Have an upcoming visit at family or friends this coming weekend? Are you trying to figure out what to contribute to the special occasion? A host or hostess gift is a great way to show appreciation for the hospitality of others. But what do you get and how much do you spend without overwhelming your host or breaking the bank? A kind gesture can become a big headache and sometimes it seems easier to just stay home and relax in your pajamas. At the end of the day, it’s about being sincere and not the cost of what you are cradling when they open the door. It’s also about tradition, for this common gesture is not a new social form of etiquette. In fact, its roots can be traced back to ancient times.
Old world charm.
In ancient Greece and Rome, it was customary to bring gifts, often food or drink, when visiting someone’s home. This gesture was a sign of respect and hospitality. This continued through the Middle Ages in Europe, where the practice of bringing gifts continued. Guests would often bring items like wine, fruit, or small tokens of appreciation when invited to dine with others. The Victorian era in the 19th century saw the refinement of social etiquette, including the practice of bringing hostess gifts. Gifts became more elaborate and could include items like floral arrangements, self-care products, scented candles, or small trinkets.
So, if you are lucky enough to get an invite for drinks or a hot homemade meal, keep it simple on how you show your appreciation. If you don’t know your hosts very well, a bottle of wine is always a safe bet. Flowers require arranging, which your host may not have the time to do, so a potted arrangement is a no hassle alternative. Non personal self-care products like hand cream or hand soap are also appropriate.
Bigger isn’t always better.
Stay away from expensive presents! Expensive gifts can make everyone feel uncomfortable for many reasons. Hosts may feel overwhelmed; other guests may feel annoyed or embarrassed and you might feel like you were overzealous and took the appreciation thing too far. It’s supposed to be a small token, so keep it small. Put the effort into thinking about what would be a nice gesture as opposed to a grand gesture. Some of the best gifts I have been thanked for were homemade jams and preserves. Unique ribbon, rustic twine and a neatly written label can elevate a homemade food item into a presentable gift item. Just ask any homesteader or local artisan.
If DIY is not your game, lean on the experts to do the work. Gift sets come in all shapes and sizes and range of products. Common sense is essential when choosing one due to the sheer volume of gift basket options. Number one is to pick products that you have tried and enjoyed. Another option is to choose products based on the company; perhaps you want to support your local community or a business that supports a charity or cause. Again, like most things in life, it comes back to sincere, thoughtful intentions. It is also okay to purchase for one person if your hosts are a couple. Couples usually don’t battle over who gets the scented candle or tube of hand cream.
It is not necessary to bring a gift every time you step over the threshold into someone’s home. Stopping by a friend’s house for a coffee shouldn’t require a gift basket. Consider the effort the host has to put into the event and adjust accordingly. Sometimes a gift can be considering what may be needed that evening or a gift that keeps on giving, such as an activity to keep the gaggle of kids occupied so the adults can sit back and relax.
Life gets busy, especially around the holiday season. Sometimes everything can feel like a chore. But, the season of parties, giving and gathering is upon us. With autumn in full swing, it is a time for friends and family to cluster around, break bread and share a few laughs. Most importantly, it is time to give thanks and show our appreciation for those around us.