What Is the Most Thoughtful Hostess Gift You’ve Ever Received?

Your hostess wouldn’t serve you the same dinner every time you came over. So why bring her the same bottle of wine? This month, take a page from Real Simple readers and present her with something truly memorable.

Illustration of a roll of toilet paper wrapped in stringChristopher Silas Neal

A friend gave me a jar filled with scraps of paper as a housewarming gift. On each one, she wrote an idea for an activity to try in my new home, like “Host a Scrabble night” and “Cook brunch for two” (she included recipes). I was so touched that she had created something that was just for me.

Maureen Grewe

Columbia, South Carolina

My cousin Sharon once arrived at my house for Thanksgiving dinner with a large bag filled with paper towels and toilet paper. Her reasoning: My 20-plus guests would use up a lot of my supplies. It was an unusual but truly useful gift.

Joyce Leary Clark

Portland, Maine

Years back, a friend gave me a bottle of great gin, a liter of tonic water, and a potted lime tree because she knew that I loved gin and tonics. I planted the tree in our backyard, and for eight years it provided my husband and me with fruit. When we moved a few months ago, it saddened me to leave it behind. I hope that the new owners like citrus as much as we do.

Shannon Antepenko

Gilroy, California

Before my last party, I called my guests and asked them to bring nonperishable items for my church’s food pantry in lieu of traditional hostess gifts. I received a bounty of food: canned soup, pasta noodles, chili, beans, cereal, oatmeal, and more. Amazingly, it fed 32 families!

Carole Williams

Port St. Lucie, Florida

One of my friends is from Germany. When I opened the door to greet her for a party at my house in 2001, she sang me a traditional German song and extended a small, colorful paper lantern with a glowing candle inside. I loved that she brought me a part of her culture.

Laura White

Oxford, Massachusetts

Early in our marriage, my husband and I lived in Brazil, far from loved ones who could lend us a hand. When friends from back home came to visit us, they insisted on spending one evening babysitting our 10-month-old son so we could go out on a date. It was such a relaxing night—I’ll never forget it.

Elizabeth Carden

San Juan Capistrano, California

 
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Blue ice cube tray

A few days before a party, start making ice and storing it in baggies in the freezer.