No matter the occasion — a holiday gathering, a meal with friends, a neighborhood barbecue — bringing a host gift should be included in your plans.
Do you need to take a gift to the host every time?
In a word, yes.
A host/hostess gift needn’t be extravagant, cause you stress or endless hours of shopping; keep it simple and under $20. The purpose is to say “Thank you for the time and effort you have put into this meal/party/event. I appreciate the invitation.”
Some things to keep in mind:
1. Avoid bringing something that is going to distract or cause your host additional work. Flowers are lovely — bring them pre-arranged or send them earlier in the day or the day after the party. A holiday or potted plant is also a thoughtful gesture.
2. Alcohol/wine is a standard gift, provided you know your host indulges. While it may always be re-gifted, doing so lessens the impact of receiving it. Yes, it is the thought that counts, but how much thought went into the gift? Did you simply grab the usual bottle of wine because it was all you could think of?
3. For casual get-togethers, an offer to help with food and/or beverages is always appropriate. For more formal dinner parties, the offer is always appropriate but if declined, don’t show up with dessert “just to help out.” Your host has already planned the meal and your “gift” is actually a problem. (When this happens, the savvy host greets the dish with a big smile and a “Thank you! This will be perfect for our dinner with Uncle Bill and Aunt Sarah tomorrow evening!”)
4. Can you personalize your selection? What about a small box of delicious truffles for the chocoholic or a selection of teas for those who enjoy a cuppa? A basket of home-baked muffins for breakfast the next morning is also a yummy idea.
5. Don’t expect your gift to be opened and shared with the other guests in attendance; it is a present for your host!
6. Always include a note with your gift. While you may be able to hand it directly to your host, there may also be times when you find yourself adding it to the stash on the hall table. A note will inform — or remind — the host of your thoughtfulness at a later time.
Do you need to write thank you notes when you have received a host/hostess gift?
No. The gift itself is a thank you. In fact, a good guest will follow up a party the next day with a note or telephone call to the host, thanking him/her once again for a lovely evening. It’s all about being a best guest, especially if you wish to be invited back again!
That doesn’t mean, however, that a host can’t reach out to a guest to say how much they appreciated a special bottle of wine, those delicious muffins (and how wonderful it was to have a treat for breakfast, rather than left-over party food) or how good it was to see a friend …
Letting others know you appreciate their thoughtfulness and are glad they are a part of your life is never inappropriate!