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Host Gifts

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  • Gail Nov 13, 2013 04:43 PM
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I'm invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a new friend's house. What would you suggest as a gift? I can't bring any food as she has it all planned down to the last green bean.
Thanks for any suggestions...

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  1. I would bring a pound of their favorite coffee, if they drink coffee...or a gift card to a local coffee shop in a nice card. I'm never *not* up for a hot drink during the holidays.

    1. This comes up all the time on NAF board. Ideas here:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3267...

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9152...

      1. Flowers. A box of good chocolates. A bottle of wine. A set of nice dish towels. A potted plant. A tray of cookies/brownies.

        2 Replies
        1. re: boogiebaby

          The flowers bit always brings up the complaints of the need to interrupt prep and deal with the flowers. So, I take flowers already in a vase, arranged, and in water--no stopping meal prep, and the hostess can put 'em whereever the heck she wants, even in the trash.

          1. re: boogiebaby

            Say no to the flowers and chocolate unless you know your host loves it.

          2. Something she can have for breakfast for the following morning, muffins, coffee, etc.

            1. Cocktail Napkins with cute cocktail sayings are popular in my area. A set of nice dish towels (could be Christmas or Thanksgiving themed). A flower arrangement already in a vase or display container.

              1. My current host gift of choice is a bottle of fancy olive oil or balsamic vinegar (or both). People who do any amount of cooking seem to really appreciate it, yet it's not necessarily an indulgence they would buy for themselves.

                2 Replies
                1. re: cookie monster

                  Cookie, I think you've come up with it. I'll make a trip to my local Wm Sonoma.
                  This is particularly difficult as the hostess even makes her own chocolates. They do drink wine, but I don't know their tastes. I'm a wine person, so don't want to go cheap so I may spend and miss their tastes.
                  I think a nice package from Wm Sonoma will be perfect.
                  Thanks to all.

                  1. re: Gail

                    If you know your hostess drinks wine but don't know their taste, don't hesitate to offer a gift card from your favorite wine shop. I'm not a wine drinker and don't have a clue so I'll often give hosts a gift card from Total Wine or BevMo (popular where I live). I try to always bring a gift, regardless and send a thank you note after. It's a PITA throwing a party.

                2. obviously wine, chocolate, flowers are all really good choices. you can do fancy scented calendars or a nice coffee table book. or what about a gift to reward the hostess for all of her hard work - maybe a gift certificate to a local spa or for a mani-pedi, to help her decompress and relax after all of her cooking, preparing, setting up, clearing off, and cleaning up.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: ahuva

                    Scented calendars?

                    1. re: ChillyDog

                      oops. candles.

                      1. re: ahuva

                        Oh yes! I really like the kitchen candles that remove cooking odors....the "disposable" kind, the kind you toss it out when it has served its purpose.

                    2. re: ahuva

                      Ugh, a big NO on the scented candles. I was given one of those (pumpkin pie "flavor") on Saturday night, and I am racking my brain to think of how to get rid of it, short of throwing it in the trash. I find the overpowering fake chemical odor of any scented candle absolutely disgusting. (Kind of the same reaction I have to the smell of microwave popcorn.) For people who make all of their food from scratch--in large part because they want to avoid putting artificial this-and-that into their bodies--this is a terrible gift.

                      1. re: travelmad478

                        Scented candles always go directly to the Salvation Army donation box.

                        1. re: pine time

                          Yup. It is about time for my semi-annual clothing cull anyway, which means Goodwill is going to get a lot of pumpkin-pie-scented t-shirts.

                    3. I know this comes up over and over on these boards, and many disagree with me. But please. Do not bring me flowers. Especially on Thanksgiving. I'm in major prep mode, practically every bit of space is covered with serving dishes, and I've already decorated my apartment the way I want it decorated. I do not want to have to stop what it is that I'm doing, even if it's just showing guests where to hang their coats, try to find an appropriate vase--which might be on a high shelf, fill the vase with water, dispose of the packaging, trim the stems, and then find a place to put them.

