What Hostess Gift Do You Like Best?

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hostess-gift1By A Mother in Israel

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?

{A Mother in Israel/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. i have yeshiva boys over. usually they do not bring anything, and that’s fine. once, though, one boy did bring a bottle of wine, and it was just the thought that counted. it was so sweet!

    when we go out, we bring a bottle of wine, and we don’t get offended if it isn’t served while we are there. we bring it for the host as a token of our appreciation, not for ourselves.

  2. Given the impoverished state of our yungeleit struggling to keep their heads above water in these hard economic times, I suggest that it would be most appropriate if the seminary girls who call to “shnorr” a Shabbos (“with two or three of my friends”) would arrive with a voucher issued by the seminary good for $20 worth of merchandise in a local store.

    If the $20,000 per head charged by the seminaries does not include Shabbos meals and the girls are urged to find themselves a place to stay, the least the seminaries can do is help pay the food bill. Of course, a nice candy dish or bouquet of flowers can be given with the voucher to make the hosts feel, as they should, that it is they who are doing the girls a favor and not the other way around.

    And please don’t send in comments claiming that the seminaries provide Shabbos. It is an empty offer if no one takes them up on it and the sem culture brands you a loser if you don’t have somewhere to go for Shabbos…

  3. I have guests frequently, I find most people don’t bring anything. When my kids go to a friends for Shabbos I always send something. Wine, pretty dish, a plate of homemade cookies, a pretty candy dish filled with jelly beans. I once got a gift from a frequent guest it was a beautiful picture frame, the next time she came she gave me the same one. I don’t think she remembered but I did. I wonder if she bought a case of these and just gives them to everybody

  4. Flowers, Wine, Bamba/Bisli for the kids, A bottle of Coke (since we do not usually have), English Jerusalem Post weekend edition (real treat) or English Mishpacha would be GREAT.

    If not, a helping hand in the kitchen or with the kids is SUPERB—-& for sure a loud voice for zemiros.

  5. I once had a grop of yeshivah boys over for a meal. not only did they not bring anything(i didn’t expect them to) one of them asked if he could take the leftover dessert back to his dorm.

  6. I guess the dessert you made was delicious, and he wasn’t going to take it back, bilee rashoot and be chayav, chas veshalom on gezel.


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