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No need to scramble! These expert-approved hostess gifts will arrive on time

Experts also answer the question, "Should I still bring a gift if the hostess says don't bring anything?"
Kara Birnbaum/ TODAY

Whether you're a guest at a dinner party, housewarming or holiday get together, nothing says "thank you for having me" more than showing up with a thoughtful and practical hostess gift.

"It's always a nice gesture and arguably better when it's unexpected," says event planner Jessica Sloane. With that advice in mind, we asked top interior designers to share their ideas for the best hostess gifts that are always a hit. Plus, the Shop TODAY team curated their go-to hostess gift ideas that will upgrade your invitation from guest to VIP for any upcoming gatherings.

Spoiler alert: You may want to keep some of these for yourself.

What should I look for in a host or hostess gift?

Consider what type of event you're going to before you decide what you get.

"Hostess gifts for a weekend stay are generally more significant than a traditional hostess gift you'd give for a quick party," says Jamie Kutchman Wynne, founder and CEO of Marigold & Grey.

Generally, if you're going to a smaller event, such as a dinner party or girl's night wine night, spend about $20 to $30. For a housewarming plan to spend $20 to $75, depending on how well you know the person and for an overnight stay, anywhere from $50 to $200.

Finally, remember that it can be hard to give gifts that people will use, so you likely want to stay away from personalized gifts unless you know the host or hostess particularly well. Edible gifts like cheese, wine or even olive oil are some of the safest choices for a thoughtful, well-appreciated gift.

Expert-approved hostess gifts | Budget hostess gifts | Last-minute hostess gifts | Holiday hostess gifts | Best host gifts for men | Questions about hostess gifts, answered by experts

Best hostess gifts, according to experts

“Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist”

“While most people have a collection of traditional cookbooks, few have an assortment of cocktail recipe books, making this a great hostess gift,” interior designer Philip Mitchell said about this literary-inspired libation guide. “This one includes clever drink recipes like Tequila Mockingbird or Love in The Time of Kahlua.”

Claus Porto Iris Guest Soap Box

“These 15 disc-shaped soaps add a pop of color and a whimsical touch to any powder room, plus they come in refreshing scents such as lemon, eucalyptus and vanilla,” says interior designer Jessica Lagrange about this fanciful personal care pick.

Pura Smart Device Home Fragrance Diffuser

Interior designer Dana Schwartz loves gifting this Pura diffuser. “A host can easily adjust the scent intensity of this diffuser through an app, plus there are many amazing fragrances to choose from including the holiday themed Frasier Fir and Votivo Frosted Pine scents,” she said. Order by Dec. 19 to get this expert-approved gift by Christmas.

Best budget hostess gifts

Compendium Thoughtfulls Pop-Open Mindfulness Cards

A gift that’ll inspire your giftee’s inner hostess queen, calm their party-related nerves and won’t cost you more than $9? This pick, a set of 30 thoughtful and affirming messages, is a win-win all around. Great to gift on its own or paired with a bouquet.

YXChome Cheese Knives Mini Set

One of the more affordable gifts on this list, but equally handy and necessary: These four cheese knives will complement any charcuterie board and make for the best (and stylish) serving tools.

BambooWorx Matcha Whisk Set

Matcha is arguably the new coffee, but let's face it: Preparing it can be a hassle. Enter: This three-piece matcha set, which includes a whisk, scoop and spoon so your hostess can easily whip up a traditional cup of Japanese matcha tea. They may just enjoy this "so matcha!"

Carandini Emilio Balsamic Vinegar Of Modena

Whether you’re shopping for a home cook or a foodie, this affordable balsamic vinegar is prepared to dress to impress (literally!). The vinegar is a Protected Geographical Indication product, which means it can only be made in one place. In this case, that place is Modena. The brand recommends pairing it with vegetables, meat, cheese, fish, ice cream and fruit.

Cleverfy Shower Steamers (Pack of 6)

Shop TODAY editors and readers can’t get enough of these affordable shower steamers that come in a pack of six. After post-party clean up, the hostess can use these shower steamers to wind down from a great night.

The Original Wine Condoms Wine & Beverage Bottle Stopper

As featured in our broadcast segment, this reusable and airtight wine stopper allows you to seal almost any opened bottle of wine and other beverages. Not only functional, the stopper also doubles as a fun and hilarious gift that any wine-loving hostess will likely never forget.

Geode State Ornament

An award-winning gift according to Shop TODAY editors, these state-shaped ornaments are made of stoneware and glass designed to resemble geodes. We love it for hosts who appreciate a one-of-a-kind memento. Plus, it’s perfect for hosts who are planning a housewarming party in a new state. 

Decrafts Round Rattan Wooden Serving Tray

Taco Tuesday isn't complete without chips and dip. This serving set will bring casual style to the hostess' table; besides, they can never have too many serving trays. Available in 11-inch, 13.8-inch and 16.9-inch diameters, reviewers say this tray is incredibly versatile and can be used as entry-way collection tray, an ottoman serving platter, an accent piece and more.

