Beyond the bottle: 9 thoughtful gifts any host would love to get

A still-life scene with playfully stacked gifts like pillar candles, bowls, a lighter, and cloth napkins on a grey paper background.
Paperless Post BlogEtiquette > Beyond the bottle: 9 thoughtful gifts any host would love to get

It’s always a delight to receive an invitation to a special occasion someone else is planning. You get all the fun of a party with none of the hosting duties. But while you’re getting ready to kick back and have fun, don’t forget one crucial detail: the host or hostess gift. 

If you’ve been wondering the dos and don’ts of hostess gifts, wonder no more. We’ve got the answers to all your gifting questions, along with a list of sweet and unique host or hostess gift ideas. We’ll also cover tips on when to bring a gift—and what to avoid.


Left: A bottle of white wine on a set table with a sprig of flowers tied to it; right: A white thank you note with gold flora designs.Image via Whiskey and Lace; “Marion Thank You” by Rifle Paper Co.


Hostess gift ideas for any season

There’s no better way to show your appreciation for an invitation to someone’s home than to arrive with a thoughtful hostess gift in hand. With this gift guide of our favorite items for any occasion, you’re sure to find something to please every host or hostess:

1. Wine accessories

If you know your hosts are wine aficionados, the first thing that comes to mind might be bringing a bottle of something tasty. However, if you’re not a wine lover yourself (or you simply don’t know their taste), it can be intimidating to choose a bottle for someone else. That’s where wine accessories save the day.

A pair of elegant wine glasses, a drinks tray, or a wine bottle coaster show you’re thinking of your host’s interests—while dodging the pitfalls of picking between merlot and pinot. We love this handwoven rattan wine bottle coaster that harmonizes with any table decor. 


Left: A yellow, pink, green, and orange colorblock thank you card with a white envelope; right: a moss-colored candle on a copper plate.Color Block Thank You” by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post; Image via The Floral Society.


2. Luxurious candle holders

A unique candle holder is an easy way to elevate a simple pillar or taper candle into something special. If you don’t know your host’s style well, opt for clean, simple lines and neutral tones. Metallic finishes like copper or bronze can coordinate with decor styles ranging from rustic to modern. 

An elegant copper plate is a timeless design that not only allows pillar candles to burn safely without wax spills but also works as a catch-all for small items like jewelry or hair accessories. 

Or, go for the ultraclean lines and soft-matte finish of a white ceramic taper holder. It works with any interior design look, whether it’s beachy cottage vibes or modern minimalism.

3. Deluxe candle set

Why not include the perfect candle set to go along with those special candle holders? We love the visual impact of a variety of mix-and-match shapes and sizes in a matching color. This set collects all five of The Floral Society’s most popular taper styles in a range of up-to-date earthy tones like moss and clay.


Left: Indigo tie-dye napkins on a marble table surrounded by a bowl of pears, a bowl of nuts, and a glass of Champagne; right: a cream thank you card with an illustration of a vase of flowers, paired with an orange envelope.Image via  Atelier Saucier; “Bold Bouquet” by Red Cap Cards for Paperless Post. Tie-dye napkins by Atelier Saucier, available at Party Shop.


4. Classic table decor

If your host loves to entertain, a perfect gift that helps dress their table in style is a thoughtful gesture. Linen napkins are always useful, and an extra set never goes amiss. Include a set of unique napkin rings to complete the thought. 

Opt for white linen with a subtle splash of color in the embroidered edges. Add napkin rings in coordinating tones if your hosts enjoy a bold color palette. Or, go for a fun retro feel with handmade tie-dyed denim if your hosts are all about the boho aesthetic. 

5. Holiday ornaments

For holiday party hostess gifts, ornaments are always an appropriate choice. If you know the style of your host’s Christmas tree decorations, you can choose something in a matching style. Otherwise, opt for ornaments with a traditional feel that go with a variety of color palettes and styles. 

Left: A newly-created bouquet of greenery tied with burlap surrounded by floral supplies like vase and scissors; right: a black thank you card with illustrations of tropical plants and the words “Truly grateful.”Image via Atelier Saucier; “Grateful Foliage” by Red Cap Cards for Paperless Post.


Last-minute hostess gifts that will delight in a pinch

When it comes to the perfect hostess gift, it’s always better to give something thoughtful and personal rather than something expensive. However, sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you need to give a gift at the last minute. If that’s the case, here are some great last-minute hostess gift ideas that are sure to please:

6. Gourmet chocolate

Who doesn’t love to receive a special box of chocolates? Go with a classic like Godiva, or get something more unique from a local chocolatier.

If you don’t know the host or hostess well, play it safe with a box that offers a multitude of flavors to please any palate—and that doesn’t contain nuts, in case any in the household have allergies. Otherwise, feel free to cater your choice to chocolates you know they’ll love—like bourbon bonbons or chocolate-covered cherries.

