Never show up empty handed. My mother's words ring clearly in my head each time I accept an invitation. Whether it be a housewarming party or a Fourth of July bash, if you've invited me to your home, you'll be getting a token of my appreciation. Wine and flowers are reliable options, but with a little extra thought your host(ess) gift can leave friends feeling the love while earning you the reputation as everyone's favorite guest.
As an event designer by trade, I dedicate my life to celebrating in style. So when it comes to home entertaining, gifts are no exception. Jennifer Charles, life celebration expert and co-founder of Something Fabulous, explained why these little gifts matter so much. "A hostess gift is a small token of gratitude," says Charles. "Selecting something thoughtful makes the host feel special and shows that you appreciate their hospitality. What better way to start off a dinner party than with gratitude?"
From a place of gratitude, with a good dose of style, a discerning sweet tooth and a love for local business, I've compiled a list of must have gifts for any host!
Wolfum Coasters ($34) or Tray ($64)
These handmade wooden coasters and trays are brightly colored, beautifully patterned pieces of functional art. It is nearly impossible to leave Tabletop without finding something that is sure to wow your host. More Tabletop favorites: Set of 5 Glass Flower Storage Bowls ($34); Fred Ice Trays in "Cool Jewels" and "Gin & Titonic" ($10); and my all time favorite, tea towels ($15).
Tabletop,1608 20th St NW, 202-387-7117, tabletopdc.com
Cinnamon Coffee Cake ($42)
After all the preparation that goes into preparing for an event, not having to think about breakfast the next morning is a gift itself. The coffee cake from Baked & Wired (serves 12) is a no-risk option coming from one of the country's best bakeries. Be sure to call ahead to place your order. This one takes a few days advance warning, but is well worth it to give your host the gift of a morning off. And hey, no judgment if you gift yourself with a little something something too.
Baked & Wired,1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, 703-663-8727, bakedandwired.com
Pet Portrait Pillows ($50)
Perfect for the friend whose four-legged creatures are their real babies (you know the ones). These pillows are stunning and full of whimsy. Cheeky Puppy also carries many locally designed and one-of-a-kind items you won't see anywhere else. Other Cheeky Puppy favorites: Bright Art Coasters ($8); political totes, collars, and leashes that scream "I'm a DC dog"; and Naked Decor tea towels ($14).
Cheeky Puppy,1709 Connecticut Ave NW, 202-621-8868, thecheekypuppy.com
Handmade Rice Water Soap ($6)
At only $6 each, you can get a few or mix and match with some of my other favorites for a great gift basket. Made in Maryland, they are available at a number of local Wholefoods retailers, making it the perfect pick up when you are short on time. My favorite Sumu-Su scents: Grapefruit Blossom, Honey Bee, and Activation.
Sumu Su Soap, Columbia, MD, 410-422-7442, sumususoap.com
Christopher Elbow 21 Piece Diamond Collection ($42)
Food is art, and few things demonstrate that more than the artisanal chocolate collection from Christopher Elbow. Far superior to the old-school box of chocolates, each bite is a confectionery experience meant to be savored slowly.
Chocolate Chocolate,1130 Connecticut Ave NW,(202) 466-2190, chocolatedc.com