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Hostess Gift Etiquette: What to Bring?

Going to a party this holiday season? A gift to the host or hostess is a thoughtful gesture thanking them for their hospitality. Here are some gift ideas to keep in mind:

Two women holding gifts in a doorway.
  • Flowers. If possible, bring flowers prearranged in a vase, so your host doesn't have to scramble to arrange them. A small holiday plant, such as a poinsettia or a tabletop rosemary tree, is a festive choice that requires no arranging.
  • A small housewares gift. Consider gifting small items for the home, such as guest soaps and lotions, decorative bathroom towels, or elegant kitchen accessories, such as a spoon rest, bottle stoppers or serving tray.
  • Wine or champagne. A bottle of wine or champagne is a popular holiday party gift option. Include a small tag attached to the bottle with your name and a brief note. The bottle doesn't need to be expensive; $15 to $25 is an appropriate range.
  • Specialty food items. Jams, jellies, condiments and fancy nuts are holiday party gift staples. For a close friend, consider pairing a few items into a themed gift basket. A small basket of different cheeses, nuts and jams, for example, makes for an easy, ready-to-enjoy meal.
  • Homemade treats. Bake a batch of your family's favorite holiday cookies or bread and include a card with the recipe.

When in doubt, etiquette experts advise against showing up to a holiday party or dinner empty-handed. A small gift — even one that misses the mark — is better than no gift at all.

Family in the kitchen.

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