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what to give for a host gift?

doesn't sound too complicated right? i've been invited to a dinner party where i'd like to impress the host and will for sure be bringing a host gift. all threads on this board seem to agree that a host gift is a gift. meant for them to enjoy at their own discretion.

so here's where i feel the tricky bit is. my host is definitely much spendier than me and i feel that bringing something homemade will have a much bigger impact. the dinner party will be vegan, for the main guest of honour, but the host is definitely not a vegan. do i bring something vegan or not? or should i just bite the bullet and buy something nice and spendy?

i was originally thinking of a tin of madeleines in interesting flavours (i've been playing with recipes for a while) or something else that would equally have eggs.

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  1. I'd bring something non-vegan - which would ensure that the gift gets enjoyed by the host, who will also not feel obliged to put them out. I think the madeleines sound lovely.

    1. Vegan or non-vegan, doesn't matter but do make sure that the host knows that the gift is for him, for the cellar, for later, whatever. Madeleines are lovely--I would certainly love a tin as a hostess gift--but will your host be able to eat all of them before they go stale? Or do they freeze well? I don't think you have to buy something--homemade is great, esp if it's something that's your specialty and/or that you know the host likes.

      1. Are you set on bringing a food gift? A lovely plant or bouquet could be a nice gift that isn't automatically categorized by price. It also completely avoids the vegan/non vegan issue.

        Are they wine drinkers? A nice bottle, corkscrew, stopper or wine journal could be good also.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Suzy Q

          It does not really work well to bring a bouquet. I am usually running around when guests arrive and when someone brings flowers I have to find a vase, where do I put them, I usually have alot of extra flowers when we entertain. A plant is a great idea though!!!

          1. re: Alica

            i agree with the plant idea. beautiful plant pots are really fairly cheap and so are plants. you just buy the two at your local nursery or home depot - and you're all set. it also looks very expensive (esp. if you put rocks on top of the soil), but is actually really affordable. and no one dislikes plants.

            1. re: dtud

              I love your ideas, though I also know quite a few people who dislike plants and something like this would totally stress them out, so just to make sure they actually "do" like plants. Also while I have nothing against plants I found that when I get potted plants as gifts I end up with a gnat problem, which lasts for months and months, so I don't bring any foreign soil in my house anymore, flowers I'd prefer. Just a thought.

            2. re: Alica

              Just generally, if you are going to give flowers as a host gift, do it thoughtfully. A host can be quite stressed out by the time guests are arriving. You can bring the flowers in a vase which is always appreciated. You can drop by earlier in the day with a bouquet, or have them delivered. Or you could go for a plant (orchids or bamboo tend to appeal to almost anyone). Whatever you do, don't make more work for the host.

            3. re: Suzy Q

              i deleted my answer b/c it was suited for a female or a couple
              id bring burbon, good vidka, or whiskey or maybe cigars

            4. Need to know more...Is he single? Hobbies? I never bring food, why?, not sure. Sending a plant/flowers in advance is nice with note "looking forward to a lovely evening" kind of a thing. Also, nice not to walk in with something when others might not have been as thoughtful as you.

              1. I'd go for a crazy old bottle of balsamic (if he's a foodie)... I don't know where your idea of spendy begins or ends... you can go up to $1,000 (waaaaaaaay crazy) or a nice one for $50 (doable crazy).

                If you want to make something what about a gorgeous glass jar of preserved lemons? That's something usable that he might not take the time to make himself. And something he doesn't have to use right away.

                1. thanks all for the thoughts... just wanted to organize my response into one post so it's not all over the place.

                  first off, he's more of an acquaintance currently. from what i can gather... single male who seems to be more of the spirits and liquors variety than wine and while he enjoys food it's a little difficult to call him a foodie and he definitely is not a big cook at home. hobbies are tech things.

                  $50 is actually very spendy for me. i tend to only give gifts when i feel that it is appropriate and thoughtful... so when i take my time and put in a lot of thought, it never needs to go over $40. i'm hesitant to give an object that might have a particular style associated with it since i don't know his. i've received many a tacky thing myself that i never knew what to do with.

                  the madeleines should last or be fine in the freezer. i'd more likely use one of those rubber rimmed mason jars that are more air tight.

                  do guys like receiving flowers and/or plants? while i certainly appreciate it, i cannot for the life of me take care of the things and they die pretty quickly. one benefit though is that i do think sending something in advance is a great idea. food is just what i'm most comfortable with and so my natural inclination. plus, if he doesn't like it, food is the easiest thing to give away.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    from what you posted a nice bottle of liquor...maybe a bourbon.


