Hostess Gifts: Unique Ways to Show Appreciation

Don't go empty-handed, whether you're a full houseguest or just a reveler at a summer fête.

The summer season means backyard barbecues, alfresco dinner feasts and house parties at the beach or the lake. A good guest never comes empty-handed, so look through this list for some gift inspiration. And always consider whether your host would like a gift that is gone within a month (like wine or flowers) or one that he or she can pull out every summer and think of you.

Edibles and Plants

 I love getting food, wine or flowers when I throw a party, since I dislike clutter and I love plants and food. Gifts of edibles or flowers will never go out of style, so these are the safest choices if you are unsure about what to bring.

1. One of the best hostess gifts I’ve received in recent years was an oil and vinegar set from Carter & Cavero, an old world olive oil company based in Red Bank, NJ. We used it almost everyday on something or other and it was delicious, thoughtful and gone within a couple months.

2. The summer party season means that there is always something to toast or celebrate, so unless your hosts are teetotalers, wine will always be a welcome gift. Look through these picks for interesting organic and biodynamic  wines and this one for some French wine suggestions.

3. Unless your hostess has some phobia or aversion to cut flowers, then spring for a pretty bouquet. Think in advance and buy a vase (disposable or permanent) so that your host doesn’t have to root around for one right after you arrive. This rosemary topiary is perfect for almost everyone: it lasts longer than cut flowers and smells divine whether or not the recipient actually wants to cook with the fresh herb.

The rosemary topiary from Pottery Barn and an olive oil gift set from Carter and Cavero.

For the Home

You are enjoying your host’s home and hospitality, so a gift for the home is almost always appropriate. I like buying decorative objects for friends when I visit or stay as a houseguest, unless their tastes are wildly extravagant or they favor a completely Spartan style.

1. These two picks are both useful and pretty, and your hosts can put them to good use during the summer entertaining season. This initial cheeseboard ($24.95)  was recommended by Emerson Gift Shoppe, an Independent store rated one of the Ten Best in Bergen County. Another store on the best list,  Eurica, recommended this dragonfly napkinbox by Mariposa ($44). Napkinboxes are especially useful for dining alfresco, and this one is striking.

The initial cheeseboard at Emerson Gift Shoppe and the napkinbox from Mariposa.

2. If you want to arrive bearing a gift that is more whimsical and fun than useful for everyday, then consider Jonathan Adler’s dachsund butter dish ($88) or this apple candle holder ($25) from Barney’s.

The dachsund butter dish by Jonathan Adler and the apple candle from Barney’s.

 For Entertainment

Don’t rely on your hosts to provide all the activities and entertainment, bring something for everyone to do.

1. Bocce is a game with simple rules that almost everyone can play, so it’s fun for house parties and outdoor barbecues. This glow-in-the-dark bocce ball set ($45) provides some nighttime fun, since the balls light up with internal LEDs.

2. This giant tumbling tower set ($140) transforms the classic stacking game into an outdoor activity, and the large size of each of the pieces makes it perfect for playing with large groups.

A giant set of Jenga-like tumbling towers and glow-in-the-dark Bocce balls.

Related Article: Father’s Day Finds

Categories: Home & Style Features, Homepage Features, Morris/Essex Health & Life