The Hostess Gift – Knowing what to bring

The Hostess GiftThe hostess gift is a way of thanking the hostess for the time, effort, and cost involved in preparing for the event to which you are invited.  It is a good exercise in gratitude to spend a few moments considering the effort undertaken to provide a pleasurable experience for you.  This should ensure that Hostess Gifts are not seen as an unpleasant obligation, but a form of recognition and appreciation.

Upon accepting any invitation, the first question should be, “Do I need to bring a gift for the hostess*?”

The only thing that you need to consider is the type of event to which you have been invited, when ensuring that you arrive with an appropriate, considerate gift.

The discussion below is the general etiquette for hostess gifts.  Certain cultures and countries may differ, but this should send you in the right direction.

The Hostess is being handsomely compensated from a business they are representing (e.g. Company events, Tupperware parties, promotional events).

In this case, the answer is ‘No’.  You do not need to provide the hostess with a gift.  Your gratitude is expressed with your presence and you can show your thanks by supporting the business who has funded the hosting of the event.

The event is a celebration of a life event (e.g.  Wedding, Birthday, Bar Mitzvah).

Again, the answer is ‘No’.  The hostess is hosting on behalf of the people for which the event is being celebrated.  The providing of a gift for the guest/s of honor, is suitable appreciation.

However, the guest/s of honor should provide a suitable hostess gift for the hostess.

You have been invited to someone’s home (no dinner or event).

Generally, the answer is ‘No’.  The first time that you visit someone’s home, it is tradition to bring a gift “for the house”.  This is to be something for the house (e.g. napkins, soaps, candles, potted plant).

Invitation to dine at someone’s home

Yes.  This is a situation where the hostess has gone to obvious pains to create an evening for you.  Flowers or wine are the most common hostess gifts for these occasions.  If you bring flowers, you may want to offer to put them in a vase, or bring them in a vase or glass jar, to show that you are aware that they may not have the time to attend to them.  If you bring wine, a mid-range bottle is usually well-received.  Do not expect the hostess to use your bottle that evening, as they may have already planned certain wines with each course. Other hostess gift ideas include specialty food items, chocolates, olives, oils.

Invitation to dinner at restaurant (no celebration)

No.  If you are invited to a BYO restaurant, you should bring your own choice of alcohol.  However, this is not a hostess gift, but an understanding that it is not the hostesses obligation to provide you with alcohol.

An invitation for a weekend or overnight visit

Yes.  However, there is no generic gift for such an event.  It depends on how close you are to your hostess, their tastes, and how extensively you are entertained.  It should be something personal between you and the hostess, but not too lavish. (e.g. CD, movie or book of your hostess’s taste).

Do you have any hostess gift ideas to share?

Share your experiences in the comments section below

* It may be a host and not a hostess, but I personally don’t like changing female titles (hostess) to male (host) in order to be ‘inclusive’.  It feeds into the culture of equality being that women are like men, which is a philosophy to which I do not prescribe.   In the spirit of rebellion, I have referred to both the male and female as ‘hostess’.
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