11 Best Hostess Gifts

Vermont cotton ticking apron

We’re flying back today from Atlanta, where we visited Alex’s sister. (Thanks so much for all the restaurant recommendations!) Are you planning any trips this summer to see friends? Here’s a round-up of little gifts for the host or hostess…


1. Sweet organic apricots, $31, from Frog Hollow Farm in California, for everyone to enjoy.

2. Whale pillow, $25, to tuck into their sofa and make them smile. (This adorable whale is also personality packed!)

3. Aesop hand wash, $39. The packaging is gorgeous, the scent fills the whole room and it lasts forever. It’s the kind of thing you might never splurge on yourself but would love if someone gave to you. (And most of my friends secretly fill it with different soap when it’s done because the bottle is just too pretty.)

4. Funny vases, $76.

5. Key lime cheesecake, $38. Made with real key lime juice.

6. Danish wooden bird, $59, to peek out from their bookcase.

7. Portuguese soap, $14.50. Choose between orange, lemon, fig, apple — or sheep, goat, cow or donkey milk! Love the packaging.

8. Best friends tray, $42, to show her how much you love her. (This cat dish is also cute.)

9. Manchego set, $60, complete with crackers, Marcona almonds, quince jelly and a two-pound wheel of cheese. YES!

10. Wooden peg game, from $4.12, for a funny challenge/IQ test before dinner. (Remember playing these in Cracker Barrels growing up?)

11. Photo at top: Green ticking apron, $88, made from Vermont’s finest cotton, with two deep pockets.

Thoughts? What do you normally bring when visiting friends? Any other suggestions?

P.S. Three tips for hosting houseguests, and the #1 thing you need for overnight guests.

(Graphic design by Miss Moss. Peg game via Momfilter)

  1. tessa says...

    Joanna – tell us – for those who shared recommendations for your time in Atlanta – what did you and the fam end up doing/eating/seeing?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hi tessa, thanks for your note! we went to the children’s museum downtown and the art fair in decatur (with a stop at jeni’s ice cream, which was a-maz-ing). we also went to the taco place everyone was obsessed with in decatur (blanking on the name!) but the lines were too long, so instead we went to a little hole-in-the-wall place, which was totally delicious. thank you so much for your note!

  2. Oak says...

    What great suggestions! I think anything handmade (even better if made by you) is great. Once I brought a jar of homemade mango chutney to a luncheon and my friend absolutely loved it and used it for days on everything she cooked! Another gift that people seem to love, both men and women, is a bundle of handmade soaps that smell wonderful. My favorites are

  3. Rheeds says...

    I am in LOVE with the mixing bowl held by the apron-clad lady. Does anyone know who made it? Many thanks

  4. Great ideas! I love to buy potted plants and take those. They last so much longer than cut flowers. You can get some really expensive flowering succulents at the grocery store here, they bloom FOREVER. I love the funny vase you have here, it would definitely take the plant to the next level :)

  5. These are all so lovely! I always think it’s so genteel to give a hostess gift rather than a bottle. I like to focus on what our hosts like doing and get some little treat associated with that, such as a fancy cooking utensil or the Caldrea book brush. – Something rather luxurious that you would never purchase yourself.

  6. Kelly Hurtado says...

    I love the volsupa candles. They smell dreamy and the tins are so pretty. I get this for friends’ birthdays and a hostess gift would be great as well.

  7. I love this Aesop hand cleanser: Discovered it when I was in a London restaurant. I inquired with the server about it and she said they buy it at the Aesop store around the corner. I went directly there afterward and bought one. It is amazing. As you said, the scent lingers and smells great for hours :-).
    For hostess gifts, I like to give fun, functional items designed by local artists (ceramic milk pitchers, handwoven linen hand-towels, cutting boards, etc.).

  8. Ann says...

    These are all really fun ideas! Filing this away on Pinterest and hoping someone might give ME some Aesop hand soap too ;)

  9. Lovely gifts, I’d be very happy with these! But that had better some really good cheesecake for $38!!

  10. Gabriella says...

    Hi Joanna,

    Are these gifts meant for hosts that you’re staying with (either overnight or for a few days)? I find that pretty much all of these gifts are too expensive to bring when invited to dinner or brunch. (Although I’d love to get any of these ;)

    My go-to gifts for when we’re invited for brunch/lunch/dinner are potted herbs (including a cute pot, this will cost around 5€), fresh flowers (I prefer those over potted ones, because you’re not stuck with something you might not like, and supermarket bouquets wrapped in brown paper with a nice bow is simple, but still special), something homemade (homemade vanilla sugar is super easy, fairly cheap and has been so well received anytime I gift it), or a bottle of good wine (obviously).

