The calendar will soon be stacked with parties of every shape and size: brunches that slot between nap schedules, dinners with longtime friends, fancy-dress affairs that spark impromptu dancing in the living room. For the host, it’s invariably a multi-day lift, even for those predisposed to make it all look easy. By contrast, to find yourself on the invite list—tasked with little more than showing up and letting loose—is a true gift. It’s only fitting to return the favor, by way of whatever token you’ve tucked under your arm.
A bottle of something quaffable is standard issue for good reason, particularly when attuned to the host’s taste for niche pét-nats or sipping spirits. But let this be a starting point for gift ideas across the landscape of beautiful, useful things. Take, for example, a handwoven dish towel with Agnes Martin leanings: Tied like a scarf around Champagne, it’s ready to facilitate a smooth pop and lend cleanup help as needed. When a potluck dessert is requested, a streamlined cake stand by a British potter doubles as a serving piece and present. A speckled vase filled with flowers—sidestepping the faux pas of bringing a bare bouquet—finds its place on the buffet table; a new leather coaster with dainty scalloped edges might slip underneath.
Immediate gratification has its value. That can be edible, like a painterly collaboration between chocolatier Fine & Raw and design studio Cold Picnic—because nothing caps a dinner party like a ravaged box of truffles. It can also be wearable, like a shiny conversation-piece apron meant to be donned on the spot. There’s the long game too: hot sauce that marries well with the next morning’s eggs, small-batch vinegar that perks up the pantry, tomato-scented surface cleaner because why not? Waiting has its merits. A set of particularly exquisite wine glasses, each with a tulip-shaped cup and thorny stem, is best left unopened until the party wraps: consolation for any glassware that succumbed to the fun.
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