Food

14 Thoughtful Gifts for Hosts

14 Thoughtful Gifts for Hosts

Heading to someone’s house for dinner or (lucky!) the entire weekend? Surprise and delight your host with one of these easy gifts you can make or buy…

1. Soap Dish, $38.

This soap dish is the kind of thing I’d covet, but never buy for myself. Which is of course, why it’s a perfect gift. (P.S. I just got one for my design-y friend who has everything.)

2. Luna Blanket, $84.

How beautiful would this blanket be on a bed or on the grass for a summer picnic? The designer collaborates with traditional textile artisans in Mexico, and her mother makes the leather handles.

3. Cheese Selection, $30-35.

When a close friend inevitably asks “What can I bring?” in response to a dinner invitation, sometimes I’ll reply with a link to Murray’s Cheese. It’s one less thing for me to think about when pulling dinner together and I know she’s grateful to have specific marching orders. Try the Burrata Lovers Collection or Grafton Mini Sampler.

4. A Filled Tote, $25.

Make these sweet bags even sweeter by filling them with cookies or beach reads or cheese or toys or everything you need to make a special cocktail.

5. Next-Day Breakfast Treat

When I’m having people over for dinner, I think it’s so thoughtful when people bring me something I can enjoy for breakfast the next morning. It doesn’t have to be homemade, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. One solid option: Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Blueberry Muffins. I love her ratio of berries to muffin — heavy on the berries — and the turbinado-sugar crunch on top is, yes, perfect.

6. Hi-Qual Cold Brew, $15.

There is always a stash of these  Grady’s cold-brew tins in our pantry — to give and also to make for myself. I love Grady’s subtle chicory flavor and how easy it is to make — you just throw a coffee “pouch” into a pitcher with water and refrigerate the whole thing overnight. Each tin comes with four pouches and each pouch yields 3 to 4 cups of cold brew. Your host will appreciate that, especially after doing the math against her $4 ice coffee from the place around the corner.

7. Kid Games, $15-$20.

Surefire strategy for being invited back as a house guest? Bring something for the hosts’ kids that keeps them busy (and screen-free) for a good chunk of the afternoon: An activity book like Papertoy Monsters (ages 6-10) is a guaranteed hit; and how adorable are these little puzzles? Choose from foods like pizza, cereal, papaya and broccoli. Ok, maybe not broccoli.

8 & 9. Kitchen Accessories, $19-$40.

Pretty things are always appreciated, but pretty and useful? That’s the winning formula, and virtually anything from Fog Linen fits the bill. We like the elegant oven mitten and any one of the linen-coated trays, which seem tailor made to carry an alfresco lunch out to the sun-dappled patio.

10. A Favorite Cookbook, $11-$20.

Virtually anything you bake from Odette Williams’s Simple Cake will be a worthy host gift. (Chocolate Madeleines? Cinnamon Donut Spiced Cake?) Up the ante by wrapping up your baked good with a copy of the cookbook itself.  Also recommended: Sarah Copeland’s soon-to-be-published Every Day is Saturday, which oozes the vibe everyone wants on a weekend: sunny, indulgent, warm, happy.

11. Aesop Hand Wash, $39.

Yes, we know we’ve mentioned this before, and we know it’s on the pricey end, but this woodsy, citrusy hand soap smells incredible and lasts forever, so we can’t mention it enough.

12. Succulents

Of course, fresh cut flowers are always going to be welcome, but I’m also a big fan of plants that require very little from the dinner party host in terms of care (no unwrapping, finding a vase, and even future watering responsibilities are slim!). Enter succulents, which are so popular now you can find them at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and even local supermarkets.

13. Herb-Infused Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is one of those things that you don’t realize you need until you have a beautiful little glass jar of it in your refrigerator. True to its name, it’s incredibly simple to make — combine one part sugar to one part water (plus optional herb or aromatic); boil until sugar dissolves, then chill. (Here are some variations.) My friend Simone once brought me a stash of simple syrup infused with lavender, which we proceeded to add to our gin and tonics — wowowow.

14. Farm Market Finds

The best place for me to find a dinner host gift that is one-of-a-kind is at our local farmer’s market: a dozen eggs from a farm in the Catskills; a slab of thick-cut smoky bacon from upstate; foraged morels from the Hudson Valley guy who supplies restaurants in Manhattan? Just tie a ribbon around whatever it is, and you’re set.

Have you given or received an especially thoughtful host gift lately?

