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Best Guest Practices: A Guide To Fabulous Hostess Gifts

The holidays are a foot. 'Tis the season for making merry with friends and family. It's such a treat to be invited over to someone's house cocktails, dinner or a festive party. Some gatherings are more informal, causal affairs between close friends and family; others are formal occasions with colleagues from work or a fundraising event. No matter what kind of invitation it is, I always have the same question, "What kind of hostess gift should I bring?"

The better you know the hosts, the easier it is to answer this question. According to Emily Post, there is no need for a gift if heading to large, formal dinner or if breaking bread with close friends you frequently dine with. A hostess gift need not be expensive or extravagant, but should be thoughtful and creative.

I did some of the leg work for you, and found some fabulous hostess gift ideas. These suggestions will get you started. Of course, the shops mentioned below have many wonderful hostess gifts other than the one item featured.

12/6 Shopping & Style Vinaigrette Bottle
Photo Credit: Anna Berend

Oil and Vinegar

Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Create your own combination of olive oil and vinegar with over 19 oils and 9 vinegars to choose from ranging from lemon olive oil, rosemary olive oil to balsamic vinegar infused with pear or raspberry or several other delightful flavors to champagne vinegar and more. If you can't decide which options your host would enjoy most, simply get a gift bottle. The proprietors of this shop will write a personal message and the amount of the gift directly on the glass bottle used for the oil and vinegar. The gift recipient can then exchange the bottle for oil and/or vinegar to suit his or her own taste. These gifts start at $5 for a 1.7 oz bottle and go up from there.

12/6 Shopping & Style Rustica Chocolate
Photo Credit: Anna Berend

Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies

Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30am-8pm; Sat-Sun 7am-8pm

You simply can't go wrong with a package of six bittersweet chocolate cookies from Rustica. These are some of the best cookies in the Twin Cities and come neatly stacked in a cellophane bag, tied with a ribbon, ready for gifting. No one can resist these cookies. A word to the wise: these cookies go fast and are baked early in the day and late in the afternoon. So, be sure to get them early or right before closing. They are often sold out of these delicious chocolately rounds mid-afternoon. A bag of six will run you about $5.

12/6 Shopping & Style TableTopics
Photo Credit: Anna Berend

Table Topics Card Game

Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30am-9pm; Sun 11am-6pm

This icebreaker game is a fun gift choice for a casual gathering of friends. There are two versions. The original game is for adults and kids, ages 12 and up. Not Your Mom's Dinner Party is for adults only. It's a game of questions to be answered by the guests, as a way to get to know each other better. These games are $26.95. Patina is chock full of fabulous hostess gifts, both traditional and very unique.

12/6 Shopping & Style Recipe Cards
Photo Credit: Anna Berend

Decorative Container With Lid Filled With Goodies

Find a cookie jar or other decorative container with a lid; fill it with cookies, candy, granola, hot cocoa mix or other treat; and tie a ribbon around it. If it's a homemade goodie, include the recipe on a pretty card. This is a good gift for the host of an overnight stay. A recipe that you love or a favorite of your host is a great idea. You can find handsome containers at Cooks of Crocus Hill, Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma or even Target. The cost of the container and what you fill it with is up to you.

12/6 Shopping & Style Fresh Flowers
Photo Credit: Anna Berend

Cut Flowers In A Vase

This is a completely traditional hostess gift, but it's still a nice touch. Emily Post suggests giving your host flowers in a vase. This way the hostess of the evening will not have to rummage through her cupboards for something appropriate to put the flowers in while her guests are arriving and dinner cooking, etc. Kowalski's Markets and Bachman's are good places to find beautiful arrangements of fresh flowers and are conveniently located throughout the Twin Cities for the last minute gift. Both places have vases available for purchase or use one that you happen to have on hand.

12/6 Shopping & Style Paper Flowers
Photo Credit: Anna Berend

Paper Flowers by Rooney Blooms

Hours: Tues-Sat 11am-7pm; Sun 12pm-5pm

Creative alternatives to cut flowers are paper flowers by Rooney Blooms. These striking creations come in single flowers for $5 or bouquets ranging from $29 to $65, depending on size. Some blooms are on bendable stems and others on reed diffusers. These interesting designs are also crafted into ornaments and balls. Personally, I'm loving these faux blooms at Paper Hat. At this shop, there is no shortage of inspiration when it comes to finding the right gift.

Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law. You can find Anna at, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.

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