Gift for the hostess who's adverse to everything?
April 1, 2014 8:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to a murder mystery dinner party next Saturday, yay! I'd like to bring a hostess gift for the couple putting on the event. But the hostess has several major allergies/issues, which leave me stumped as to figuring out what to bring.

However, the hostess in question is on a pretty strict diet in preparation for her upcoming wedding in August, is a recovering alcoholic, and also allergic to flowers, and all nuts. They also live in a teeny two bedroom condo, so they probably don't need tons and tons of stuff?

I usually bring wine or make dessert, but both are out for obvious reasons. The hostess is a new-ish friend about 15 years older than me (early/mid 40's), and I met her and her fiance through the local nerds and geeks group. She likes World of Warcraft, board games, and hosting parties, all of which are awesome. I want to be polite and bring something, but I don't know what would be appropriate! Help me figure out what to do!
posted by PearlRose to Shopping (32 answers total)
Fruit, maybe?

What about a nice thank you note?
posted by Sara C. at 8:11 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

A magnifying glass.
posted by themanwho at 8:12 PM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Candles! Plain white ones in a pretty container. Or an inexpensive lantern that fits the theme of the mystery?
posted by mochapickle at 8:18 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

A set of napkins or coasters?
posted by bunderful at 8:24 PM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sparkling or otherwise fancy non-alcoholic drink - cider, one of those fancy limonatas, something like that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:25 PM on April 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Maybe some fancy juice or soda, or tea? Flavored tea (especially decaf or herbal teas you can drink any time of the day) is great for someone who's dieting because it's a no calorie way to taste interesting flavors!
posted by MadamM at 8:25 PM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

The thing about hostess gifts is they are supposed to be immediately disposable. Like wine or chocolates and flowers. The hostess does not have to figure out what to do with the gift. She puts the flowers in the vase where they're pretty for a few days and then thrown away. If she doesn't serve the wine (and it's not required) she puts the wine with the other wine in the house for a few days and then drinks it.

Things that need to be kept make poor hostess gifts.

Since you can't do wine or chocolates or flowers, I can think of only very fancy teas or coffees.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:26 PM on April 1, 2014 [17 favorites]

A nice vinegar would be cool, and someone who's dieting a lot can put it on salads.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:29 PM on April 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

Wine glass jewelry, tea towels or napkins with an interesting design, bowls the right side for olives or nuts (for guests). Or a retro apron if she's into that vibe.

Perhaps a board game or book about gaming might not be amiss.

(I forgot I had just posted and had to add more to make this less duplicative).
posted by bunderful at 8:30 PM on April 1, 2014

I like BlahLaLa's suggestion of a fancy vinegar. I found this site with local producers near you that might offer something really small, terrific, and consumable.
posted by mamabear at 8:36 PM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fancy olive oils work too.
posted by klangklangston at 8:38 PM on April 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Could you bring a gift as though from your character? Like, if you're playing a spoiled young heiress from the 1920s, and you have a good printer, you could print off images of horses from that era who won the Derby and hand them out to everyone like photos. Say you wanted to show everyone the ponies your father just purchased. Oh, of course they can keep the photos! Papa just bought a brand new camera!

Figure out something character, era, and locale appropriate that you can bring or give to everyone. It will help everyone get into character, she'll probably dig it, and if you don't get too fancy she can toss or keep as is her preference.
posted by tllaya at 8:49 PM on April 1, 2014

A nice set of dice, can never have too many!
posted by meepmeow at 8:58 PM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

A sincere letter thanking her for hosting and wishing her marriage well, in a nice card, is a great choice.

You can get unique salts, either sets of rock salt or slabs of pink Himalayan salt, which is a fun thing to have that most people wouldn't buy for themselves. Shmancy spices or peppers are also diet-friendly and nice to get.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:04 PM on April 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

I know she's allergic to flowers, but might a small, decorative houseplant (maybe a low-maintenance but pretty succulent) be okay?

I always think twice before giving gifts that have to be kept alive, but depending on the recipient (and her allergies) it might be an option.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:22 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she hosts roleplaying nights then dice would not be amiss. Somebody always needs an extra whatever-sided thing. If she sticks primarily to boardgames that come with their own dice then don't, because as That Person I've got a collection of really lovely sparkly dice I can't bring myself to give away but don't have the room for.

