As my mother showed me time and time again, being grateful and showing gratitude are two different things. Being grateful is a gift you give yourself. Showing gratitude, at least in her mind, meant never showing up empty-handed and never leaving without a heartfelt thank you.
1. From your home to theirs
Do you make homemade bread? Have homegrown tomatoes? Like to sew? Your host is sharing their home and recipes with you, which is about as personal as it gets; use your gifts and talents to give something personal in return.
2. Rosemary Trees
I always think it’s fun to show up with a rosemary tree when I come to a party. It’s quirky, it’s tiny, it smells (and tastes) delicious, and it will go with almost any holiday decor from November to January. Wrap the base of the plant in a fun fabric and away you go!
3. Sometimes, simple is best
Go for blooms that last a long time and feature colors that would look beautiful with the host’s decor. If you don’t know the home’s color scheme, go for pretty and something in a vase — you don’t want to add to the chaos of the night by making your host scramble to keep your gift alive.
4. A book
Thoughtfulness goes a long way here. If you give a book, make sure to note why you think the host or hostess would love it, and personalize the gift by writing on the first page or leaving a note within the pages.
5. Coffee or tea
A coffee or tea bag set (or a mixture of both) helps replenish the supply and gives the host or hostess something new to enjoy after the dust has settled.
6. Gift card to the favored coffee shop or a new restaurant
Honor the host’s delicious meal with a chance to take the night off.
7. Pretty, unscented candles
Give your host something that adds to the ambiance, but doesn’t take away from the delightful smells that are always coming out of the kitchen. Bonus points if you also add pretty candlesticks or votives to hold them.
8. When in doubt, bring a bottle of … something
Wine, fancy fruit juice for breakfast the next morning, fixings for a holiday cocktail, a delicious new hot sauce, or some ibuprofen for the headaches of hosting a houseful — any gift with given with good intentions and thoughtfulness will go over well.
There are many ways to say thank you that don’t include gifts — including saying thank you. Helping with the dishes, helping with the housecleaning, lightening the load of the host and hostess whenever possible, or (my mother would say “and”) sending a card after the fact.
Do you have a no-fail host and hostess gift? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!