                      I'm a firm believer that after a certain point in life, all gifts should be comestible, combustible, convertible, or cash. A big yes to a special olive oil or aged balsamic. I make my own (but not for Thanksgiving), and I'd be happy to put out a plate of chocolate truffles after dessert. Love the idea of something for breakfast the next morning. I'd even be happy with candles. Or, if it must be flowers, an arrangement sent earlier in the day so I don't have to deal with the vase issue and have some time to figure out where to put it.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: JoanN

                        <Do not bring me flowers>

                        Everyone I know, who's the least bit interested in my tastes, knows they can bring me a dozen French Tulips, any color, and I'll be more than happy.
                        I have a very special vase for them so it's no big deal…
                        It's sitting ready for them.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          oops, should have read the whole thread before I replied, above.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            I'm certainly at or past most ANY "certain point in life," and I would adore it if my Thanksgiving guests brought flowers.

                            I will have mostly cleaned at the last possible second by throwing the clutter into closets, bedrooms, and the garage, and that has likely left some space for them.

                            Providing a vase is a lovely idea, but if they don't bring one, I can find something (or rather, my husband can--that sort of thing is part of the division of labor at our house on holidays).

                            To each their own...but flowers would be #1 on my list!

                            1. re: MsMaryMc

                              Me too, flowers are the best. I am happy to stop what I'm doing to admire and display them. It's a very rare occurrence for me and I am always in heaven. Plus they last another week or two, as a reminder of a fun time.

                              1. re: coll

                                I love flowers. But I do think a more considerate guest who is not very familiar with their hosts' major holiday praxis would be advised to not bring anything that requires tending or finding a place for by the host; if anything is brought, it has to be something that can be put immediately aside for the next day.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Wow. I just never dreamed that flowers would be such a dicey choice for a gift for so many folks. Well, let it be known far and wide, MY holiday praxis (and every other day praxis) DOES have plenty of room for flowers. No matter how busy I am, I will very much appreciate the kind thought, and will be delighted to find them a vase and a spot. So bring 'em on!!

                                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                                    My point is that the guest needs to know the host well on this point. I am a single host living in a small space, and I can handle flowers on less complicated occasions, but TG is one exception for me where space considerations make handling unvased flowers too much to deal with. So I understand those who say don't bring flowers, rather than treat them as ungrateful.

                              2. re: MsMaryMc

                                I guess maybe if I had both a husband and a house I'd feel differently about it.

                            2. I'm invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a new friend's house. What would you suggest as a gift?
                              _____________________

                              Give the gift of being a good guest.

                              Be on time, be courteous, be good with tableside small talk (read: no politics or religion), be judiciously generous and polite in your praise of the food, be light-butted (read don't overstay your invite), and be thoughtful enough to write a thank-you note that you mail to the host within a week to 10 days of the event.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I like the idea of flowers AFTER the event. Then every time the host sees them, they remember what a kind and thoughtful guest you were.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  And offer to help with the dishes!

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    + 15 on all of those points Ipsedixit!

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Gosh, ipsedixit, my mom told me this when I was but a child. But thanks for the reminder anyway. :)

                                    2. Coffee is a great idea.
                                      Where I live, oftentimes it is a nice bottle of wine or after dinner port, usually used to accompany the dinner.

                                      1. For Thanksgiving, I like to bring a poinsettia plant. It's something that can be enjoyed for the upcoming season.

                                        I wouldn't do this unless I know the hosts well but then for me, Thanksgiving invitations are always from family.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: ChillyDog

                                          Except poinsettias are poisonous to cats and dogs. So if you don't know them well enough to know about their pet situation, maybe not the greatest.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            Actually, they're not especially poisonous to dogs or cats. More irritating. http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2011...

