It takes a lot of thoughtfulness for someone to open up their home, whether it be for a dinner party or an extended stay. They have to alter their daily routine, clean, cook and make guests feel at home. And though they may volunteer for the job, it still takes plenty of effort! That’s why I believe in a somewhat-forgotten tradition: the hostess (or host!) gift.
I know that with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s highly likely that we’ll all find ourselves on our way to an event empty-handed. So as you embark on a season full of parties, traveling and other adventures, here are a few ideas for last-minute hostess gifts that are absolutely darling and different from classic flowers.
1. Feast your eyes on this.
Your generous host has been working hard to whip up a full meal or prepare the guest room for your arrival. Why not show them how sweet they are by gifting them something from a delicious local bakery? It’s an edible gift, so it doesn’t leave behind clutter. Plus, lots of people don’t think to treat themselves to goodies from bakeries, so it will likely be something they don’t get to enjoy often.
My only caveat with this one is if you’re attending a dinner party or something similar, run your gift idea by your host/hostess ahead of time out of courtesy – just in case they’ve already planned for dessert. If that’s the case, consider bringing a nice loaf of bread or another bakery item instead.
2. Wake up and conquer.
The morning after a big party, doing much of anything seems like a real chore. Think ahead for your party hosts and provide them with an easy, delicious breakfast to get them through the next morning. Bagels, turnovers or anything that keeps overnight is a great option here.
Alternatively, if there’s a coffeeshop or anything within a couple blocks of their place, you could get them a gift card so they can choose exactly what they want. But I’m personally a fan of breakfast gifts that don’t require them to leave the house, so they can sleep in and enjoy the lazy morning they’ve earned.
3. Something to write home about.
If there’s one thing that I know about this time of year, it’s that there’s a whole lotta writing going on. Thank you cards, holiday wishes, etc. – everyone loves to send and receive some good old-fashioned snail mail. So, gifting some gorgeous, high-quality stationery can be a unique approach that your host will love. Try your local stationery store or even a big box retailer like Target for plenty of darling choices.
4. Wine not?
Alcohol isn’t a gift for everyone, but if your host is a total wine enthusiast, picking up a bottle takes no time at all, and acts as a great gift. They have the option of serving it with dinner or saving it for a special occasion down the road. If you want to look like you put extra thought into it, tie a classic ribbon around the neck for an elegant presentation.
5. A gift for your favorite foodie.
If you’re visiting the resident foodie of your bunch, they’re sure to love premium food gifts like olive oils and vinegars. This is a sampler set available at a boutique store here in Houston, and I love how it gives you a chance to try a little bit of everything. If you take a look, you might be surprised by what kind of specialty food shops are in your area! If not, swing by a Whole Foods, Trader Joes or your local grocery store to see what’s available.
6. My gratitude for you bubbles over.
Is there a Lush Cosmetics, ULTA or Bath and Body Works in your area? If so, you are just a few quick minutes away from an unforgettable hostess gift. Consider picking up a bath bomb so your host can feel ultra pampered after the festivities. You could also pick up a beautiful cut of soap – if you stop by Lush Cosmetics, they’ll even cut it to size for you, so you can do adorable mini guest bathroom soaps. Super cute!
7. Life is like a box of chocolates.
Show up with chocolates that look they they deserve to be displayed in an art gallery, and no one will ever know this was an “on my way to the party” purchase. If you have a local chocolatier, or even a retailer (ie: Barnes and Noble) who sells Godiva, this can be a quick stop – especially since upscale chocolates tend to come already wrapped and ready for gifting. Bonus: They feel like the ultimate indulgence for hosts after a busy schedule of planning and prepping.
8. Show them they’re tea-riffic.
A soothing cup of tea is just the gift to comfort tired party-planning feet. When the dishes are done and the leftovers are put away, your host is sure to be thankful for a thoughtful cup of loose leaf. This is offered at Tea by Sea, a local tea shop here in Houston, but you can easily find loose leaf at a nationwide retailer like Teavana. Also, since Starbucks owns Teavana, you can now even find some of their products in grocery stores!
This gift may not be for everyone, but my friends would be stoked if I showed up with a fun board game to play. Of course, you’ll want to stay away from classics like Monopoly that they’re likely to have already (unless, of course, if it’s a spinoff that you know they’ll love, like Harry Potter Monopoly). Check out Target or Walmart and see what new finds and hidden gems they have in the board game section for a host gift that will bring a few laughs!
10. We’re really glad to be hair.
I would probably reserve this one for something like an extended stay because it’s a bit on the pricier side, but a gift card for a salon service (ie: a blowout from Drybar) will certainly be well-received! Nothing feels lovelier than being able to treat yourself to a “just because” blowout that leaves your hair feeling bouncy and silky smooth for days.
11. Mix it up.
If your host tends to keep a well-stocked bar, a delicious mixer could be the perfect gift. Depending on personality, opt for a tried-and-true favorite or shake things up with an unexpected flavor. Either way, everyone will be toasting to your thoughtful gift idea by the end of the evening!
Hopefully this list got the wheels turning so you feel well-prepared for any fiesta you face this season. What’s your go-to hostess gift? I’d love to hear all about it – I’m always on the lookout for more ideas!