Attending a dinner party? Feel like you should bring something along with you? Not sure what to bring? We’ve put on our thinking caps, consulted our records and done some complex calculations (ok, so maybe not that last part – but, you get the picture!). Here are some gift ideas for your hostess and/or host that we hope come in handy:
A bottle o’ bubbs. Wine has long been a go-to for dinner party gifting. If you fancy going this route and don’t know your host/hostesses preferences (and they haven’t shared them on their Little Birdie Me profile), we recommend opting for a nice bottle of bubbly as it’s one of the most versatile types of wine. Not only does Champagne (and most other sparkling wines) go with almost anything, it’s wonderful as either an aperitif or digestif. That, and it’s also associated with celebrations – so, from the get-go it connotes happiness. A word to the wise: if you give Champagne (or any other sparkler), don’t bank on your host or hostess opening it – it may not jive with their meal/wine plan for the evening, and/or depending on the size of the party, there may not be enough to go around which would make it awkward to serve. Also, when is it ever ok to give a gift that you expect to benefit from? That’s right: never. Best to say something like, “please save this to celebrate something special – like making it to cocktail hour,” or if you’re feeling like a little silliness might be called for, try something like, “this is an emergency bottle of Champagne – to be opened only in case of frivolity.”
Most folks (but not all - we know a few!) like flowers. If you are attending a very formal dinner, it’s usually best to send flowers in advance, especially if you are the guest of honor. That way, you avoid putting your host or hostess in the position of having to trim and arrange flowers just when they might need to be answering the door and/or checking on any last minute party-related details. For smaller, more casual affairs, however, bringing a bouquet with you is less of an issue – but it is still nice to offer to arrange the flowers, particularly if your host or hostess is in the midst of receiving guests or putting finishing touches on the meal when you arrive. Alternately, bring paper flowers. There are some marvelous artisans out there making paper flowers that are extraordinary imitations of the real deal. These can be marveled at and then carefully put aside to arrange later without any worry. If that route appeals, you may wish to check out these makers: lillesyster, iwantthatmountain, Mazziflowers, or folium. Full disclosure: we used to work with Jess, the artist behind folium - we link to her site though because of her 💐 skillz, not because we know her.
A tub of Maldon salt. Ok, we know this is an unusual suggestion, but if you’re going to the home of a cooking enthusiast, odds are this gift will be appreciated! Maldon salt is a gorgeous cooking salt – and, unlike a lot of gourmet salts out there which still retain some moisture, it is dry, making it ideal for use in a salt mill. Its lack of moisture and pyramid structure also makes it easy to sprinkle (cue the Salt Bae jokes!).
Breakfast goodies. This works especially well if you live near a good bakery or are a keen home baker. The idea is to arrive with a basket (or tote) full of breakfast items, be it pastries, a loaf of good bread, a good jam or butter, freshly squeezed o.j., and/or a bag of granola and some lovely fruits. Hosting a top notch dinner party generally takes a fair bit of effort - from food prep, to clean-up - and your hostess and/or host will likely be up an hour or two later after the last guests leave, scraping dishes and cleaning wine glasses - or, they may save the clean-up until the following morning. Either way, having a treat of a breakfast waiting for them will make the morning after the dinner party that much more leisurely and enjoyable. We find this works especially well if you are going to a dinner party on a Friday or Saturday evening (so that there is time for a relaxing breakfast the following day)!
Cocktail ingredients. Going to the home of someone who entertains a lot and loves a good drink? Some fun and/or unusual cocktail ingredients could be the way to go! Examples to consider: a lovely porcelain crock of Fabbri preserved cherries, a Dram Apothecary bitters sampler (or any one of their various kits or syrups), one of The Hudson Standard’s shrubs or bitters, or a craft liquor - like a bottle of Hardshore Original Gin from Maine - would do nicely!
Wine coaster, a nice bottle opener, or beverage coasters. Know your host/hostess is a keen wine enthusiast but are shy about choosing a bottle? A wine coaster speaks to their interest and is thoroughly practical, but it doesn’t require any wine knowledge. The same goes for a nice wine opener - and, while a set of coasters isn’t wine-specific, it is certainly wine friendly and very handy!
Cast iron trivet. These can be awfully useful – having an extra space to put down that hot pot or kettle, freeing up the stove, and serving as a kind of mini cooling rack. Traditional black may be the safest bet - like a GURO trivet - or, if you know your host or hostess loves a cheery dab of red, perhaps a Plow & Hearth trivet?
Vintage stamps and a box of pencils. Is your host a letter-writer extraordinaire? A regular sender of invitations by post? A luxurious box of Blackwing pencils might be just the thing, especially when paired with a fun selection of stamps. For vintage stamps, we recommend checking out Vintage Postage Shop, Enfield Post, and/or Send More Mail, all of whom carry US stamps. Send More Mail also stocks Canadian stamps. Keep an eye out for stamps with appropriate themes – perhaps for the state you live in, the state your hostess/host comes from, food-related stamps, etc.
Wüsthof kitchen shears. One of the handiest and most frequently used items in our kitchen, these shears not only have held up marvelously over time, they are easy to clean and have shown no signs of rust in the 10+ years we’ve had them. Useful, practical and handy both in the kitchen, and out. Pretty much always a great gift, wethinks!
Place cards or place card holders. Does your hostess/host regularly entertain? Do they seat folks using place cards? If so, then replenishing their stock with a gorgeous set of cards might be just the thing - tented if they don’t use holders, or flat if they do. Alternately, place card holders themselves can be fun – for example, wine cork place card holders could be a great gift for a wine aficionado who loves to entertain. You can either buy them - we have given these ones from Uncommon Goods - or, make them yourself (for a little help on that front, check out this how-to video).
That’s it from our end, folks! However, we’re curious – are there any gifts you’ve received (or given!) as a dinner party guest/hostess/host that were particularly successful? If so, we’d love to hear the what and the why!
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