Host Gift Help Needed
March 18, 2014 10:34 AM   Subscribe

I will be staying with a friend and his family, in their mother-in-law unit. I want to give them a nice host gift, with the following stipulations: (a) I don't think they drink; (b) They have various dietary restrictions; (c) They are urbane, smart Bay Areans. I am paralyzed. Any hints or recommendations would be very welcome.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Can you clarify what some of their dietary restrictions are?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on March 18, 2014

If all else fails, a cactus or succulent.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:42 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

A friend gave me a nice Jade plant after I did some sort of favor for her a few years ago. I haven't killed it yet.
posted by rdnnyc at 10:43 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

How long will you be staying for and how much do you intend to spend?
posted by mskyle at 10:44 AM on March 18, 2014

As a mostly-non-drinking picky eater, my favorite hostess gift to get is flowers, or better yet, a small potted plant. Maybe a book if the person knows my taste, or a cute knitted toy for my cat was once a hit from someone who knows I'm a ridiculous cat lady.
posted by Stacey at 10:44 AM on March 18, 2014

Maybe a small nice mounted art print or photo?
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2014

I would pop by an antique store and buy something 'funky.' If they don't like it, it's a fun joke and they can pass it along to someone else. It's the thought that counts.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would do flowers - most people like them, and they are perishable. If you do a potted plant it can feel like one more thing to take of, and some of us have a black thumb. Flora Grubb is the Bay Area and looks great. (I ordered some of their air plants online once for a gift; haven't been in person.)

You could also do a nice selection of soaps. I like Fresh for gifts. Soap can feel kind of boring, but it's useful!
posted by chocotaco at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2014

Potted orchid
Pretty dish towels (if you know what their kitchen looks like)
High end olive oil, balsamic vinegar, vanilla
Vase with cut flowers
This book (or something similar)
posted by Capri at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Could you give us a rough idea of where you are coming from? (I presume it is not the middle of the English Channel). Personally, I always appreciate something local (for them!) from a visitor.
posted by maryr at 11:04 AM on March 18, 2014

I am going to avoid food altogether--I am digging the plant ideas. Thank you!
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2014

I like the potted orchid idea.

I came into here to suggest a ribbonwick candle. I got one as a hostess gift once and we have spent a lot of time staring at it, mesmerized.
posted by carolr at 11:17 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's spendy, but if you're staying in San Francisco, go to Podesda Baldocci and get a GORGEOUS floral arrangement.

You'll spend under $100 but MAN they'll talk about it forever. This was my go-to for this type of gift and they have never failed me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:37 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

The floating orchid is only $25, simple and elegant.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:38 AM on March 18, 2014

Speaking as a Friscan, I just got this book, Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit, and I couldn't be more excited.

I'm also inordinately fond of items from Paxton Gate.
posted by janey47 at 12:08 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hah, I just read "Infinite City", too. Excellent book.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:13 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know it's more of a food thing than a plant thing, but in a similar situation I often give a tea sampler. I figure at least it's easy to re-gift or bring into the office for coworkers even if they don't drink the tea themselves.
posted by forkisbetter at 12:13 PM on March 18, 2014

One of the best gifts we ever got was a membership to a museum we like.
posted by mearls at 2:51 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can get a family membership to the San Francisco Zoo for a bit over $100, I've given that as a gift and it was a big hit!
posted by IpsoFacto at 3:37 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you get a potted plant, I'd go with something that's fairly easy to care for; if someone were to give me a complicated-to-care-for plant like an orchid or something that required fairly specific care, I'd be kind of uneasy because "oh, man, it's sweet of them, but I already know this thing is going to die because I can't keep up with it."

Of course, of your friends are orchid collectors, then by all means. But sometimes unexpectedly giving someone a plant that requires special care may backfire.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:40 PM on March 18, 2014

Wendy MacNaughton's new book, Meanwhile in San Francisco would probably be a hit... and it's something they probably haven't seen before.

Janey47: Speaking as a Friscan
No, just no. Calling yourself that makes Saint Francis (Say: "Sayfrances") kill a kitten.
posted by toxic at 7:14 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oooh, I just saw some drawings excerpted from that, toxic. Hmmm. I may do that and flowers. Thank you all for the thoughtful input.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:14 PM on March 18, 2014

Toxic: Don't you know? Sayfrances invented mockery as well as kittens.
posted by janey47 at 12:28 PM on March 19, 2014

FOLLOWUP: I went to Flora Grubb, committed to the path of Tasteful Air Plant. They had those--in spades; it's a lovely nursery--but I opted instead for a socially responsible Interesting Woven Basket With Lid, and stuck a quantity of Mineola Tangelos inside. Big hit.

Thank you all, again.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:01 PM on March 24, 2014

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