Our Favorite Summer Host Gifts That Aren't Wine, Flowers or Food

Don't show up to summer gatherings empty-handed. These host gift ideas are equal parts thoughtful, functional and stylish.

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Updated on May 16, 2023

With the official start of summer right around the corner, that also means a season full of outdoor parties and gatherings. Whether you’re invited to a backyard barbecue or family-friendly game night, it’s always a good idea to thank the gracious host with a small gift.

But what makes a good host gift? According to Maralee McKee of The Etiquette School of America, a hostess gift “is something a host or hostess would use in the course of entertaining.” This can be for a future party or for simply "entertaining" family at home throughout the week. These small gifts are often functional and thoughtful versus something like a birthday gift that may lean on the personal side. And you’ll never guess what Maralee’s biggest host gift no-noes are: flowers, food and wine — things we’ve all taken to a party at one time or another. Why? They can disrupt the menu and decor your host put hours into planning and preparing.

Now, you’re probably scratching your head trying to figure out what you could possibly bring besides flowers, wine and food. Don't worry — we've got you covered. Our host gift picks are thoughtful, useful and (almost) all less than $50.

$15.90 Each
Wayfair

Special-occasion glasses are something few people buy themselves but just about everyone wants. Do your host a favor and bring along a set of wine glasses with a gilded gold rim and glamorous rainbow finish.

$29.95
Crate & Barrel

Designed by Aaron Probyn, this stainless-steel cocktail shaker translates simple lines and function into a sleek, contemporary design. This handsome vessel is the perfect accessory for shaking up perfect whiskey sours and martinis any day of the week. It looks chic on display, too.

$18 (Set of 4)
Anthropologie

These chic cocktail picks help to garnish drinks of all types, from piña coladas to Bloody Marys. Featuring brass and cherry details, the stainless-steel picks have sharp points for neatly skewering olives, fruit and more.

$30
Uncommon Goods

Take the pressure off your host after the party wraps with these clever sugar cubes that transform into instant cocktails. Handmade and naturally infused, these mini sugar cubes feature complex taste profiles that make a great addition to spirits, mocktails, tea and coffee. Each set comes with 18 cubes to make a Manhattan, Moscow Mule and Old Fashioned.

$50 (Set of 4)
West Elm

These trendy yet timeless coasters would make a great hostess gift for any summer cocktail party. The set brings the natural beauty of quartz to tables and countertops, protecting them from hot drinks and ice-cold condensation alike.

$34.99
Amazon

Making a batch of iced tea or other hot and cold beverages is a breeze thanks to Primula’s one-gallon brewer. Think lemonade with infused mint or lavender. Yum! Your host will love having this on hand for gatherings all year-round.

$39.95
Crate & Barrel

This white marble and mango wood cheese board makes a stunning presentation of charcuterie or cheese. We love that it’s hand-carved and hand-finished for a completely unique, one-of-a-kind piece that looks way more expensive than it is.

$15.99
Amazon

In this entertaining book from Kylie Mazon-Chambers, the writer/cook/photographer behind the food blog Cooking with Cocktail Rings, your host will learn how to make and arrange beautiful boards full of finger foods. It’s packed with inspiration and recipes your host will love to try out at their next party.

$39.95
Williams Sonoma

Your host will adore using this rattan basket every day of the week. The unique, handcrafted rattan piece is finished in beautiful color variations and is perfect for serving bread and housing napkins and cutlery outside of mealtime.

$16.99
Amazon

Your design-savvy host will love this 100-percent cotton jacquard tea towel inspired by the work of iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This orange Oak Park version features the skylight window design of Frank’s Oak Park, Ill. home and studio. It’s perfect to display in the kitchen, frame on the wall or drape over a small table.

$49.95
Crate & Barrel

Maybe flowers are a no-go, but a beautiful vase is always a great idea. This bottle-shaped, hand-carved vase features a neutral white glaze and crisp chevron pattern that will fit into any home's design style or color palette.

$50
The Sill

While you should skip the flowers (you don’t want your host to have to stop what they’re doing to trim stems and find a vase), a low-maintenance houseplant is a sweet idea that will last beyond the season. A snake plant is great for both new and expert plant parents alike since they just need bright, indirect light and occasional watering.

$37.95
Williams Sonoma

I think we all know at this point how important it is to have good hand soap and lotion. This three-piece set, complete with hand soap, hand lotion and a stainless-steel or gold caddy, is ideal for gifting. Plus, you can’t go wrong with this uplifting, citrusy scent that smells like summer.

$48
Nordstrom

A lovely candle is another great go-to hostess gift no matter the time of the year. But during the summer, it's nice to choose a candle that has a lighter scent, like this one from NEST New York. The notable fragrance company partnered with photographer Gray Malin to create a special-edition scent, Ocean Mist & Sea Salt, that will transport your host to the shores of St. Barths all summer long.

$54.95
Williams Sonoma

Olive oil is a smart gift because it's something that we don't often want to splurge on for ourselves, and it will last for months. This award-winning Frantoio Muraglia extra-virgin olive oil is the perfect choice for light summer cooking. It even comes in a handcrafted ceramic container decorated by local Italian artists with an original fish design. Plus, once your host has finished the oil, they’ll have the collectible vessel to use as a vase for future parties.

$39.95 (Set of 6)
Spiceology

If your host likes mixing things up in the kitchen, then gift them this Spiceology set that comes with six, one-ounce vials of globally-inspired salt rub blends. They’re perfect for cooking and grilling!

$20
Amazon

This adorable kitchen gadget is not something your host needs but will love once summer weather hits. They can use the mold to bake homemade cookies, then add ice cream and freeze to craft ice cream sandwiches — from scratch. This is a particularly great gift for the host with young kids!

$44.95
Williams Sonoma

A beautiful outdoor picnic blanket will come in handy whether they’re headed to the park or lounging in the backyard. Made from 100 percent cotton, this cozy blanket features a soft fleece topside and water-resistant underside that packs into a compact carry tote with a shoulder strap and zippered security pocket.

$34.95
Rifle Paper Co.

Everyone needs an insulated wine cup. We love this floral Rifle Paper Co. x Corksicle one because it’s beautiful to hold. Plus, it features a sliding, shatterproof lid, triple insulation for the perfect chill, a slip-proof bottom and keeps drinks cold for nine hours or more.

$20.99
Amazon

Perfect for the entire family, these extra-large wooden yard dice will provide hours of fun with countless games and variations that can be played, like Yard Yahtzee (or Yardzee), Twenty-One and more.

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