Nobody wants to walk into a party empty-handed. And yet, equally as dreadful is the idea of being the umpteenth person to hand a bottle of wine to your creative and generous host.
Well, I guess it's not the worst thing in the world to have too much of...
But what if, instead of wine, you had a different gift in your arsenal—one that was equal parts crowd-pleasing and unexpected—to hand off to your host or hostess? Wouldn't you go for that unicorn every time? Me too. That's why I called in the experts.
These 13 party people dished about the things that, as a host, they're always jazzed to get. Their ideas range from simple to sensational, so you'll have the perfect gift for your next invite, whether it's a simple get-together or a blow-out bash. Read on, take notes, and be the favorite guest at your next party.
And psst... Want to learn more about our experts? Check out their "table cred" right here: Meet the Entertaining Experts
"I like giving people something that's small yet useful that goes beyond just that night—like a salt cellar with great salt, a succulent plant in a fun vessel, or a vase filled with local flowers."
— Joy Cho, Oh Joy!
"One year I was stressing over a holiday punch in the middle of a party, and moments after I realized we'd run out of lemons, a new, invited-on-a-whim acquaintance walks in and hands me a lovely glass jar of fresh-squeezed lemon juice wrapped with a bow from the farmers market."
— Chantal Aida Gordon, The Horticult
"Maldon Salt. If they've used it before, they'll love you for bringing them an extra box. If they haven't used it before, they'll thank you for the introduction."
— Kate Arends, Wit & Delight
"A great bottle of olive oil, used for that last-minute drizzle that takes so many dishes to the next level. This is my favorite."
— Sarah Ashley Schiear, Salt House Market
"My husband is an artist so I always make him do a little sketch of someone's dog or child. It's a special little gesture."
— Jordan Ferney, Oh Happy Day!
"While you can never really go wrong with a great bottle of wine, or even a candle, there are a few classic moves I like to pull. I love gifting something personalized or homemade, whether that's a set of monogrammed tea towels or napkins, a high end local line of preserves and jams, or my personal favorite: a preserved boxwood or magnolia tree in a gorgeous planter to be potted later."
— Mandy Kellogg Rye, Waiting on Martha
"A loaf of homemade zucchini bread with a jar of jam from the farmer's market."
— Camille Styles, CamilleStyles.com
"A gift certificate for a housekeeping service. It's about the cost of a very good bottle of wine and it's so appreciated after a party."
— Danny Seo, Naturally, Danny Seo
"Something handmade and personal. I love when a hostess gives me a little tin of homemade cookies or a mini loaf of bread or some homemade jam. These personal handmade things make me feel so loved and happy. Plus I love sampling what other people make."
— Holly Becker, Decor8
"A champagne corksafe. It's a great keepsake and makes for a unique hostess gift when paired with a favorite spirit."
— Roxy Te, Society Social
"Sweets! It's nice to bring the hostess some candies or baked goods for them to enjoy later."
— Lauren Conrad, The Little Market
"My favorite candy or a set of stationery. I have a huge sweet tooth so candy will always make me happy, especially anything with caramel. And stationery is one of those required essentials, especially for a southern hostess. If they get it from Papyrus I am event happier."
— Michiel Perry, Black Southern Belle
"Not that it's necessarily unexpected, but I always love receiving candles!"
— Ashley Rose, Sugar & Cloth