Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Raymond.
The Rules of Appropriate Gifting
A hostess gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be thoughtful. Consider the types of activities your hosts enjoy and gift accordingly. As a general rule, your budget should be around Rs.500 to Rs.700, depending upon the formality of the occasion.
Likewise, never bring food to add to the menu unless your hostess has specifically requested you do so. If you’d like to bring food or drink as your gift, make sure your hosts understand that the gift is for their enjoyment, and you don’t expect them to share it with their guests.
Although wine and flowers are traditional hostess gifts and will always be appreciated, why not challenge yourself and come up with something a little more creative? Try one of these suggestions:
- Gourmet coffee. Always opt for whole bean coffee (if they’re the kind of people who will enjoy coffee as a gift, they’re likely to have their own grinder). Skip the fancy flavors and select a medium brew from a recognized brand, not the mystery bag you find on the shelf at Ross.
- Fine chocolate. For a gift of chocolate to be a hit, it must be unusual and special. Visit an upscale department store or chocolatier for a small box of exquisite truffles.
- Posh spices. If you know your hosts enjoy cooking, visit an upscale market or boutique for a selection of interesting peppercorns, cinnamon, or other often-used spices. A set of sea salts will likely be a big hit. You might also consider a small assortment of spices for ethnic food, such as turmeric, saffron, or coriander.
- Scented candles. Yes, these are overdone, but there’s a reason for that—most everyone enjoys them. Opt for something well-crafted, not a Glade candle from the supermarket. For a host, try a candle with a uniquely masculine scent–like one that smells like a barbershop.
- Kitchen gadgets. Hosts that frequently entertain will always enjoy adding another tool to their party arsenals, like retro metal cocktail skewers, linen kitchen cloths, or a set of unique coasters.
- Fresh produce. If you happen to garden, bring a small box of your garden’s bounty, packaged so that it can go straight into the refrigerator. Even if your hosts are carnivores, they’ll delight in your interesting gift. Skip this option if you don’t garden or settle for something simple, like a large basket of succulent road-stand strawberries.
Avoid overly personal gifts, such as perfume, bath products, or articles of clothing. Although etiquette guides disagree, skip the houseplant unless your hostess has a renowned green thumb; otherwise, you put her at risk of worrying if she’ll kill it.
Although it may seem terribly clever, resist the urge to develop a “signature” gift, such as a particular bottle of wine you bring each time you visit. You might think your hosts delight in receiving your special brand of manliness, but in reality, they’re probably chuckling about the fact that you’ve brought the same bottle of poor quality chardonnay to their last three dinner parties.
Wine, Beer, & Spirits
All this talk of flowers and scented candles aside, most men prefer to bring liquor to events they attend. Yes, as we’ve mentioned it’s not very unique, but it’s well-received, it’s easier, and it’s something many men feel more comfortable buying and giving. Appropriate to nearly every occasion—except if you’re visiting a “dry” house—alcohol can be a thoughtful hostess gift if you think a little before you purchase it.
Fine liquor makes for another excellent hostess gift. Unless you know your host has specific tastes in spirits, stick to the basics, like brandy, fine gin, flavored vodka, or top-shelf tequila. Jagermeister, Goldschlager, and flavored schnapps are never acceptable.
You might think that beer isn’t an appropriate hostess gift, but you would be wrong—provided you give it on the right occasion. As previously mentioned, a formal dinner is not the right event for beer, unless, of course, your host is a microbrewery aficionado. In that case, opt for something unique and interesting, like something you’d order from a beer club. For more casual occasions, pick up a six-pack of good beer, like a stout or an IPA.
Giving the Gift with Style
Although it isn’t necessary to stick a bow on your sixer or your wine in a fancy bag, you should take care to present your gift with style. Non-alcohol-related gifts should be wrapped or otherwise artfully presented, with the price tags removed and the store bag left in the car.
When you arrive, don’t trust the package at your host the moment she opens the door. Say hello, walk inside, and only then present your host with your thoughtful gift. Make certain she knows that she is under no obligation to share; the gift is purely for her amusement and enjoyment.
TIPS from The AOM
Rushabh Thakker | TheFineMen