10 Last-Minute Gifts for Your Host from the Grocery Store

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

We spend a lot of time talking about hosting and serving Thanksgiving dinner, but many — if not most — of us are headed to the holidays at someone else’s home. It’s courteous to bring a small token of gratitude for a host’s hospitality, especially if you’re an overnight guest.

Here are a few small and inexpensive (but enjoyable!) last-minute gifts that you can pick up at the grocery store on that pre-holiday run.

And just remember — almost anything can be a present as long as it’s dressed up with a ribbon, bow, gift tag, or another little special element. So grab a roll of washi tape, think about what your host might enjoy or need at the last moment, and keep an eye out at the grocery store.

Last-Minute Grocery Store Gifts for Your Host

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

1. Sparkling wine

Yes, wine is a standard host’s gift, and it’s still the best, in my opinion. Don’t overthink it: Go for bubbly — there is never enough sparkling wine or Champagne at a holiday meal! Not everyone loves red wine or Chardonnay, but bubbly covers all. As a bonus, your host can enjoy it the next day for morning-after mimosas.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

2. Sparkling water or fancy soda

Wine and beer are often plentiful at Thanksgiving, but what about the non-imbibers? As a host, I usually have something non-alcoholic on hand, but I would always be grateful to a guest who brought something extra, or something a little fancy, like this.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

3. An herb bouquet

Flowers are nice, but then the host has to run around and find a vase. For Thanksgiving, skip it and give herbs instead. Bundle a bunch of herbs including (but not limited to!) rosemary, thyme, and sage, and tie them up with some twine. You can plunk them into a small Mason jar for gifting and the host can use the herbs to cook with or just dress up a table.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

4. Frozen shrimp and a jar of cocktail sauce

This doubles as a holiday appetizer, but if the table is already full, slip it to your host and whisper: “For later!”

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

5. A wedge of triple-cream cheese

Ditto to the above. One delicious cheese is a treat for after the holiday or for the long weekend, especially if they have house guests. And don’t hold back: Saint-André or another triple-creme is the way to go. Crackers are optional but appreciated.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

6. A bar (or three) of special chocolate

A house guest brought me a few bars of Chuao Chocolate (one had Pop Rocks in it!) and it was a teeny treat we enjoyed for days.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

7. Pint of high-quality vanilla or caramel ice cream

Most pie is even better with ice cream, but if this doesn’t get eaten during the party, a host may enjoy a pint of their favorite flavor of Jeni’s, Blue Marble, or Häagen-Dazs to accompany leftovers.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

8. Their favorite food magazine

I don’t know about you, but I don’t actually subscribe to many magazines. Grab one or two favorites and add a cute gift tag (I’ve used little clothespins to attach it!), and pass the bundle on to your host to enjoy over the weekend.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

9. Aromatic dish soap

Bring a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s or another favorite dish soap that can be found at the grocery store, along with an offer to clean the roasting pan, and you’ll win Guest of the Year.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

10. A food you just really love

The best gifts are personal. If you know your host loves nut butter, hand them a jar of super-tasty and luxurious chocolate hazelnut butter and tell them, “This is my favorite little treat!” Or grab something else you love — a bottle of olive oil, a bag of granola, a jar of jam — anything you love and can vouch for.

And a Few Things to Avoid

  1. Scented candles: Just no.
  2. Food that needs a lot of extra fridge space or prep: If your host is cooking a turkey, they don’t want to deal with anything else.
  3. Turkey or Thanksgiving-themed goods: Because Thanksgiving is now, yo.
  4. Anything you’re not quite sure whether your host would like: If you’re not sure, the answer is probably no!

Any other good suggestions for grocery store gifts for a host?