Hostess Gift

Apr 4, 2009

With my outfit decided, there was one more detail to organize before attending the Diplomatic Dinner, the hostess gift.

Unless I am going to my mum's (translation: mom's) where I arrive empty handed yet leave with food packages to last me a week…thanks mum. I usually go to a dinner party, armed with a bottle of wine or two, perhaps champagne if I am feeling festive. The notion of calling it a hostess gift does not enter my mind. It is just a little something to show my appreciation for the anticipated dinner. Sometimes after a disappointing meal or boring conversation I have felt like taking my wine back in protest but to date, I have managed to restrain myself.

My so called protocol handbooks were quite insistent that one should bring a hostess gift in addition to a bottle of wine to a dinner party. As a dutiful dinner guest, I obsessed over the hostess gift possibilities and presented Big Roo with my top picks:

An ornate wine bottle opener and stopper (a perfect compliment to the nice bottle of wine that we would no doubt be taking with us)
A tub of gourmet ice cream and a fancy ice cream scoop
Scented candles

I did not however suggest a set of Tiffany playing cards, as I had assumed Big Roo would mock my recommendation. I am still quietly considering making Tiffany playing cards my signature hostess gift (why not have a signature hostess gift? People have signature sunglasses, perfumes, handbags, why not a hostess gift?). Imagine being in receipt of one of those beautiful Tiffany blue boxes topped with a scrumptiously tied white ribbon. I could turn out to be very popular for my gift giving alone, we may even be invited to more of these events (I am not sure that would be a good thing though). I wonder if Tiffany's has a bulk price on the playing cards or coupons…it is America after all, there is a coupon for everything.

As expected Big Roo was not nearly as interested in the hostess gift concept as I was until I pointed out that he should see it as a business transaction. It was his opportunity to show our hosts how much he and his company appreciated his support.

It seems President Obama is still learning the art of diplomatic gift giving, just days ago there was a storm on the gift Obama had chosen to give the Queen on his first visit to Buckingham Palace. He gave the Queen an iPOD loaded with Broadway show tunes, some of his speeches (a little narcissistic) and video footage of her last visit to the US. What was her gift in return to him? Her signature gift (see the Queen has a signature gift), a photo of herself in a silver frame (another narcissist).

At least the iPOD will operate in Britain, unlike the gift Obama recently gave to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He received 25 DVDs of American classics, which there is a question mark over if they will even work on a British DVD player. It seems Obama' s signature gift is the gift of American Pop culture. I wonder what is next on his gift giving list, CD's from all the winners of American idol, gift certificates to McDonald's, the mind boggles.

In the end, Big Roo was left to purchase the hostess gift , armed with my list of suggestions.
What did he come home with? Two bottles of Australian wine and a gourmet box of chocolates….UNWRAPPED. Even though the gift was very ho hum and we had to stop at CVS (translation: a chain of super sized pharmacies in the US, which sells everything from toilet paper and office supplies to car oil and cigarettes -I know in pharmacy, it is pretty funny) to pick up a gift bag, it was well received. The only other hostess gift I managed to sneak a peak at was a pot plant, at least our gift won't die in 2-3 days.