What to Give the Hostess with the Mostess?

We may not have gone many places over the last few pandemic-era years, but the offers now are starting to ramp up for the rest of summer and even into the early Fall. If you are handed an invitation to friends for the weekend or a night or for dinner or brunch after being locked in for several years during Covid, be grateful. Show your gratitude with a small and thoughtful hostess gift. 

But it’s another task to add to your to-do list. At this age, what the heck do you bring? 

We all have too much stuff and are trying to rid ourselves of vases, pitchers, platters, punch bowls. So, you think. Hmmm

The person has a weight problem, so we shouldn’t give our usual gift of chocolates, even sugar free, or wrapped in a lovely box. It will be torture for them and the point of a gift is to add good cheer, not pounds.   

And who knows if they have a nut allergy so bag the mixed container of cashews, peanuts and walnuts. 

Or what about the person with a green thumb? Do they really need another plant, which these days with the heat turned up outside may wilt before you even hand it to them. Bag this idea, too, even if your favorite cone flowers or a rose bush would be welcomed enthusiastically by you. 

Making something homemade is always so thoughtful, so let’s get back to the idea of food. However, do you really want to bake homemade brownies when you think you recall your recipient doesn’t like that sweet. And it’s so warm outside that who wants to turn on the oven to bake something when you’re baking yourself also in this heat.   

A book might work but do you know their taste? Political, spy thriller, biography, cookbook? At least they can pass it on to someone who might enjoy it, so don’t rule that out. 

Well, we are here to help you more. At this time of summer visits, here’s our list of 12 additional ideas that may work well or not. The key is to bring something. Going empty-handed is never in good taste even if they tell you, “Don’t bring anything. I need nothing!” 

  1. A bag of fresh bagels, plus cream cheese and if you want to splurge, some smoked salmon, capers, a red onion. It’s a great breakfast to share. Not into bagels, consider croissants or fresh muffins. Our favorite blueberry recipe is from Jordan Marsh. Or ring up Zabar’s and have a great basket of goodies sent. You might also add in the book about the history of the New York emporium by the late Lori Zabar.
  2. A bottle of Prosecco or Cava or Aperol for spritzers (add an orange and seltzer water) so they don’t have to run to the grocery. They’re already stressed by your visit even if they don’t let on. Entertaining is exhausting when you're trying to figure out who eats what.
  3. Great melamine dishes for outside dining. Sure, everybody at our advanced age has plenty of dishes, but probably not enough non-breakable ones for outdoor use or with grandchildren. They come in great patterns and shapes these days.
  4. A magazine subscription is almost always welcomed. Consider Bon Appetit, Town & Country, The New Yorker, Atlantic or something racier like People or Us.
  5. A gift certificate for a meal out that they can use while you’re there or set aside when they don’t want to cook or entertain.
  6. Pretty napkins. Most of us have resorted to paper napkins most days but there’s a nice European tradition of cloth napkins in colors and patterns to up the ante on a pretty table. Be sure they’re laundry safe and don’t require ironing.
  7. Pretty notecards. Few may write a thank you but what a nice tradition to get back into. Choose a motif that works for the house with a beach scene if you’re visiting their beach house or their name printed on the card if nothing else. Include a pen if you feel extra generous.
  8. Kitchen dishtowels. Typically, fresh new ones are always welcome. If you know the color of their kitchen, try to find a color or pattern to match. Something kitschy can also be fun.
  9. A scented candle can be a nice touch to add a lovely fragrance to a room or bathroom. The ones from Homesick are amusing with smells that recall a trip to Hawaii, the 10th hole of a course or their tennis league or now Barbie’s Dreamhouse in pink, of course.
  10. Speaking of tennis or pickleball, why not give a can or two of tennis balls or a cute towel to take to the court.
  11. If they have a dog, a toy or bone for their pet is very thoughtful. At least Rover will love you for it.
  12. A good bottle of olive oil which provides a healthy way to cook; feeling extra generous, add a bottle of balsamic vinegar, and you’ve got their salad covered. 

Even if the gift isn’t something the host or hostess really wants, it can be regifted or donated to a worthy cause. Keep in mind,  it’s the thought, not the gift or how much it costs that really counts.


  • Rena

    All are good ideas! When can you come over !!?

  • Debbie

    Thank you! Some good ideas here

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