15 Hostess Gift Ideas That'll Keep You On The Guest List

The holidays are upon us in full swing and if you're hoping for lots of party invitations, there's one thing you should master. The art of giving a good hostess gift means that you'll be the talk of the house once all of the guests have left and you'll be remembered with fondness.


So what is an ideal item to give to a host or hostess? Without getting too technical, it is different than giving a regular gift and it's usually something that the recipient would use while they're entertaining, per The Etiquette School of America. Gifting of this nature should be something thoughtful, meaningful, and that suits the giftee's personality. Great hostess offerings come in all shapes and sizes, so it can sometimes be challenging to pick out just the right one.

Don't fret though. Even with only hours to spare before a big gathering, you can find a lovely gift for your host or hostess. From baskets to spices, we'll guide you through what's sumptuous and what's cliché so you can always show up at the door with the best present in hand.



It's first on the list for a reason! Most guides will say that candles are a favorite among hostess gifts and, besides, you can never have too many (via Better Homes & Gardens). Keep in mind that candles can be a highly particular item as there are so many scents, designs, and even wax selections that someone can prefer. It should also go without saying that high-quality candles should be the preferred choice. Look for soy or coconut wax candles as they burn clean and will be less irritating for those with more sensitive olfactory senses. A wood wick on a candle will also be more enjoyable as it crackles as a wood fire would.


Lastly, if you know your host somewhat, try to find a fragrance that will be pleasing to them or in line with their home's aesthetic. According to The Worthington Collection, it's a good idea to think about your host's life and the places in their home where a candle would be placed. Fresh aromas are best for bathrooms, energizing scents are good for living spaces, and a delicious-smelling candle is perfect for the kitchen.


Most people think of picking up some wine when they're invited to someone's home for a meal. A bottle of red or white can be a great hostess gift but it can also be a terrible one. It's best to follow this simple rule to make sure that your present is appreciated (via The Etiquette School of America). As you hand the host or hostess your selection, let them know that it is one you picked out because you either love it yourself or you thought they would. Then you can suggest that they try it out on a night by themselves. This gives them an out from serving your bottle that night if they don't want to.


Now that you know how to present your wine, let's focus on how to pick one. Beth Cash, Wine Club Directress of ACME Fine Wines, tells Wine Enthusiast some things you should consider when buying a fine bottle. You can think about the person you're bringing the wine to, including their personality, and choose something they might not usually have access to. To treat your host or hostess, it's best to avoid purchasing one that is easily available to your hosts — such as something from their corner liquor store, or something they can purchase themselves on their budget.


As adults, we often seem to overlook the appeal of a good game and how it can bring a group of people together. Gift a game that your host will remember you gave them for years to come. Better Homes & Gardens lists The Hygee Game as a great choice for all kinds of hosts, whether you're taking it to a family that will use it themselves or to an individual that lives alone and will only bring it out during parties.


The Hygee Game isn't the only one that can be a great choice for your hosts. All kinds of board games and conversation starters can provide hours of entertaining fun. Especially consider if the recipients are willing to try new and silly things or if they like to stick to the basics. Even gifting them a luxury edition of a game that they already have and love would be something for them to squeal over (we know we would).


Any home baker or cook worth their salt knows the value of a new spice. New tastes, textures, and fresh recipes to be conquered! If you know your hosts are keen on the culinary, consider gifting them some interesting spices to amp up their game. Maybe there's a particular one that you love and would like to share with them, or maybe something you haven't yet tried caught your eye.


You can also keep it more basic and choose luxury versions of spices that they would usually use. For instance, there are many versions of gourmet salts to pick from and many come in sampler packs perfect for gifting, per Heavy. A quick trip to a high-end grocery store will likely present you with multiple options for seasoning blends. Plus, spices are a great gift for any host or hostess since everyone can use them to their liking.

If you are selecting more exotic spices, keep in mind who you're buying for — any allergies, diet restrictions, and palette preferences should be thought of if you have intimate knowledge of your hosts. If not, going basic or picking a set with multiple options would be more acceptable.



Unless your hosts are allergic to chocolate, it will be a safe bet for the perfect hostess gift. Consider a chocolate bar worthy of the season, such as peppermint flavored or rum infused, and opt for a brand that can't be bought at just any convenience store. Chocolate gift boxes are also a great investment for guaranteeing repeat invitations as they are often packed with all kinds of flavors that everyone can enjoy.


