The weather has warmed up, lots of vaccines have entered many arms, and many of us are getting ready to reunite with friends (following all CDC safety guidelines) for the first time in over a year. year.
And a special warm-weather reunion calls for a special gift. There has never been, or never will be, anything wrong with a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of fine wine, but I want to take the hostess gifting department up a notch. There are so many ways to be thoughtful in your gifts; just take a few moments to reflect on your hosts and think outside the box.
FOR THE KITCHEN
Food that talks about where you live or where you come from is fun for the recipient and the giver. If you are from Wisconsin, bring a assortment of state cheeses. Bourbon from Kentucky, maple syrup from Vermont, crate of peaches from Georgia, boiled peanuts from South Carolina. I have brought bagels and New York salmon to many homes outside of town.
Other thoughts: a special bottle of extra virgin olive oil or aged balsamic vinegar, or a set of hot sauces for spice lovers, like the eye-catching design clark & ââhopkins sets, which feature sauces from all over the world. Perhaps an assortment of fresh herbs in pretty pots to hang on a windowsill.
Many serious cooks like to grind their own whole spices for tasty dishes. If you know such a cook, ask yourself if he would like: 1) a mind-blowing mortar and pestle, the traditional way of grinding spices, or 2) an electric spice grinder, like the Finamill shredder, which grinds herbs and spices at the touch of a button.
A cookbook tailored to the recipient’s tastes, interests, and memories can also be a welcome gift.
FOR THE ENTERTAINER
If you are going to a home where they normally like to entertain guests, think of something to help them enhance their hospitality.
A pretty cake stand with a classic domed lid is the best way to serve a cake; the Mosser glass cake stand in a variety of colors is a knockout.
A table runner in your host’s favorite color, a fun apron, or maybe some napkins are good choices. Etsy has some nice options and I think you can never go wrong with plain laundry. Check LinenMeStore and Magic Linen for a selection of attractive colors.
Granted, when I get a beautifully crafted candle, I can never bring myself to light it, but I also think it’s fair. Greentree home candle in New York Catskills makes original and majestic candles, like a monkey with a fez, or sculptural pillars, all available in unusual colors.
Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan offers smart, customizable food assortments and subscription packages. One of the most popular is the choice of four cheeses and cold cuts (you choose from a wide variety) and a bread option. They have other assortments, which are also available as memberships for a never-ending giveaway, like their Food Explorer’s Club or the Quarterly Bacon Report.
FOR ART LOVERS (AND THE ONE WHO HAS EVERYTHING)
Some of the best places to find unusual and sophisticated gifts are museum souvenir shops. Large museums often have dazzling stores with a range of goods, while smaller museums may have a well-curated selection.
At Chicago Art Institute, offerings include Frank Lloyd Wright eyewear with an engraved design inspired by his Coonley house; Salvador Dali salt and pepper shakers; and an elegant set of mancala. New York City Modern Art Museum The shop includes a Keith Haring chess set and a rainbow steak knife set.
FOR THE GARDENER OR PLANT LOVERS
Consider giving away a new pair of sturdy but attractive gardening gloves or pretty plant cutter (Gardenista has some great deals.) My mom recently gave me some Japanese ceramic plant scissors, and I love them.
An unusual plant in a pretty planter makes a great gift that lasts much longer than cut flowers. A cool bird feeder is also an unusual gift. Browse your local nursery for more ideas.
TO GRILL IT
A shiny new set of good grilling tools is a good choice; try it Alpha Grills Heavy-duty barbecue tool set with 18 inch handles. Or a high-end meat thermometer, such as a wireless thermometer from Thermopro.
FOR THE FAMILY
How about a set of personalized mugs for each member of the family? Uncommon goods allows you to select skin color, hair color, clothing, and a representational hobby for each person, so you can give the whole gang mugs made just for them.
Or maybe oversized beach towels, monogrammed with each person’s name or initials, in different colors. Turkish embroidered towels are available in a range of colors from the Towel weaving workshop on Etsy, a seven-generation family-owned weaving business.
Board games are always a winner. We were late for the strategy adventure game Catan, but it became a mainstay in our last year with two teenagers. Other family-friendly recommendations include Not Parent Approved: a fun card game for kids, tweens, teens, families, and criminals; Children against maturity; Beat That !, a wacky challenge game; and Heist, which encourages team participation.
In short (or maybe it’s too late for that), there are plenty of creative ways to say, “Hey, thank you so much for hosting us!” this summer.
Katie Workman regularly contributes articles on food to The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focusing on family cooking, âDinner Solved!â and “The Mom 100 Cookbook”. She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at [email protected]