Quirky Hostess Gift Ideas for the Holidays

[ 2 ] November 9, 2010 |

The holidays are approaching, and if you’re lucky enough to have friends and family who like you, you’ll soon be invited to a myriad of parties and dinners. Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone knows it’s polite to bring a little something, like an inexpensive host gift.

Amy Sedaris: actress, hostess, role model.

The eccentric Amy Sedaris has a book on entertaining called I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (which you can pick up with our free Amazon coupons, naturally) to educate the etiquette ignorant.

Her information comes from the point of view of the party thrower, and from this I’ve construed a list of unique hostess gifts that you, the guest, can proudly offer:

Pantry Items

An extremely practical gift idea for a hostess is something she can actually use, like butter. Butter’s expensive but quite versatile. Other good kitchen items to consider are classy napkins, tapers, animal snacks if she has a pet or a jar of jimmies.


When it comes to a hostess gift for a dinner party, alcohol is always a good idea, unless your hostess is 15 years old or on step eleven of the Twelve Step program. Whichever one that is.


A bouquet might seem sweet, but your hostess will have to drop everything, find a vase, fill it with water, and so on. It’s time-consuming, and she might get frazzled. If you insist on getting her a handful of something that’ll die in a few days anyway, bring the vase with you. And remember: no sunflowers. They’re garish.

Just for Her

If you don’t know much about your hostess, take some time to learn about her. Is she theatrical? Buy her a new wig. Is she crafty? Show up with a plastic bag of googly eyes – you’ll be her new best friend. Present her with a new gum shield if she’s an Aries. (They hold all their tension in their jaws.)

Some general Dos and Don’ts of being a good party guest:


  • Have a lot of things to talk about. It’s a party, so now’s the time to share your stories about your vacation or the bus driver you had who fell asleep at the wheel.
  • Comment positively on the aroma, even if you’re lying.
  • Point out your favorite dish or decoration (“I love the seashell ashtrays!”).


  • Walk in setting an uncomfortable tone. If your gums are diseased, or you want to get a freckle enlarged, keep it to yourself.
  • Complain. Make a single, polite suggestion (“Would it be alright if I extinguished the curtains?”), and if it’s rebuffed, just let it go.
  • Look through the medicine cabinet. Ever. If your hostess is smart, she’ll fill it with marbles, so when a nosy guest opens it, they’ll fall in the porcelain sink and make a loud, embarrassing clatter.

Attending any dinner parties this weekend? Share your hostess gift ideas!


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  1. Cristina says:

    Great post Andrew!! I just threw a dinner party this past weekend, and two of my guests called me up and asked what they could bring (even though it wasn’t a potluck event). It was pretty helpful actually, one suggested bringing dessert and the other suggested finger foods for before dinner…I appreciated it. I have enough trinkets in the house, bottles of wine on the rack and I am a murderer of flowers. So, if you’d really like to help a hostess out, call her a few days before and just ask. =)

  2. Shannon says:

    LOL. I love the marbles idea!

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