As it turns out, your mother was completely right: it's unacceptable to show up empty handed for any kind of party. And showing up without a thoughtful token for Thanksgiving dinner? Out of the question. Host/hostess gifts are a way for guests to not only say "thank you," but to recognize the effort, attention, and inclusion into their friends' homes. It's a traditional gesture, but certainly not an outdated one, and if you've been asked to something as special as Thanksgiving dinner, you need to be on point.
But what do you do when the usual staples of flowers, wine, or dessert aren't enough to express the gratitude you feel for being part of such a festive occasion? Don't worry, we've got you covered with some of our favorite ideas, from budget-friendly, to home-made, to positively luxurious, that will get your name to the top of the invite list for next year.
"Oh, this is exactly what I needed!"
Useful hosting gifts are always appreciated, and easy to follow through on for the practical shoppers out there. Think about items that could be put to use at the dinner, or could be beneficial for a future dinner.
We love the idea of inexpensive napkins embroidered with your host's initials--if you aren't crafty, this can be done for a nominal fee at most tailors, or you can purchase pre-made iron ons for a personalized touch. If you aren't sure of your friend's style, stick to neutral colors like plum, dark green, or a pretty plaid. Avoid anything seasonal, since the intent of the gift is to be useful for longer than just one meal. Not only will this be a nice addition to any kitchen, but your friends will think of you every time they grace the table for dinners to come.
Another sensible hostess gift is a beautiful card with a selection of your favorite recipes and a gift card to a local finer foods store. We love the feeling of combining the practical with the personal, offering your host an opportunity to try something new without making an investment out of their own pocket. If you aren't a whiz in the kitchen, perhaps suggest a favorite cheese, appetizer, or pre-made item that you love from the store. Not only is it thoughtful, but it provides your pals with another opportunity to host, or treat themselves to a fabulous night at home.
Finally in the useful category, this is the ideal opportunity to bring your favorite kitchen gadget. While gifts like this can normally seem impersonal, it's the exact right way to give back to someone who is taking care of you. We like electric wine openers, olive wood salt boxes, and Littledeer Pan Paddles. No matter your host's decor, each item is high quality, thoughtful, and sure to enhance their kitchen.
"Oh, this is so beautiful!"
Bringing something beautiful into someone's home is always appreciated, as long as it doesn't require any immediate attention. Flowers are a pretty present, but they need water and a vase and then require clean-up later--remember, you don't want to make more work for your hosts. Instead, turn your attention to something lasting, delicious, or intended to pamper.
One of our favorite hosting gifts is a next-day care kit. Think about it, your friend worked tirelessly to prepare their home and a meal for everyone, and they'll probably be pretty wiped out the next day. Head to Sephora or your favorite beauty supply store and grab a few sheet masks, some bath salts, a fragrant body wash, and a revitalizing hair treatment. Bundle them together with a card, encouraging your pal to take the next day to unwind. Holidays are stressful and we all need reminders to practice self-care. If you're looking to bring something extra extravagant, invest in Susanne Kaufmann's Advent Calendar. Filled with herbal restoratives, such as Relaxation Tea, Aromatic Anti-Stress Oil, Rose Oil, and Body Butter, this is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Your hosts probably have dessert locked down, so splurge on a box of artisan chocolates or some homemade shortbread cookies and a box of tea for the next day. Bringing edible gifts intended for your hosts doesn't interfere with any menu they have planned, and if they choose to open the goodies and share, then everyone can partake.
"Oh, that's so kind of you!"
If your budget doesn't allow for bringing a gift, then take some time and think of how you can give of yourself. Print out a card with an invitation to return to your home for a meal, or a cheeky coupon to stay after pie and help clean up, or even an inexpensive pair of dish gloves with a promise to be on sink duty once the guests have departed. You don't have to spend money to show your gratitude, and your friends knowing you took the time to think of what they might appreciate is going to be something they end up feeling thankful for.