Thoughtful gestures

With Christmas just days away and New Year’s following closely, there’s apt to be a party or two on your social calendar. When heading out the door to attend festivities in someone’s home, remember to pick up a little something extra to give to your host or hostess.

“If you’ve ever entertained, you know how much work goes into a party – even if a hostess makes it look effortless. That’s why hostess gifts are essential,” said Ross Manning, senior vice president, marketing, for Tuesday Morning.

“A host/hostess gift is a thoughtful and important gesture as typically the host goes through a lot of time and expense to make the season bright for guests,” said Jessica Joyce of Bed, Bath & Beyond. “It shows you’ve thought about them as much as they have thought about you.”

A hostess gift is especially appropriate if visiting someone’s home for the first time, writes Emily Post, an expert on etiquette, on her website.

“It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive; simply consider the nature of the occasion and local custom when making your choice,” she wrote.

According to Manning, the gift should be something the hostess can enjoy after the party is over.

Designer Todd Oldham, creator of Kid Made Modern, agreed.

“Bring something personal that the hostess can enjoy – preferably something that won’t get used by someone else in the family. Something like bath salts and bath soaks are a sweet gift and can be used solely by the host,” he said.

One of his favorite gifts to receive are homemade treats.

“I have a friend who brings me some exquisite cake balls she makes, and I look forward to them every year. Choose something that your hostess can enjoy after the party, though. Don’t bring something to be served to guests unless you are asked to do so; unplanned food items can disrupt the host’s menu,” he said.

Other gifts he has received - and appreciated - have been a personalized-mix CD and magazine subscriptions. Oldham said these are gifts that truly take the host or hostess’ likes into consideration and linger past the party.

Additional gift ideas are items that can be used for entertaining at home.

Oldham said it’s also nice to bring a gift for the host or hostess’ children. “They’ll be excited and your host will be thrilled, especially if it is something that will keep the kids entertained during the party, like the Kid Made Modern crayons.”

If you have the time, wrap your gift, said Manning and Post. “Even if you only use tissue or a decorative bag, it adds to the gesture,” Manning added.

And, if you are unsure about what to bring, Oldham suggests sending a gift after the party.

“This will give you a chance to get a feel for the hostess’s style. And your gift will stand out as a special thank you,” he said.

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