Unique Hostess Gifts

Tired of showing up at dinner parties with the ubiquitous bottle of wine? At a recent dinner in Northwest Washington, the hostess received no fewer than seven bottles of wine. This abundance of vino sparked a table conversation about hostess gifts. Most guests ‘fessed up to spending somewhere between ten to twenty dollars for a hostess gift, and most of the time, the gift was a bottle of wine.

Wine has become a standard hostess gift largely because most recipients enjoy it, and it is a great last-minute gift that can be picked up on the way to the party. A few people at the Washington dinner party said they dressed up the wine bottle with ribbon or a fancy bag, but most just removed the price tag and presented the bottle au naturel.

For the dinner guest who would like to give something little different, here are some potential hostess gifts costing less than twenty dollars. Some take a little more planning than a bottle of wine, but others are definitely in the grab-and-go category.

Food and Drink Gifts

  • A jar of local honey from the farmer’s market or gourmet gift shop. Dress up the jar by tying a honey spoon to the jar with ribbon.
  • Specialty teas, like peach, or Earl Grey, along with an infuser, cinnamon sticks, or a bag of gourmet brown sugar cubes.
  • A pound of high quality, specialty-roast coffee beans, or a small basket with a bags of sampler-sized coffees. The samplers could include a variety of roasts, and/or flavored coffees.
  • A bottle of aged balsamic vinegar
  • A container of hazelnut oil
  • And even though everyone seems to be on a diet these days, a small box of high quality chocolates

Flowers and Plants for Host and Hostess Gifts

  • A bouquet of flowers straight from the grocery store or garden is always nice, particularly if accompanied by an inexpensive vase so the host or hostess doesn’t have to scurry around looking for a vase while trying to greet guests and make last minute preparations.
  • Small pots of herbs from a local nursery. Buy three or four small pots of herbs and put them in a little basket to hide the plastic nursery pots. Some herbs that will live a while on the window sill are parsley, thyme, cilantro, chives, rosemary, and basil.
  • An aloe plant. Though they seem to have passed out of fashion, an aloe in the kitchen is not only attractive, but a handy first aid for burns. Dress up the nursery pot by wrapping it in foiled paper.

Grab and Go Gifts to Keep on Hand

  • A package of wine glass charms that allow guests to keep track of their wine glasses
  • A packet of beautiful note cards and a nice pen
  • A guest book and pen
  • A small, elegant picture frame
  • Two or three bars of fine hand made soap tied together with ribbon
  • A few beeswax tapers held together with ribbon
  • A package of decorative cocktail napkins can be added to any of the gifts above.

The key to breaking out of the bottle-of-wine gift rut is to think ahead. Buy items when they are on sale and stash them away until an invitation rolls in. And remember, if all else fails, you can always pick up a nice bottle of Chardonnay on the way to the party.