Best last-minute hostess gifts

Odorsorb Pod Starter Pack

Hosting a soiree can quickly become a chore. Help your host keep their kitchen smelling good as new with these Odorsorb pods. They cling to the inside of the trash can lid, where they fight unpleasant odors using natural, plant-based oils. Order by Dec. 19 to get this gift by Christmas.

Electric Rechargeable Salt and Pepper Grinder

If all else fails, no hostess can resist a gift that makes their lives easier in the kitchen. This reader-favorite electric grinder set comes with a rechargeable battery, and the coarseness of the grind can be easily adjusted. And it’s so simple to use: Just a press of a button and a tilt of the grinder is all it takes — and it comes with a helpful LED light as well.

Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot Fine Liquid Hand Wash

The best hosts pay close attention to the soap they have in their home. “This liquid hand soap — with its pretty packaging and lemon, bergamot, mandarin and orange oil scents — is a nice addition to any guest bathroom,” notes interior designer Kim Armstrong.

Williams Sonoma S'mores Maker

Treat your hostess with this fun, nostalgic gift so they can enjoy the classic roasted treat year-round. This s'mores making set, a Williams Sonoma bestseller, features a roasting chimney, grill top, four stainless steel roasting sticks and ceramic tray. Order by Dec. 19 to get this gift by Christmas.

Brooklinen Candle Set

Candles are on par with wine and flowers in the sense that they make excellent hostess gifts. Help the party host set the mood with a set of hand-poured, clean-burning candles in a range of scents, including floral, fresh, musky and earthy. Order by Dec. 19 to get this gift by Christmas.

TRUFF Starter Pack

Gifts are an excuse to enjoy the finer things in life, and this Truff starter pack is more than fine — it’s delicious. The set includes truffle-infused hot sauce, salt and olive oil, all perfect for flavoring everything from wings to pizza. Production coordinator Bella Druckman recommends topping homemade popcorn with the truffle salt and the truffle olive oil for an addictive snack. You can choose Amazon Prime delivery to receive this foodie gift by Christmas Eve.

Best hostess gifts for holiday parties

Farmhouse Beads Wood Garland

“Wood garland makes any hostess look like a professional stylist when it comes to elevating a coffee table or adding a special moment to a bookshelf,” says interior designer Danielle Chiprut.

Capri Blue Volcano Reed Diffuser

Best known for their iconic Volcano scent (have you smelled an Anthro store?), Capri Blue is so much more than a candle crush. With 1,000-plus five-star ratings, the Mississippi label’s intoxicating fragrances, striking vessels and clean formulas — proudly designed and poured in the USA — create an evocative experience for the senses. Order by Dec. 19 to get this gift by Christmas.

USB Candle Lighter

I’ve been obsessed with this eco-friendly USB lighter ever since my sister gifted it to me several holiday seasons ago. It uses flameless technology for a clean, butane-free ignition and provides up to 130 lights per charge. I’ve used it for candles and my firepit, but you can also use it for any gas ignition appliance. Paired with one of our candle gift ideas, this makes a thoughtful hostess gift.

Jayzuum Stone Bath Mat

Stumped on what to gift a hostess who has everything? Gift them this stylish stone bathmat, which is said to instantly absorbs moisture and removes water that could lead to mold. And according to several reviewers, it may just save the host from the embarrassment of grimy, soggy bathmats. One shopper raved, “This stone mat absorbs water so quickly (not all of it is gone in the 30 to 45 seconds that some purport, but 85 percent of it is gone within a minute), which means the floor stays dry!"

Beehive Cheese Sampler

You better buy two of these samplers (you'll want to keep one for yourself). Based in the mountains of Northern Utah, this small creamery creates flavorful cheddar cheeses using artisanal ingredients like black truffles, dried porcini mushrooms, whiskey and more. It's cheddar cheese like you've never tasted before. Pro Tip: pair it with some chocolate for a truly divine gift. Order by Dec. 19 to get this gift by Christmas.

Best host gifts for men

Corkcicle Whiskey Wedge

Raise a toast to your hostess with this cool-looking wedge ice mold. The silicone ice mold fits perfectly in the Old Fashioned glass, so all they'll need to do is fill it with water to create ice that'll chill their drink perfectly — without diluting it! This gift will level up their bar cart game and impress future guests. Order by Dec. 19 to get this gift by Christmas.

Bedsure Fleece Bed Blanket

You can never have too many blankets, right? This fluffy fleece option is ideal for hosts and hostesses entertaining during the cold winter months. The popular blanket has earned more than 120,000 verified five-star reviews on Amazon with reviewers raving about the blanket’s quality, weight and warmth.

Click & Grow Indoor Herb Garden Kit

Fresh herbs and vegetables are key to any recipe made from scratch. Help your hostess create five-star entrees with this smart garden. It self-waters and includes over 50 pre-seeded plant pods to choose from. Plus, the energy-efficient LED grow lights ensure your plants thrive no matter the weather, according to the brand.

Free Village Countertop Ice Maker

This countertop ice maker can produce up to nine ice cubes in just six minutes, meaning your host can refill guests' glasses with ice over and over again. The machine features a silent fan to keep noise to a minimum.

Questions about hostess gifts, answered by experts