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Hostess Gift for Thanksgiving day

For reasons too long to explain, my son and I will be going to a complete stranger's house for Tday dinner. I volunteered to bring something and the response was dessert. I'll probably make a pumpkin pie (unless that is delegated to someone else) and other homemade goodies. But I need to bring the right host/hostess gift for people I don't know anything about.
My default gift is usually wine but that seems...I dunno, ordinary and I don't know if they drink or not or what they like if they do. So, I think wine is out. Something for the home is out too, and I don't want to bring flowers (would need attention when we arrive) or a potted plant (too easy).

I DO have a bottle of chocolate balsamic vinegar and a bag of artisanal chocolate pasta I was going to give as a holiday gift to someone else (which I can easily purchase again if need be). Does that combo seem too much or too weird? Too juvenile? Again, I don't know anything about these people, have no idea what their culinary choices/capabilities are other than they are doing Tday dinner. I have 2 recipes I can include in the gift bag. I made a chocolate pasta dessert for a dinner a few months ago and it went over OK but I had a lot left-over.

I do know the hostess' sister (she invited us) but don't want to pump her for info about her sister. I do want to show we are grateful to be included in their gathering without overdoing it. Oh, and I'm traveling to my son the day before Tgiving.

Thoughts, other suggestions? Many thanks and an early Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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  1. Wine is perfect. That's why you think it is ordinary, because it is the perfect gift to take. If they don't drink it, they can always cook with it. Just make sure it is a decent bottle.

    3 Replies
    1. re: wadejay26

      I have access to alot of (free) decent wine. The hostess's sister is aware of that too...I think. It just would be too easy for me.

      Thanks for the response.

      1. re: wadejay26

        I 100% disagree. If they don't drink they most likely don't use it in cooking either.

        1. re: laliz

          Not true at all. I don't drink wine, but cook with it all the time.

      2. I got a nice gift bag full of good preserves one year when hosting: some sweet, some savory. Since they asked you to bring dessert, they're probably not a sugar-free household. Maybe a good currant jelly, a strawberry rhubarb preserve, a mango chutney, and a pepper relish, or any sweet/savory combo you can think of. Travels well, too. Just my two cents.

        That said, wine is a great gift too...a good pinot grigio or a good merlot is always welcome.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pinehurst

          Normally I'd agree with this but I've got a fridge and cabinet full of preserves, jams, jellies I haven't used. Got maybe two as gifts, bought the rest. I'll never use them all in my lifetime. It seems to me that I could buy something that will end up in their cabinet for a lifetime...or not.

          Ironically I was just looking at Linn's online catalog to see what they have but don't think I'd get anything on time for Tgiving.

          Will have to give this some thought. Thanks for the reply.

        2. Maybe an excellent bottle of olive oil and balsamic? It has the advantage of mass appeal (among salad eaters, at least), yet it's such a treat when someone else gives your pantry a big oil and vinegar upgrade. While the chocolate balsamic and pasta sound cool, I'd say it's a little high-risk for people you don't know. I also like the idea of preserves which someone mentioned. If they're very high quality, they will appeal to foodies and pb&j lovers alike. And, worst case, they make a very nice re-gifted hostess gift. A nice wine sounds good too.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MiriamWoodstock

            Since I've already got the balsamic, what would you recommend as an olive oil (unless you think the chocolate balsamic is too strange)? I actually got both the balsamic and pasta at a store that specializes in OO.

            Thanks for the reply.

            1. re: alwayshungrygal

              I think the olive oil flavors you mentioned below sound great. I think a plain one is great, too. (Plain is what I had in mind when I suggested it.) The chocolate vinegar is a little more of a risk, in my opinion, but that makes it somewhat more fun, too -- your call!

          2. I was just thinking how much I appreciated a bottle of very good blood orange infused olive oil that I received last year as a Christmas gift from someone I knew only slightly. It's the kind of thing that is easy to use if you are an avid cook, but also can just make an easy salad dressing or drizzle. Another nice household gift that I gave my husband a few years ago is a soft throw blanket, this one is embroidered with the name of the area where we live. It was not too expensive, is super soft, and is just great for watching tv on chilly winter nights.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kathleen M

              I like the idea of a specialty OO (see my response above). I would love to find recipes that would incorporate it. Do you have any recipes for the one you got?

              A blanket wouldn't work (tho I love the idea) as we'll be in Southern California. Not much use for it there, not too many chilly nights there. When I lived there (for 7 years) I didn't need a winter coat. Now in the Bay Area, I've got blankets all around the house, in the car and have more than one winter coat.

              Thanks for the response.

              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                hmmmm. I live in Southern California and cover with a light blanket in my chair every evening.

            2. how about making something for her? i know you're already bringing dessert for dinner, but as a frequent hostess i can tell you that it's very much appreciated when someone clearly makes an effort, even if it's simple.

              if she's expecting a large crowd for dinner she may not want to have to deal with breakfast/brunch the next day...so why not buy a lovely basket and fill it with an assortment of goodies (you can combine store-bought and homemade items). i'm thinking granola, quick breads (muffins, scones, fruited loaves), jams/preserves...or you can go more savory with bagels or bialys, bagel chips, spreads, unusual nut butter, trail mix or spiced nuts...

              just a thought.