Summer is barely waning, but we’re already starting to see intimations of the holiday season on social media and in stores. The days of gift guides, holiday table setting posts, and wrapping paper round-ups are just around the corner.
We’re always mystified by holiday hostess gift ideas on blogs–showing up to a dinner party with a fluted cake plate or a hammered copper tea kettle seems a bit much. But then again there are times when we’d like to bring something more original than a bottle of wine or flowers.
What’s the best host/hostess gift you’ve received? What do you typically bring as an offering?
I have received tea towels, and enjoyed them. I have received small pieces of original art, which I love, but I can’t do that. When we travel, I look for artful tea towels and we use them for hostess gifts. Failing that, I go for something consumable. Chocolates, tea, note cards from museum gift shops, gourmet nuts, scented hand soap. In my circles, wine or craft beer almost never disappoints. As I downsize, I appreciate consumables more and more.
My friend recently brought over a bunch of flowers from her garden in a simple recycled jar. It was so sweet and reminded me of something my mom and her friends did when I was small. It’s obviously limited to certain times of the year, but I love this idea.
Flowers, wine or cider definitely happen. When I want to break away from that I bring something preserved from the fall harvest. I try to choose food that is fairy simple and can stand on its own (pickled carrots or crabapple sauce) or at least is easy to enjoy just smeared on toast (currant jelly or strawberry jam). For hostess gifts, I steer away from more complicated relishes and spiced chutneys because I don’t want the recipient to struggle with figuring out how to best use the product or what to pair it with and I know that not everyone shares my love of beets and fennel, etc.
If it is someone who I know well then I will often gift them with some of my art work, just a small piece so they don’t feel obliged to display it in any way, but just to demonstrate thought and effort and the gift of creativity. I might also bring them some baked goodies I know that they love. Home baking is also something I will take to someone I do not know so well but usually something more generic that they can either consume or regift. In either scenario, I always bring wine.
I love to receive consummable gifts, especially now that I live in NH, far, far away from decent bread or pizza, Italian food or a Jewish deli. (Jersey girl, still in shock 4 years later. But don’t get me wrong, NH is a beautiful place to live free or die!)
I always bring wine wherever I visit, and sometimes lemon-ginger biscotti which is one of the few things I can successfully bake. Or apple butter or an apple quick bread with apples from our tree.
My favorite gifts are from my sister, a talented amateur artist. She recently brought me a watercolor of our one remaining apple tree, a gnarly old bastard of an eyesore which I love beyond all reason. I’m thrilled to have it in the event my gnarly old bastard of a husband takes it down, as he is always threatening to do after picking up hundreds of apples.
Can we say “bastard” on Red House West? 🙂
The most memorable “hostess” gift I ever received came from from the wife of one of my husband’s young law clerks. She proudly presented me with one raw potato that she had just minutes before dug up from her garden. Even better than the potato is the memory of the smile on her face when she put it into my hand.
I especially appreciate homemade jams and other treats as hostess gifts. If the season is right, I bring quick breads or homemade applesauce or apple butter. Whether homemade or store bought, almost always something consumable. (Exception: a good-luck kitchen witch for a new homeowner. 😀 )
I always very thankful for consumable gifts, and I’ve been very excited for all the the jars of fresh berries (usually accompanied by a bottle of liquor) that we’ve received since moving to Alaska.
I usually just bring wine as a gift. It’s the one item I always have on hand.
My favorite hostess gifts are usually from my aunt, who will pick up small items on her travels. Last time she brought a set of napkins she picked up in Spain.