


Holiday Party:
Bring a hostess gift. Something festive or seasonal is particularly appropriate.

Suggested Gifts: Sea salt caramels, homemade cookies, specialty food items like flavored oils and vinegars, scented candles, holiday ornaments or holiday-themed decorations such as hand towels or napkin rings.

Casual Get-together:
For a casual dinner party, it’s fine to bring a hostess gift, but not always necessary. If you’re getting together with close friends who you dine with often, you don’t have to bring a gift. You might contribute something to the meal, or you may reciprocate with a dinner invitation of your own during the holiday season.

Suggested Gifts: Wine, champagne, flowers (preferably in a vase), a potted plant, holiday chocolates, specialty food items such as jams or jellies, or other condiments, fancy nuts, olives, olive oil, or vinegars, or items for the house, such as cocktail napkins, guest soaps, or a scented candle.

Cocktail Party or Buffet:
It’s appropriate to bring an inexpensive gift to this kind of a gathering.

Suggested Gifts:
Cute, festive or personalized cocktail napkins, bar accessories, wine glass charms, bottle toppers and, of course, wine or liquor. 

Large Formal Dinner Party:
Gifts aren’t usually taken to large, formal dinners, especially if you don’t know the hosts well. Do send a handwritten thank-you note the following day.

Overnight Visit:

Either bring or send a gift. Your gift choice will depend on the length of your stay and how elaborately you’re entertained. Your gift should be sincere, thoughtful, personal and fit your budget. One of my favorites is the Holiday Tower of Treasures.

Suggested Gifts: Vase or bowl from a known glass blower, collection of bath products, gift certificate to a local restaurant, desk calendar for the coming year, sturdy monogrammed tote, a nice set of nesting bowls for the kitchen, or a collection of holiday truffles.

What to Wear?
Your hostess gift is purchased and wrapped. You’re ready for the party, except for one thing—what to wear? Often holiday invitations arrive with attire recommendations that can be difficult to decipher. Festive attire. Holiday casual. If you’re stumped about what to wear, visit our Emily Post attire guide.