You’ve hit the jackpot: an invitation to stay at a friend’s or family member’s vacation home. Beautiful location, time with loved ones, and no need to tip the bellman or settle up an enormous bill when it’s time to depart. What could be better? The only thing between you and the perfect vacation is choosing a gift for your gracious host or hostess. Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy shares our luxury gift guide for the best host and hostess gifts out there right now.
its not a good idea to show up empty-handed
You’ve scored a coveted invitation to a family member or friend’s second home for a blissful weekend. You’re packed and ready to go. But you have one last vital task to complete before you roll: you need to buy a gift for your host or hostess.
In a pinch, you are of course allowed to punt and buy a bottle of excellent wine, champagne or whisky, a gorgeous floral arrangement (order it to be delivered the day you arrive from a local florist near your host’s home), a vase, or a couple of fresh-baked summer fruit pies (just don’t forget the ice cream). Or perhaps something for the kitchen.
However, if you want a guaranteed return invitation next summer, one way to help seal the deal is to bring a luxurious, thoughtful and creative gift, selected in advance and beautifully wrapped.
what makes for the perfect host or hostess gifts?
We think that the perfect host or hostess gift has five simple elements:
- it reflects the season and the location of the home you’re visiting
- it has some practical or functional purpose that makes it actually useful to have around the house
- it’s optimistic and happy
- it’s chic, but doesn’t have such a strong design aesthetic that it will be stuffed into the back of the closet and re-gifted at the holidays – or sent straight to eBay
- its cost should reflect approximately what you’d be spending for one night in a hotel in the location where you’re staying (that’s just a ballpark rule of thumb, so that you have some point of reference)
To speed you through that process, here are some specific ideas – based on the kind of weekend abode you’ll be staying in. Don’t worry, be chill. Town or country, we got you.
the luxury gift guide: the best host and hostess gifts
1. Beach House luxury host and hostess gifts
If you’re heading for the Vineyard, Santorini, Hawaii, the Cote d’Azure or some other seaside paradise, here are some gift ideas inspired by carefree days by the sea:
Asprey’s mouth blown lead-free crystal decanter ($790) with a graceful hand-engraved octopus theme and coordinating tumbler ($215) will be a welcome alternative to the more common dolphin and fish motifs.
The beach can be magical for your hair and skin or completely fry it. Osea Malibu’s 10 pc skincare set ($498) uses organic marine algae originating from the pristine waters of Patagonia to brighten and hydrate the skin, as well as reducing the effects sun damage.
One King’s Lane
Designed in collaboration with Celerie Kemble, this boho chic hammock ($440) is crocheted by hand by artisans in northern Colombia. An ethereal, feminine and breezy piece for lounging by the sea.
Serena & Lily
There is one universal truth at any beach house. You can never have too many beach towels. Serena & Lily’s lightweight and absorbent Turkish towels come in an array of 6 beautiful muted and stylish colors. A set of 4 is $168.
Scully & Scully
Hand-painted by skilled artists with a corals and seashells, Scully & Scully’s Sea Treasures wooden tray ($275) is specially treated and crafted for all of your host’s entertaining purposes.
2. Country House-Farmhouse luxury host and hostess gifts
If your pals are nestled in a rural valley in the Berkshires, the Cotswolds, Provence, Tuscany or some other bucolic hideaway, chances are they love artisanal food and wine, locally-sourced items and hand-crafted gifts. Here are some suggestions inspired by the soil, the pasture, and the farmer’s market:
1- Good design stands the test of time. From the 1930s, this copper wine bottle holder ($1,600) designed by French interior designer, Jacques Adnet is rustic and elegant.
Brunello Cucinelli’s country bag ($4,995) is constructed from a rich, velvety suede and calfskin in the perfect warm, saddle brown color.
Quilts and farmhouses go hand in hand. Blue jasmine florals capture the innocence and calm of country life. This Kerry Cassill lightweight quilt ($395) is made from soft cotton voile and exclusively sold at ABC Carpet & Home.
Perceval knives are made in Thiers, France – a place known for outstanding cutlery for over 600 years; they’re the cutlery of choice at several award-winning restaurants in Paris and Manhattan. The Chef’s Fork and Knife set ($860) is a fine addition to any country kitchen.
Help your hostess level up her s’mores game. This artisanal marshmallow set ($32) is infused with Beer, Bourbon, Gin and Fireball flavors. Don’t worry if the kids accidentally get a hold of these. During production, the alcohol is cooked out!
Artisanal local honey is one of our favorite things (if you’re in London, stop by Borough Market and pick up some truffle honey from Tartufaia) – pair a jar in a basket with a fresh loaf of bread, local goat cheese, and William Yeoward’s crystal honey jar and spoon ($140).
3. Townhouse luxury host and hostess gifts
Should you be fortune enough to be on your way to a glittering city – New York, Paris, Cape Town, Tokyo, or some other dazzling metropolis – then you’ll need an equally sparkling and urbane gift to bestow upon your arrival:
Hermès’ Deco Rouge Tea Set ($845) with porcelain teapot, tea cups and saucers echoes the facade work of city metro stations, windows and gates.
Phyllis Lucas Gallery
While away a few hours playing (or just admiring) this handcrafted clear Lucite and Pyrite Tic-Tac-Toe set from Sawyer Collection ($595). We can see it as a playful addition to any entryway or coffee table.
If your host or hostess prefers to remove their shoes before entering the home, treat their feet to these sumptuous Moroccan style shearling slippers from Jenni Kayne ($245).
A properly furnished urban home requires an elegant and discreet vintage umbrella stand – consider the German bauhaus style model ($567) from the 1950’s or something more ornate like this French Art Nouveau iron stand ($896) circa 1900’s on 1st Dibs.
4. Mountain Lodge-Ski House luxury host and hostess gifts
Should your journey be taking you to Jackson Hole, Aspen, the Alps, or other rugged terrain, where your time will be spent either on snow sports or on riding horses, fly fishing, hiking, kayaking and the like, here are some rustic chic ideas for your time in the great outdoors:
Scully & Scully
To ward off the chill while you’re hanging out as the sun sets, consider this fauna inspired faux fur and Geelong wool throw ($1,250) with Lynx spots.
ABC Carpet and Home
Handmade from sandstone found at the point where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah converge, these one-of-a-kind sculptures reflect the sun’s energy moving over the earth ($495)
The mountains are the perfect spot for stargazing – the fully-loaded Celestron NexStar 5 SE Telescope ($599) gets top marks as a great beginner’s telescope.
Set up your host or hostess for great adventures in the great outdoors with Arc’teryx’s high performance hiking backpack ($549). It has gear capacity for a 4-7 day trip and comes in regular and tall sizing.
A compass may be a bit too on the nose. But you’ll be forgiven with Foundrae’s stately statement 18k gold medallion necklace ($7,845).
Last but not least: presentation matters. If you don’t gift-wrap your present, you’re not operating at the right level (the retail store you’re using will surely be able to do that for you.) Hand-write a short note, and that’s it! You’re good to go. Have fun out there.
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Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, fitness and even investigating police misconduct. Julie lives in NYC where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing and spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.
Join our community
For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. And see luxury in a new light.