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From a reader: The 'down with hostess gifts!' movement

February 9, 2012 |  9:00 am

67468570Recently, I got a comment from a reader, Toby Horn, regarding my article "Need a hostess gift when invited to dinner?"

Here’s what he writes: “For untold years, I have been trying to get my friends to NOT bring hostess gifts.  I don't need more things cluttering the table in my entry hall as people enter the house, nor do I need ANY cinnamon scented candles! Then, I need to keep track of who brought what, so when I donate these items to the next silent auction, I don't insult the giver or my hostess at the charity event. I don't need the last-minute bouquets from Trader Joe's, because then I feel obligated to stop my greetings and preparations and put the damn things in water.

"Good friends understand this.  You don't need to pay your way for dinner at my house, honest! 

"Please, support the movement of DOWN WITH HOSTESS GIFTS!!!”

He does have a point. I can remember sort of wandering the house in a daze with a bouquet of flowers in my hand wondering where I put my flower clippers and where I stashed that vase. I’m against cinnamon-scented candles too. 

But I never have so many guests (usually just six at the table) that I can’t keep track of who gave what. And I guess my guests are such regulars that they’re not going to give me something ridiculous.

My point, and it may be just particular to me, is that guests (especially those who get invited over and over) want to contribute something. I don’t have that many spare evenings, so I can’t necessarily be invited to their house. 

I also enjoy trying whatever they’ve discovered — whether it’s a new kind of coffee, chocolate  or something homemade. A few weeks ago, someone gave me a jar of granola made from a  recipe in the "Eleven Madison Park" cookbook. I really enjoyed having something different for breakfast -- as long as it lasted, which wasn't very long at all.

Any other thoughts?

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-- S. Irene Virbila
Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photo: Walnut oil and olives. Credit: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times.

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