                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      I do not like to receive flowers, especially if they aren't in a vase or have to be "dealt with" in the midst of hosting an event. I love unique items and/or homemade goodies. One of my favorite host gifts I received were two jars of homemade pickles.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        Ahhh, I missed the part about it being a single guy. In that case, about the only plant I'd take to a single guy, especially one who actually cooks, is an aloe plant. They're almost impossible to kill and can't be beat for slathering on a quick burn in the kitchen. Plus having a nice living plant like an aloe or rosemary plant may impress the ladies (or guys, can't assume anything) that he invites over for dates. :-)

                        1. re: Suzy Q

                          can i admit how black of a thumb i have? i managed to kill a rosemary plant in a week. a week! sigh.....

                          thanks all, i'm likely going to go with the madeleines!

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            I've found that my guy friends are always very happy when I bring over something homeade, like cookies or cupcakes. It is something they would never make for themselves, but really do enjoy.

                        2. re: pinstripeprincess

                          Okay, not a foodie... how about making him a jar of "Tipsy Olives" for martinis?

                          It's crazy easy... just get some lovely green olives, drain their liquid and cover with dry vermouth. I would put them in a nice french canning jar with a homemade fun label.

                          He'll have to store them in the fridge, but they last a loooooong time.

                          1. re: Jennalynn

                            Yummm, Jenna, that sounds great. I like to do those, and I've also done pineapple and cherries swimming in a really nice vanilla vodka.

                          2. re: pinstripeprincess

                            Well I would appreciate flowers/plants and I'm a guy. Although I am also gay, so that may have something to do with it. Most gay guys probably would appreciate plants/flowers. Straight men, maybe not as much, but possibly - depending on the individual. Plants probably more so than flowers.

                            If he is straight - does he already have a few plants? If so that is probably a clue that he might appreciate another one.

                          3. The madeleines sound divine!

                            I say go with your strengths. If you are an expert at madeleines, do it. This will be a unique gift, something that money cannot easily buy. It is thoughtful and yummy, he doesn't have to cook it to enjoy it, they have a high chance of being appreciated. Time is money anyway, and a homebaked gift is priceless.

                            The only thing: make sure he is aware that they are for him as a hostess gift, and that they are not vegan. You don't want him to generously offer them to the vegan guest of honour.

                            1. I think you should go for the madelines. When you hand them over, you can say "Here's a treat for you later, thank you for inviting me/us."

                              I wouldn't give a man a plant or flowers (unless, say he was an orchid or rose enthusiast and I knew this for sure.) I, like you, only like to give gifts that are personal and thoughtful, and if you're on a budget there just doesn't seem to be much sense in buying a somewhat generic present. How often is someone offered homemade madelines? In my experience, not often.
                              Find a nice jar, and if you want to dress it up, you can wrap it in a "masculine" colored ribbon, like chocolate brown.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Is this at all a work-related event?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Gail

                                  yes and no. i'm looking to make some contacts for charitable work.

                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                    Ah, that makes it tougher. I was suggesting an item sent pre or post event to avoid a "kissing-up" appearance by others attending.

                                2. I would second the idea of a post-dinner gift. You look around at the dinner and maybe get a clue. Also if you are wanting to cultivate this contact, dropping by with a gift can be a chance to have another conversation.

                                  But if you think it has to be given at the dinner, I would suggest wrapping it because that really says it is meant for the host, not to be shared. And if someone made me madelaines, I would be thrilled. I would also eat half after the last guest went home.

                                  1. How about a jar of nice olives and a little box of fancy olive picks? It's simple, gender neutral, inexpensive, useful, and doesn't take up much space.
                                    Another thing I like to bring as a hostess gift, usually in tandem with some other small item or a bottle of wine, is a little package of nice paper cocktail napkins. They have some really nice ones, some are funny, some pretty, some plain. Depends on the recipient.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pcdarnell

                                      The madelines sound just right!

                                      I recall reading this gift suggestion a while back...a "breakfast care package" with freshly baked breakfast goodies (muffins, scones, etc) and good coffee or tea, maybe some fruit preserves. I agree that special homemade items are really nice - we grow olives, and they've been really well received as hostess gifts. I've also given dilly green beans and pickled okra. But use discretion when giving okra - some people would rather be given a dead dog's head in a sack than okra.

                                    2. I found some really great hostess gift ideas in this article: