good hostesses give good hostess gifts

I love entertaining. I love having my friends and family over for dinner – for any reason or for no reason.  I love to cook delicious food, try new recipes, and share laughs over a bottle of wine (or two, or three). But I can’t always be the hostess. Sometimes I need to be the guest.

To be honest, I struggle with this from time to time. Sure, there are our friends whose homes feel like an extension of our own, but there are plenty of times when I wish I had the sole monopoly over opening one’s home to guests.

But when I do go over to someone’s home – whether for dinner or a party or a mini-vacation – I can’t arrive empty handed.

The first question is always: “What can I bring?” And it may be dessert, a salad (true confession: I love when guests bring the salad. I love salad but it’s not my favorite thing to make), or a bottle of wine. But sometimes you need to bring a little more. Maybe it’s a housewarming party, maybe it’s a special occasion, perhaps you want to thank the hostess for extended hospitality.

Enter the hostess gift.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like ever since Pinterest really took off, hostess gifts have gotten a ton more creative. You can’t just give a bottle of wine, it has to be a bottle of wine wrapped in a custom tea towel.  Even a gift basket isn’t really enough unless it’s themed in some way. Search “hostess gifts” on Pinterest and you are bound to find a bajillion ideas, ranging in execution from “easy – I probably have all those items in my pantry” to “I’d have to pay a personal shopper to track down all those items and wrap them so nicely.”

But hostess gifts don’t have to be intense – they should just be something the hostess would appreciate.   Here are some ideas that I like:

I truly appreciate receiving flowers, but I like this lemonade set as well, with the sunflowers as a bonus.  The truly heartfelt part is the handwritten lemonade recipe, but you could honestly recreate this with the ingredients to any recipe:

Photo via  Ask Anna

Photo via Ask Anna

This next one is ideal for a housewarming gift, or just someone who could use some new kitchen gadgets, but I love the idea of putting a bunch of kitchen items in an oven mitt. Again, this could be tweaked to any interest.

Photo via  Sur la Table

Photo via Sur la Table

For the DIY inclined, I love the idea of making chalkboard napkin rings and pairing with cloth napkins. I bought a can of chalkboard spray paint a few months ago for a project and I have plenty of paint left and I’ve been trying to think of a good use for it – this might be it. Of course, store bought, non-chalkboard napkin rings and cloth napkins would be lovely as well. I’m a big fan of cloth napkins and I almost always use them when entertaining. As my friend Anna says, cloth napkins are a sign of adulthood.

Photo via  Green with Renvy

Photo via Green with Renvy

And while wine is nice (and certainly a much-appreciated gift for many hostesses), one of my favorite store-bought gifts is the corkcicle – I’ve given it many times and everyone has loved it. It keeps wine cool without a cooler or a tub, or it chills wine to serving temperature. Buy one for your wine-loving friend, or let’s be honest, you probably want one too!

Buy at  Amazon

Buy at Amazon

This of course doesn’t take into consideration plenty of other great gifts – homemade or  otherwise (and we all know my thoughts on swag and favors – edible or consumable is best – applies to hostess gifts as well). What’s your go-to gift for your fellow hostesses?

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