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To the Manor Borne

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The best way to get yourself invited back? Don't show up empty-handed. New York's savviest hosts share their secrets to good giving -- and getting.

Ruth Reichl
editor-in-chief, Gourmet
"A chunk of Parmesan cheese from DiPalo. Hands down, the best in the city. Bring two chunks: one from the winter milk and one from the summer."

Cynthia Rowley
designer
"I bring a Polaroid camera, film, and ribbon. At the end of the weekend, I take the camera and leave the photos tied up with a bow."

Alexa Hampton
interior designer
"Angus Wilkie and Len Morgan have a shop called Cove Landing. They brought a gorgeous aubergine-colored bowl they'd filled with avocados and everything needed to make guacamole -- and they made guacamole!"

Martha Stewart
design guru
"I love giving a few dozen fresh eggs in a beautiful basket."

B. Smith
restaurateur
"I like to give Cristal champagne accompanied by two wineglasses."

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan
ceramist and Barneys creative director
"We were given a George Foreman grill, and it's a member of the family now. We like giving people Jonathan's lips vase, because it's like a little kiss."

Kate Spade
designer
"Cocktail napkins that are personalized in some way, either with a monogram or special embroidery. I found some darling ones at Bergdorf Goodman; they were appliquéd with animals."

Muffie Potter Aston
socialite
"I once brought Joan Rivers a crystal carafe and water goblet to put by her bedside table. They were handpainted with delicate flowers."

Helen Lee Schifter
socialite
"When a friend of mine was buying a house, I wrote him a poem about it, and it hangs in his breakfast room. One of the best things I've ever gotten is a vintage Louis Vuitton wastebasket."

Samantha Boardman
socialite
"I bring Levain cookies -- they're unbelievable, and people get hooked. They come hot."

Marjorie Gubelmann
socialite
"Hamish Bowles gave me chocolate that says BUCKINGHAM PALACE on the chocolates. Beautifully covered, wrapped chocolates. He stood in line, did the tour, the whole thing. I thought that was a really chic gift. I often give a Slatkin candle; no one can have too many."

R. Couri Hay
society editor of Hamptons magazine
"I just got a T. Anthony medicine kit, monogrammed with my initials. It's a big, roomy one lined in plastic. I certainly won't say no to a white cashmere sweater."

Kelly Killoren-Bensimon
photographer
"I've given paper monogrammed napkins from the Monogram Shop, with the name of the street, like Drew Lane. The napkins are all different sizes and colors."

Rena Sindi
socialite
"After a party, the best gift is pictures from the event that you've taken and put in an album or framed. For frames, Christofle is a sure bet. I also like the animal-skin ones from Gucci."


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