Author Topic: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?  (Read 2405 times)

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ChinaShepherdess

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Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« on: January 17, 2014, 03:52:27 AM »
I'm going to an intimate dinner party that's also a semi-official housewarming for a couple I'm close to and am a bit out to sea about what to bring. I was very close to the couple a few years ago (in fact, I was in their wedding a few months ago, but they just moved from cross-country, so I hadn't seen them for a while before that) but they are both people who go through many phases, so I'm not very clear on their current interests. I do know that they scarcely drink (and when they do they drink high-end wines and liquors), are very particular about what foods they eat (my friend follows a very strict diet and has told me that when she's given food she throws it away immediately), and my friend particularly dislikes flowers.

I asked if there was anything I could bring (wine for dinner, a non-alcoholic beverage, etc.) and she assured me that only my presence was required.

I would never dream of showing up to dinner -- let alone a housewarming! -- empty-handed but am plum out of ideas. I don't know their tastes well enough to feel comfortable giving them a decoration or homegood or such; I make significantly less money than they do so a gift card would be both tacky and a large sacrifice for me and not particularly useful for them; the traditional offerings of alcohol, food and flowers are totally off the table. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

The only idea I have so far is buying one of those $5 basil plants that you can get at the supermarket, because I figure basil is more useful than flowers, and it would be easy for them to re-gift if they want, or else to use in cooking whatever food they prefer.

purple

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 05:10:14 AM »
I like your idea of a herb.  You could pick up a plant very cheaply and then put it in a brightly coloured pot.

Any kind of potted plant would be a good thing to bring, I think.

Margo

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2014, 05:31:45 AM »
I agree with the suggestion of a growing herb or herbs. Rosemary is traditionally associated with  memory and friendship so as well as being useful, would be appropriate.
Sir Thomas More wrote:

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  "As for rosmarine, I lette it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and, therefore to friendship . . .

You could put that quote on a card with the pot, if you wanted. If she cooks, it is used in lots of dishes, and if not, it is a nice looking but not too flamboyant plant, so she may be happy to have it in a planter or an a window sill, even if she wouldn't like to have flowers.

Zizi-K

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2014, 08:38:07 AM »
I really like the potted herbs idea. Another might be very good chocolate? Or a small bottle of a liqueur that they like. For housewarmings, it's also not to give a set of 3-4 very nice kitchen towels. Not the decorative kind, but some good useable ones. Roll them, tie a nice ribbon around them, you could give them in a decorative basket (or not). Always an appreciated and useful gift!

wolfie

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2014, 10:02:57 AM »
Do they have pets? I hate getting plants because two of my cats will sit right next to it and eat it... and then I have to clean it up when it comes right back up again. Also I have a black thumb so it is only a matter of time until it dies. 

Do you have to give a hostess gift? In this case sounds like it would be more trouble then it is worth.

camlan

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2014, 10:25:57 AM »
The hostess gift is a relatively new idea in etiquette. The standard used to be that you'd attend a dinner at someone's home, and the following day write a lovely thank you note or send flowers as a thank you.

This would probably make you a little uncomfortable, but since your hosts have told you that it's okay to show up empty-handed, why not do just that? Then, while you are in their home, listen to what they have to say about the new home. Look around you. Find something small that they are lacking--the aforementioned dish towels, or picture hangers or coasters or just about anything that they might need for their new home. Or they might mention that they are planning on getting planters for their new front porch, that sort of thing.

Then, the day after the party, go and buy whatever it is, and send it off to them with a nice thank you note and best wishes for their new home.
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mrkitty

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2014, 10:30:47 AM »
A nice picture frame? How about a photo album (blank, or one you've filled with pictures of them/their wedding/you with them)? How about a nice coffee table book about the city they live in or famous world landmarks?

Just a couple ideas off the top of my head...I figure it's hard to go wrong with one of those. Something nice, not too expensive, kind of generic (except for the photos idea), and something that I can't imagine could possibly cause offense (although I can always be proven wrong.)


Oh, I just thought of something else: how about a nice set of coffee mugs? I had a boss once when I did an internship years and years ago who gave me coffee mugs when I moved into my first apartment. At the time I thought it was such a strange idea....then I grew to appreciate them, because one can never have too many coffee mugs!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 10:34:23 AM by mrkitty »
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SamiHami

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2014, 10:41:24 AM »
Bread and salt are the traditional housewarming gifts that I'm aware of. I'd go to a bakery and get some sort of artisan bread and maybe some exotic salts and make up a little basket for them.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

lellah

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2014, 10:42:18 AM »
Bread and salt are the traditional housewarming gifts that I'm aware of. I'd go to a bakery and get some sort of artisan bread and maybe some exotic salts and make up a little basket for them.

