Is it just me, or do you love social gatherings even more after the pandemic?
Last night, I attended a celebration in honor of a non-profit that I'm involved in. It was a treat to see people in-person and so nice to catch up with everyone.
I hadn’t been to the hostess’ home before. It was so deliciously fun to see how her home was decorated (who knew she loved contemporary art?!) and how she entertained (a buffet of appetizers set-up in the dining room and a cellist who played beautiful music at the perfect volume).
As the event was drawing to a close, I spotted the hostess gifts she had received perched atop a kitchen counter. My heart was warmed at the sight of them, and then, a moment later, I found myself frustrated.
Many well-intentioned guests had made a very common mistake. Keep reading to avoid making the same mistake when YOU give a hostess gift.
- Hostess Gift Definition
- The Frustration of UHGs (Unidentified Hostess Gifts)
- What Your Hostess Wants You to Know
- Do This When Giving a Hostess Gift
- Hostess Gift - Extra Credit
The Definition of a Hostess Gift
By definition, hostess gifts are tokens of appreciation for being included in the event. A hostess gift is similar to a thank you gift, but it’s given upon arrival--even before you’ve tasted a morsel or even had a sip of a drink.
If a hostess gift could talk, it would likely say to the hostess, “Thanks for inviting me into your private space. I’m grateful for the time, money, and energy you put into this gathering so that we could all enjoy a terrific event.”
It’s customary to give a hostess gift when invited to someone’s home for the first time or when you are attending a social event there.
The Frustration of UHGs (Unidentified Hostess Gifts)
After enjoying a wonderful evening, what did I see among the pile of hostess gifts that was frustrating? It was what I DIDN'T see.
Among the many items, there was a wrapped gift box or two and many bottles of wine. Most of the bottles were proffered as is, though a few were tucked in a gift bag.
In my mind’s eye, I could see the hostess and her partner the next morning. There would be some debriefing about the party and likely some clean-up.
At some point, they would approach the counter of hostess gifts. They’d smile at each item as tangible proof of a thoughtful guest and be reminded of the joys of entertaining.
As they’d start to look at the hostess gifts in detail, a few of them would have cards attached. For most of the hostess gifts, they wouldn’t know who the gift was from.
Did Amanda bring this intriguing bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon...or was that Tom?
How would Amanda know we like reds?
Besides, does Tom even drink any more?
I remember complimenting Amanda on her green coat...but did she have anything in her hands?
On and on it would go, as they tried in vain to match the giver to the hostess gift.
How do I know? I’ve played this frustrating game more times than I can count!
What Your Hostess Wants You to Know about Hostess Gifts
Your hostess will be delighted to receive a hostess gift.
She will look at it, smile and say, “Thank you very much.”
She will set it aside, and then direct you to where your coat and purse should be stored.
As she offers you a beverage, it’s quite likely the doorbell will announce the arrival of the next guest.
Ten minutes later, she will have absolutely no idea what you gave her, or if you even gave her a gift.
It’s not you, I promise.
It’s not really her either.
It’s the reality of the first 30 minutes of a party being a blur to the hostess.
She is required to be a combination greeter/server/people connector/logistics expert all while wondering if she set a timer for that last item in the oven and if she remembered to put extra hangers in the coat closet.
She would love to know that you gave her that box of fabulous chocolates, but her brain is just too full at the moment.
Be a Gracious and Helpful Guest
Whenever you’re a guest at a party, help the hostess out!
When you bring a hostess gift, do her the favor of attaching a card to the item. That simple touch lets her know who it’s from, and, quite likely, enjoy it even more.
Your card doesn’t have to be big or fancy; it doesn’t need to be in an envelope; beautiful prose is not required. Just grab a card, jot a few words down---"To the hostess with the mostest” ---- and sign your name.
Even if it’s a bottle of wine?
ESPECIALLY if it’s a bottle of wine! These days, a hostess may receive several bottles as gifts and may not remember who gave her each one.
A nice touch when gifting wine is to add a note explaining why you selected that particular bottle. She'll love knowing the backstory of how that particular bottle of Chardonnay ended up in her home.
Advanced Hostess Gift Giving Tip
Experienced gift givers know that there are many situations when a gift and its accompanying card can become separated. A great way to avoid this problem is to include the card INSIDE the gift!
Even if the hostess gift is a bottle of wine? Noooo! That would be silly! 😉
Instead, just punch a hole in a note card and tie it to the neck of the wine bottle with a ribbon. Easy peasy!