The holiday season is made for entertaining! As a guest of an intimate event that you have been invited to, such as a dinner party, open house or small gathering, you will want to show your appreciation to the host/hostess with an appropriate gift. This rule of etiquette applies whether it is in the host’s home or at a restaurant.
You don’t need to go overboard with the cost of the gift; in fact, you can show your creativity or craftsmanship with a homemade token of appreciation. The rule of thumb is that whatever gift you choose, just make sure that it is something that the host/hostess does not have to deal with at the moment of your arrival.
For example, fresh flowers are considered an appropriate hostess gift, but not if the hostess has to stop and put them in a vase of water and neglect his/her duties. Bring a small floral arrangement that can be used as a décor accent, perhaps something seasonal. Even better, is to send flowers to arrive the morning of the party so that the hostess can place them in the desired location before you arrive.
Other considerations are candles, soaps, personalized hand towels, chocolates, gourmet food items, themed-baskets or wine that can be enjoyed later. Never expect the stand-by bottle of wine you bring to be served at dinner; the menu has already been planned and to assume otherwise would be a mistake.
Consider presenting a book on the subject that you know the host/hostess will enjoy… this shows that you have taken the time to select a gift especially for them.
The host/hostess will acknowledge you and your gift upon your arrival.
Always remember to include an enclosure card so that your gift can be identified after the party is over.
Please know that the host/hostess is not expected to send you a formal thank-you note. Your job is to make them feel appreciated, not the other way around. The gift you bring is to simply thank them for inviting you as a gracious guest.