                                            1. re: sr44

                                              Same difference to me! I won't think kindly of anyone that makes my little friends suffer.

                                              1. re: sr44

                                                Lilies are quite toxic to cats.

                                              2. re: coll

                                                Yes, that is why I said I wouldn't give a poinsettia to someone I didn't know well. There are other reasons too. Not everyone observes Christmas. To some people, a plant to care for might be a burden they don't want.

                                                An the other hand, my auntie always enjoyed them. And the OP was looking for suggestions.

                                            2. I always bring a nice wine. However, I don't hang out with people that don't drink.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                >>> I don't hang out with people that don't drink.<<<

                                                ...they just can't be trusted...,

                                                1. re: Gail

                                                  I know, RIGHT???

                                                  Just kidding. But, I honestly don't hang out with non drinkers, not intentionally, but just "happens" ;)

                                              2. My mom really loves caramel apples - I get them for her for pretty much every holiday, and I think that a gourmet caramel apple would make a great hostess gift.

                                                She likes the ones that I order for delivery from Amy's Candy Kitchen in Wisconsin - they have several varieties. You could even have it scheduled for delivery a day after if you didn't want to 'bother' them the day of the event.

                                                I will say that I cannot personally vouch for the apples, since I'm spectacularly allergic to them. But my Mom has always been happy and has ordered them for other friends.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: jw615

                                                  Wow, a very original gift...

                                                  1. re: jw615

                                                    Love this idea.

                                                    I received the ones sold at Neiman Marcus last year and they were devoured by my guests. They're apparently sold this time of year and come in all types of variations.
                                                    I would gladly accept them again :-).

                                                  2. this is going to sound weird... but the first Thanksgiving my dad(step) came to the big family gathering he brought my grandmother a basket with realllllllly pretty heavy paperplates and gourmet pancake mix and syrups ,coffee and a note saying .... Thank you for all your hard work breakfast is on me.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: girloftheworld

                                                      It's always best to think outside the box.

                                                      1. re: girloftheworld

                                                        <this is going to sound weird>

                                                        Not at all.
                                                        Your dad(set) sounds like the perfect gentleman.
                                                        I would love receiving something like that.

                                                      2. I think the best thing my guests can give me is a handwritten note of thanks, on a fancy notecard or a sheet from an old legal pad. When I get a thank you note or card, I just smile and relive the pleasant memories of the dinner. I do not expect my friends and guests to bring me gifts, though I accept them graciously. That said, flowers after the fact (or that night, in my case--I do like to receive them!) is a fantastic idea!

                                                        One suggestion that comes up often is food (not for the dinner, but for the next day etc.) I know a lot of people like this, but I'd probably dispose of it somehow (give it away, toss it)--I watch what I eat and those homebaked muffins are just too tempting for me.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                                          Me too;
                                                          Flowers are fine, wine preferred, finishing salt/vinegar/flavored oil/ cooking consumable, etc ...all fine....thoughtful and usable in a variety of ways.

                                                          Muffins, pastry, or someone else choosing my breakfast the next day? Not fine. I would feel bad, but I would give away if possible or more likely toss them.

                                                        2. Nothing, as a carry-in gift. A reciprocal invitation is in order.

                                                          1. Oh, am I confused now...

                                                            Hate to pay for next day delivery even if Wm Sonoma does it.
                                                            Also feel bringing something in on T-day is ostentatious as her family would not. I'm not family
                                                            A thank you note is lovely, but I rather do something more

                                                            Still thinking, but thanks you guys, lots of good ideas.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Gail

                                                              Do your hosts have young children?

                                                              If so, perhaps a gift for one of them might be a nice pseudo-gift.

                                                              Just a thought.

                                                            2. How about a nice serving spoon. I always end up having to use tablespoons because I've run out of serving spoons and never thing to go out and buy some for the "next time".

                                                              1. A nice bottle of wine. If they don't drink, they can regift it, particularly as its holiday time.