The Single Best Hostess Gift You Can Give Any Time of Year

updated Nov 18, 2021
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I’m the type of person who has an extensive stash of gifts in my closet “just in case” I need one. I’m also someone who doesn’t like to show up somewhere empty-handed, especially if a friend, colleague, or relative is going to treat me to a festive happy hour or a nice home-cooked dinner. Flowers and wine are the go-to gift for many people for these situations. And I’m not knocking them. They’re great, and almost aways appreciated. I love it when people arrive at my doorstep holding a bouquet from the farmers’ market or a bottle of bubbly. But I have a new go-to.

It took just one unexpected present to change my personal approach to picking out hostess gifts. For our wedding, my husband and I received a mystery box of fancy olive oils and vinegars. It didn’t have a note and we still have no idea who sent it, but it turned out to be one of the most thoughtful and useful gifts. Because of this, I often gift a fancy bottle of olive oil when I’m attending a party or staying at someone’s house.

It’s a useful gift that is unlikely to get buried at the back of a closet (or regifted!), and it’s something that a lot of people won’t splurge on for themselves. Also: A good olive oil can really transform a dish, especially if you’re pouring it atop a soup as a finishing touch or dressing up some salad greens. And, though we all know not to judge a book by its cover, so many bottles and tins have labels that are so beautiful/graphic/bold/stylish/impressive that you can’t help but assume that what’s inside MUST have the power to elevate any recipe.

Your local specialty grocery store surely has some great last-minute options you can pick up in a pinch, but if you have the foresight to plan and order ahead, these picks are sure to impress and delight the host you hand one over to. And, if you’re lucky, this thoughtful gift might just get you a spot on the guest list for their next party.

1 / 5

Kitchn editors are huge fans of these two blends. And for good reason: The olives for these oils are milled within 90 minutes of being hand picked in California, then cold pressed.

2 / 5
Pineapple Collaborative

If you get a special kind of thrill when you get a good deal — this is the gift pick for you. The brand claims that the generous tin contains 33 percent more golden goodness than other specialty brands. Our research tells us they’re right. But we can keep this our little secret, the host you’re presenting this with will never know. Promise.

3 / 5

This oil is cold pressed in small batches from olives grown in southern Greece. And if you’re shopping for a true olive oil geek (er, connoisseur) it’s worth noting that this measures 470 mg/kg of polyphenol content — far higher than the 55mg/kg needed to officially be labeled extra virgin.

4 / 5
Thrive Market
was $32.49

This pick is grown, harvested, and bottled on a single estate in western Crete. It has a fruity and peppery profile, making it a great finishing touch to dishes.

5 / 5

Olives from a family estate in Andalucía, Spain produce an oil with a sage green tone. The flavor is reminiscent of fresh-cut gras with hints of citrus, almonds, and pepper. Just tie a ribbon around this bottle and it's ready to gift. Actually, that's true of all of these!