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hostess gift suggestions

My hubby and I were invited to a friend's 40th birthday party dinner at the birthday girl's house. The invitation specifically states "no gifts please" but I'm going to take that as no birthday presents for my friend. I'd feel really awkward not going with at least a hostess gift--after all, they are taking the time to have the dinner in their home.

Please, thoughts for a gift to bring with me that doesn't violate the spirit of the "no gifts, please"???

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  1. If they specifically state "no gifts," I should find it rude for you to unilaterally ignore the request.

    Why not make a donation to a favorite charity, in their honor, after the party?

    1. In this situation, I would most likely bring a bottle of wine. If the hostess is not a drinker, I bring flowers. Very appropriate hostess gifts. Nothing too showy or flashy, just tasteful. When I bring flowers I try to bring something exotic like orchids or other tropical flowers. I tend to stay away from roses, daisies or carnations - I think they are so overdone.

      1. On second thought, call the hostess and ask her if you can bring anything. Perhaps an appetizer or a nice bottle of wine. That way, you have talked with her and offered your help. If she still insists nothing, then, at least you've made the offering and she'll think how polite you are to honor her request of "no gifts" but, to try to help.

        1 Reply
        1. re: calla0413

          both are good recommendations calla - I 2d both of them.

        2. It is interesting that a clearly stated "no gifts please" needs to be interpreted. Which word was confusing?

          It is also interesting that you, as a guest, place your feelings; "I'd feel really awkward not going with at least a hostess gift" ahead of the hostess's.

          1. I have to agree with the OP here. When I have sent invitations to a birthday party indicating "no gifts", I am referring to the birthday boy. I would never be offended by someone bringing a small hostess gift.

            I have to agree that wine or flowers are great as hostess gifts.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MalinDC

              Definately. The interpretation I'd make given the occassion is that Birthday gifts are not expected. The hostess will surely appreciate a thoughtful (and personalized) token of thanks for putting the party together. I like giving a box of Mighty Tea leaf tea bags especially if its a brunch (English Breakfast) or dinner (Cranberry or other fruity or minty tea). Other ideas are chocolates or other "dessert alternative" that the hostess can put out with the cake.

              1. re: MalinDC

                The birthday girl is the hostess, if I read her question correctly.

                I would be flustered and dismayed, if I had indicated "no gifts, please." to have one thrust at me.

                And if people are so dire in their need to pay back an invite with a gift, a nice hand-written thank-you note, perhaps attached to flowers a few days later, is tactful. Hand-written notes are so rare these days, think of it alone as an unusual gift.

              2. A bottle of wine would be perfect, as it would be interpreted as a hostess gift and could be put discreetly away. No gifts to me means no wrapped presents that would make others feel awkward if they didn't bring anything.

                1. I concur entirely about the hostess gifts, especially in relation to birthday gifts. 'No Gifts' refers to the birthday/anniversary/whatever person, not the host/hostess. Wine or flowers or a small plant are wonderful hostess gifts, and are always appreciated. I was raised that you never go to someone's home for a meal, or a party, without a token of your appreciation. And as the host/hostess, it is nice when your friends acknowledge your efforts with a small, considerate gift.

                  1. I certainly didn't mean to cause a ruckus. My interpretation was no birthday gifts. I honestly don't know if the birthday girl is throwing the party herself, or if her husband is throwing it for her (which I'm guessing is the case). All I know is that the party is at the birthday girl's home.

                    I don't want to call and ask if I can bring anything, because the birthday girl and I have had that conversation before (in the context of a book club) and she made her views known on that subject (she would prefer wine, flowers, whatever to a dish that she's expected to put with whatever she's prepared). Moreover, as the invitation was a pre-printed "fancy" invitation, I take that to mean that it's a well-planned dinner, and if it were my party, I would not want dishes coming from outside.

                    That said, I was always taught that when invited to a meal at someone's home, you bring a hostess gift as a token of your appreciation for being invited. I gave it some thought, and am thinking about either (1) fancy mustards, jellies, or the like; or (2) some fancy champagne vinegar and olive oil and vinegarette-related spices. The birthday girl and I always bring wine to each other's homes when we're invited over, and since it's a fancier party, I wanted to give it a "little" more thought.

                    1. When I'm hosting a little bit 'fancier' party, I appreciate flowers. But these should be sent before the event so the hostess doesn't have to arrange them or find a place for display while busy welcoming guests.
                      Agree with all posts that interpret no present rule as referring to something specifically for the birthday person. Wine, any liquor, great chocolates always welcome.

                      1. The problem is that most of the supposed hostess gifts would make perfectly suitable birthday gifts for the same person. Pay attention to the three simple words. If that is not enough, call and offer as indicated above. If the hostess says nothing, bring nothing.

                        Then, be a fantastic guest and write a fantastic thank you note. And within the year reciprocate the hospitality according to your means.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Karl S

                          I agree! If ome meant "no birthday gifts, please" I am sure they could have said that!

                        2. I have sent edible arrangements as a hostess gift a few times. My SIL hosts family christmas Eve- 7 fishes. She is a great cook- has the fish along with a spiral ham, potatoes, and lots of Italian goodies. She is also a great baker- cookies, truffles, candies-the whole nine yards. She has the menu planned, and does not need- or want - anything more . So, I usually sent an edible arrangement to arrive on Christmas Eve day. It makes a pretty display on the table, and she loves it. Also, a favorite bottle of wine is always welcome ( she prefers a reisling)