I am an avid reader of your blog, and I really appreciate that you answer serious questions that I always feel like I can relate too. Anyway, with Thanksgiving coming up so soon, I was wondering if you could recommend hostess gifts or what's appropriate to do in these occasions. It could be going home with the family of a boyfriend (in my case) or a friend from school (in the case of my sister), what would you recommend doing/bringing/sending?
First, I want to commend you for thinking about hostess gifts at all in these situations, I think far too many young people underestimate the importance of proper etiquette- it will go a long way, especially when you're trying to impress another person's family.
But before you start thinking about a hostess gift, I think it's always a good idea to call or e-mail the host or hostess in advance, thank them for the invitation and ask if you can bring a dish to share. If you like to cook and you have something you usually make for your own family, you could offer to bring that. Most likely, the hostess will say that she's got everything under control and that you don't need to bring anything. Of course, you should always ignore this statement.
My favorite gifts for these situations are the personalized variety. If you can find out the hostess's interests or hobbies in advance and bring something related, you're in. Alternatively, you can bring something that is personal to you, it's a nice gesture. I'm from Michigan so when I'm home I'll stock up on things like chocolate covered Michigan cherries or cans of local preserves for hostess or thank you gifts.
Most of the time when I'm invited to dinner or a party, I'll bring some homemade cookies or candies (I like to make those decorated chocolate dipped pretzels- they're easy and impressive), but I would shy away from bringing more food to Thanksgiving. The hostess and her family will already have tons of leftovers and another plate of cookies won't be appreciated. If you want to go the food route, candy or anything that will stay fresh for weeks is better, since they can enjoy it when the holiday craziness is over.
Unless you know that the family doesn't drink (definitely check in advance), a bottle of wine is always a nice gift. The New York Times has a great guide to the best wines under $10- perfect for the poor college student's budget. Unless your host is a connoisseur, they'll never guess you spent so little, just don't forget to take off the price tag.
Flowers are another hostess gift staple, but I'm hesitant to recommend them for Thanksgiving, since it's likely that the hostess already has some flowers set out. My other issue with flowers is that bringing them requires the hostess to take time out of her hectic schedule to trim and arrange them when she's trying to finish dinner. You could always send flowers the next day as a thank you, or bring them pre-arranged in a vase.
Finally, there's a category of generic hostess gifts that never fail. Candles, soaps, candies, chocolates, bud vases, picture frames, Christmas tree ornaments (obviously, make sure the family is Christian first), nice tea or coffee or a wine stopper are always appreciated.
And don't forget to send a hand-written thank you note within a day or two of the event! Happy Thanksgiving!
Anyone else have suggestions for Thanksgiving host or hostess gifts?
Monday, November 19, 2007