It’s always hard to figure out the best way to thank a generous host. You want to give them something more unique than a bottle of wine, but not so unique that it risks living in that closet with all the other stuff they never use. We think it’s best to keep things relatively simple, and focus on something that will be easy to use around the house — like fun and design-y upgrades of stuff your host already uses on a regular basis. In preparation for the slew of parties to come over the next few months, we’ve gathered some of our favorite gifts for hosts that are easy to buy online and will definitely be appreciated (even if they insist you don’t bring anything).
For the host who’s terrible with fresh flowers
For the host who’s a regular at the farmers market
This Click and Grow counter top “Smart Garden” uses an automated hydroponic system with a built-in grow light, so they can grow their favorite fresh herbs from the comfort of their own kitchen. It comes with three basil seed capsules, but they can also mix and match from over 40 other options like mini-tomatoes and wild strawberries. We featured this model in our roundup of the best indoor garden kits.
For the host who knows Catan is a bad idea
While board games can be a great idea for parties, it’s important to choose the right one. When writer Dominque Pariso asked a bunch of board game experts about their favorite party games, this emerged as a top pick, especially for large groups. The experts love the fun graphic design and the fact that it’s easy to learn. As Dylan Speed of Meeple Mountain explains, “Over three rounds that allow progressively fewer words — from unlimited, to one, to none (charades) — everyone will shout and laugh their way through an evening of making nonsense and new inside jokes.”
For the host who loves a good yard sale
This iceburg lettuce–shaped ceramic serving plate has strong Palm Beach circa 1960s vibes. It would be an exciting find at a yard sale or flea market, but why not save them the trouble.
For the host who already has habanero bitters
For the host who already has copper Moscow Mule cups
If they already have a fully stocked bar, then maybe it’s time to start practicing their craft. From our roundup of this season’s most giftable coffee-table books, this cocktail-focused tome is written by spirit legend Leo Robitschek, the bar director at the NoMad Bar (and Eleven Madison Park). It has nearly 300 recipes, dozens of illustrations, and an in-depth service manual.
For the host who’s an umami fiend
For the host who opens beer bottles with a lighter
For the host who just got a new coffee table
For the host who needs a book to place on said coffee table
For the host who’s getting into natural wine
Featured in our roundup of the best gifts for wine lovers, this affordable decanter was recommended by Marissa Copeland, the head sommelier at Junoon.
For the host who enjoys the occasional glass of red
Or, if they’re the type who prefers to just have a glass or two with dinner, this sommelier-approved wine stopper might be a better gift because it helps preserve the bottle for future enjoyment. “The Vacu Vin system has been around forever for a reason,” says Eric Tschudi, the sommelier and head bartender at Shuko in NYC. “While I wouldn’t recommend it for sparkling wines, the included pump gets the wine-killing oxygen out of the bottle and helps keep still wines fresh for days.”
For the host who insists on a coarse grind
When we asked baristas and coffee roasters about their favorite coffee grinders, they all told us that if you’re serious about coffee you really need to start using a conical burr grinder because it gives a more consistent and even grind. This model, the Baratza Encore, was the clear favorite, recommended by five our experts. (For something a bit less expensive but still expert-recommended, we also featured a Krups burr grinder on that list and it’s under $50.)
For the host who loves a good pour-over
This ceramic pour-over dripper also appeared in our roundup of the best gifts for coffee lovers. It’s one of the simplest ways to get started with pour-over, and there’s no crazy laboratory-looking glass equipment to worry about. It came recommended by Yasmina Palumbo, a co-owner of New York City’s Mud Coffee, who told us she loves how you can just place it right over your mug “so you’re brewing cup by cup,” and that everything stays “super fresh and hot.” Hario is a coffee-nerd-approved company, so your host should be impressed.
For the host who names all their houseplants
For the host who “hosts” a lot
Here’s a host gift that will actually come in handy while hosting. Former Vogue fashion director Tonne Goodman first told us about these cotton cocktail napkins that conveniently come in a roll. She first discovered them in Paris and has been re-ordering them every since. [They’re] the simplest solution to the tedious task of serving hors d’oeuvres,” she says, and “indispensable during the holidays.”
For the host who considers every detail
Senior editor Anthony Rotunno wrote about his love for these Caspari paper napkins, which he calls “tiny works of art.” Is there a such thing as a status paper napkin? If so, these are probably the closest thing, as Rotunno explains: “Caspari, which has been in the paper-napkin business for some 70 years, produces some napkins in partnership with cultural institutions like Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and others with heritage luxury-décor brands like Scalamandré. While MyDrap napkins are stylish for their minimalism, Caspari’s — which are not cotton but a sturdy ‘triple ply’ tissue — are for making a visual statement.”
For the host who likes to send you home with leftovers
If they don’t like to waste food, they likely would prefer not to create excess waste in the form of plastic shopping bags. We are not shy about our love for the affordable, stylish, and always practical Baggu tote. This set of three has fun food designs, perfect for a casual grocery store flex.
For the host who always throws movie night
For the host who’s over Diptyque
For the host who’s into splatterware
For the host who loves breakfast in bed
For the host who buys Christmas trees for the smell
Belle Cushing told us about this balsam fir incense from Maine-based Paine’s, founded in 1931. Explaining its old-school charm, Cushing writes, “Instead of spindly sticks, this incense comes in 40 squat little logs that fit seamlessly into a round hole cut into square of unfinished wood that serves as the incense stand. No fancy holders or sticks stuck into old candles. It’s all quite practical. Like if L.L. Bean attained the status of Herschel.”
For the host who likes to hike
Gift a stylish and environmentally friendly doormat. These are all handmade from recycled Maine lobster rope. And they’re not just for New Englanders; we’re sure anyone would appreciate this colorful mat, and it comes with a little write-up explaining the story of the company.
For the host who wants to move to Santa Fe
We know terrazzo is technically Italian in origin, but it feels kind of Southwestern home boutique-y, too, right? Or maybe just vaguely L.A.? Either way, we’re into it, and this little planter with a wooden stand is basically demanding a succulent.
For the host who uses paper towels as tissues
For the host who loves The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
For the host who loves a good radicchio
For the host who loves a good (and clean) radicchio
Game of Thrones fans like to complain about the show’s final season, but wherever you stand on that issue, there’s no denying the groundbreaking scope and imagination of the series. This just-released coffee-table book, written by the show’s Emmy-winning production designer Deborah Riley, with a foreword by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, includes 432 pages of sketches and concepts from the show.
A reproduction of French sculptor Louis Boizot’s bust of Marie-Antoinette, completed in 1781. It might not be for everyone, but if they’re into it you might make it into their host gift hall of fame. Trust your instincts. (At the very worst, it’ll be great for zhuzhing up their closet).