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Hostess Gift for a Major Hosting?

lulubelle Nov 8, 2009 04:51 AM

On another thread, someone commented that they would not buy a hostess gift of the magnitude that many people were describing for a dinner party; it was the sort of gift suitable for a weekend at the beach house or similar event. Which got me to thinking..... I have a relatively complicated life, I live in one country, but spend large amounts of time in the States, mostly at the home of my best friend and her husband. While I am there, they feed me, lend me a car, and generally let me use their home as a very nice and comfortable B&B, where I am always welcome to put my feet on the couch, and where I can come and go as I please.

They would be horrified if I offered them money, although of course I fill the gas tank whenever I have the car, and grab the check from the delivery guy when he shows up with the Indian food. But it doesn't seem enough. In the past I have bought high-end gin, filled the house with flowers, stocked the house with micro brews and sausages, taken them to dinner....but I am running out of ideas.

They are serious chowhounds, know all the vendors at the farmers' market by name, order wine futures, have cooked their way through stacks of cookbooks. They indulge themselves, but at the same time are pretty practical people, so nothing completely frivolous.

I'll be there for three weeks in December, any ideas?

  1. greedygirl Nov 11, 2009 01:30 PM

    We gave some good friends of ours a year's worth of great coffee from a speciality store for their last birthday. They get the "coffee of the month" in the post every month. Every time we see them, they mention what a great gift it is, and how much they enjoy it. As it's a monthly occurrence, it's the gift that keeps on giving.....

    1. pikawicca Nov 11, 2009 12:50 PM

      Hospitality of this magnitude requires a gift of equal generosity, if you are able to foot the bill. I'm thinking a cruise or a some other trip to a place they'd like to visit.

      1. CreativeFoodie42 Nov 11, 2009 12:40 PM

        What about looking into signing them up for a couple's cooking class? Something a little more advanced or food from a specific region that they are not too familiar with?

        1. c oliver Nov 11, 2009 10:55 AM

          What about bringing in a private chef (while you're with them) for a dinner? You and s/he could plan the whole thing. More personal than just a gift certificate for it.

          1. corneygirl Nov 11, 2009 10:30 AM

            There is a "Slow Food" Chicago guide: http://www.slowfoodchicago.org/index....

            Maybe a copy of the book and a CSA subscription?

            Also there are some of the establishments in the book listed at the URL, they may have suggestions (The wine, cheese, bread place sounds promissing).

            Cheers

            2 Replies
            1. re: corneygirl
              s
              soupkitten Nov 11, 2009 10:46 AM

              a csa subscription is an awesome suggestion for a locovore household. i would also take them out to a nice restaurant (rather than gift certificate) so you'll all have the nice memory of being together, and bring them something small but exquisite from overseas for display in their home-- textiles perhaps? or other handcrafts.

              1. re: soupkitten
                KaimukiMan Nov 11, 2009 11:17 AM

                good idea, maybe food related.... irish table linens? Belgian lace tablecloth?

            2. lulubelle Nov 11, 2009 08:02 AM

              Wow, so many great ideas!

              I particularly like the buffet server as they entertain quite a bit, the Irish linen, and the gift certificate for a weekend away, or possibly for one of the really "nice" restaurants in Chicago.

              I like the food gifts too, however, they are pretty serious about the whole "localvore" (sp?) thing and try not to eat out of season produce, etc. I think they would feel guilty about the carbon footprint issues even as they enjoyed their mangoes. I am thinking about local (Chicago) food specialties they might enjoy, but deep dish pizza is not exactly a treat when you can get it any time.

              As for dinner on the table, I do that often when I stay there, or else we all cook together.

              Thanks again, and if you think of anything else clever and unusual, let me know!

              2 Replies
              1. re: lulubelle
                rockandroller1 Nov 11, 2009 11:41 AM

                What about a meat grinder and a copy of Ruhlman's Charcuterie cookbook? Obviously check to see they don't have either of those first. That could start them on the way to making their own sausages if they want, or at least grinding their own hamburger meat, which these days, is the safe way to go (can you tell I just bought my first meat grinder?)

                1. re: rockandroller1
                  lulubelle Nov 12, 2009 05:41 AM

                  This summer we spent an evening making 50 pounds of Italian sausage to stock the freezer, plus brats and some other assorted treats.

                  They've got her grandfather's big old meat grinder and an electric stuffer. Great idea though.

              2. s
                Sherri Nov 9, 2009 07:58 AM

                If your hosts celebrate Christmas, something over-the-top in the holiday spirit could be the answer. Years ago, someone ordered a beautifully decorated tree delivered to me. It ranks up there as one of my favorite gifts.

                1. KaimukiMan Nov 8, 2009 05:48 PM

                  you didn't mention your own cooking abilities, or your relative schedules when you are staying with them. sometimes there is nothing like coming home from a long work day to the smell of something on the stove or in the oven, finding the table already set, and a bottle of wine breathing on the sideboard.

                  1. c oliver Nov 8, 2009 04:46 PM

                    Caviar? With all the accoutrement?

                    1. p
                      pengcast Nov 8, 2009 04:18 PM

                      How about a gift certificate for a food and wine weekend away, Many ski resorts have them running in December before the ski season begins and many are very nice. A friend went to one in Aspen last year and she said it was the best weekend away ever. I also saw something like that for Vegas.

