Hostess Gifts

When I was in the eighth grade my Civics Teacher, Mr. Resh, told us there were some things in life that were mandatory. He would write phrases on the blackboard that has stayed with me all of these years. Things like; Procrastination is the thief of time. Or; What you do today may affect the rest of your life. Or: Know your rights! Deep words for that of a 14 year old. So it was no surprise when he handed out clippings from the Dear Abby columns that were life lessons. The Dear Abby column that I was handed that day had to do with a woman that could not believe the adults that her children became. One of the writer’s daughters had attended a party and received a gift. However, she showed up without a hostess gift and she never wrote a thank you card to the giver. Dear Abby stated (and I’m paraphrasing) “By the time a child is 12 years old they should know that it is proper and common knowledge to send thank you cards and bring along a hostess gift to any party.“ I was 14 and this was news to me. So much so that I never forgot it.With the hustle and bustle of the Season in full swing I want to explore the giving of hostess gifts. I think people don’t bring along a hostess gift not because they didn’t think about it but because they just have no clue of what to bring. As an event coordinator I can tell you that although a bottle of wine feels like a safe gift to give anyone, it isn’t. In my experience, there are lots of people that would consider this gift as a bit presumptuous and inappropriate. If you know the hostess and you know that that person loves a good Merlot by all means do buy the bottle of wine. If, though, you’ve only ever met the hostess once or twice or let’s say the hostess is your spouse’s boss, don’t buy a bottle of good Merlot. You don’t know that person well enough to make an assumption. Give instead a nice poinsettia. A Christmas plant brings a smile on the face of the Grinch himself. Never give a personal gift to an associate or coworker. This includes shirts (of any kind), bottles of perfume, pajamas or socks. A candle with a Christmas scent would be a better match for someone like that. The in-laws are always hard to guess. If you’re going to a family function you are not excused from a hostess gift. In-laws are hostesses too. A poinsettia or a candle would do great as well as a bottle of wine (if you know your in-laws well enough) but you could always bring a party platter of cookies, nuts or chocolates. Know that your hostess is not obligated to share or serve anything that you bring to a party. If you choose to bring a party platter of cheese and nuts don’t ask the hostess to serve it. The hostess is under the stress of entertaining. The last thing they want is for you to put yet another item on their plate – no pun intended. It may not even cross their mind because their mind is on the party itself. If the hostess asks “would it be ok for me to put this out for all of us to enjoy?” of course that’s a nice gesture and your answer should be “sure!” Whatever your gift is put some thought into it so that it makes sense for the person you’re gifting to. Don’t give golf balls to your granny that has never stepped foot onto a green. It will be awkward and you will leave her baffled. No matter what you decide on a hostess gift go into the party with a spirit of giving and sharing. Even the smallest of trinkets are always appreciated when it is given with the warmth of giving that only Christmas can bring. My hostess gift to you is from my favorite Christmas song, sung by Amy Grant :

“…Well heaven surely knows That packages and bows Can never heal A hurting human soul. No more lives torn apart, That wars would never start, And time would heal all hearts. And everyone would have a friend, And right would always win, And love would never end. This is my grown-up Christmas list.”