Five Seasonal and Super Gifts for a Host
Whether you are attending an elegant, candlelit feast or a BBQ bash at the lake, a gift for your host is always thoughtful and appreciated. While the easy way out is often a bottle of wine, it’s easy to choose a gift that’s different and just as welcome. Choose from the gifts below or use them as a springboard for your own creative solutions, or mix and match to create a bundle that will be sure to delight. Just remember that, most importantly, your gift should be a joy and a treat—not a burden that will distract from the party or add to your host’s busy preparations. Keep in mind your host’s tastes and you are guaranteed to please.
• Just-Picked Bouquet in a Vase:
A perfect (and inexpensive) summertime gift is a bouquet from your own garden. Just before you leave your house, head out with your shears and choose an arrangement of your hardiest blooms, including fully opened flowers and buds that will continue to bloom in the host’s home or on the patio. For a gift to remember, arrange the flowers in an antique or handcrafted vase from a crafts fair. If you’re traveling some distance, it’s best to lay your flowers carefully in a cooler with cold packs or ice on the bottom. When you arrive, slip into the kitchen to refresh the water in the vase and place it on the table with a note that says, “From (your name)’s Garden.”
• Drink Bucket:
A tin or metal bucket filled with the ingredients for your favorite summertime cocktail is easy and elegant. Start with a container that can double as an ice bucket for later use. Next, choose your drink; if you know your host’s favorite, that’s even better. For a mojito bucket, add a bottle of high-quality rum, a bottle each of limeade and seltzer, a large bouquet of fresh spearmint sprigs from your garden (wrap stems in a damp paper towel to keep them fresh), and an arrangement of limes. For a sangria bucket, add a bottle of red wine, a small bottle each of Triple Sec and brandy, grapefruit or orange juice, and an assortment of fresh limes, lemons, and oranges. Upon arrival at the party, offer to set up your mini bar and start serving drinks if your host seems frazzled. And be sure to offer him or her the first one!
• Fruit Display:
A creative approach to a gift is to echo the theme of the party if there is one. For example, if the cookout is a Hawaiian Luau, consider beautifully displayed fresh fruit—it’s décor, an appropriate gift, and a side dish or dessert all in one! Prepare a platter of sliced pineapple to be placed on the serving table upon arriving. Accompany with a whole pineapple to place beside the dish. Your host will enjoy not only the natural decoration but also the tasty, nutritious treat when he or she slices into the whole pineapple the next day. The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, a nod to your host’s generosity in welcoming you into his or her home.
• Homemade Jam:
A jar filled with your own preserves or jam is a personal gift from your family. After picking berries from a local farm, boil a batch of fruit jam. Jar and seal it in classic Ball jars, and label with your family name and the berry type (“Smith Strawberry Jam” or “Pipas Peach Preserves”). Tie with a bright ribbon, and add a loaf of fresh multigrain bread from your local farmers’ market or favorite bakery. Your host and family will enjoy a delectable breakfast the next morning.
• Dinner Basket:
The best gift for a busy host? Assemble the ingredients for a simple but memorable summer dinner in a beautiful basket. Choose an easy recipe, like an Italian caprese salad, that’s not only nutritious but also a feast for the eyes. In a woven basket, lay a pretty dishtowel. Atop it, arrange a package of fresh, chilled mozzarella, a bunch of fresh basil, a bottle each of high-quality balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, a small container of sea salt, and plenty of fragrant, sun-ripened tomatoes. You might even add a beautiful, summery serving dish. Finish with a handwritten recipe card detailing instructions for preparation.
What is your signature gift?