    I love the idea of gifting beautiful hand wash, though! And gifting quality olive oil (what another reader mentioned) is definitely something I’ll be trying soon!


    • The potted herbs idea is so simple and elegant. It just shows you don’t have to spend a lot to be thoughtful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes, these are for overnight stays for a weekend or more. for dinner, i just bring wine. although i love the idea of potted herbs!

  11. Jaclyn says...

    I fully support Frog Hollow! I am from the Bay Area. I just had no idea it was so expensive in New York. It is a lovely treat. I am wayyy into giving someone something small that they will actually use that is the absolute best. : )

  12. Shoshana says...

    Lately I’ve brought homemade pizza dough.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet!

  13. Casey says...

    A small stash of personalized stationary is always fun, too! I live in the South and we always bring hostess gifts. Admittedly, wine seems to be the “go to” gift, and always welcome :)

  14. Too cute and thoughtful! I never thought about how much it would make my day if my guests brought me a cute, thoughtful and useful gift. I’ll be sure to do the same next time!

  15. Alison says...

    That best friends tray is everything! It would make a good bridal shower gift, also.

  16. That cheesecake looks divine, and I’m not even that big of a cheesecake fan! I don’t do enough traveling, but I’m hoping to do some this summer. If I were visiting a friend, I would bring some homemade food/ingredients (e.g. for cookies) in a jar or flowers bought on site.

  17. Laura says...

    Have you heard of glassybaby? They are gorgeous hand blown votives made in Seattle. I’m recently obsessed. They just give off the most peaceful gorgeous glow. They all have different names and a portion of proceeds go to charity. I have a tripped plan to Cape Cod this summer and am going to bring my hostess the “Beach Glass” one!

  18. Something made by a real human being, who is paid fair wages, is my motto (as in, no machines, robots, sweat shops). Sounds silly and a bit tree-huggerish perhaps but the gift goes beyond its functional use and serves as a gentle “thank you” to all the amazing artisans around the world.

  19. Great selection of the gifts. I usually bring organic vegetables from my garden, a bouquet of kale, a huge pumpkin… or some homemade marmelades.

    • A bouquet of kale sounds awesome!

  20. Cynthia says...

    I think a fancy bottle of olive oil is the new wine gift for every hostess! Something that lasts much longer than wine and may be a splurge like the soap. Last night my DIL made a delicious spatchcocked chicken on the grill and it had been marinated in a delicious flavor combination. She doubled the marinade recipe and put half in a jar to give to her SIL for her own use later in the week! How cute is that?

    • Gabriella says...

      I love the idea of bringing quality olive oil! So true that we tend to not splurge on that ourselves, but it’s such a special thing to have!

  21. Courtney says...

    Another good game is Bananagrams. Have you heard of it? It’s like Scrabble but free-standing without a board. It’s a great, quick, fun one to play around a dinner table once the dishes have cleared and wine is flowing!

  22. Lauren E. says...

    Best hostess gift I’ve ever received is my bright red tea kettle from a super thoughtful friend. I’m not a huge believer that a tea kettle makes better tea so I’d never thought to get one for myself, but it makes my kitchen look infinitely cooler and now I couldn’t imagine that space without it.

  23. Jamie says...

    I always bring the host/hostess Aesop something, it never fails!

  24. Holy moly, I love that little planter! I think I need… all of them. :)


  25. Madalena says...

    Yeyhhh!! Portuguese soap! Despite the fact that I’m a Portuguese follower, the soap is really good :) Actually, you should also try these (more traditional here in Portugal):

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      alex sometimes wears the cologne Claus Porto Musgo Real — it’s so, so good. although a reader from portugal once told it’s what all the grandpas wear, haha.

  26. Kim says...

    great ideas! That vase is too cute!

    Kim .. Rainy Day & iPad GIVEAWAY!

  27. kitty says...

    Those look like apricots :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oops you are right!! forehead slap, fixing now :)