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The Art of the Hostess Gift

The Art of the Hostess Gift

Being a party guest 101: Never show up empty-handed. It’s always appropriate to bring a gift to the host or hostess. Though we have gotten casual as a society around gifts for the party-thrower, it’s time we show hostesses how much we appreciate their hard work and effort putting on a soiree. Considering your average home party costs hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to throw, bringing along a small token of your gratefulness goes a long way. These gifts don’t have to be elaborate or expensive—it’s thoughtfulness that counts. Here are some ideas.

Wine or Alcohol

Bringing a beverage is the most common host and hostess gift. Think about the type of alcohol your host drinks. Is he a big gin guy? Does she always order Sancerre at girl’s night? Is tequila always on offer at their parties? Look for a style in a moderate price point ($25 to $50) to offer. If you cannot think of anything, a bottle Champagne from classic houses, like Ruinart or Bollinger, is always a welcome treat. Then, wrap it in a nice box or bag—don’t bring it in a the black plastic bag from the liquor store down the street. In fact, most liquor and wine shops will provide complimentary gift wrap for you.

I do often see a major faux pas when guests bring alcohol: guests expect the wine or whiskey to be opened. Sometimes they ask and other times they just open the bottle they brought! This is actually considered rude. Beverages brought as gifts are left to the discretion of the host to open or not to open. Many times, modern hostess do end up using the gifted wine as additional stock for the party, potluck-style, but this can never be assumed by the guest.


I, for one, am a hostess who also have a small obsession with coffee table books. I’ll take an Assouline book on just about anything and I cannot say no to a gorgeous cookbook. These, and more literary options, make fantastic hostess gifts. Choose a subject matter you know your host likes to learn about, and search for a book that fits. For example, does the host love Milk Bar cakes? Take along a beautifully wrapped Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook.

Flowers & Plants

Who doesn’t appreciate a gorgeous bouquet of seasonal blooms or a terrarium of succulents? Consider gifting your hostess fresh flowers, potted orchids, house plants, herbs, or even seed and bulbs to grow in the garden. It’s sure to brighten his or her day!

Serving Dishes

One thing any hostess loves is a new cheeseboard, am I right? Any type of serving dish, from cocktail stirrers and coasters to a cake plate, are perfect contributions to your host’s home. Like alcohol, think about the types of canapes and party snacks your host often serves. Use that as a guide to decide what sort of serving dish to gift. You can also gift linens, such as fabric cocktail napkins or a seasonal tablecloth for her to add to the rotation.

Candles & Diffusers

Another popular host gift is any type of home fragrance, like candles, diffusers, and incense. Pick an offensive scent and go for it! One thoughtful twist is to gift your favorite candle and scent. For instance, I love giving Diptyque’s Benjoin candle, as it’s my go-to fragrance by my top brand. For friends and family whom I know prefer diffusers, my favorite is a California brand, P.F. Candle Co. I absolutely love their Teak and Tobacco reed diffuser.

Chocolate & Sweets

It’s tough for most people to say no to chocolate and sweets, and that goes for your host, too. Bring along a sweet treat, such as chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat or macarons from Laduree. Recently, I discovered Sweeter Cards, which is basically a chocolate bar in a greeting card. It just made by the best treat and sweet combination I’ve seen for a hostess!

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