Whether you’re headed to a dinner party at a friend’s house or departing for a long overdue visit to see family, it’s always hard to figure out what gift to give a host. You’ll want to present something more unexpected than a bottle of wine but not so atypical that it risks living in that closet with all the other stuff they never use. And it shouldn’t be too unwieldy or fragile to travel, whether you’re taking a quick subway ride or a cross-country flight. To help you find the right gift for whatever host you might be thanking, we’ve gathered 44 ideas from expert-recommend stories or Strategist-approved brands including a splurge-y pepper mill and spicy pickled peppers — and everything in between, any of which will definitely be appreciated (even if they insist that you shouldn’t bring anything but yourself).
Gifts $25 and under
For the host whose kitchen is anything but drab
This set of two-toned tea towels from Danish design studio Hay has a cool abstract pattern that would pop in any kitchen.
For the host who won’t let you help clean up
If they always shut down your attempts to help tidy, get them a tool that is sure to ease the task. According to contributor Ashlea Halpern, the first person to tip us off to Swedish dishcloths, the reusable, super-absorbent cloths are basically a better paper towel. “I use them to do nearly everything I once did with a paper towel,” she says, including ”wipe down granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, and streak-prone cooktops.”
For the host known for their homemade desserts
They can make their own vanilla extract using these bean pods from Madagascar.
For the host known for their charcuterie boards
For the host who keeps their vermouth in the fridge
This cocktail-focused tome is written by spirit legend Leo Robitschek, the bar director at the NoMad Bar (and Eleven Madison Park). It has nearly 300 recipes, dozens of illustrations, and an in-depth service manual.
For the host stuck with their sourdough
Strategist contributor Andrew Parks recommends this double-sided lame for slicing “free-associative patterns on the top of your loaves so people think you’re far more experienced and artistic than you actually are.”
For the host who’s an umami fiend
For the host who likes a funky red
Featured in our roundup of the best gifts for wine lovers, this wine funnel comes recommended by Camille Lindsley, co-owner and beverage director of the queer restaurant HAGS — it both filters out broken cork or sediment and aerates wine. “It’s something that seems like a silly, pointless little gadget, but honestly, it’s so utilitarian,” she says.
For the host who knows Catan isn’t a good idea
While board games can be a great idea for parties, it’s important to choose the right one. When Strategist writer Dominque Pariso asked a bunch of board-game experts about their favorite party games, Monikers emerged as a top pick, especially for large groups. The experts love the fun graphic design and the fact that it’s easy to learn. As Dylan Speed of Meeple Mountain explains, “Over three rounds that allow progressively fewer words — from unlimited, to one, to none (charades) — everyone will shout and laugh their way through an evening of making nonsense and new inside jokes.”
For the host who doesn’t mind a little friendly competition
For the host who hosts a lot
Here’s a host gift that will actually come in handy while hosting. Former Vogue fashion director Tonne Goodman, who is now the magazine’s sustainability editor, first told us about these cotton cocktail napkins that conveniently come in a roll. She discovered them in Paris and has been re-ordering them ever since. “They’re the simplest solution to the tedious task of serving hors d’oeuvres,” she says, and “indispensable during the holidays.”
For the host who buys Christmas trees just for the smell
Belle Cushing told us about this balsam fir incense from Maine company Paine’s, founded in 1931. Cushing writes, “Instead of spindly sticks, this incense comes in 40 squat little logs that fit seamlessly into a round hole cut into a square of unfinished wood that serves as the incense stand. No fancy holders or sticks stuck into old candles. It’s all quite practical.”
For the host who likes candles for the ambiance, not the smell
For the host whose cat hates you
For the host whose dog loves you
BondVet’s jerky is our favorite minimally processed dog treat. A lot of jerky treats have “sugar as the first ingredient,” says Strategist writer Liza Corsillo, “but these treats contain only one ingredient” — turkey breast.