P.S. More great gifts for hosts and a secret to hosting overnight guests.

(Photo illustration by Maud Passini.)

  1. Amalia says...

    I’m late to the party, but do people bring host gifts to any gathering at someone’s house (dinner, etc.)? My family did not interact in these sort of ways when I was younger, so I feel like I’m still learning at a steep curve when it comes to etiquette.

    • Talor says...

      If you stay overnight in someone’s home I would say for sure but for dinner, I feel like it depends on the occasion and how close you are to the person. I always ask what I should bring when I go to someone’s house and a lot of times people say don’t worry about it (and in those cases I might bring wine) or other times people might ask for dessert or if is a family dinner they might ask me to make a side dish . I might go a little bigger with a gift if its the first time I’ve been invited to someones home. Maybe i’m not generous enough but I feel like a lot of the gifts above are good if its a really big party (a big occasion or they had a lot of people so you know they incurred a big expense).

  2. The idea of doing a next-day breakfast treat is so great.. that’s the gift I’d want to receive! Totally agree that a hostess gift should be personalized and genuine – even a little extra effort can go a long way. So spot on with all these ideas in this post – I love them all! If you want a custom twist, check out our blog for more go-to gifting ideas this summer! http://www.twofunnygirls.com/blog/2019/06/03/summer-gifting-guide-for-any-host-or-hostess/

  3. Skye says...

    I used to leave miniature bottles of Estée Lauder perfumes for friends who hosted me. It’s the least I can do for their kindness. If it’s an overseas trip I also ask if there’s anything from home they’d like me to bring for them — once a friend asked me to get her tubes of 250g toothpaste of a specific brand, because she could only seem to find the 175g sized ones where she was living. I of course obliged with as many as I could fit into my suitcase :)

  4. Sarah says...

    I’ve started bringing flowers in a vase as a hostess gift. This way they do not have to search for a vase to put the flowers in! Sometimes the vase is as simple as a Mason jar and other times it’s a specific vase that I have bought because it reminded me of them/their style. I also really enjoy arranging flowers so it’s a fun way to pair together a hobby of mine and bringing a hostess gift. Also, Trader Joe’s has some of the best flowers at unbelievable prices if you’re looking to not spend too much on flowers!

  5. Sasha L says...

    I make rhubarb ginger simple syrup, it’s so delightful, bright pink and so yummy. You can pour into plain lemonade or sprarkling water on ice. It makes everything tart sweet and pink, so fun.

  6. Natalie T. says...

    I think a nice olive oil would be a great gift. I also love these local gifts too. For me, since I’m Canadian, a nice bottle of maple syrup would be nice or artisanal chocolate. In my hometown of Toronto, SOMA chocolate is a hit!
    https://www.somachocolate.com/

    Also: what are your favourite olive oils?

  7. I love to bring a little gift from my hometown to my host(ess), like locally made chocolates, a luxurious bath product, or something made with maple syrup (I’m Canadian, so it’s a classic!).

  8. LOR says...

    I once received L’Occtaine gift set and a set of velvet (?) hangers. I really LOVED the hangers!

  9. Gabrielle says...

    Oh I love this post! Filled with very thoughtful ideas.

    We recently had two friends stay with us and a few weeks later, they sent us a package filled with regional goodies from where they live (St Louis)! The box had bitters, scrub, local chips and popcorn, and beans from her favorite STL coffeeshop. I felt like a kid on Christmas opening it! Definitely going to keep the idea in mind next time I want to thank someone for their hospitality.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a lovely idea!

    • Sasha L says...

      I love the idea of sending a thank you box later, how thoughtful.

  10. @Nataie! Team inLieu loves this! Keep the spreading the good!

  11. Anna Vitale says...

    I just really love all of these ideas and the thoughtfulness behind hostess gifts, generally. The whole post made me smile. That is all. :)

  12. Franzi says...

    My mom has a bunch a big spider plants around her house and anytime I visit, I cut off the babies (she just throws them away, gasp!) and bring them home. I then propagate them in water and eventually, when they’re rooted, plant them in little terracotta pots and give them to friends, co-workers… anyone I can think of! We now have a little baby plant on every desk in our office.

  13. Natalie says...

    I’ve been intrigued by this new start-up (https://inlieu.com/) that encourages people to make donations in honor of someone in lieu of giving items as gifts. It seems like a good way to solve the problem of clutter. I work in fundraising, though, so I may be biased!

    • @Nataie! Team inLieu loves this! Keep the spreading the good!

