My dad once told me that one of the rules he was raised with was to "never show up empty-handed". Prior to a party or a Shabbat dinner, he would pick oranges from the trees in his front yard, and Nana would wrap them up pretty. She taught him that even though they didn't have much money, it was the principal and the thought that counted.
A girlfriend recently asked me for advice on hostess gifts. I'm not sure there are any rights and wrongs on this topic, just lots of different thoughts. Personally, when I go to someone's home for a party I like to bring a gift with me. When I stay in someone's home, I usually opt to send something after I've departed.
When I stayed with J and A in LA a few weeks ago, I decided to pick and send a gift once I'd returned to New York. I wanted to get a feel for their tastes and lifestyle first. Originally I'd thought about sending flowers or an Edible Arrangement and ultimately decided against both. I wanted to do something a bit different that I knew they'd truly appreciate. J mentioned that A is very picky about his produce and I know that like me, they both love treats. I sent them a Harry & David tower. I happen to think their fruit is the best, and their sweets are delicious as well. No one has ever sent me one but I am always so excited when my parents get one in the mail - their pears are the sweetest! I sent a hand written thank you note separately and I think the hosts were absolutely thrilled. I was really happy to do that for them; they made me feel so welcome in their home and I wanted to show how thankful I was for their hospitality.
For a party, I like a candle or soap or a bottle of wine. I think anything in the home section of Anthropologie is a safe bet. I've never met someone who didn't like that store. (That candle smells incredible - perfect for fall.)
It is my personal belief that anyone welcoming you into their home, whether for a few hours or a few days, constitutes a token of your affection. I do get that not everyone is able to give a gift, but I don't think there are any excuses for skipping a note. A stamp costs less than fifty cents, and you can get a box of thank you notes for just a few dollars. Unfortunately I haven't been able to host many parties, but every single guest at my housewarming party last summer did bring a lovely hostess gift. And I look forward to throwing many a shindig in my next (far more spacious) home!
What are your thoughts on hostess gifts? Do you keep them stocked or do you buy each for and by the occasion?