For the host who has a fancy soap collection
For the host who already has a gooseneck kettle
This ceramic pour-over dripper by coffee-nerd-approved company Hario also appeared in our roundup of the best gifts for coffee lovers. It came recommended by Yasmina Palumbo, a co-owner of New York City’s Mud Coffee, who told us she loves how you can just place it right over your mug “so you’re brewing cup by cup,” and that everything stays “super fresh and hot.”
Gifts $50 and under
For the host who collects cookbooks
For the host who’s just getting into wine
For the host who hoards pét-nat
For the host who loves a good color story
These mini terrazzolike cutting boards would make a snazzy base for those pickled peppers above — and everything else.
For the host whose coffee table comes with care instructions
These brightly colored wool coasters “both absorb and evaporate moisture and thus stay in perfect condition no matter how many drinks sweat on them,” says Strategist writer Emma Wartzman.
For the host who needs a book to place on said coffee table
For the host who likes to send you home with leftovers
If they don’t like to waste food, they likely would prefer not to create excess waste in the form of plastic shopping bags. We are not shy about our love for the affordable, stylish, and always practical Baggu tote. This set of three pays homage to plastic takeout bags.
For the host who loves a large-format drink
For the host with an expanding jewelry collection
Also made by Mosser, this kitschy glass dish is advertised as a soap or sponge container, but it also works well for jewelry, according to Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla. It “offers more room than you think — I have a number of chokers, bangles, and earrings in mine,” she says.
For the host who makes a spreadsheet to plan their picnics
Save them the hassle of wrangling a casserole dish or a sheet pan into a ordinary bag with this bakeware-specific tote.
For the host who puts a little ACV in everything
Vinegars have finally gotten the olive-oil treatment, with well-designed, artisanal options popping up everywhere in a broad array of flavors (plum yuzu, anyone?). Impress them with this version from Pineapple Collaborative, which was created by California farmer and producer Joanne Krueger and actually tastes like apples.
For the host who nerds out about heat conduction
This flat-bottomed wok is perfect for standard stovetops, and Taylor Erkkinen, co-owner of the Brooklyn Kitchen cooking school, considers it a favorite. Made from carbon steel, it heats and cools quickly and has a 14-inch diameter that makes it ideal for both electric and gas ranges.
For the host who always throws movie night
Gifts $100 and under
For the stylish host
Aprons from Hedley and Bennett are a chef favorite for their durability and lifetime guarantee. They also come in a range of trendy colorways and patterns, at least one of which, like this handsome olive-green one, will be sure to please — and protect — your clotheshorse host.
For the host who always has a loaf of bread baking in the oven
For the host who grills
Chef Tom Colicchio says, “This is the best meat thermometer I’ve ever used.” The thermometer has two sensors, one for internal temperature and one for the ambient temperature of the oven, which helps produce “perfect meat every time.” As Colicchio says, “You can’t cook to time — you have to cook to temperature,” and this device lets you — or your host who loves to grill — do just that.
For the host who rises and grinds
When we asked baristas and coffee roasters about their favorite coffee grinders, they all told us that if you’re serious about coffee you really need to start using a conical burr grinder because it gives a more consistent and even grind. This hand-operated grinder is also travel-size, useful if your giftee complains about bad coffee every time they go on vacation.
For the host who always has fresh flowers
We love the minimalist geometric silhouettes of these reversible glass vases, which can fit a bouquet or just a single sprig. Bonus points if you present it with a stem or two from the nearest bodega or grocery.
For the host who has no patience for fresh flowers
For the host who’s a regular at the farmers’ market
For the host who names all their houseplants
For the host who’s over Diptyque
For the host who’s always breaking dishes
For the host who just read the Bunny Mellon biography
Help them live out their 1960s Palm Beach dreams with these lettuceware plates made by Portuguese ceramics company Bordallo Pinheiro.
Gifts $250 and under
For the gadget-happy host
For the host who has pets
For the host with an immaculately set table
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