  14. Laura says...

    The Aesop hand soap really would be a wonderful indulgence. I don’t think I could spend $40 on hand soap for myself, but it truly smells divine.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it really does. and i feel the same! i’ve never bought it for myself, but i gave it to a good friend when we visited her cabin for a weekend, and she was going bananas.

    • Helen Ng says...

      This is exactly why I love giving this soap and it’s $30 hand cream as gifts. There’s no way I would spend that much on soap and hand cream if I’m buying them for myself but I can justify the cost when I buy them for friends!

  15. Jessica Camerata says...

    I always love a plant! And love the idea of a soap dish. I love getting flowers, but only if they’re already in a vase. There’s something so annoying about having to stop everything to deal with fresh flowers.

    xo Jessica

  16. Sheela says...

    Love the soap holder, may have to get it for myself ha! I recently discovered SUNDAY/MONDAY on Instagram and love their block printed cloth napkins for host gifts. Adorable, affordable and I get to support a woc owned business.

  17. Megan says...

    I live in NYC, so I have gotten in the habit of bringing bagels when I’m visiting someone outside the city! Pretty much everyone loves a good NYC bagel and most people don’t have access to them. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a great idea!!

    • Hooray to this! Our friends always bring some when they come to visit us in MA, and I am always so excited to have them!

    • Erin says...

      I live in California and have a coworker who brings me bagels from Montreal whenever he visits. (His wife has family there, so they go regularly.) It’s awesome. 😀

  18. These are great gift ideas for hosts. I think a succulent is such a cute gift.

  19. Those little puzzles are adorable!

  20. Leslie says...

    So many pretty things! Thank you!

  21. Melissa says...

    Iris, I’m totally with you. I have received some very well-meaning hostess gifts, but I would much prefer people feel as though they can accept my hospitality without having to buy me something as a thank you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these comments are so interesting to read! i appreciate your feedback. personally, when someone comes to stay, i feel so touched if they bring banana bread or a pretty little bowl for berries. it’s such a lovely gesture and nod of thanks after you’ve invited them, cleaned the apartment, changed sheets, grocery shopped, planned meals, etc. but i hear the other side, too!

    • Becky says...

      I hear what you are saying but on the flip side of that I cant just show up to someone’s house empty handed. even if they insist not to bring anything I still bring flowers. A few years ago I attended a really lovely 30 birthday for a friends sister. It was catered. I still offered to bring something and when they said no i brought a balloon and flowers for the birthday girl. One of the kindest compliments I have received was from my friends parents who who said everyone else showed up empty handed. They thought it was classy. Which I’m still baffled by but I cant unlearn showing up with something. I think others are similar.

    • Darcy says...

      My two cents. If someone says ‘please don’t bring anything’ to a dinner party, I don’t. Why? I say it at my parties, ppl still bring things (wuh?), and I’m baffled bc I have the food + table + bevs all set before guests arrive so I can relax…not start searching for a serving bowl bc suddenly someone has handed me olives, or leave a good conversation bc those flowers need a vase and water right away, or putting the pre-chosen wine away and theirs out. (sigh) If a houseguest comes and has something fun for all of us to eat, sure, that’s great. But really. Little thingies aren’t necessary. I know you’re grateful bc you said “Thank you” and I believed you. Onward!

  22. Gina says...

    I can attest that the Simple Cake book is the only cake cookbook you’ll ever need. It’s literally just simple, really delicious cakes, really delicious toppings, and a myriad of ways to combine the two for various occasions. The tres leches version is to die for, there’s a gluten free almond galette for your gf friends, and the recipes are easy enough that I whipped up several for my daughter’s birthday BBQ.

  23. talia says...

    We have a local chocolate shop with delicious handmade chocolates that I often give as a hostess gift. We have chickens so organic eggs are a must as well as honey from our bee hives. (and sometimes homemade strawberry jam.)

  24. Alison says...

    If your staying the weekend, it could be fun to get something from your activities while you are there! I hosted my friend and her fiance for a weekend as they scoped out the area and looked for apartments. On Sunday, we all went to a Farmers Market and Vintage Market. I loved this set of vintage ski mugs I saw and she surprised me by getting them for me! They are my favorite mugs and now my friend and her husband live much further away and they’re even more special because they remind me of them :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Love that idea!

  25. alexis says...