Upcoming nuptials + diet says to me that she's getting into self care, so something pampering for her might work. Like a soap, scrub, lotion, something specifically made in a nut-free facility with no scent or at least something that isn't flowery. Tiny fancy guest soaps can be put in the guest bathroom or spirited away for personal use (or thrown out with nobody being nosy about it.) A nut-free exfoliating scrub might be nice (a sugar scrub) because a huge amount of them are made with nuts. A lotion that's very luxurious doesn't need to be stinky. I've also seen bubble bath sold in fancy glass bottles that would make nice hostess gifts, depending on their flower content. Basically, if it's for private use she can accept it and chuck it and nobody gets worked up about it because you're not going to be checking her bathroom cabinets, and you communicate "I care about your comfort" without being demanding.
posted by Mizu at 9:25 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Gift card to a local game store! Who says a hostess gift has to be an object?
posted by ocherdraco at 9:51 PM on April 1, 2014

A murder mystery of course!! A book is always a good gift.
posted by fshgrl at 10:44 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

there are some sugar-free candies that are low in calories and taste lovely
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:24 PM on April 1, 2014

A lovely thank you note with a gift card, maybe even an unusual one, like to a game-supply store, vegan cafe or a ribbon shop, is perfectly suited for your hostess. Most independent stores and restaurants have gift certificates and a local shop's wares would be a nice thank you gift that would also be fun for her to choose.
posted by but no cigar at 11:34 PM on April 1, 2014

I'm thinking along the lines of the afore-mentioned fancy salt (fleur de sel, Himalayan salt) or flavored vinegar. Since they're edible, it gives the same vibe as chocolate or wine. Alternatively, an unscented candle would be nice, if she's a candle person (if you've been in her home before, you can probably tell).
posted by mostlymartha at 1:30 AM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

A nicely presented box of dried fruit?
posted by jazh at 2:45 AM on April 2, 2014

I seriously think a nicely written thank you note is your best bet, and I say this as someone who has very specific dietary restrictions and who lives in a teeny weenie house. I'd rather receive a nice thank you note than a thing. Maybe a thank you note and an invite over to YOUR place sometime?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:12 AM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I host get togethers all the time, and the most I ever get is someone helping clean up afterwards.

As someone in that kind of nerdy circle though, I would love a board game or game accessories (dice bag if you knit, for example). Something small, like Love Letter or Sushi Go (unless of course they are nutty collectors and have it all!)
posted by aggyface at 5:10 AM on April 2, 2014

I'm on-board with a small food related gift. Go to Marshall's/TJ Maxx, they have weird little items like olive oils, vinegars and fancy spices, in pretty packaging. If you have a Penzy's in your area, that's a good source too.

I wouldn't spend more than $10 on such an item, if you want a guideline.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:27 AM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think a small selection of fancy fruit would be lovely. I say small and fancy because some fruits can be on the high side in natural sugars, so you wouldn't want a TON of it hanging around, but the fanciness would balance out the small quantity.

The candles are also a lovely idea.

Or, maybe just a nice card.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:13 AM on April 2, 2014

From the WoW angle: anything with the hearthstone on it is lovely, because it means home. And hearthstones can be small.
posted by kimberussell at 9:41 AM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

A potted succulent! Trendy, fairly hard to kill, no flowers to be allergic to.
posted by fontophilic at 1:34 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like the fancy teas idea. It's a great way to get flavor without calories and thus make dieting more tolerable.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:20 PM on April 2, 2014

I like the idea of a fruit basket, and/or a handwritten note with a gift card to a local store that carries board games.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 5:17 PM on April 2, 2014

Penzey's Spices has a horrible web site, but really cute gift boxes of spices or cocoa. Here are some examples. If you have a Penzey's near you, it's more fun to shop in person and you can make your own gift boxes.
posted by Ostara at 8:07 PM on April 2, 2014

Since my friend is playing a fortune-teller for the murder-mystery night, I elected for two small mosaic candleholders with soy votive candles inside. The unlit smell of them is making me twitch, but I think they'll be perfect for her.

Also appreciated were the ideas for fancy vinegars and olive oils, especially since a specialty shop for said items just opened up in town! (Unfortunately, a sprained toe and pulled muscle prevented me from making it to said shop in time for the party tomorrow.) The local game shop suggestions were also great, and that was also up for consideration!

While I did appreciate the people telling me that a hostess gift wasn't necessary, per se, and that I should invite them over to my place, I really did want to do something anyway. It's just my thing, and besides, I'll be hosting my own party in about two weeks, so that's all set.

Thanks for the help, everyone. Lots of really good suggestions here, and I'll definitely keep this in mind should something come up again.
posted by PearlRose at 1:43 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

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