November 11, 2022

Host Gifting Guide

By Bonna Moon
Host Gifting Guide
Wine bottle and glass line . continuous black one line drawing.  illustrationLet's be honest- if you're lucky enough to get an invite to a meal prepared by someone else, the least you can do is not show up empty handed. If you've ever played host for a big event like a holiday meal, you know what a labor of love it is, no matter how many people you have sitting around your table. It's a dance of many moving parts to get several warm dishes on the table at one time, not to mention the party planning, the cost, the meal prep and the cleanup. Showing up for dinner with a small token of your appreciation is a classy way to make sure your hosts feel seen and appreciated.

Not sure what to bring? I put together a Host Gifting Guide for you- a list of Do's and Don'ts with specific gift recommendations sprinkled throughout. (Some of them are affiliate's links that will give me a small monetary kickback that will be reinvested into studio tools and materials.)

DO ask your host ASAP if there's anything you can bring to dinner.

  • If you're confident in the kitchen and have the time, leave the offer open-ended to bring whatever they might want some help with.
  • If you're not as confident in your skills but you have a few signature dishes you're comfortable making, you can offer to specifically bring one of those. 
  • If you're not able or willing to bring a prepared dish, you can offer to bring a bottle or two of wine and a charcuterie board or a bakery dessert and some after dinner coffee.

    Wine Recommendations: for Thanksgiving wines, a good general pairing for whites would be Riesling or Pinot Grigio and for reds, Pinot Noir or Syrah. A sweet apple wine is also a decent option if you'd rather have something sweet and fruity. 

Note on bringing food: Be sure to communicate well in advance whether it will need time in the oven or on the stove or if it needs to be in the fridge until it's served.

DO consider bringing something for them to enjoy on their own after everyone's left. 

Bring a little something for them either to wind down with after everyone else has gone home, or to take something off their plate the next day! This could be coffee beans and a bottle of my nutty coffee syrup, a candle, some incense, a nice bar of soap, a self-care basket, a little handmade something from a local gift shop, or even a bouquet of flowers delivered after the fact with a thank you card. Click this link so you can schedule a flower delivery from The Bouqs Co. and get 20% off! 

OR, If you really want to go above and beyond, consider bringing something for them to have or serve for breakfast the next morning! This is an excellent move if you know they're hosting and especially if they're hosting you. Try not to pick something that requires much fridge space, if any, and instead grab a bag of coffee beans and a box of donuts or cinnamon rolls or some croissants and a couple jars of jams or spreads. You can't go wrong with a jar of anything Bonne Maman or Nutella. It's a good idea to bring something that could theoretically do the whole job of breakfast, but could also work as a side if you can swing it, because it's highly likely that they already have plans made and groceries purchased if they're hosting overnight guests. 

DO think about what happens with your gift after people leave.

There are tons of ideas for host gifts floating around the internet with really low-quality items, and while they're cute and will make an impact initially, a lot of those things will inevitably end up in a landfill. Instead, opt for quality over quantity. Use one of the options above for low to no waste gifts that your host will not only love, but will also use. 

Don't assume they want you to bring something to be served with dinner. Ask first. 

Your host has likely spent days or even weeks planning and preparing for an all-day marathon of cooking. It could be taken the wrong way if you show up with a dish to be served with their pre-planned menu, even though your intentions are pure. Instead, reach out as far as a week ahead of time (or even when you get the invite) to ask if there is anything you can bring! If they seem overwhelmed, offer suggestions from the first point in this list. 

Don't bring something that takes up room in the fridge or freezer. 
It's highly likely that their fridge is at capacity as it is, so bringing a gift that needs to be kept cold might be more annoying than not. 

Don't bring anything that needs their immediate undivided attention.
For instance, if you're bringing flowers, bring them in a vase. Aim to choose something that can be set down and appreciated once things have slowed down for them. 

Don't forget the card! 
Even if you don't end up bringing your host a physical gift, send a thank you card after the fact. But really- especially if you do bring a physical gift- be sure to write a quick note of appreciation so that they know who left it for them. Not sure what to say? Something simple is just fine. For instance, "Thanks for hosting Thanksgiving! Love you! From, [your name/your family]"

Whatever you do to make your host feel appreciated is great. If you've ever given or received a great host gift, tell me about it in the comments!