    These are great! When I had a bigger apartment, I had a few friends stay with me. One of them, who knows me quite well, knows that I am terribly picky and bought me a gift card to a home good store. The other who has stayed with me at various different apartments as I’ve moved, always cooks a large spread and we have people over. Both super appreciated! My go-to gifts are quality natural soaps, dish towels (I dye them shibori style beforehand), or high end tea.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      How cool that you make your own dish towels! They sound beautiful.

  26. Molly says...

    this is not answering the prompt specifically but i just wanted to say i really like the layout of this post! it’s pretty! :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so glad! We have been working with graphic designer Maud Passini recently and she’s wonderful!

  27. J says...

    My no nonsense father recently let me in on the greatest host gift of all time: OLIVE OIL!

    The guest doesn’t feel the need to open it immediately and share it as they would wine, and who doesn’t need olive oil? He wraps in maps (he’s a pilot) or that day’s newspaper. People are always so appreciate to have a nice olive oil they wouldn’t normally splurge on.

    • Cynthia says...

      It’s a great idea!

    • Cait says...

      My dad is a pilot and his maps are my favorite gift wrap too!! His airline recently switched to mostly electronic and I’m so sad.

  28. Abigail says...

    I’ve selected host gifts from Element Clay Studio’s Etsy shop for the past several years. I’m coming to the realization that I now need to find a new go to shop for my purchases, since almost everyone I love has a piece from the shop!

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/elementclaystudio

  29. Loesie says...

    Come end of May/early June, the strawberries in my garden are in full bloom.
    Then I always make a year’s supply of strawberry jam.
    I put them in very tiny jars, so I can always give some as a gift, all year long!
    Yay!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Love that!!!

    • Sara says...

      I second the jam idea and have also made batches of peach butter and homemade salsa that I have canned in the summer and give away during the year. If I’m out of what I’ve canned, then I have found that granola is super easy to make and looks really cute in a mason jar tied with a ribbon. Here’s my go-to recipe:
      https://www.melskitchencafe.com/coconut-and-cashew-granola/

  30. Kay says...

    For a lunch or dinner visit then I take either non alcoholic drink, chocolates, flowers, homemade jam or cakes. For a longer visit quite probably a combination of all them, and/or a candle seem to be my go to gifts. I would never turn up anywhere empty handed, I must admit to always being slightly surprised that the majority of my friends these days do not reciprocate when invited over as for me it is only good manners to take something.

    • t says...

      Kay that all sounds so lovely. I just wanted to let you know that I usually only do hostess gifts for overnight stays. For invitations for dinner or brunch instead I ask what I can contribute and half the time they ask me to bring a dish or a beverage. The other times I instead send a thank you note and an invitation to be our guest fairly soon after. To me this still seems like good manners.

  31. MozartsGirl says...

    I usually take home made brownies in a pretty, reusable tin…also wine…to dinner parties (although there don’t seem to be so many of them any more? I’m in the UK and it now seems to be more popular to meet up at a restaurant instead) Or sometimes a jar of cheese shortbreads. I think something hand made is really appreciated. Or candles! Beautiful scented candles, but I think they have to be quite luxurious ones – something you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself. For weekend stays – or longer – then we’ve taken UK-made blankets, favourite books (or books on subjects our hosts like, once a 100 year old book on California for a friend from there), DVDs of cosy movies, flowers WITH a vase or pretty jug, special wine or champagne glasses along with half a case of the wine itself, a set of linen tea towels (tea towels are a great present as you can never have too many – especially beautiful ones by Emma Bridgewater or similar) I also love to give mugs (with a pack of single estate coffee or special tea) and items from a small artisan potter…at Christmas we took a handmade salt ‘pig’ complete with tiny ceramic spoon and a pack of Maldon salt to go with it to a holiday party….nothing costs a lot, or doesn’t need to, but I think thoughtfulness goes a really long way. Especially if you are staying for a while with friends/family overseas. When we stay with my sister in Australia we always pay for a big grocery shop at least once a week as well as taking them out for dinners and things (she has 3 kids so much appreciated!)

  32. I love it when people bring me anything fresh from their garden – be it herbs, fruit, or flowers. I once had a friend turn up with a basket of lemons from her tree, and it was such a delight. We have a cherry tree in our garden that’s heavy with fruit right now. We’ve been trying to share the love with our neighbors by delivered home baked cherry and almond tarts, and big boxes of fresh cherries. My daughter loves to climb a ladder and pick the cherries, and she also loves to bake – it’s been a fun mother / daughter bonding project for us.

    • Trish says...