Stores are packed with plenty of boxes of chocolates to choose from this time of year. Chocolate bars are equally plentiful but show your host that you've put some thought into your gift by treating them to something more luxurious than the average box. For instance, opt for handmade bars with chocolate that is sourced from one producer or in super-cute shapes that almost look too good to eat (via Food Network). Bars or boxes aren't the only way that you can give your host a chocolate fix either. Brownies, hot cocoa mixes, chocolate-covered nuts, gourmet peanut butter cups, and even make-your-own chocolate concoction boxes can all be lovely gifts.


The holiday season makes us long to stay home and cuddle up, so encourage your hostess to take advantage of it when you give a cozy throw. Blankets are usually not great as last-minute gifts as they do take some planning and knowledge of your host and their home. But they can be nice presents that are adored for years to come when done right.


According to Lands' End, when choosing a throw there are a few things to consider. You'll want to figure out whether the recipient's style is traditional or modern. It's also important to think about your giftee's living quarters and how it might be used — on a bed, on the couch, or even outside on a patio. And lastly, determine the colors they use in their home to contemplate whether you want to match those or get something in a different shade that can be complementary.

Coffee or tea

Does your host only tolerate the morning with their daily cup of coffee? Or do they prefer an afternoon tea? Gifting your host or hostess their favourite brew can be one of the easiest things to give. Moreover, most people are pretty open to trying new beverages which means that you don't even have to know your host's preference to give them some drinking pleasure.


If you do know what the recipient prefers, find something that's along the same flavor notes for them. It's best to buy bags of coffee that have the roast date printed on them to know just how old the beans are — the freshest ones have only been roasted for two weeks and will become stale past that date, per Perfect Brew. If you're running late, you can always gift a bag from your host's favorite coffee shop as well.

As for tea drinkers, we've found that they're usually pretty open to new flavors and combinations so you're fairly safe to give all kinds of tea sets or boxes. In fact, you might want to gift a subscription box of tea so that your host or hostess and their family can try out a few different kinds and settle on their own favorite (via The Pioneer Woman).


Kitchen tools

When it comes to the kitchen, most home cooks are pretty picky about their tools. But don't let that dissuade you from selecting something unique and useful for your hostess. Just because they haven't tried it out yet doesn't mean that they won't love it. Try to make sure your hostess gift is something they'll use for entertaining or can be enjoyable in itself. According to The Etiquette School of America, the options in this category are many and varied.


There are a few kitchen tools that are great presents, such as a water diffuser, a serving platter, bowl, coasters, and place cards. Keep in mind that your host or hostess might already have a version of some of these items so try to find something that's distinctive or special. 

Unfortunately, kitchenware gifts don't really lend themselves well to being picked last-minute. If you've planned ahead or have a heads up on the date, gifting cooking tools could be one of the best moves you make as a guest. Most people will go for the candles, chocolate, or wine, so showing up with an antique gold-gilded platter can make you the star of the party.


Long-lasting, quality towels are hard to come by. So your hostess will be delighted when you gift them with one they can use for years to come. Don't go cheap on this present though — everyone can buy themselves inexpensive towels. The guest that will be invited back is the one that selects the gift voted best of all towels in utility and absorbency since 2014 by The New York Times. They're functional, pair well with any color combination or style, and are not even that expensive.


According to Brides, monogrammed cocktail napkins also make an exceptional hostess gift. Although they're not exactly easy to find in stores — most of us just don't use them anymore — they can be a great addition to your host's party collection. Tea towels or even quality linen cloth napkins can also be good alternatives as a present for your host or hostess, per Better Homes & Gardens. They're relatively easy to find in all kinds of colors and make a good budget gift.

Gift baskets

Pre-made gift baskets or boxes can get pretty expensive but a good one is worth the effort and price. Try to keep it simple and basic with a box that can satisfy everyone's palettes (via Better Homes & Gardens). Common cheeses, salamis, nuts, and dried fruit are some of the top combinations that you can make for a box, or basket, that everyone can enjoy with nothing wasted.


