Expert Advice: Creative Hostess Gifts

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Illustration by Allison Cole

Carla Kooistra, owner of Etiquette Atlanta, believes good manners are more about kindness and generosity than memorizing rules. With entertaining in high gear for the holidays, here’s her advice for thoughtful hostess gifts:
 
KNOW YOUR HOSTS. Or at least do your research. Give something that reflects their interests. For example, if your host is an avid gardener, take a cute pair of gloves.
 
CONSIDER DECOR. Choose gifts that fit the host’s holiday decorations or personal style. Don’t give country cute to a modern minimalist.
 
AVOID GENDER SPECIFICITY. Pass on overly feminine or masculine gifts when you have multiple recipients to consider. Bath salts could be an awkward gift for a man.
 
NO MESS, NO STRESS. Don’t bring flowers sans vase; do bring a potted orchid or small arrangement. Also, avoid food that
the host would feel obligated to serve
immediately.
 
GIVE GRACIOUSLY. Be discreet about presentation, not showy. Consider guests who didn’t bring gifts.
 
INCLUDE A NOTE. Always thank your host for the invitation. Hosts, remember to thank your gifting guests with a follow-up card.
 
SHOP CLOSE TO HOME. Give out-of-town hosts—or even local ones—gifts with the flavor of home. Some suggestions: herb-infused chocolates from Cacao Atlanta ($30 for a twelve-piece box), Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee (from $15, Roswell-based products that support Rwandan growers), or a Peachtree Candle ($48, soy candle made with Georgia peaches, from 29 Spa at the Mansion on Peachtree).
 
This article originally appeared in our December 2010 issue.

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