      I think this is my favorite comment so far. I love receiving garden-fresh foods and flowers. I also love giving what things I can forage from our property – lots of lavender, herbs, eggs, and bouquets.

      I always wonder why people mention having trauma to rummage for a vase if guests present them with flowers? How difficult is it to have a spare vase or two lying in wait? I adore receiving flowers! Don’t discourage the gift.

  33. Kate says...

    Best gift ever? A friend on vacation but staying with us while we worked as usual made us a delicious dinner with a nice bottle of wine and a home made pie!
    It was so thoughtful and such a treat to come home to a tidy house, a fire and a yummy meal! She is always welcome to stay with us !

    • Dana says...

      This is so nice! A friend who appreciates your hospitality enough to give some precious vacation time to make dinner and straighten up is the sweetest thing ever!

  34. Quyen says...

    Please no more cheese plates. I have about 5 sets and rarely use them (prefer a regular plate for ease of cleaning).

    The best hostess gifts are edible gourmet items with a long shelf life: hot sauce, pickles, any condiment, kimchi, etc.

  35. RR says...

    Honestly? I really wish people would just show up with flowers. I try not to buy them for myself every week so I am still delighted when I receive them! And then looking at them for the next few days reminds me of the dinner party, the friends, etc.

    • celeste says...

      Same, girl, same! :)

  36. Elisa says...

    My best friend sent my husband and me a box of 4 wines AFTER her visit. I definitely wasn’t expecting anything so I was giddy to get the package in the mail. The wines were from one of the wineries we visited together in Sonoma. ❤️

    • kathie says...

      so sweet!

  37. Emily says...

    Years ago, a friend from Chicago stayed with me in San Francisco for an extended weekend. As a thank-you gift afterward, she surprised me and shipped me a pack of Lou Malnatis deep dish pizzas! (Apparently that’s a thing!) To this day, I still think it’s the coolest “hostess” gift I’ve ever received, and was such a creative way of returning the favor with a little piece of her city.

  38. Marilyn says...

    My go to thank you gift for dinner is a next morning breakfast box.
    I pack a little wooden crate with homemade no knead cranberry raisin bread, a wedge of cheese, some fresh fruit and a half bottle of champagne and a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice.
    For an overnight stay I add great coffee beans, homemade Greek yogurt and granola.

    • Bonnie says...

      What a wonderfully thoughtful idea! I love gifts that are not items that I have to find a place for in my home (or regift/donate), but rather can be enjoyed and then they’re gone.
      But no gifts is fine, too! The pleasure of company in a busy world is a gift in itself.

  39. Becky says...

    Homemade handbraided challah bread! I made it for the first time recently, it was awesome. I used brown sugar in my recipe. Great for breakfast or dessert. Really anytime. Who doesnt love an awesome carb. Add pb! Ah-mazing!

    • Gilly says...

      Oh wow – can you share the recipe please?

    • ummm which recipe please!!!

  40. yj says...

    I’ve brought a friend a mini staub before :) I had gotten it at their sample sale so it wasn’t $$$ for me, but it would be $$$ if she had gone to buy it at the dept store.

  41. Caroline says...

    What wonderful ideas! I love reading all the additions in the comments too, and find that I come back to these posts all the time. Thank you.

    My favorite things to give are Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almonds w/ sea salt and turbinado sugar repackaged in a mason jar (add a couple strips of washi tape around the middle to write “thank you), a notepad and pen (like something from Rifle Paper & a sharpie), or one simple (and relatively inexpensive) kitchen utensil with a note about why I like it – like a William Sonoma silicone spatula or something of the sort. And, of course, always a treat for the pup if there’s one in the house!

  42. Sarah says...

    This is sort of unrelated but I’m looking for gifts for both of my sisters in law: one just got a huge promotion and the other successfully defended her dissertation. Any ideas?! Maybe something for her new office? Sending flowers seems so cliche.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s really exciting for both of them!

      you could always get them a paperweight for their desks — i love the ones from john derian. they’re SO beautiful in real life. the flowers are so pretty, or you could find an image that means something to you/them:
      https://www.johnderian.com/collections/decoupage-browse-by-shape-crystal-dome-paperweights

      i have this heart on my desk at work:
      https://www.johnderian.com/collections/decoupage-browse-by-shape-crystal-dome-paperweights/products/heart-card-suits-cdp

      for my fortieth birthday this winter, two of my friends gave me one of these plants, and i have it in our living room and love it every day (i’m looking at it while i type this!):
      https://www.thesill.com/products/pilea-peperomioides-august?variant=cream

      i’ll keep thinking of other ideas!

