Best gifts for a host

May 24, 2012 at 7:00 a.m. ET

So you're heading out to a great party, and the host is planning on making this an event to remember! Whether you're off to a simple dinner at a friend's house or the party of the decade, proper etiquette dictates you bring the hostess a gift. But what to bring? Here are some suggestions.

Greeting guests

The phase "Never go to a party empty-handed" has been the mantra of many mothers through many generations, and that advice should be taken to heart. A gift for the host is an appropriate gesture to show your appreciation for the invitation as well as all the work the host has put into pulling the dinner, party or event together. Here are some suggestions for host gifts that stand the test of time and will be appreciated by even the most discerning host.

A bottle of wine

A bottle of wine may seem like a typical choice for a gift, but you'd be hard pressed to find a host who doesn't appreciate it! Gift a vintage or grape varietal your host particularly enjoys, and remember that it's a gift first and foremost, and as such, there shouldn't be an expectation of it to be opened the night of the party. Take it one step further, and wrap up a bottle of their favourite Scotch, liqueur or even a homemade vodka infusion.

Party essentials

To a host, receiving a gift of party essentials is slightly akin to heaven on earth! Have your host be forever grateful by gifting such items as a set of cool swizzle sticks, exquisite crystal glasses, fun cocktail napkins, funky bar tools, fragrant candles and trendy serving ware. A hand blown glass decanter, a set of linen tableware, kitchen towels or pretty coasters are also nice ideas. For greater impact, combine a few coordinating gifts together, and add them to a decorated basket.

Foodie ideas

Treat your host to a delicious homemade foodie gift. Bring out your inner chef and give them a sampling of homemade truffles, a fruit syrup or a selection of beautifully bottled infused oils. Another option is to gift a ribbon-wrapped tin of cookies, scrumptious squares or homemade candy, and they will easily become a favourite present.

Sentimental favourites

Your host will undoubtedly appreciate any gift you present them with, but there are a few things that might pull on their heartstrings a bit more. A personally arranged flower basket, a mini-scrapbook of photo memories, a handwritten card, personalized stationery or a framed photo will all do the trick.

Other gift ideas

  • A potted houseplant
  • A fresh herb plant
  • A silver picture frame
  • A small file of personal recipe cards
  • A theme basket. One example would be to create an Italian cooking basket filled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, amaretti cookies, a bottle of wine , a large chunk of parmigiano reggiano and red-and-white checkered napkins.
  • A guest book
  • A coffee-table book of photos

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