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The Challenge: Host Gifts

November 23, 2009

Last week, JD and I found ourselves in a situation where it was the day of a dinner party, and we had nothing to bring the hosts. We were stumped but knew we could not attend without something. 

Our first thought was a bottle of wine. We love wine but are not experts. Our dinner hosts were older, and we assumed they have much better tastes than we do in our late-twenties. So we kept thinking.

In a burst of inspiration, I decided to bring a jar of Ponchatoula strawberry jam (since one of the host’s grandfather was a Ponchatoula native), and that gift was a huge success. But, what could I have done had I not made the Ponchatoula correlation?

I am not a huge stickler for etiquette, but as I’ve grown older (to the wise age of 27), I can now see the value of brining something to the folks who invited you for a wonderful dinner or party. I brainstormed more ideas after the event and am sharing them here, in hopes that you too won’t have that gift-giving panic before an occasion like we did.

Honey, Preserves, Jelly, Apple Butter

If you live in the South, any of these items are quickly attainable and perfect gifts. They are not insulting to the cook because they are not easily made from scratch, and if they are a local favorite (like the Loveless Cafe for us Nashvillians), they are a fun specialty, especially if you are attending an out-of-town function.

Coffee beans or grounds, Tea, Hot Cocoa mixes

Who could refuse a great bag of coffee from the local hotspot? If they are hosting you for a gathering, they must like hosting folks in general! They would appreciate anything to serve post-meal over dessert. If I didn’t have that Ponchatoula jam, I would have run right over to Fido and grabbed a bag of coffee like this one for our dinner hosts.

Spices, Herbs, Rubs, Sauces

My bride-to-be pal Alice introduced me to Cambria Cove, a great website with a huge selection of housewares, foods, gift sets, stationery, and jewelry. This Mexican spice selection from Cambria Cove is a fun variety for any foodie or cook. A BBQ rub, special salts and peppers, and fresh herbs would also be a good gift.

Plants, Bulbs, Flowers

I love gardening, yardwork and houseplants, so anything in this category would be right up my alley. I love receiving a gift that is potted… it can be enjoyed for months, sometimes years. This Amaryllis in a Gift Bag from Gardens of Babylon’s online store, Gardner’s, is a sweet present.

The Unusual

Who says hostess gifts have to be boring? How about a honey pot or a fun basket or tin? The point is to bring something that you want to give and not feel bashful walking up to the door with your arms full with it! My favorite gift of all time was Athens-made Bee Natural Honeypots. I love these things. They smell amazing and are a step up from a candle.

I’m taking a break this week for Thanksgiving, but I’ll be back on Sunday with a gift guide for those of you looking for good ideas on Cyber Monday. I am very grateful to all of you who continue to read my blog and tell me about it in your comments. Thank you!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sarah permalink
    November 24, 2009 11:23 am

    thanks for the great ideas! i also saw a few days ago that posted something about their host/hostess gift guide on twitter. here’s the link if anyone’s interested:

  2. jauberry permalink
    December 3, 2009 12:07 pm

    Thank you. Thank you. I always bring wine and am so bored. I have written all these ideas in my pocket notebook because they are great and a change from the 6 bottles of wine every host gets when they have people over for dinner.

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