The other day, a young adult, recently graduated from college, working in her new career, was talking about being invited for an event at her boss’ home. When a hostess gift was mentioned, she asked, “Do people still do that?” Uh oh. What’s next? Asking if people still write thank you notes? The answer is, “Yes! They do!”

Attention young (and not-so-young) people: hostess gifts are a good idea, to show your appreciation when someone shares their home with you, whether for an evening or a weekend. As we enter the holiday season, you’ll need to be ready to bring hostess gifts to parties and other get-togethers at people’s homes.

What makes an appropriate hostess gift? The quick and easy standby is always a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers. But if you’ve got a little more time and you can put just a tiny more effort into your selection, you can give a hostess gift that’s truly memorable and shows that you care.

  • Bake something. Or cook something. A homemade treat such as a quick bread or cookies is sure to be appreciated. If you’re stuck on the alcohol idea, try making your own flavored vodka or tequila. Jazz up your gift with a pair of wine glasses or martini glasses, and put everything in a basket with a pretty ribbon.
  • Be useful. Kitchen towels are a great idea, especially if you have enough time to get them embroidered. A pretty trivet or platter can be nice. Or maybe a set of four glasses in a unique shape or color.
  • Write on. Stationery is pretty and useful. Consider purchasing a box of note cards and adding a custom touch with a rubber stamp of your own choosing — perhaps even a theme that you know your hostess loves, such as a hummingbird or a cat.
  • A tisket, a tasket. Anyone can create an impressive gift basket! Go to Whole Foods or your local store, pick out a couple of treats you know your hostess will enjoy. Place them in a basket and wrap in cellophane. Tie a pretty ribbon and – boom! – personalized hostess gift!

Now about those thank you notes…