If you’re heading out of town and will be crashing on someone’s couch or occupying a guest room, you may be looking for a gift that will demonstrate your appreciation for your friend or family member’s hospitality. If that’s the case - welcome. We’re here to help! Here are thirteen gift ideas that we think are pretty tops when it comes to thanking your host(s):
ICE CREAM, TOPPINGS + A ZEROLL ICE CREAM SCOOP - We love our Zeroll scoop – it really does make ice cream scooping easier. Apparently, there is some kind of liquid in the handle that helps transfer the heat of your hand to the scoop part, melting the ice cream ever so slightly and making the serving process that much easier. Obviously this one is somewhat time sensitive – ice cream can’t hang out in the car for too long – but if you get the timing down, this can be a fun thank you gift. Or, if you don’t want to worry about melting pints, a gift certificate to a local ice cream haunt or an online purveyor like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams are excellent stand-ins. Including sprinkles (aka jimmies) and other toppings is optional. You may wish to check out Wilton’s “Everyday” sprinkles set or their “Rainbow” sprinkles set - and, for gourmet sprinkles, be sure to check out Ticings. (Side note: because of the way the Zeroll scoops work, they shouldn’t go in the dishwasher but need to be hand washed – you may just wish to give a heads-up to your recipient.)
CUISINART ICE CREAM MAKER - Speaking of ice cream, we received a Cuisinart ICE-21 ice cream maker as a gift and can’t tell you how much we’ve enjoyed using it. Making ice cream is a fun project to do with family and friends – with delicious results. If you are looking for a good ice cream recipe book to pair with your gift, we suggest Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home which has yet to fail us in terms of tastiness or creativity!
PILLIVUYT PLATTER – This may just be the most versatile and handy platter we’ve ever encountered. You know how most plates and platters have a sizeable lip around the edge? We’ve always found that can make things a bit awkward when, say, trying to plate hors d’oeuvres, present a cake or torte, or put together a cheese platter. Clearly it can be done, but it may not look quite as pretty as one would like. Enter Pillivuyt’s flat, round, white serving platter. Its flatness is ideal for serving all sorts of food items – and its neutral color means that it can be dressed up, dressed down or garnished with whatever is seasonal at the moment. By virtue of the fact that you’re looking for a hostess/host gift, we already know you’ll be staying with someone who likes to entertain, so this platter is bound to be right up their alley. Side note: if you wish to up the ante even further, include a gift certificate to a favorite cheese shop – or, a set of cheese knives – or, a cake server. Alternately, a recipe or two for something that would look well on the platter is a nice way to personalize the gift too. For example, we might include Marian Burros’ plum torte recipe (with some Italian plums if they are in season!) and/or a recipe for clementine cake.
BOARD GAMES AND/OR A JIGSAW PUZZLE - If your hosts are the type of folks to enjoy a good round of Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, a couple of new board games or a gorgeous wooden jigsaw puzzle might be the way to go. On the board game front, you may wish to check out Catan, Chronology or What Do You Meme?, all of which are newer to the market but have proven to be extremely popular. For wooden jigsaw puzzles, be sure to check out Liberty Puzzles, Artifact Puzzles and Nervous System.
TOYS FOR THE KIDDOES - If you are staying with someone who has young children, it is often nice to get a little something for them, as well as for your adult hosts. Not only will it give you something to talk about with the young ones as a bit of an ice breaker, the distraction it offers may give you a few extra moments of time with your hosts to have an adult conversation – catching up, exchanging news, etc. Gifts for children is a whole topic in its own right but when considering what to get we recommend being mindful of the amount of clean-up that may be involved (stay away from glitter!), the level of supervision that may be required and/or the potential for noise-making (i.e. will it be annoying to any adults present or does it have the potential to wake-up any napping siblings). Outdoor activities are often good (weather/season permitting) as are puzzles pitched to the child/children’s age and skill level. Examples of the kinds of gifts you might consider include: Usborne’s wipe-clean maze book, a LEGO space shuttle, a Spirograph set, or a giant bubble wand kit.
SIMON PEARCE BREADBOARD - We love Simon Pearce’s breadboards (aka cutting boards), especially their bird’s-eye maple breadboard, either oval or rectangular. They are simple, elegant and classy - really, just gorgeous both to touch and look at. Our preference aside, Simon Pearce has a goodly selection of boards, so another one entirely may catch your fancy. Pair the board of your choice with a linen bread cloth, a bread knife or, indeed, a loaf of bread. But really, that would just be icing on the cake - these boards are gorgeous gifts just by themselves. And, if your recipient doesn’t agree (or they already have enough cutting boards), chances are they can easily find something else delightful at Simon Pearce, as long as you include a gift receipt.
COOKBOOK AND/OR TABLET STAND - Yamazaki’s Tosca cookbook or tablet stand may well be the perfect gift for a home chef, be they technophile or technophobe. Why? Because it is adjustable and therefore both book and tablet appropriate. Even if your hostess/host is not fond of the kitchen, a stand proves handy wherever you might need to prop up a book, tablet or music to read or follow along. We like the fact too that it can collapse down for easy storage when not in use - an important factor, especially in kitchens where space might be at a premium.
