How often we puzzle over choosing just the right hostess gift? Then, once a decision is made, we are not quite sure if we have chosen the right thing?
“Give the gift that dies” was the advice from a lady who coaches ambassadors and high government officials on social etiquette. Her premise is that it places a burden on a hostess who received a gift that she needs to remember to display each time that guest returns. This has happened to me.
So what is “a gift that dies?” It is anything that the hostess doesn’t have to find a place to display or store! Wine, flowers and candy come to mind immediately.
Wine: A good stand-by in most cases. It’s best to know the taste of your host. It’s always disappointing if you present your favorite bottle of red wine to a hostess whose family only drinks white. Or, the disaster of proudly presenting a costly bottle of wine only to discover the host has no appreciation of wine and would not know the difference between that and a bottle of “three buck Chuck”. It is hard to not be observed sneaking that bottle back into your jacket to enjoy at home. A French custom for presenting wine as a hostess gift is to say, “For your cave.” This way, the hostess knows that she is not expected to serve the bottle just in case she has chosen special wine to pair with the food.
Flowers: A great choice if you are going to someone’s home for a casual dinner. It is best to have an ideal of what colors might be good. If you are attending a larger event, the hostess may already have flowers in place and your gift might create the chaos of finding a container and deciding where to put them while she is greeting guests and overseeing final preparations.
Candy: Who doesn’t love a box of Godiva? You might, however, be blamed for the extra five pounds your hostess can’t seem to dislodge from her hips.
If you know your hostess and her home, you have a better idea of stepping outside the box to choose something more unusual. Paper guest towels are great and a useful gift. Although you might love towels with a comic motif or bright color, better to stick with off-white. If you have time, it is always classy to add a monogram. Or, consider a candle or fireplace lighter. Another unique gift for the hostess who uses candles, is a candle snuffer. Although these will not “die” they are practical gifts that do not require being displayed when you return.
Most importantly, keep your host and hostess in mind and have fun choosing something they will love!