                      1. roxhills Nov 8, 2009 03:49 PM

                        You could order a fun food from out of town-- Ice Cream from Grater's, Pizza from Chicago, etc. For my husband's 40th birthday a few years ago, I did a different gift every day for 40 days and those were 2 food gifts that we really enjoyed.

                        1. Caroline1 Nov 8, 2009 06:18 AM

                          You haven't mentioned budget, but several things pop to mind. Shopping for "foodies" makes it a LOT easier!

                          The first thing that popped to mind is here:
                          http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/sousVi...
                          I can't find a projected shipping date on their website, but if it appeals to you and you think it will appeal to them, you can probably call and get more info. I'm wrestling with myself whether I want to start a piggy bank account to get one.... '-

                          )

                          Depending on how well equipped their kitchen is, here are a few more things that might work well:

                          A KitchenAid stand mixer, if they don't have one. Or a Cuisineart if they don't have the super new one that has the nested bowls, pouring lid and all that jazz I keep seing TV ads for and thinking.... hmmm....

                          A superautomatic espresso machine if they like great coffee the easy way. Mine is a Jura Capresso and I do have friends who drop whom I'm sure would just drive on by if I didn't have it. '-) There are other brands on the market that are less expensive, but I haven't drank from them. Mine makes great everything

                          If they do a lot of entertaining, there are some really great "buffet servers" out there that keep food at serving temperature all evening long. Some of them are quite stunning visually as well.

                          IF they enjoy occasional formal entertaining and don't have one, a silver tea service could be great fun. You can find nice ones in all price ranges. I haven't served tea in mine in years, but it is an important focal point in my dining room. My mom gave it to me and I love it.

                          If they do sit-down dinners, a drop dead gorgeous Irish Damask linen tablecloth and napkin set should knock their socks off. I really miss mine. A former housekeeper made off with it when I wasn't looking. <sigh>

                          If they don't already use induction for cooking, there are some nice single burner countertop induction "hotplates" that make cooking really fast and are also great for table top cooking. No rinky dink slow cooking with these!

                          If they're the kind of people who "have everything," those are the kind of people who always want (and appreciate) more! Art glass comes to mind; Lalique, Daum, Orefors, Milano glass. There are also some truly great glass artists around the country, and a signed original work from one of them would undoubtedly be appreciated.

                          You have a fun shopping job ahead of you. Have fun!

                          EDIT: Where are my brains? Don't know how much hassle customs can be, but something hand made and really special from Bangladesh would also be something that few other people can give them.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Caroline1
                            c oliver Nov 8, 2009 01:51 PM

                            Oh, C1, as usual you have really covered the bases. I especially love the suggestion of Irish Damask linen. I have a "dresser scarf" that I got in Ireland some years ago and love it.

                            Having lived in their home, OP will know if they can use yet another really nice vase.

                            I agree that I'd love to be on that shopping expedition.

                            1. re: Caroline1
                              s
                              Sharuf Nov 9, 2009 02:34 AM

                              I offered to buy an espresso machine for a dear friend, but he didn't want one. Seems going to a coffee house and sitting around being sociable or just getting out of the house and hanging out was the main point of his espresso habit.

                              1. re: Caroline1
                                iluvcookies Nov 9, 2009 07:09 AM

                                To add to Carloine1's edit... is there any local specialty/ingredient not readliy available in the US?

                                Personally I would also love it if the person borrowing my car *washed it* on the way back from picking up flowers/fruit/wine for that nights dinner.

                                Perhaps picking up the tab for any magazines/newspapers they regularly receive?

                                Sounds like your friends are extremely generous and gracious hosts and perhaps a considerate gesture would be appreciated far more than a pricey gift.

                                1. re: iluvcookies
                                  Caroline1 Nov 9, 2009 07:30 AM

                                  Did you read Lulubelle's post closely? Sounds to me as if considerate gestures are pretty much standard fare every time she's there! This time she's going to be there for three weeks at the height of the Holiday Season, so why not something really special? And if it's a bit pricey, price isn't really the object, it's about what her hosts will really enjoy!

                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                    iluvcookies Nov 9, 2009 08:37 AM

                                    I did read it... lulubelle is also a very gracious and considerate guest. Sounds like she has been doing very well and my post was meant to encourage her to continue whatever she has been doing--it seems to work!

                                    Lulubelle... think about if your friend ever mentioned "gee... I really should get one of these (insert appliance/decorative item/food)" Remembering a comment like this and getting the item mentioned might be a good idea.
                                    Else, look around the kitchen when you get there and look for a "gap" in the kitchen equipment.

                                    Or on a non-food note, maybe a spa day for you and your friend? Cigars for her husband?

                              2. s
                                small h Nov 8, 2009 05:59 AM

                                How about a cheese (or fruit, or beer) of the month club? Or a cooking class?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: small h
                                  n
                                  Normandie Nov 8, 2009 09:22 PM

                                  I would be thrilled if someone treated me to a nice fruit of the month club, especially in the winter months. I don't know why, but it seems much easier to find high-quality vegetables than it does fruits, in my area. I just don't seem to see around the beautiful, fresh, large and heavy, nearless flawless fruits anymore than my parents always had in our house. OP mentioned that her friends love to cook and enjoy indulgences, but are practical types. To me, a gift like that would be at once very practical and helpful, and yet at the same time, one of life's little luxuries. ;-)

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