My husband and I host guests regularly and have received our share of appreciative gifts. I do not invite guests in expectation of any gift, and as long as you make an effort to be pleasant, to the best of your ability, you are welcome in my house. If you don’t know what to bring, don’t have time to shop, or are short on funds please don’t worry about it.
We’re a big family and most of the people we host are not going to be inviting us back.
I’ve lived in communities where hostess gifts were not the norm. My mother used to say that there really isn’t a gift that is a fair exchange for hosting, especially houseguests. But even extremely practical hosts like myself understand that people want to show appreciation and feel uncomfortable arriving empty-handed.
Now let’s say I invited you, and you really want to bring something, even though you don’t have to. Really, I mean it. But if you insist, I prefer that you bring some food, preferably homemade. I’ll still be cleaning, making beds, cooking, and shopping, but bringing part of the meal is a gift that will make my life easier. Just tell me in advance so I can plan the rest of the menu accordingly.
If you are in a dormitory or hotel, or don’t keep kosher, or just got off a plane, this may not be an option. So if you still insist on bringing something, I prefer a bottle of kosher wine. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just don’t be offended if we don’t serve it at that meal. Wine is always useful and keeps for a long time.
And good quality chocolate will never go to waste in my house.
Here are some things I prefer not to receive:
- Fancy bakery cakes. I do my own baking, and those things are just not healthy. Admittedly, with my large family any kind of cake will probably get eaten quickly.
- Kitchenware, serving pieces, etc. Even if they are pretty, I already have enough that I never seem to use with no room for more. And I keep them just in case but that is my problem, not yours.
- I enjoy fresh flowers as long as you don’t arrive five minutes before Shabbat.
To those of you who host: Does it bother you if someone arrives without a gift? What was the worst gift you ever got? What was your favorite?
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