    • Tate says...

      I gifted a friend who defended her dissertation a book plate stamp (there are tons on Etsy!) so she could personalize her collection with: “from the library of Dr. ____” — she loved it!

    • Emma Lucchi says...

      While it wouldn’t be a long-lasting gift, you could get both/either of them a gift certificate to a local spa! They’ve both worked so incredibly hard– they deserve a little pampering! Even better if you go, too, and make it a girls’ day. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That’s a great idea, Emma!!

    • patricia blaettler says...

      A monogrammed leather folio?

    • Leslie says...

      Flowers may be cliche, but I love the idea! I received a beautiful bouquet after getting a promotion, and it made me so happy! :)

    • Amanda says...

      I can’t speak to promotion gifts, but writing a dissertation is very stressful and often means that you don’t have time for other things that you enjoy, such as hobbies.

      If your sister has a hobby or some other activity she enjoys for de-stressing, gifting her something relevant to that would be so thoughtful! Just a way to say, “yay, you’re done, don’t forget to do things you enjoy!”

      If you’re not sure, I would have loved a fiction book in a genre I enjoy or a gift certificate to a local bookstore. During my dissertation, I really missed having time to sit down with some good fiction while I was buried in research manuscripts, so I read a bunch after I defended.

    • Nikki says...

      What a lovely sister in law you are! I think a post on what to send/bring/do/say to celebrate woman’s achievements such as these would be a great one on Cup of Jo. My friend just completed a course outside of her career path and killed it and got a new awesome job, I would love to find ways to celebrate that.

      I like the idea of something personal but that they can use at work like maybe a beautiful leather notebook with their name embossed on it, a special laptop bag, a work blazer with a special/fun pin (like Grad/Boss favourite food/character) or even something like a week worth of lunches delivered to the sister in law with the promotion, as finding time to eat can be hard in a new hectic role.

  43. Sadie says...

    In Alaska, most often people bring something they have harvested to share. In the summer it is fresh salmon, rhubarb pies, garden greens and spruce tips. In the winter it looks more like raspberry jam, potatoes and moose sausage. Most dinner parties are about half harvested food even though I live in the the city of Anchorage. These meals are the coziest part of living here, connecting us together in sharing and to our land.

    • Lucy says...

      I love this so much!

  44. M2 says...

    I have so much stuff and live in a small house in an expensive city so most of my friends and family know I don’t need anything but they all love to come stay (hotels are expensive). When my sibling visited she took me to a super swanky restaurant and bought my husband a nice alcohol he likes. Our babysitter cancelled so he couldn’t join us for the dinner so she bought the booze which was thoughtful. She stayed for a long weekend. She has stayed a few other times before and has paid for a meal and also didn’t bring or do anything on other visits which was fine.

    Most people take us out for a nice meal or watch our child for an afternoon or evening so we can have an event out (this is the best) but some buy us a really nice bottle of olive oil (which I love but usually won’t purchase myself) or a very nice bottle of wine. These are all people who stay for a long weekend or longer. Now that we have a child we decided to cap visits -family can’t stay more than 4 nights and friends no longer than 2/3 nights depending how we feel. We have so many people who want to visit and we used to have an open door policy and let people stay up to a week or more for family. It got to be too much.

    If you are staying for a long period at someone’s house just be respectful maybe pull the sheets off the bed and bundle them up so it’s easier for the host. It’s not about getting stuff but it’s about not being completely overdone with guests and those staying at your home being respectful. I do the same thing when staying with family or friends.

  45. maria says...

    LOVE Grady’s Cold Brew, i have it on subscription through Amazon – it’s SO good! Definitely a great hostess gift! Lots of solid options offered, good calls.

  46. Laura says...

    When invited over for dinner I think a bottle of wine and something sweet are wonderful. My go-to duo during warmer months is a bottle of rose and chocolate-dipped strawberries. If you’re staying for a longer period of time, I think giving something personalized is special, such as monogrammed hand towels or pillowcases. Doesn’t have to cost tons yet adds such a nice touch.

  47. Reg says...

    Hostess gifts I’ve appreciated from overnight guests have been: local honey, an art print of a place I love, coffee table book, treats from different countries (a Swedish friend brought jam and candies), and little toys for the kids.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these sound wonderful!

