We’ve all been there.
It’s party season and you’ve had this one in the diary for months. You’ve been running around all day, battling the crowds while trying to get your Christmas shopping done. You’ve rushed home, jumped in the shower and raced to get ready. The babysitter’s here and you’re ready to run out the door.
Then it hits you.
In all the stress and craziness that you have to plough through at this time of year you’ve completely forgotten to buy a gift for the party host.
With hope fading fast, you rummage in the kitchen cupboard for that box of chocolates. The one that’s been kicking around in there for a couple of weeks because it’s nobody’s favourite. But then you remember last Wednesday when your awful work day drove you to devour the entire box. Every. Last. One. Bummer!
Any wine?? Nope, after last Wednesday it went too. There’s just that dodgy bottle of unidentified something or other you won back in spring at the school fair tombola. Maybe…Will it do?? Eh, no. This party is being hosted by one of your besties for heaven’s sake!
'Aaaarghh!! Why wasn't I more organised!'
Aww come on, give yourself a break. Just how many plates do you think you're actually capable of spinning?
Of course It doesn’t have to be that way this year. I know, I know, it's barely October and you can't bring yourself to think about Christmas yet. It's easy to say 'I'll give it another few weeks' and then I'll think about it. But after more than 30 years of organising family Christmases, I know how easy it is to put off the prep then live to regret it.
This year, your party guest status can easily go from zero to hero by buying a few suitable hostess gifts now so that when party season rolls around you’ll be all prepared. You’ll be well and truly in the smug zone with a handsome assortment of suitable dinner party gifts or gift basket ideas at the ready, potentially all wrapped and good to go.
But what to buy? What makes a great hostess gift?
Well I’ll tell you what doesn’t. An unidentified alcoholic(ish) prize from the school fair tombola, that’s what :)
Traditionally, a host or hostess gift is given as a way of thanking the host for including you on the guest list and should be something the host could use in the course of entertaining. That said, there should be no expectation that the recipient uses the gift on the day/night.
In fact, etiquette dictates that you should discretely give the gift on arrival, so as to not embarrass any other guest who didn’t bring anything. The gift should be wrapped, tagged and you should anticipate the recipient tucking the gift away in another room to open after the party. This means the host/ess is able to devote his or her time to welcoming other guests rather than being expected to open gifts or run around finding vases for flowers etc.
Which brings us to the subject of taking flowers as a gift and whether it's really the best option at all at this time of year. That’s why it’s good to get a stock of suitable alternatives going:)
The best way to give flowers as a hostess gift is to go with flowers which are already in water. But they still need to be bought fresh, right? Remember all that haring around you’ll inevitably be doing during party season? You want to make this as stress free as possible, don't you? You really don't need to be adding 'pick up flowers' to your already crammed December 'to to' list. There are so many other options out there, personally I’d save the gift of fresh flowers for another time of year.
Here are my top ideas for great hostess gifts or dinner party gifts this season.
1. Everyone loves a Christmas reindeer or Christmas stag. How about a Stag Cheese Knife? Or a Stag Bottle Stopper and Stag Corkscrew combo? You could even make up a little stag themed Christmas gift basket. These definitely fall into the ‘can be used while entertaining’ category, and are pretty much used universally, so unlikely they’ll end up languishing unused at the back of a drawer in the future or worse still, being re-gifted!!!
2. How about a more unique gift? If you know your host or hostess loves their candles then these Snowflake Candle Studs and Stag Candle Studs offer something really different. Giving a more unusual gift can show that you’ve really put some thought into it (and haven’t just grabbed any old thing for the sake of not going empty handed).
4. If you don’t want to go down the ‘entertaining’ gift route, I think that for the Christmas party season, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a little something to hang on the Christmas tree. Your hosts will then remember you every year thereafter when they go to re-hang it! There are so many really unique tree decorations to choose from these days too. How about keeping a few of these in reserve and decide what type of decorations your host would appreciate? Those with young families might appreciate a couple of hand stitched fair trade felt decorations - who doesn't love a penguin Christmas tree decoration - so cute!
Whatever you decide to go with as a great hostess gift, make the decision now. Either get yourself a selection of gifts or decide on what your Christmas party gift is going to be this year and buy multiples now while you can take your pick.
Then the next time you’re running around on party day like a headless chicken, trying desperately to tick off all those things on your never ending Christmas ‘to-do’ list, at least you’ll know your host or hostess is going to be the recipient of a well thought out, sure to please gift. Without a doubt you’ll be the hero guest this year and top of the list for next!
Oh, and if any of my besties are reading this, I better make sure I heed my own advice!
Talking of getting ahead of the game, here are a couple of other posts I put together which may interest you -
What's your favourite hostess gift to give? We'd all love to know - it's great to share your great tips too!
Please share your own ideas by adding them in the comments below.