Of course, if you know your host or hostess well enough to pick something that they would love, hot sauce for instance, it can't hurt to include it in your gift basket. Additionally, you can pre-purchase a gift basket, or if you've got the time you can put one together yourself with just a few basics. "Each item you select for your basket should have a reason for being included," Jamie Kutchman from Marigold & Grey tells The Knot. "If you can't think of a good reason why your recipient would use the item, then leave it out and choose something else." Following that rule of thumb will ensure that creating your own basket is a success when gifting your host or hostess.

Oil and vinegar sets

Another staple for the hostess that likes to get busy in the kitchen is an oil and vinegar set. A good quality one will help your invites come in more often, particularly if you know that your host loves to cook and likes to make everything from scratch, per Brides.


Unfortunately, it's not that simple to pick a high quality olive oil or even vinegar. There are a few things to keep in mind when you're looking to buy a bottle — whether it's for you or for gifting (via OliveOil). First, there will be a difference between an oil used for cooking and one you use fresh for salads. Olive oil when cooked doesn't need to be anything special, since subtle notes and flavors evaporate during the cooking process. So it's best to gift an olive oil to use raw — look for bottles that are made of glass and darkened as olive oil is sensitive to light and can go bad if it isn't stored properly.

According to Giadzy, when selecting a vinegar going with a traditional balsamic is ideal for gifting.


Self-care sets

A good friend will benefit the most from this kind of hostess gift since you will most likely be aware of their preferences, and the kinds of self-care that they need. Look for collections or bundles that will be used regularly by your hostess or a piece that is particular to their lifestyle.


A ready-made facial care set of a cleansing oil, gel or cream, and a roller will keep your giftee's complexion happy, per Travel + Leisure. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to beauty items. Maybe your host could use a good foot massager for winding down after everyone's left, or a luxuriously plush head towel for when they step out of the shower.

This kind of hostess gift doesn't really seem to fit into the box that The Etiquette School of America has made for what a hostess gift should be — your host won't be using it to entertain. But it will likely be used before or after hosting a gathering, so it's okay to bend the rules a little bit.

Soap/lotion sets

Soap and lotion sets are easy to find and can be great gifts for a host that you know a little bit about. Both a self-care item and a home-care item, it's ideal to opt for light scents that are not too overpowering and more neutral — unless you know your hosts love a particular fragrance. For the holidays, it wouldn't be too much of a faux pas to go for seasonal aromas such as pine, peppermint, or gingerbread.


It would be frowned upon to go for an inexpensive gift set though. As hostess presents go, they're generally supposed to be something that the host wouldn't normally buy for themselves. Since we're already washing our hands for good hygiene and to protect against sickness, it's nice to indulge in luxurious soaps and lotions (via Robb Report). Look for lavish touches such as glass bottles, quality ingredients, and enticing fragrances.


Puzzles aren't just for kids anymore — beautiful, high-quality puzzles that are meant to display and show off as you're putting them together can be a great gift for your host, per Brides. If your host is a kid at heart they will definitely appreciate this present, and especially if they have children themselves. Puzzles can also be a wonderful outlet for relaxing and unwinding at the end of a long day.


When used for entertaining puzzles are good conversation starters, and they give guests something to do with their hands as they sit around a table while sipping on hot chocolate, or coffee. But you'll want to put a little thought into the kind you get, as you will want your host to be able to display it with joy while matching their decor.

Another thing to consider is the material the puzzle is made from. Eco-friendly puzzles printed on recycled cardboard with natural dyes can be found and higher-quality versions made of wood will last your host for years.

Personalized gifts

Personalized gifts don't have to be tacky — you can find sophisticated ones that include your host's first or last name — but they do require some planning. Many shopping malls offer an engraving service during the holiday season and online stores will also often have it available for select items. If you have something specific in mind you can consider smaller online storefronts like those on Etsy (via HuffPost).


Some of the easiest individualized gifts include cutting boards, blankets, water bottles, and bartending kits. For entertaining, charcuterie boards and bar kits fall squarely into the acceptable presents to give a host or hostess. This doesn't mean that other personalized gifts would not be enjoyable for the giftee though.

As with a few others on this list, giving an item your special touch comes with forethought. While it might be possible to find monogrammed coasters on the day of, you'll usually have to plan ahead to get something spectacularly personalized for your host or hostess.