Dining, Entertaining & Celebrations

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Thoughtful gifts for hosts and hostesses

When invited to a friend or family member's home for a dinner party or weekend getaway, custom suggests bringing a gift along for the host or hostess. Hosting is not always as easy as some hosts make it appear, so bringing a gift along is a great way to show your gracious hosts how much you appreciate their efforts. The following are a handful of ideas that make great host and hostess gifts.

* Coffee: Coffee makes a great gift when spending a night or weekend at your host's home. Many adults prefer a hot cup of coffee when they wake up in the morning, so bring along a bag of fresh gourmet coffee for everyone to enjoy through the weekend. When bringing fresh coffee, it's best to err on the side of caution, so make sure to have the beans ground before you arrive at the home of your host, who may or may not have a grinder. You can even go the extra mile and bring both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee so those who prefer decaf are not left out in the cold.

* Electric wine opener: For those who want to lend a helping hand with regard to nighttime beverages, consider an electric wine opener. Such openers remove the struggle of opening bottles of wine with traditional corkscrews. Electric wine openers can remove both natural and synthetic corks at the effortless press of a button, which means hosts can quickly and easily open bottles of wine for the table without the fear of breaking the cork and having it sneak its way into the wine.

* Plant: Plants also make great gifts for hosts and hostesses. While flowers don't have the longest life expectancy, a well-maintained plant can last a full season or longer. Plants can serve as pleasant accents to a home's interior while improving the air quality within the home, but plants also can be placed outdoors to add an extra element to a host's garden or yard.

* Scented candle: Scented candles strike a chord with people who love to relax at home or establish a serene environment within their homes and offices. Hosts work very hard when hosting friends or family members, and scented candles can help them to unwind once all the guests have come and gone for the night.

* Seasonal items: Seasonal items relevant to the time of year when you're visiting or staying overnight with your host also make great gifts. For example, if a friend or family member is hosting a holiday party, then bring an ornament or decorative item he or she can hang on the tree or use to deck the halls in the years to come. If the party is a summertime backyard barbecue, then give some grilling accessories hosts can use when firing up the grill throughout the rest of the summer.