The Hostess Gift

by Mary Bailey

A few years ago someone came to my house with two beer. At first I thought they were bringing their own beverage; fair enough, some people only drink certain things. But, they were in a six-pack and they were warm. I put them in the fridge. I believe they are still in the fridge. I guess it was a hostess gift.

The hostess gift. There are not many social moments more fraught with anxiety than thinking about what’s appropriate. Do you bring, what to bring, what’s too little, what’s too much?

A hostess gift, not to be expected yet so nice to receive, is the grace note that calms the rough seas of daily life. But when it’s odd or just wrong, like an obvious regift passed off as something special or a bottle of critter wine, what to do?

‘Oh you shouldn’t have.’

The hostess gift is all about the thought and never about the money. A regift in the form of a book; ‘I read this and thought of you’ is a welcome treat. So is a posy of wild grasses tied up in a ribbon. What a delight to receive a fresh Moleskin, its empty pages filled with nothing but promise; some quirky napkins; something delicious to eat.

My all-time favourite hostess gift? Fresh donuts made by the gifter, still warm.

Since few of us are that talented, here are some practical and lovely ideas to fit all occasions and budgets.


Cococo Chocolaterie Ballotine
Cococo Chocolaterie offers chocolate bars, bunnies and baseball gloves but we love the classic bronze-coloured ballotine box, especially when filled with sea salt caramels. At Cococo and Bernard Callebaut stores, from 2 pieces to 75, $4-87.


Savoir Faire Cheese Accessories and dipping dishes
The Savoir Faire collection is made of acacia wood and slate in an attractive modern design. Coaster sets are $14, the cheese dome with slate insert is $50, combined with a chunk of quality cheese—an exceptional gift. Stocked at Bella Casa, the Italian Centre West, Hillaby’s and The Pantree.


The Gurgle Pot
The hostess gift that makes you laugh is a rare treat indeed. The Gurgle pot makes a delightful gurgling sound as you pour. It comes in an array of brilliant colors and three sizes, $11-$45. Find at Gifts and Gadgets, Harlows, Hillaby’s, Lyndale Accents, Zocalo and the Wired Cup.


The Newget Kompany
The Edmonton-made nougat is always welcome. Sweet and savoury flavours in white, milk and dark chocolate as well as seasonal favourites, $7–$35 at Bon Ton Bakery, Blush Lane, City Hall Farmers’ Market, craft sales, and at


LAKRIDS by Johan Bülow
Created on a Danish island by a 23-year-old, Lakrids is like no other. It’s handmade boiled liquorice available in sweet, salty and a variety of seasonal flavours. Fans of Lakrids used to have to go to Copenhagen or London for their fix. Not any more. Find it at Cavern and the Italian Centre South, $10-$15. It has a sweet creation story:


Funky Chunky
Funky Chunky chocolate popcorn and caramel, chocolate-covered pretzels and chips drizzled in white, milk and dark chocolate then broken into irresistable chunks, $17-26 at The Pantree.


Willie’s Cacao Bars
The Cuban Baracoa bean has a subtle honey flavour, the perfect partner to essential orange oil whereas the Indonesian Javan Light Breaking tastes of toffee and caramel. These bean-to-bar chocolate bars are carried by Bella Casa, Italian Centre West and the Wired Cup, 50g bar, $4.


Taittinger Brut Réserve
The ultimate hostess gift, completely over the top, the grand gesture—a bottle of Champagne. Tattinger Brut Réserve is a good place to start, delicate, with citrusy lemon and grapefruit notes, mineral and honey flavours and a fine, elegant mousse, $60 at better wine shops.