Shhh! (Surprise party for my wife! But what do I give the awesome host?)
August 12, 2013 8:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm throwing a surprise party for my wife's 40th birthday this Thursday evening. One of my wife's friends volunteered to have the party at her house. She's also helping to arrange catering from her dad's restaurant (I'm paying for it, but at a steeply discounted rate--and she worked out the menu). So ... I'd like to give our friend a hosting gift.

I'm not sure what info will help, so I'll tell you about her and some ideas I had -- and please ask questions!

My wife's friend is a few years younger than us. She likes wine (although I've never heard her gush about this or that great wine), friends, good conversation, laughing, dancing, eating & cooking (organic, near vegetarian), yoga (she's been an instructor), running with audiobooks on the iPod (don't know what books), music, and travel (but kids, custody situation, so she's feeling a little bummed on this point).

What ideas have I had? She's great friends with my wife and doesn't expect anything, but I'd still like to do something nice.

My first thought for parents is always having their kids over for a bit to play with our kids, but we all do that so often with our friends that it wouldn't even register as a gift. In fact, her kids are here right now while she's at a high school post-reunion party. On the other hand, offering to watch the kids while she and my wife go out would be nice, esp. if I threw in a restaurant gift certificate.

Another idea was leaving any extra wine with her. I'm sure there will be extra bottles. It's nothing fancy, but in line with her standard, go-to wines. Alternatively, I could pick up a couple of nicer bottles, specifically for her instead of the party. (Why does that alternative appeal to me more than leaving the left overs?)

Let me know what else can I tell you! I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas!
posted by agog to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could get her a gift card to Audible or iTunes or whatever she uses.
posted by domnit at 8:04 PM on August 12, 2013

Offer to watch the kids overnight, or over a weekend, so she and her S.O. can have a night to themselves? Throw in a restaurant certificate?
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:07 PM on August 12, 2013

A Whole Foods gift card sounds perfect. She can get great food to cook, get hot bar food to feed the kids in a pinch or pick out her own wine.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:17 PM on August 12, 2013

Best answer: Watching her kids so that she and your wife could go out on your dime is a great idea! You could even book a spa day for the two of them. If you do it before your wife's party, she will assume that that is her great birthday surprise and really won't be expecting the party.
posted by myselfasme at 8:26 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

i like the idea of you watching her kids and giving her a restaurant gift certificate for 2 but i would leave it up to her as to who to invite, especially since she is throwing the party for your wife. she might want to save it for a special date with a significant other now or in the future.
posted by wildflower at 9:26 PM on August 12, 2013

Best answer: I often give people a breakfast basket of some sort -- bagels, cream cheese, juice, home-made coffee cakes -- that they can eat the next morning because the morning after a big party you are EXHAUSTED! It's a nice little gift that's firmly in the tradition of hostess gifts, gives the hostess a nice little treat the next morning, and recognizes the hard work she did and that she deserves to be tired and sleep in and eat cake for breakfast. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:30 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

hire someone to clean her house after the party
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:56 PM on August 12, 2013 [9 favorites]

The house-cleaner idea is fantastic.

Alternatively, something indulgent she can enjoy by herself. When I host a party, I always feel kind if exhausted afterwards, and I love hostess gifts that are just for me. So, rather than a gift certificate for a restaurant or whatever, which involves more scheduling on her part, I'd go for a gift basket. Fancy bottle of wine, gourmet chocolates, some special cheeses or crackers or organic dip...general 'foodie' stuff that people generally don't treat themselves to.
posted by Salamander at 10:25 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I shudder at the thought of an unknown house cleaner coming in to my house. I only want my cleaner who I know does not poke through my stuff, lift the silver or bash the vacuum into table legs. I would be overjoyed with a gift basket like Salamander said above.
posted by Lornalulu at 11:34 AM on August 13, 2013

Best answer: Lornalulu, that is an excellent point. What about arranging with some of the other guests to make sure the place is tidied and dishes done at the end of the party. I have friends who do this whenever I host; it is so nice to have a clean place afterwards, and since it's my friends doing it I don't get that stranger-in-my-house-weird-feeling.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:00 PM on August 13, 2013

Response by poster: Awesome ideas! You all rock! A couple of updates:

I loved 5_13_23_[...]'s house cleaner idea. After some discreet checking around, I learned that our friend already has someone come clean her house every Friday (remember, the surprise party is Thursday--tomorrow). If this were not already set up, I was going to line up a cleaner (using someone she knows and trusts in her house, which was a very good point, Lornalulu).

I do find that most people end up straightening up their place before the cleaners show up, so, as 5_13_23_[...] suggested, I am going to make sure her place is tidied up by the end of the evening.

I am liking the basket ideas, Eyebrows McGee & Salamander, especially a breakfast basket. Freshly cut flowers would go nicely with this.

I also like the ideas that several people suggested about watching her kids while she goes out on my dime. The spa was an especially awesome idea, myselfasme, although a spa for two is kind of pushing my budget, so I'm thinking of gift certificates that should cover something like pedicures or facials for our friend and my wife while I watch the kids.

I'll tag best answers once the party's done because I don't want to mark this as solved yet (so as to encourage more responses).

If you have anymore ideas, please keep them coming! Don't be bashful about reminding me of some common courtesy things, too!
posted by agog at 8:34 AM on August 14, 2013

Response by poster: It was a great party! I brought our friend breakfast, which she really appreciated, and I did my best at rallying up help to straighten up the place. I'm also picking up gift certificates to a local spa. I'm going to give them to my wife so that she can take her friend while I watch all the kids. Thanks for the help!
posted by agog at 1:19 PM on August 21, 2013

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