What is an appropriate gift to bring for a Muslim host & hostess?
January 7, 2014 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Etiquette Filter: My partner teaches music lessons and the parents of two of his students have invited us to dinner in their home. In addition to the regular payment for the lessons, they are very generous and bring him a gift nearly every time they come for lessons. What gift should we bring for the host & hostess?

I know that my default hostess gift (wine) is absolutely not appropriate in this situation. In the past, they have gifted him with things like homemade soup, homemade hummus and pita, a box of Turkish delight (lokum), and a gift from one of their recent trips to Turkey. She is an artist and during their last lesson in December, she gave him one of her paintings.

Thank you for your suggestions!
posted by nathaole to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Boxes of luxurious teas and/or coffees.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:48 PM on January 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Given that they've given you a lot of personal, homemade gifts maybe you can reciprocate in kind. Is anyone in your family a good baker, maker of jam, candy maker, arranger of flowers?

Are these parents new to Hawaii? Maybe something traditionally Hawaiian?
posted by brookeb at 1:53 PM on January 7, 2014

A good quality assortment (the kind that come in a gift tray) of roasted nuts and dried fruits. Teas or coffee would be nice too.
posted by Blitz at 1:53 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Homemade cookies!
posted by dywypi at 1:58 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Delicious snob-worthy coffee or tea.

Really great chocolate.

On preview, I see that you're Hawaiian/live in Hawaii, I'll second something specifically Hawaiian that they might not know about.

Also, are you sure wine would be inappropriate? Not all Muslims are strict about alcohol. I have a Muslim friend who is a bartender. Obviously you know these people and know whether they come off as especially by-the-book about such things, but it's sort of awkward to bend over too far backwards on these things. I'll never forget the time my parents asked my atheist Muslim-surname-having boyfriend if we needed to eat at a special restaurant because he keeps Halal.
posted by Sara C. at 2:10 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Homemade granola
Nice balsamic vinegar
Potted plant
Gourmet pickles
Tea towels
Nice salts (grey sea salt, a salt brick, etc)
posted by melissasaurus at 2:11 PM on January 7, 2014

No one doesn't love a big box of Ferrero Rocher, and some flowers for the house.
posted by griphus at 2:13 PM on January 7, 2014

Some of that beautiful Kona coffee.
posted by 26.2 at 2:16 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since it's their children who are the connection between you, make sure the gift is something the children can also enjoy. You don't specify the ages, but kids under, say, 10, might not really enjoy teas (even though that's a great suggestion).

I would vote for some sort of baked good (something savory like a nice bread, or sweet like a cake) or sweet candy treat, either something you bake yourself or something from some local maker of fancy things.

A small, interesting potted plant might also be fun if you don't want to bring an edible/perishable item.
posted by phunniemee at 2:16 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you want to make something, homemade leis.
posted by grouse at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd find a fancy candy boutique nearby (there are several interesting chocolateries in this area), pick up some unusual but delicious chocolates, have them put in a pretty box, and bring those. Indulgent, but the value is in the quality rather than in a quantity of chocolate, so it's not too unhealthy while still being a unique experience.

The local chocolateries I'm thinking of have chocolate bon bon flavors like crème brulée, curry, basil ginger, five spice, etc. In case they feel culturally compelled to share, you might want to get enough that they will have some for themselves for later.
posted by amtho at 3:34 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by oceanjesse at 5:33 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Baklava, halva, or marzipan?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:13 PM on January 7, 2014

In all the muslim parties I've been to where people weren't drinkers (which is a lot), the most common gifts were nice boxes of chocolates or flowers. A more casual but very well received gift (which might fit well with the other gifts you've received) would be a large quantity of very good quality fruit, particularly mangos if they are from south asia. Homemade contributions to the meal would be appreciated- dessert in particular is less likely to cause any sorts of problems. To be conservative avoid anything with gelatin or alcohol as ingredients.
posted by cacao at 7:27 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apparently olive oil is the new bottle of wine. I would love to receive a nice bottle of olive oil. I would love to receive this as a dinner host!
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 5:40 AM on January 8, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all! I will definitely keep each of these suggestions on deck - hopefully there will be future occasions to bring second and third gifts.
posted by nathaole at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2014

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