Beyond the Triangle

Come Bearing Gifts

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Arriving empty handed when you’re invited for a meal at someone’s house is such bad form.  Full stop.

The only thing that’s worse is presenting something that is not first rate.
Like a cheap bottle of wine.
There is no need to go for an Henri Jayer Richebourg Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits, from France which costs over $16,000. a bottle of course.
But if you are going to bring wine, make sure it’s a bit on the pricey side.
Double digits please.
Even though an Obsession Symphony white from California may have a pleasant taste.
At $8 a bottle it will not impress a hostess.

A good rule of thumb with any present is to make sure it the best of the category you can afford. If you are bringing chocolates, bring Godiva or Teuscher not Nestles.. Or get really creative. Original even. Most importantly, be memorable …in a good way of course.

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Friends of friends came for cocktails on the Cape one evening and brought with them
an amazing collection of oysters. The male member of the group also brought an apron,
icy cold vodka and a dangerous looking knife which he proceeded to expertly use to shuck them right on the back
porch.
How cool is that?
It was a fun, inventive and generous start to a great summery meal on Cape Cod.

On Bermuda where entertaining is almost an Olympic sport I have had guests bring a wonderful
assortment of “special gifts.” One woman is a floral designer who specializes in high end weddings.
And I can always count on her to bring an artistically exquisite arrangement when she comes over
for a dinner. Given that flowers on the island cost 5 times as much as they do in the
states or the UK it is always an extravagant addition to the dinner table. And as she is a pro they always look better than anything I could ever arrange myself.
Go with your strength as they say.

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A case in point: There’s another lady whose offerings are as glamorous and original as she.
One time she appeared at the front door barely managing to hold the massive basket made of assembled vines she carried laden with an array of vegetables picked from
her own garden. I did give the magnificent basket back (begrudgingly). The cost of the whole presentation could not have been monumental but the impression it made certainly was.

Really how do you compete with these girls?
None of us is Martha Stewart. It would be too exhausting. But her website does have a
smashing set of suggestions for great hostess gifts like a loaf of French bread
paired with savory or sweet jams, to pretty gardening tools to glorious home baked pies.

My brother’s beloved (who is a fabulous cook) recently brought over a wonderful platter of
smoked salmon, brown bread, onions, eggs-the whole shabang-as a starter for our dinner party. It looked like a caterer had assembled it all and it meant there was one less thing I had to do.

I have another friend who always acquires the latest in culinary gadgetry.
Her au courant fetishes extend to shoes and bags and all kinds of food products too so it should not shock that she always
comes up with something nifty that surprises and delights.

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like this lovely little set of ceramic measuring spoons. Not only are they useful but they are pretty enough to leave out all the time.

The Emily Post website suggests “A gift for your host or hostess is a lovely way to thank them for their hospitality and is always appreciated. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive; simply consider the nature of the occasion and local custom when making your choice. In some parts of the country, a hostess gift is considered obligatory, while in other places a gift is brought only on special occasions. If it’s the first time you’re visiting someone’s home, then it’s a very nice gesture to bring a small gift. If you have a few extra minutes to wrap it, even if you only use tissue or a decorative bag, it adds to the gesture.”

Now if you are dining with friends or family constantly you don’t have to bring a gift every time. It is actually my position that when you come to my house you shouldn’t have to do anything, like washing up, because when I come to your house I don’t want to do anything but be entertained.

Interestingly the London Telegraph writes that entertaining at dinners parties is actually on the wane and that 40% of Brits have decided not to host their friends at home at all.
“The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Very Lazy cooking ingredients brand, found that people are not hosting dinner parties very often because of the soaring cost of food and the effort required to cook for friends.”

The Telegraph also said that the average dinner party costs about $90.
WHAT????
What are they serving? Hot dogs and beans?
Triple that if you live in the real world and add more to the pot if your friends
like a couple of drinks along with their meal.

But the paper is right about dinner parties being expensive, stressful and time consuming.
They are. But
I have always likened a meal cooked by a friend as gift. Thought has been given to what I like to eat, money and time have been spent assembling all the ingredients, setting the
table and actually cooking and serving the food. It’s a lovely thing to do for someone.
The least we can do is show our appreciation with a little gift when we arrive and a hearty
thank you when we leave. If you wanted to be invited back, that is….

One thought on “Come Bearing Gifts

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