Be Polite, Friendly – and Don’t Arrive Empty-Handed.
So, a friend of a friend invites you to her parents’ swanky beach house for the weekend. What do you do?
(A.) Decline. Are you really going to party with her parents?
(B.) Make a brief appearance but leave before sundown.
(C.) Show up but try to avoid her parents at all costs.
(D.) Arrive with a lovely hostess gift, impress everyone with your wit and manners, and get invited back again and again.
The correct answer is D, of course! We recommend keeping a cache of hostess gifts on hand so you’re never unprepared when a last-minute invitation pops up. Alcohol is one of the most popular choices, but we also love giving food, household items, and non-alcoholic gifts.
The key to an effective food gift is to make sure your selection is unique, rather than a common product that can be found at your local grocery store.
For the table: Nuts are a healthy snack that almost everyone loves. If pancakes are on the breakfast menu, truffle maple syrup will be the talk of the table. Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Sicily and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena are a perfect pair.
Fortnum & Mason Preserves and Jams: A gift of artisanal jams, jellies, marmalades and curds will make you the hero of the breakfast table. Fortnum and Mason have an exquisite selection of flavors to choose from, but we are particularly partial to the Highgrove Organic Lemon Curd, Strawberry & Rose Petal Preserve, and Cognac Butter.
$6.50 – $17.00, fortnumandmason.com
Before visiting a home for the first time, it’s difficult to gauge the decor. Household items that are universally compatible with any color scheme are your best bet.
Modern Sprout The growing kit includes everything you need to grow a palm tree on your windowsill. Just add water and sunlight.
Galvanized Metal & Copper Stand: With an infinite array of uses, a 3-tier stand will surely come in handy at a busy vacation home.
Himalayan Salt Plate & Cookbook: An enthusiastic chef always enjoys learning new techniques, and salt-block grilling is a hot culinary trend.
You can’t go wrong with alcohol – unless one of your hosts does not imbibe. Be sure to inquire in advance as to the hosts’ preference before bringing a gift of alcohol.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey: The Southern classic has a touch of extra sweetness to improve its sipping prospects.
Cargo Cult Spiced Rum: A small-batched rum distilled in Papua New Guinea with ginger beer and botanicals for a deep complexity.
Don’t worry, non-alcoholic gifts can be just as fun as spirits. We promise.
Williamson Elephant Earl Grey: Fragrant Earl Gray tea in a keepsake tin makes a handsome presentation.
Numi World of Tea Gift Box: 45 tea bags of 9 varieties in a beautiful gift box. Score!
David Rio Turmeric Latte Mix: Turmeric Latte is one of those new hipster beverages that everyone’s been talking about (which has actually been a staple in India for many years). It will be a kick to give it a test-drive at breakfast.
Soma 10-cup Water Pitcher: The tap water in vacation communities isn’t always potable. The Soma filtered pitcher is a thoughtful gift with inherent usefulness. You are guaranteed to see it on the dinner table each night.
Kaliber Non-alcoholic Beer: Move over O’Doul’s – it’s time for a non alcoholic beer that actually tastes good. Brewed by Guinness, this amber lager is sweet with hints of caramel and honey – and you’ll be just fine to make the drive home.
Wang Derm Thai Iced Tea: It’s hard to replicate the nutty sweetness of a Thai iced tea outside your favorite Thai restaurant, but the Wang Derm kit makes a potion as good as anything you’ll find in Bangkok.