The Dos and Don’ts of Host and Hostess Gifts: Let’s Un-Pak That

The holidays are fast approaching, and we all know what that means: ‘tis the season for office shindigs, holiday soirees, and family feasts. If you’re visiting this blog post, chances are you’re one of the lucky guests, and you’d like to learn more about 1) when to bring a host or hostess gift, and 2) the dos and don’ts of such gifts. Let's un-pak all that, shall we?

home front door welcome


Ah yes, the classic Shakespeare quote. Our advice to you and Hamlet? Always err on the generous side. No matter the time of year, throwing a party is no easy task, so why wouldn’t you want to show some love to the person who put you on the A-list? In a busy world where gestures like this are falling out of practice, it’s always kind to show your appreciation for those who open their home to you and other partygoers. Simply put, a small gift of gratitude is both thoughtful and classy. With that question out of the way, let’s turn to the experts for some staple host/hostess gift ideas.

gift wrap


Debby Mayne from “The Spruce” breaks it down rather easily: consider both the occasion and your relationship with the host. An office party differs from a housewarming, just as a gift for your boss may differ from a gift for a close friend. She offers a few great catchall gift suggestions for a variety of occasions:

  • For holiday parties: holiday liqueurs, tin of cookies, popcorn gift basket, cookies, etc.
  • For housewarming: house/kitchen items such as hand towels, gourmet oil/vinegar, picture frame, etc.
  • For a weekend visit: restaurant gift card to host’s favorite restaurant, gourmet gift basket, wine basket, etc.

Debby’s recommendations are great because they cover a wide range of occasions and interests. To build upon her sage advice, however, if the host is a close friend, you probably know their likes, dislikes, deepest darkest secrets, etc. In this case, we’d recommend getting a gift that caters even more closely to them. For instance, do they constantly preach about the superiority of dark chocolate over milk chocolate? Do they spend hours sniffing candles at T.J. Maxx during their free time? Did they mention a New Year’s resolution to pick up knitting? You get the picture.

pair of hands knitting

If the host is your boss or a colleague you don’t know quite as well, but you still want to personalize your gift a little bit, you may need to channel your inner Nancy Drew and do some sleuthing. Think back to break room or happy hour conversations. Perhaps you got an inkling that the party host moonlights as a gourmet chef or has a secret shrine to the Chicago Cubs in their basement.

If this kind of office chitchat is a rare occurrence at your place of work, don’t be afraid to ask other colleagues for ideas. Someone who knows the host a little better than you do just might be able to provide some great gift suggestions. 

office brainstorm meeting


Not only is there an art to choosing a great host/hostess gift, but there’s also an art to a smooth delivery. Maralee McKee, the manners mentor, offers a few tips on this topic:

  • The Delivery: Be sensitive to the busy host and other guests by delivering your gift discreetly. Don’t expect the host to open your gift in front of other guests. In other words, this isn’t a time for you to flex in front of the other guests (looking at you, Michael Scott).
  • Flowers: Consider sending flowers before or after the party (how classy is that?). Or, if you bring them with you, aim for an arrangement rather than a bouquet so the host(s) don’t feel the need to interrupt the party, hunt down a vase, and arrange the flowers themselves. After all, the goal here isn’t to create more work for them, right?
  • Wine: Although the choice is certainly theirs, don’t expect the host to use your gift during the party. Instead, mention that you bought the wine with them in mind and thought they might enjoy it at a later time (that way, they don’t feel obligated to share!). 

festive holiday gift box

To sum it all up, as your calendar fills up with holiday merriment, remind yourself to pick up a gift for the host/hostess. No matter what the gift is, it will do wonders in communicating your appreciation for their hard work.

As one last bonus tip, don’t forget to include a tag or note so the host knows who got them the wonderful gift!


Of course, if you’re looking for more than just gifting tips, we’re always here to help, especially if you feel like you’re running low on time or ideas. It’s a busy time of year, after all! We’ve got you covered on all Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, and Christmas party host/hostess gifts that certainly “pak” an extra personal punch!

friendsgiving thanksgiving happy pak

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