The season of holiday parties is upon us, and that means the season of hostess gifts is also here! It wasn’t until after college that I started bringing hostess gifts on a regular basis (and no, bringing wine to a BYOB party doesn’t count!), but now I like to take a bottle of wine whenever I show up at someone’s house for any kind of event. Events that you might consider bringing a hostess gift to: dinner parties, housewarming parties, holiday parties, anytime you’re staying overnight at someone’s home, or if someone treats you to an especially nice dinner out.
1. Stick to your budget. Don’t go all out bringing your hosts $30 or $40 bottles of wine if you’re on a $10 bottle of wine budget. There are plenty of decent $10 bottles out there. Try some inexpensive imported wines, like Spanish Riojas, Argentinean Malbecs, or Chilean Carmeneres. Something out of the ordinary will make an impression without costing a fortune.
2. The nicer the event, the nicer the hostess gift. If you’ve been invited for a weekend stay where your hosts are spending a lot of time and/or money to entertain you and show you around, think about cutting back on some other expenses and taking a nicer bottle of wine. If you’re on a budget, maybe spring for a $20 bottle, and if you’re a little less on a budget, think about putting down $30 for a hidden gem. Here in Walla Walla, you can get some great local wines for just about $30 a bottle, although you might have to search a little more if you’re not located in a prime wine region.
3. Bring a bottle they’ll enjoy. Bring wine that your hosts like, not wine that you like. If your hosts like sweet wines, now is not the time to push some excellent red wines on them. Take them a bottle of Moscato or a sweeter Riesling, and they’ll appreciate it a lot more than a pricey bottle they’ll never drink.
4. Don’t bring a chilled wine. This has been a pretty standard rule of hostess gifts for a long time. Bringing a chilled bottle indicates that you expect it to be served at the event, when it should be a gift for your hosts to enjoy later.
5. When you find a great hostess gift, stock up. If you find a wine that’s a good price, buy a whole case; many retailers and wineries will give a discount when you buy a case (12 bottles) or more of a single wine. The next time you have a party to go to, grab a bottle from the case, and you’re ready to go! I’ve been thinking lately about buying a case of inexpensive sparkling wine (like Blanquette de Limoux) so I’m ready to go whenever a holiday party comes up!
Have fun this holiday season, and be sure to thank your hosts, who are probably just as stressed out as you are!