Emma’s Favorite Housewarming or Hostess Gift & a little lesson from Emily Post

Choosing a community is a big decision. You’re choosing more than the house; It’s the commitment to raise your kids, socialize with others like yourself and be a part of something as a family. A friend who was searching for a place to live in Westchester County after spending years in NYC said, “I want the suburban trifecta.” By that she meant three things of equal importance: good schools, a nice neighborhood and an overall sense of being a part of a larger community. A wonderful way to celebrate the choice of a new home/community is through a personalized housewarming or hostess gift.

I have given this gift to about a dozen people so far. It was given to me my one of my favorite people on earth and I have to credit her for this fab find! Most recently, I purchased this for a friend who relocated to West Point, NY. The Longitude and Latitude Personalized Sign (L.L.Bean) comes in four colors and retails for $39.95. Some others that I have purchased over the years….Will look familiar to some of you. Others will want it for your own homes.

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Because I love the topic of etiquette, the following are some of Emily Post’s Wisdom on hostess gifts and housewarming gifts.

Should I Bring A Hostess Gift?

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.

Wine, flowers, specialty food items, and small items for the house all make good hostess gifts. Flowers are terrific too, but if you want to go beyond Etiquette 101, bring them in a simple vase (a Mason jar is fine). You could also offer to put them in water yourself when you arrive so your host doesn’t have to arrange them. If you bring wine, don’t expect your host to serve it that evening- the wines may have already been chosen for the meal. And don’t bring food for the meal unless you’ve been asked to. Otherwise you risk putting your host on the spot and upsetting the menu. Here are a few tips on what to bring when:

Casual dinner party

Dinner party guests usually bring a hostess gift unless they are close friends who dine together frequently. Gift possibilities include wine, Champagne, flowers (preferably in a vase), a potted plant, chocolates, specialty food items such as jams and jellies or other condiments, fancy nuts, olives, olive oil or vinegars, or items for the house, such as cocktail napkins, guest soaps and lotions , a picture frame, or a scented candle. A CD or book is also appropriate if you know your host’s taste.

Formal dinner party

Gifts aren’t usually taken to large, formal dinners, especially if you don’t know the host well.

When there’s a guest of honor

If it’s a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or shower, bring a gift for the honoree.

When you’re the guest of honor

Bring a gift for your host or hostess, or send flowers before the party. After the party, send a thank-you note.


It’s customary to bring a gift to a housewarming. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be something lasting for the house. Possible gifts include guest towels, a houseplant, a patio or garden plant, glasses, dish towels, a picture frame, specialty foods like a great olive oil or preserves, or a cheeseboard and/or cheese knives. Update an old-fashioned housewarming tradition of giving salt, and bring fancy sea salt and/or a saltbox or saltcellar. If the housewarming is for a neighbor new to your town, consider putting together a welcome kit containing area maps, the town paper, restaurant menus, bookmarks from your favorite bookstore, transportation schedules, and information on local parks and recreation facilities- anything that will make it easier for her to feel welcome and at home in her new community.

Weekend visit

Either bring or send a gift. Your gift of choice will depend on the length of your stay and how elaborately you’re entertained. While you don’t have to break the bank, your gift should be sincere, thoughtful, and personal.


I was raised on the West Coast, went to University at SMU in Dallas, TX and moved to Manhattan where I work a full-time corporate job in Telecommunications. I became the accidental suburban "working mom" when I moved into Westchester County with my husband and son. I love to travel internationally, eating out and Après-ski.
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