7. A locally sourced gift

A great gift is always more special when it has a story behind it. Look for a shop, boutique, or even a specialty grocery store in your area and you’re sure to find something hand-crafted or locally made. Even if you don’t know your host or hostess well enough to make the gift personal to them, you can still give something unique to the area where you live.

8. A gift card

If you’re in a bind, you can always fall back on a gift card to show your appreciation. Just make sure to choose one from a place that the hostess is likely to frequent, such as a special local restaurant or boutique.

Another option is to give the host a gift certificate that will pay for an experience—say, a spa session or a visit to the botanical gardens. Just keep in mind that some gift certificate options may only be available for purchase in person, while you may be able to send others online.

9. A homemade item

If you’re crafty, consider making something yourself as a last-minute hostess gift. Something as simple as a bundle of herbs from your garden, a homemade bath scrub, or a DIY cookie mix in a pretty jar would be much appreciated (and shows that you put some thought into the gift).


Left: A cream thank you card with red and pink illustrations of differently shaped houses with word bubbles that read “thank you” in different languages, paired with a pink envelope; right: a gift of three jam jars and a biscuit with jam on a plate.All the Thanks” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post; image via Victor Protasio.


What occasions call for a hostess gift?

While a small token is almost never inappropriate, there are some occasions that certainly call for a thoughtful gift. Bring a hostess gift when:

  • You’re the guest of honor: If the occasion is in honor of your birthday, a promotion, or another momentous event in your life, be sure to bring a good hostess gift to thank your hosts for arranging a special occasion just for you. Following up with a thank you card is also appropriate. 
  • You’re invited to a dinner party: For most dinner invitations, it’s appropriate to bring a gift. The exceptions are dinners with friends you see often, or formal gatherings with many guests where you’re not well acquainted with the hosts.
  • It’s an overnight stay: A gift is always appropriate when you’ve been invited for a longer stay or a weekend visit. You can also opt to send a gift to arrive before you do, such as a spa basket or gourmet food assortment.
  • It’s a housewarming party: Presenting a thoughtful home item to your host is a long-standing tradition at housewarming parties. Opt for something useful, like a knife set or a good set of linen napkins. Another customary option is something to help make the new place feel like home, such as candles or a potted plant. 

What is an appropriate hostess gift?

Choosing the right host or hostess gift can be a puzzle—especially if you and the party planners aren’t that well acquainted. There are a few things to consider when choosing a great hostess gift, such as the occasion, your relationship with the hosts, and their personal preferences.

For example, if you’re attending a dinner party at someone’s home, a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers may seem like surefire winners. But keep a few things in mind if you choose these options:

  • Fresh flowers create work: Unless you bring them in a vase with water, your host will need to take time out from greeting guests to find a vase, trim the stems, and find a place to display the bouquet. If you plan to bring flowers, bring them in a vase.
  • Wine can be out of place: A good bottle can be a lovely choice, but your hosts may feel obligated to serve it at dinner. If the menu and wines have been carefully planned, your bottle might not be the right fit. If you do choose to bring wine, be sure to note that it’s for your hosts to enjoy later on their own.

For hosts you don’t know well, it’s always safe to stick with a gourmet treat—consider specialty chocolates, jam, or coffee. Special goodies that are clearly not meant to be shared at dinner are the best choice if you opt to bring food.


Two thank you cards. The one on the left has bright illustrations of mixed flowers with a matching envelope. The one on the right says “Merci, Gracias, Thanks” in rainbow text.Garden Party Thank You” by Rifle Paper Co. and “Merci” by kate spade new york.


When should you not bring a hostess gift?

Wondering if a gift is a no-go? In fact, there are a few situations when it isn’t necessary, or even appropriate, to bring a hostess gift:

  • If you are attending a large party where you don’t know the hosts well, it’s generally not expected that you’ll bring a gift.
  • If the hosts have specifically said not to bring anything, it’s best to respect their wishes.
  • If you know the host is very busy and likely doesn’t have time to open and enjoy gifts, a simple thank you card may be more appropriate.
Gifts and decor available at Party Shop (from left): eucalyptus garland by Coterie, rattan wine coaster, ceramic taper holder by The Floral Society, napkin set and napkin rings by Atelier Saucier, taper candles and ceramic holder by The Floral Society.Gifts and decor available at Party Shop (from left): eucalyptus garland by Coterie, rattan wine coaster, ceramic taper holder by The Floral Society, napkin set and napkin rings by Atelier Saucier, taper candles and ceramic holder by The Floral Society.


Find beautiful hostess gifts for any occasion at Paperless Post

Whatever the occasion calls for, you’ll find a gift to match when you shop Paperless Post Party Shop. And if you didn’t bring a gift to the party, it’s not too late. Just send a customizable online thank you note from Paperless Post with a heartfelt note.

Inspired to plan your own party? Start with just the right online invitations from Paperless Post. We’re more than just gifts—we’re the whole party!


Browse Host and Hostess Gifts


Editor’s note: Party Shop shipping is only available in the continental US.
Hero image via Caitlin Bensel.