  48. Nina says...

    I admit I almost never bring host gifts. When I stay over with friends, I hope to return the favor when being their hostess next time. My mom used to bring little gifts, but more like some flowers or wine. Honestly, every time I see these lists, I think there is an aspect of wastefulness to it. They are all nice gifts, no doubt! I would still feel overwhelmed with *STUFF* if all of my guests brought me something. Especially things that just sit there and can’t be consumed (wine, chocolate) or are perishable anyway (flowers). There is an aspect of cultural consumerism in there that makes me uneasy. But I am from the other side of the pond, so what do I know ;-)

    • Amy P says...

      I’m of the same opinion. If someone picks a little bouquet from their garden or brings over a jar of homemade jam or something; perfect! But I definitely don’t need tchotchkes. If you know the person well and what they like, that’s great; otherwise just offer to bring dessert or go with something consumable to bring!

    • Amy says...

      Agree, Nina. I think things previous commenters mentioned like putting the sheets in the wash when they leave or paying for one of our meals out together is really the maximum that’s needed. Maybe a little box of chocolates. But where on earth to put all the stuff otherwise?! And also I don’t expect a reward for having friends or family over.

    • katie says...

      We stayed with friends last weekend. We bought breakfast one morning and then one afternoon, we were going to hang out on the lake so we bought all the alcohol for that. You can easily do something without buying “stuff.” I also think a thank you note goes a long way.

    • I agree.. and the thing is unfortunately not all hostess gifts are this thoughtful. Over the years we have received so many bowls, vases and just stuff I don’t know what to do with them.

    • Amanda says...

      My friends/family don’t really “do” hostess gifts except for something like a multi-day stay with someone. That said, whenever I gift I almost always make it something consumable (wine, chocolate, olive oil, etc.) because I feel like we all have so much stuff already! The exception might be a housewarming or bridal shower, but only if I’m pretty clear on what they could use/need.

  49. Michelle says...

    When I stay with friends for more than one night, I take them out to dinner and pay. I normally arrive empty-handed but hopefully this makes up for it! And it relieves them of the burden of cooking a meal.

    • Jane says...

      I do the same! I ask “innocently” what they think is THE nicest restaurant in town and then take them there!

    • Darcy says...

      Good solution.

  50. Kristy says...

    I once gave my friend a “Trader Joe’s Starter Kit” filled with all my favorite TJ staples – olive oil, coconut oil, ketchup, mustard, and other fun condiments/kitchen staples for them to have! It was a hit!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that!!!

  51. Gillie says...

    We recently visited a friend with 2 pups who moved in with her boyfriend and his cat. To celebrate this transition, we brought treats from our pets for their new combined family. Our cats, Snacks and Bernadette, gave their cat some dried catnip from our backyard. Our dog, Harry, shared some of his favorite dog treats with their pups.

    • Elena says...

      At your cats indoor? How does the cat nip even manage to grow in your yard? Years ago I purchased a small plant for our garden and our cats got to it and successfully destroyed it within five minutes of discovery. It was like a shark feeding frenzy!

    • Abbe says...

      This is such a cute idea, and I LOVE the name Snacks for a cat!

  52. Love the idea of bringing something you wouldn’t buy for yourself but adore someone enough to buy it for them as a gift. Fancy, delicious chocolates would also be great :)

  53. Amy says...

    I’ve been eyeing this soap for, I kid you not, years. I’d have to lie about it and tell anyone who gives me the “Oooh, you fancy huh” look that I received it as a gift. However, I recently learned that the bottle is plastic. Are you kidding me?? I wish GIRLS or Portlandia or something was still airing, this dang hand soap would eventually make it onto the chopping block for a good joke! :)

    • Anna says...

      If you’re talking about the Aesop hand soap, it’s definitely not in a plastic bottle! It’s glass. It’s beautiful and it smells so good. Worth it for a splurge :)

    • Christina says...

      Amy, this is really cute. I love the idea of saying you received something as a gift. Sometimes the gifts we give ourselves are the best ones!!! I was curious after your comment and Anna’s reply – there’s a recent Nordstrom review that expresses disappointment in the plastic bottle, especially given Aesop’s commitment to the environment. I wonder if they changed their packaging recently. What a bummer!!!

    • Alicia says...

      I have purchased them twice directly from the Aesop website and the bottles are definitely plastic.

    • Anna says...

      This is so curious!! I’ve only ever purchased it in Australia. Perhaps different packaging is sold in the US, or it’s been changed. So sad! I loved that the vast majority of their products weren’t in plastic containers.

