Busy family life can involve a lot of socializing with friends and family. As the spring and summer months approach, we begin barbecuing with our local pals and prepare to hit the road for reunions and cottage visits. Something I have noticed, after hosting a few recent large gatherings, is the return of the hostess gift. Wine is always the way to my heart but gifts such as a Roseanne Barr t-shirt, beautiful tea collection, coasters, and more make a girl feel like the star of a primary school birthday bash.
Receiving hostess gifts is great fun but giving them is one of my favorite sports. With a bit of surveillance, planning and a designated gift cupboard, this task can become fun, economical and stress-free.
Like all gifts, a hostess gift should be chosen with the recipient in mind. Therefore it is always wise to take note of the décor and colours adored by potential hosts, their likes, dislikes, food and beverage preferences, allergies etc. Don’t be afraid to take little notes detailing your findings. It isn’t creepy. Until they discover them…
Chances are you share a bit of history with your host. A framed forgotten old photo, piece of retro merchandise or fun accessory brings back memories and acknowledges the years of friendship you have both put in.
- via Bright Beam Goods
Baked confections are always a hit but guilt associated with unreturned containers can be consuming. Shop all year for fun dishes that can be given as part of the gift. Estate sales, garage sales and the clearance section of Home Sense provide the ultimate hunting grounds for mismatched plates and bowls. Cheeky mugs, filled with candy, are also a fun way to show appreciation.
It is always rewarding to bring people your hometown favorites. Before travelling Ontario, I always stop at Jacobson’s in Ottawa for a selection of cheeses. Local products make unique gifts and shine for that reason. To my husband’s chagrin, I also love picking up treasures in every destination to store for later giving.
- via Jacobson’s Ottawa
Although your hosts won’t admit it, party planning is taxing. One of my favorite hostess gifts this year was a bag of gourmet, frozen chocolate croissants intended for breakfast. Not only were they delicious but also the feeling of being cared for really hit the spot. Little gift bags, to keep the kids busy the next day, filled with items such as comics, a video, little toys, colouring supplies, games or puzzles might allow late night entertainers a few extra minutes of peace. Coffee, scones, tea and spa supplies send the message that a rest is deserved.
Everyone needs tissues, hand soap and napkins. Funny or attractive versions of these essentials add a little fancy to the ordinary and might even crack up your host weeks down the road.
- via Anne Taintor
Whether you know your host well or not, consumables are always appreciated. Soap, jam, marinades, wine, candles and chocolate make ideal offerings. Flowers are fantastic but should always be delivered early in the day or presented in a vase or Mason jar. Nobody wants to say thank you by inflicting flower arranging on a panicked entertainer. If a holiday is approaching, a themed consumable is even better.
The gift of your favorite cookbook or recent bestseller can be a well-received treat. Shop for vintage reads at book sales or pick up a beautiful new version of a classic for the shelf. Collections of essays, especially funny ones, provide ideal reading for future visitors of your cottage host.
Whenever I visited from university, my mother would welcome me by putting fresh towels, a new magazine and some treats in my room. Suggested hostess gifts are also perfect little trinkets for making your houseguests feel at home. Stack the towels, put out a water carafe and listen to my mother-in-law, “Every guest deserves a fresh bar of soap!”
Nothing increases the value of a gift like wrapping it with love. These days, I am crazy for wine bags from the Dollar Store, bright tissue from Marshalls and inexpensive ribbon from Michaels. Basket wrap is genius but the more environmental trick of wrapping with a pretty tea towel and ribbon is perfect too. Greeting cards are one of my guilty pleasures but if you are rushing out the door, do what one of our guests did, and write a sweet message on the wine label.
- via Smitten Kitten