To many people, giving a gift to a host or hostess is a dying art. Because of this, learning the proper etiquette may seem a bit old-fashioned and antiquated, but that’s far from the case. The host or hostess has spent days, if not weeks or months, working to create a memorable celebration or gathering.

As a grateful attendee, you’ll want to show your appreciation in a way that is appropriate, but also interesting! This guide to hostess gift etiquette not only answers all of your questions but also provides a list of different gifts you can give that eliminate all guesswork.


What should you bring a hostess gift to?

Often the line between when you should and shouldn’t bring a gift to a hostess is unclear. Sometimes bringing a gift may seem like overkill, whereas other times it is expected to thank the host or hostess with a gift. These guidelines will help you determine your call to action depending on the most common occasions.

Casual Gatherings

These days, it may seem over the top to bring a hostess gift to a casual party. However, often a gift to the hostess is seen as a token of gratitude for their efforts. It doesn’t need to be formally wrapped, but instead can be given as an addition to the festivities.

Anything that will complement their efforts or help them in the future, even if it’s just a minor gift, will be greatly appreciated. For example, if it’s a dinner party, bringing a bottle of wine or appetizer as a sign of thanks.


Formal Celebrations

Whether it’s a birthday, bachelorette party or engagement party, you’ll only need to worry about getting a gift for the honorees.

However, if it’s you that is being celebrated, you’ll want to take the time to write your hostess a thank you note at the very least. If you can go the extra mile and send her flowers, chocolate or something else she loves like a gift certificate to her favorite spa, by all means, do it!

Housewarmings and Houseguests

Housewarming can include welcoming a new person to your neighborhood or celebrating a friend’s new home. Either way, it is customary to bring a gift that will help contribute to their new home, such as dish towels, wine glasses or a candle. If you know the neighborhood well, you can also introduce your new neighbor to the area with a guide or welcome kit.

As for visiting and staying in someone else’s home, you’ll always want to bring a gift to show your gratitude. The extravagance of your gift will depend on the length of your stay and the accommodations you are provided. Remember, this person is welcoming you into their home, so you’ll want to give something equally as thoughtful, like a coffee table book or kitchen supplies.


Hostess gift etiquette tips

Beyond understanding when you should give your host or hostess a gift, here are some additional gift etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Be discrete when you give the gift. There is a possibility that someone else might not have realized they should give a gift, and you don’t want others to feel uncomfortable or guilty.
  • Greet the host or hostess first, then give the gift. You don’t want to push the item on them right away and make them feel like you are just going through the motions.
  • Don’t expect them to use the gift right away or unwrap it on the spot. They are in “hosting” mode and likely don’t want to divert too much attention away from their other guests.
  • Ask the host or hostess ahead of time if there is anything you can bring to the occasion to contribute. This tip doesn’t always apply to things like housewarming celebrations or bridal showers, where the hostess may not be expected to receive a gift anyway. But if you sense they are preparing something ahead of time, don’t hesitate to reach out to help.
  • Wrap the gift if it feels appropriate. Sometimes this can mean sticking a beautiful bow on it or it can be more intricate, such as wrapping it and writing a quick thank you note.

Hostess gift ideas

Now that you understand both how and when to best give a gift to your hostess, you can pick out the perfect gift to show your appreciation. Check out the list below for tried and true hostess gift ideas that are sure to earn you future invites.


Though not always the best gift for dinner parties given that the scent may clash with the meal, candles are a great gift to thank someone for letting you stay with them.

Cheese Board and Knives

Cheese boards and knives are a great gift on any occasion. Not only do they work well for a housewarming party, but they also work well at dinner parties and other occasions. Hosts can use them to serve appetizers they’ve prepared or store them away for future get togethers. Plus, if the board matches their home’s style, they may even use it as regular decor!


Coasters offer a practical and stylish solution to every hostess’s fear of guests staining their nice wooden tables. With so many different styles and fun options, coasters can even create talking points, like with these cocktail recipe coasters.

Gift Baskets

Gift baskets make thanking your host easy because they offer a variety of items that your host may need or want. Not to mention, there are so many different varieties of gift baskets.

For example, if your host loves coffee, you can get them a coffee themed basket that goes above and beyond a simple coffee mug or bag of beans.

Glasses and Other Stemware

Whether you’re celebrating with a fancy dinner or saying thank you for someone’s hospitality, you can never go wrong with wine glasses and other types of stemware. These sets often get lost, misplaced or broken over time, so every great host is always in need of more. If possible, consider what drinks you all may be drinking at the festivities and gift accordingly.


Artisan Soaps

If candles aren’t your thing, soaps are another way to provide some apothecary to your host or hostess. A collection of three to four different soap scents ensures your hostess will find a scent she enjoys. The last thing you want to do is pick out a scent she hates! Additionally, as an added bonus, this saves her one more trip to the store to restock on the essentials.


Chocolate comes in many forms, so you can give this gift in a creative way that is still delicious. For instance, you can gift chocolate strawberries and truffles together, or just go with an organic, luxurious collection of different dark ones. Keep in mind that dark chocolate isn’t for everyone, so be sure to check beforehand or gift your hostess a few different types to be safe.

Flowers in a Vase

Though many will caution against gifting flowers to a host, when given with a vase you immediately take care of the task of finding a place to put the flowers. Plus, when the flowers die later, your host will still have a beautiful vase to remember you by!


Bath Bombs

Bath bombs are a great way for your hostess to pamper herself, especially after doing all the work to plan the occasion! Because you can only use bath bombs once, many people view them as “treats,” making them a perfect way to show your appreciation to any hostess!

Coffee Table Book

Whether your host collects coffee table books or just loves a certain topic, coffee table books make for a thoughtful and unique host or hostess gift. Not only are they often fun talking pieces, but they also can be about something your host is interested in as well! If needed, ask their friends or family for ideas for coffee table books they have been eyeing recently so you can be sure to get them something they’ve been wanting.


When it comes to thanking your hostess, it’s much better to risk giving something when you don’t need to versus forgetting to give one when the occasion calls for it. There are a variety of easy and affordable ways to show your gratitude for all the time and effort they put into the occasion. Even if you are just acquaintances with your hostess, you can always look to typical thank you gifts for easy, but fail-safe ideas.


Emily Post | Huffington Post | Manners Mentor