    • MozartsGirl says...

      I’m in the UK…just dashed upstairs to check. Yes, most Aesop bottles are now plastic it seems…except the smaller facial products, the deodorant & the fragrances …certainly over here. I first bought their stuff in Australia but it was a long time ago…

  54. I love the breakfast and simple syrup ideas. I usually default to bringing a candle or some flowers as a gift to the host, but these are really creative and useful!

  55. Laura says...

    I too am interested in how often people give and receive host gifts.
    I’ve hosted many parties and was just given my very first hosting gift that wasn’t a bottle of alcohol. Meanwhile, I’ve never shown up somewhere empty-handed. Flowers or local candies are my go-to’s.
    Whenever my mom comes to visit she always brings me a gift – flowers, a new iced tea pitcher. Gift-giving is her love language as is mine so maybe I just get it from her? Or am becoming her…

  56. Denise McNichols says...

    That cold brew looks interesting & they have a kit-pouch that would be perfect for camping. I love the idea of a hostess gift. My go-to is flowers or a little plant but I’m liking these ideas to change it up a bit.

  57. Tiffany says...

    Regarding gifts my 89-year-old Grandma Ginny says “I don’t want it unless I can Read it, Drink it, Eat it, Burn it (candles), or Spend it.” I keep this in mind when choosing gifts… and honestly, I keep it in mind for living life in general ;)

    • Christina says...

      This is amazing lol. And totally how I feel as I get older! I find myself feeling happy when my friends show up to my house empty handed. Maybe that’s a weird sentiment, but it feels more like being close family :) just showing up is the gift!

    • Liz says...

      Love this!!!!! Grandma Ginny for the win!!!

    • Kristin says...

      I love your grandmother and feel the same way! I always bring food and good wine or scotch as a gift.

  58. T says...

    Do people really bring elaborate gifts like this? I usually just bring wine…can’t imagine bringing an $85 blanket or kitchen gadgets as a thank you for dinner, but maybe it’s a regional thing?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Those gifts were for staying over with friends for a weekend or week. When we stay with friends for a long weekend (with our two noisy kids), we will often bring a gift. Curious to hear from others!

    • Kim says...

      I always bring wine and/or food. I’ve never gotten a hostess gift that wasn’t edible, except when we have moved into a new place.

    • Kat van der Hoorn says...

      I bring wine for dinner, but a bigger gift if I’m staying, especially for more than one night.

    • Lindsey says...

      I don’t (even for a weekend), but it might be a stage of life thing. My husband is a medical residents, all of our friends are in their late 20s and in similar stages. I wouldn’t ever buy myself an $85 blanket! And we only stay with very close friends and family. When we do, I usually bring snacks to share and/or offer to pay for a dinner out to relieve the hostess of a meal.

    • Julie says...

      Ditto on it being for a longer stay or an extended hangout, like if you’re at someone’s house for 6 hours or longer on a big holiday that they did most of the prep/cooking for! Have always brought something like a nice Anthro candle and a thank-you card. My grandmother is 88 and still writing thank you cards for every little thing. I’ll never stop either.

    • KJ says...

      I think these were meant to run that gamut – that might be more suited to someone hosting your family for a long weekend!

    • Sarah says...

      I can totally see where you’re coming from, T– normally I bring a small consumable gift, like fresh bagels or local chocolates or jam, and then pay for a meal. But a couple weeks ago I stayed at my in-laws’ second home for a girls weekend. They weren’t there at the time, but I did want to leave a little gift as a thank-you for letting me use their city condo; since they wouldn’t be back for another month and don’t drink wine or cook much, this would have fit the bill *perfectly*. Plus I’ve already bought them a little tray and a candle from previous stays so I’m running out of ideas :)

  59. Lisa says...

    The cheese looks so good right now. We live right up the road from a gourmet cheese shop and it is a blessing and a curse!

    • Andrea says...

      My absolute favorite hostess gift to give, and I know it may sound weird, is a pretty and absorbent dish towel. It’s inexpensive but useful and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked where did you get it, I want to get more! I love good dish towels, they make me happy and being empty nesters I can have nice cute ones that my boys aren’t running in and grabbing to wipe the sweat off their heads! Seriously people, it’s a great “doesn’t take up space” gift! My sister doesn’t want any stuff whatsoever so with her it’s a meal I treat her to which she loves. My best friend cross country, it was always the creepiest scariest paperback I could find, that thrilled her more than anything. But a super cute/nice dish towel, always a winner!