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.
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.
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.
These chic cocktail picks help to garnish drinks of all types, from piña coladas to Bloody Marys. Featuring enameled and gold-plated floral details, the stainless-steel picks have sharp points for neatly skewering olives, fruit and more. Plus, a sleek gold-plated holder keeps them contained on the table.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 hostess with young kids!
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.
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.