It’s always nice to receive an invite. Here’s how to get creative in saying thank you in return.
Many hallmarks of traditional etiquette have fallen by the wayside: elbows off the table, minding your Ps and Qs. But one thing that’s experiencing a renaissance is the art of hostess gifting. While it’s by no means essential to arrive at an event with a present, it is a lovely expression of thanks that’ll make you and your host feel good.
Note that this is not the time or the place for lavish gestures. Johanna Park of Auckland gift, homeware and accessories store Tuberose says: “A gift of any kind should be given from the heart.” Your aim is something simple yet thoughtful.
Bulldog candle, $49 from Tuberose. May Time cheese stick set, $51. Lenox hand towel, $15 Chef’s candle, $33 from Tuberose.
Avoid having a signature gift that becomes your go-to. The key is to tailor it to the event, the person and the mood. What’s the occasion? Try specialty tea for an afternoon gathering; Park suggests pairing it with “a cute tea strainer”. Go for gourmet coffee for an overnight stay, or par-baked pastries that can be popped in the oven come morning.
A bottle of wine might seem a no-brainer for a dinner party, but it pays to think outside this box as your hostess will have carefully crafted her menu and may feel pressured to serve it.
Occasion aside, what’s your hostess all about? If she’s a pet-lover, a little something for her furry friend could be just right. For foodies, anything artisan is a good bet: condiments, oils, vinegars. Or for the woman who likes baking, layer dry ingredients in a jar and present with the recipe for delicious biscuits.
Edibles aside, consider an unexpected treat she’d probably not buy for herself, keeping in mind the decor of her home. Park says soaps and tea-light holders are popular with her clientele. Or try a scented candle. “Travel-sized versions make a great small gift,” says Park, or try one that’s a hit with men also. “The Candles of New Zealand’s Chef’s Candle range is scented with herbs, vanilla and lemon to disguise cooking smells and is a winner. Our customers come back for repeat orders.”
Miller Road candle, $40, from Arazzo. French Country Collections hand towel, $20 and Savon de Marseille soap, $10 from Arazzo. One World fork set, $40 from Arazzo. Vintage by Nina book, $90 from Arazzo.
Steer clear of anything that requires more work for your hostess. By all means, say it with flowers, but present them in a Mason jar so she doesn’t need to arrange them. Or choose a living gift such as potted herbs that need minimal maintenance.
Hand your gift to your hostess on arrival; you could suggest she opens it later so as not to upstage empty-handed guests. Presentation is key, so have your gift store-wrapped if possible or follow our elegant wrapping ideas.
Writer: Philippa Prentice