By Paul Kenny
You have been invited to a dinner party and you have to bring something for the hostess. What should we bring? It is never an easy answer. We all have been given and received things we really don’t need or want. There are two gifts with which you can’t go wrong (wine and flowers) and past that there are gifts for the person and the occasion. Here are a few suggestions that could help:
You can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of wine. Even if the hostess has recently returned from rehab she can always re-gift a good bottle. My favorite gift came from a friend that knows her wine. She wrote a note on the bottle saying that it is one of her husband’s favorites. The bad part is that I am still saving the bottle waiting on the right occasion.
My daughter has a friend from London. Amy is very proper and always brings flowers tied together with a nice ribbon. Everyone loves flowers. A gorgeous ribbon instead of a vase cut the expense.
If you are being invited to an out of town dinner party bringing a box of candy from a good candy store from your hometown always works. Maple Syrup is also a nice choice.
4. Cheese Board/Serving Set
You can get a nice cheese board at a gift shop relatively inexpensively that makes a nice gift. We have a friend that is the queen of the great hostess gift that once told me the best reaction she has ever received was on a cheese board.
5. Bees Wax Candles
While packaging is key to all gifts, it is worthy of its own category. A great example comes from my mom. My dad was a college dean. His University bought a college that used to be a Catholic college and had a convent on the property. At Christmas dad made my mom buy gifts for the 30 nuns at the convent. She bought them a small nic-nac from Bergdorf Goodman. The packaging made the gift and the nuns are still praying for my father. Another reason packaging is worthy of its own category is that there are great gift bags and wine bottle sacks that are worthy of re-gifting.
7. Holiday Baskets
Around the holidays there are all kinds of gifts that come into play. Ornaments and candy dishes are just a few examples that can be combined with wine, cheese, candy and a stunning basket to make the gift. While baskets are fun they can be hard on the budget.
So you have been invited to a dinner party. It is pretty safe to say that your hostess entertains. She can always use some interesting napkins. Many gift shops even sell napkins with initials on them. A fun combination is napkins with matching candles all tied up with a nice ribbon.
9. Pro V 1’s
OK golf balls aren’t exactly a hostess gift. But Titleist Pro V 1’s are as good as currency to just about any golfer and they are expensive. The good news is that Titleist and now other manufacturers run promotions every spring where you buy 3 dozen and get a 4th dozen free. The one caveat is that you need to have them personalized so that they can’t be resold with the lower price. I get them personalized with “THANKS” and then give as gifts when I get invited to someone’s club or want to make a dinner party host really happy.
10. Object D’art
A really nice piece of art (some may call them chotskies) makes a great hostess gift. This type of gift is a little risky and can get very expensive. Last year we were in Poland where the local currency is 4 to 1 to the US dollar and we saw some beautiful art that would cost hundreds in the USA, but was under $20. We bought a few pieces, but wish we had bought dozens. The risk falls into the category of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so it helps to know your audience.
Earlier I mentioned my friend who is the queen of the hostess gift. A few years ago she moved to a new town. When she hosted her first dinner party she received a wide array of gifts. She told me that now that her new friends know her they just bring wine.
When you are hosting a dinner party people usually ask “What can we bring?” We always say bring a bottle of wine. You will wind up with a wide array. Chances are you will get a few gems and some may even be inscribed. The rest, you can re-gift to your sisters.
Of course, the perfect hostess dinner party gift is a great book. Impromptu Friday Nights – Guide to Supper Clubs will be coming out from Morgan James Publishing in January and will be available through all the major outlets.