EARLYWOOD KITCHEN UTENSILS - We’ve purchased Earlywood’s “trifecta” as a gift for someone else and it was a resounding success (the recipient subsequently went to their site to purchase additional items themselves). We’ve also purchased the “trifecta” for ourselves. Beautifully made and prettily packaged up, we can personally recommend that particular bundle of utensils (wood utensils can be a great choice for cooking as they are less likely to scrape up pots and pans as compared to their metal counterparts). That said, we also recommend checking out their full selection of goods for a host (ha!) of lovely host-related gift ideas.
A MACGYVER KIT - For the outdoor enthusiast, survivalist or nature lover, this might be just the ticket - especially if they will get the reference to the Eighties television show (see a classic MacGyver improvised escape here). If you are being invited along on an outdoor trip, MacGyver kit is a humorous (yet useful) way to say “thank you.”
FLOWERS OR A POTTED PLANT - We recommend sending flowers after your visit – a lovely surprise! This is a tried and true gift but the key is to find a top-notch florist who works with quality flowers. Here in the Boston-Cambridge area, we’re big fans of Hallie’s Garden (Hallie and her crew are marvelous – and she works with very high quality blooms!). Through Hallie, we got to know of BloomNation. She’s a part of their network, a network that focuses on finding top local florists here in the States. So, whenever we need to send flowers to someone in the U.S. that doesn’t live in Boston, BloomNation is now our first port of call. If you are not U.S.-based, check in with your favorite local florist – they may be able to recommend a similar network in your country.
FOR WINE AND CHEESE LOVERS - For wine and cheese lovers, may we suggest a WineHug, a pack of JetBags or WineSkin bags, or a set of Formaticum cheese bags and paper? These products will, respectively, help your host/hostess feed their habit, bringing favorite bottles of wine safely back from far-flung places and preserving cheese that bit longer with its flavor intact!
FOR THE GARDENER - We recommend a Sneeboer transplanting trowel or a Mtn Tree hori hori knife. There’s nothing quite like having good tools to make a job even more pleasurable. Sneeboer tools are handmade in Holland and their trowels are of the highest quality - durable and comfortable in hand. Many lesser trowels are soldered right at the join between handle and face. Over time (sometimes a very short span of time!) this weakens and the trowel breaks in half just when you are trying to lever something up. Sneeboer trowels, by comparison, are not soldered at the join – they are made of one continuous piece of steel from face to handle, translating into a stronger, more durable product. As for a hori hori knife - from cutting, to weeding, to trowel work, it is an extremely versatile tool and, we suspect, a far too uncommon an item in many a gardener’s kit. We added one to our gardening arsenal last year and it fast became a favorite - it actually makes weeding so easy it becomes fun!
OLEANA BLANKET - This one’s a bit pricey but could be just the right gift if you and/or your family have benefited from someone’s hospitality for an extended period of time. Oleana is a Norwegian company and all of their products are made in Norway. We first encountered their products some years back in Finland where a tasteful shop owner had decided to carry their goods. It was love at first sight (and touch!). Oleana’s wool blankets come in a variety of gorgeous patterns and are both warm and soft – marvelous for curling up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn, or for making your bed extra comfy (and beautiful!). A lovely gift for anyone residing in a chilly clime. Shopping-wise, various stores around the globe stock Oleana’s products. We recommend taking a look at their website for the full collection and then, if an item catches your eye, finding out whether the supplier closest to you has it on hand or is willing to order it for you. Here in the States, stockists include: The Nordic Shop and Chalet in the Woods.
As we wind up this post, a word to the wise – have a quick think about your host’s interests and needs. For example, gifting a young family a food basket containing unusual jams or condiments is generous but not necessarily suited to their current stage in life. We have childhood memories of unusual jams, jellies and tinned foods gathering dust in our parents’ larder – for example, things containing liquor or spreads that were super spicy. As our parents usually had whatever we were having for dinner, it’s not surprising that non-child-friendly items rarely made it onto the dinner menu. Now that their children have reached adulthood, the situation is different - they have the time and menu flexibility to try new or more adventurous things. That said, you know your friends and family best, perhaps a selection of new and different foodstuffs is just what’s needed - our only recommendation is just to have a quick think about it before you make your purchases.
Last but not least, as with any gifting venture, if you know your hostess/host’s interests, it can often provide guidance as to what might be a successful gift. We’ve given things as diverse as waterproof dry bags (among other bits and bobs) to a keen sailor whose peanut butter M&M’s were always getting wet by the time he felt peckish for a mid-sail snack, to a box of kindling for the couple that loves to spend evenings fireside come winter. Hopefully one or more of the above ideas hits upon one (or more) of your host(s) interests. And, if you come to this post with several winning-ideas of your own, please do share - we always love to hear about gifting wins!
Why sign up for a free Little Birdie Me account?
- No more unwanted gifts! Create a gift profile to let folks know what you like (and don't like!) to receive.
- Link to existing wish lists, registries, Pinterest boards - and more!
- Keep track of the gifts you give, and budget for gifting events.
- Follow family and friends' gift profiles to make your own gift giving easy peasy.