Whether your friends are inviting guests over for the first time to their new home, hosting a holiday dinner party or letting you use their spare room for a week instead of paying for a hotel, it’s only natural to want to show your appreciation to them for their hospitality.
A small housewarming or hostess gift is a delightful way to demonstrate both affection and gratitude — but the task of finding something appropriate can leave you scratching your head. Should it be practical or decorative? Personalized or generic? Here are some tips that can help you choose.
Go the Traditional Route
Housewarming and hostess gifts are traditions that go back centuries. Both serve roughly the same purpose, i.e., they show someone that their community is there to support them and share their burdens. Many traditional gifts were designed to be both useful and symbolic, so consider these classic gits that have stood the test of time:
- Bread, which means “May you never know hunger.”
- Wine, which means “May you never know thirst.”
- Honey, which means “May your life always be sweet.”
A fancy loaf of bread or a basket of muffins, some artisanal local honey or a bottle of wine (or all three, if you’re feeling particularly generous or grateful) — paired with a note that explains their meaning — would be immediately useful and sure to charm your hosts.
Candles Are Always Welcome
Decorative jar candles are another great practical gift that can also convey a lot of meaning. They are, in essence, saying that you hope your friends will always find a light to guide them even in the darkest of times.
High-quality scented candles are very popular these days. If you’re familiar enough with your friends’ preferences, you can pick a scent you know they already enjoy. If you’re not so certain, aim for something calm and serene, like vanilla. If the holiday season is in full swing, peppermint can be a refreshing and welcome choice.
Plants Can Be a Lovely Gift
Plants are great for any environment, and they help bring a little touch of color and life to a room. Pothos and aloe plants are easy to grow, while African violets and spider plants are completely pet-safe.
If you aren’t sure if your friends have a green thumb (or know they don’t), you can always bring a bouquet of cut flowers or a pot of colorful mums. They’re beautiful, always graceful as a decorative gift and require only temporary upkeep.
Add to the Home Bar
If your friends are the kind of folks who regularly share their spirits with their guests, you can always bring a gift that will complement their existing bar set. Something like a special ice mold (large cubes don’t dilute liquor as easily as regular cubes), a fancy bottle opener or — if you know they need them – a set of whiskey glasses that may be deeply appreciated.
If you’re not feeling confident about any of those choices, you can always go another route: Nobody ever feels bad about receiving a 15-year-old bottle of Glenfiddich or a small batch bourbon. If you want to be particularly fancy, you can always pick up a dessert drink, like Godiva Chocolate Liqueur or Jackson Morgan Cream.
Something to Grace the Outside
If you like the idea of a highly symbolic gift but don’t want to buy something consumable, you can bring something that will grace the outside of your friends’ home.
Windchimes are supposed to dispel ill spirits and invite blessings to a home, while decorative brooms are meant to sweep away bad luck and cinnamon brooms are supposed to bring wealth.
Make It Personal
Depending on how well you know your hosts, you can always go a much more personal route and tailor your gift to their unique interests.
Is your friend a big reader? A copy of your favorite book is a great way to show your affection and share a piece of yourself with them. Do they like to cook? A selection of fancy olive oils might thrill them. Are they thrilled with their new home’s deep tub? Handmade soaps or specialty bath salts may be just the thing. Are they the sort of person who loves simple delights? A basket of gourmet coffees and jams could be lovely.
You Can’t Go Wrong with Gift Cards
Finally, when in doubt (or short on time), go with a gift card. Whether your friends have just moved into their place, or they’ve been there a while, everybody needs something.
A gift card to a local department store like Target can accommodate anybody’s taste and will be only a modest expense. If you’re coming for an extended stay and want to do something a little bigger, a gift card for a meal for two at an upscale local restaurant can be a lovely display of your affection.
Following these tips can help you make a thoughtful gesture to your friends and hosts that they will both appreciate and cherish. So, relax. No matter what you bring, your love and gratitude will be sure to shine through.