I love this idea.  I also love bringing along fancy little guest soaps for someone's guest bath and/or monogrammed guest towels.

wolfie

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2014, 10:42:40 AM »
A nice picture frame? How about a photo album (blank, or one you've filled with pictures of them/their wedding/you with them)? How about a nice coffee table book about the city they live in or famous world landmarks?

Just a couple ideas off the top of my head...I figure it's hard to go wrong with one of those. Something nice, not too expensive, kind of generic (except for the photos idea), and something that I can't imagine could possibly cause offense (although I can always be proven wrong.)


Oh, I just thought of something else: how about a nice set of coffee mugs? I had a boss once when I did an internship years and years ago who gave me coffee mugs when I moved into my first apartment. At the time I thought it was such a strange idea....then I grew to appreciate them, because one can never have too many coffee mugs!

PM me your address! I will send you all my extras! ;-)

ChinaShepherdess

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2014, 02:03:50 PM »
Oh my goodness, thank y'all so much for these wonderful suggestions! I'm actually feeling excited about picking up a little gift now! I love the idea of rosemary and that wonderful quotation. And I didn't know that bread and salt were traditional! I think I might poke around for potted rosemary, and/or buy a few of Trader Joe's fancy sea salts along with a loaf of bread and throw it in a basket with some plain dish towels! Whew!

Also, I'd never thought of the idea of going to a new apartment, then looking around and sending the gift after. That's a brilliant maneuver. This particular friend is a minimalist and very open about throwing away (not even re-gifting or donating, but sticking straight in a landfill) gifts that aren't to her tastes, and while I know that such is a gift recipient's right, I've found that her discussing it so much around me has taken the fun out of gift-giving and made me too scared to even venture gifts that are intended to be kept instead of consumed. But now I have lots of ideas for when my less-critical friends have housewarmings!

lowspark

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2014, 03:16:37 PM »
I'm going to throw this out there and you can take it with a grain of salt but IMO you shouldn't get her anything. It seems to me that she's made it clear she doesn't want any gifts.

-- she only consumes those particular things she likes. "when she's given food she throws it away immediately" So unless you are getting her a specific thing you know for sure that she normally buys for herself, I wouldn't get her something edible. It's going to end up in the trash.

-- "This particular friend is a minimalist and very open about throwing away (not even re-gifting or donating, but sticking straight in a landfill) gifts that aren't to her tastes" -- Again, she's very particular. I wouldn't buy her anything unless I was about 99% sure it was something she really wanted.

-- "she assured me that only my presence was required" -- When I say this sort of thing to my guests, I really do mean it. Of course, I graciously accept hostess gifts if they are offered and it's so nice that someone went out of their way for me, but it's totally unnecessary and I don't think any less of those people who don't bring anything. Especially if I specifically told them not to.

Personally, I would just send a nice thank you note after the fact and leave it at that. Again, you can take this with a grain of salt since it seems you really are set on bringing her something. Just that seeing it through her eyes, I'm guessing she'd be happier if you didn't.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2014, 03:46:59 PM »
I agree with lowspark; I wouldn't take a gift.  If you want to take a card for the housewarming part of it, that would be OK.  And then send a nice thank you note after the fact.
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kudeebee

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2014, 12:59:41 AM »
I agree with lowspark as well.  You have been given many ideas for nice hostess gifts, but I don't think they will work for these friends.

Food is a no-no, as are flowers--and I would include herbs and potted plants in this as well. She is a minimalist and throws away what she doesn't like/want.  You don't know what high end wines and liqueurs they like plus they would probably be out of your budget.

I, too, would take her at her word and bring nothing.  Take a nice housewarming card if you wish.  I would hate to see you spend your money, only for your gift to end up in the trash the minute the party is over.  If--and big if--you pick up on something that they like while you are there and it is in your budget, you can also send it after the fact.

TootsNYC

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Re: Hostess gift for very picky hosts?
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2014, 01:45:21 AM »
Get some plain stationery, and make them personalized stationery (w/ their new address on the envelope flat, maybe).

Or, make personalized return-address stickers w/ their new address. Just type, in something classy and easy to read, like Times New Roman (if she's a picky minimalist, she may not like the freebies that you get in the mail--and she won't have any yet, maybe).

But I'd also say, I don't think hostess gifts are appropriate for a second visit to someone's home, even if it's a new home. And they can be a burden. They come w/ guilt attached, they're really over the top, they get in the way, etc.

Come empty handed.