It’s considered impolite to turn up empty-handed to a dinner party but a hostess gift shouldn’t be the result of a last-minute dash to a florist or bakery.
|Whether it’s a posh dinner party or a casual affair, the hosts will have worked on the ambience
|Bouquets are extra work for the hosts|
Dinner party gifting etiquette is confusing. Old-style western etiquette dictates that you send a thankyou note and reciprocate with a dinner of your own within a reasonable period of time. In modern times it’s more usual to turn up with a bottle of wine or other gift for the hostess. In Pakistan, we have our own generous traditions of hospitality and it’s always been a given that you don’t go empty-handed to anyone’s house. Most people turn up with flowers or a cake, but these are the most inconsiderate gifts a guest can bring to a dinner party. The hosts will have arranged plenty of dessert so the cake will be superfluous, plus they probably won’t have room for anything extra in their fridge. Flowers will invariably be popped into a bucket or bath of water to be dealt with later – another chore for the hostess at the end of the party. Who wants to hunt out vases at the end of a long evening when you’ve already dealt with sorting out the leftovers and clearing up?
|Olive handmade soaps are available at Object in Park Towers Mall|
A spa voucher, on the other hand, is a distinctive way to thank your hostess for a wonderful evening. Scheherezade Spa does a fabulous manicure pedicure that includes one of the best massages in town. Saman’s Salon has a great relaxing ambience and their protein treatment is a real treat.
|A relaxing massage at Saman’s Salon is a great gift|
Unless the hostess has specifically asked you to bring something, don’t bring anything to supplement the menu. Your special lasagna may be a general favourite but it won’t necessarily complement the meal your hosts have planned. Don’t take foodstuffs that take up valuable fridge space or that need eating up while there are still leftovers floating around. If you do want to take along an edible gift, choose something that lasts, like chocolates or dry fruit.
|Lals chocolatier offers a huge variety of gift boxes|
Lals and Butlers both do heavenly chocolate selections in pretty boxes. Bateel dates are a pricey yet delicious option. The Pistachio Roastery and The Bombay Store in Khadda Market offer beautifully packaged selections of nuts and chocolates. Most dry fruit stalls also offer attractive wrapped baskets of dry fruit and nuts.
Fancy tinned biscuits or gourmet pickles are also great gifts. If you are a dab hand in the kitchen then homemade pickles, fudge, biscuits or jams make great gifts. Do take the time to wrap them up prettily as lovely packaging always makes a gift seem more special.
|Renaissance stocks beautiful contemporary accent pieces|
Home décor items don’t make great presents as tastes differ wildly and people rarely have space for more accent pieces. However knick-knacks like frames or coasters from The Craft Company in Park Towers can go down well. Similarly Object and Renaissance offer contemporary trays and attractive ornaments that fit well with modern décor. Taneez has great silver items that complement both modern and traditional décor but most of their silverware is pricier and better suited to birthdays or other occasions.
|A “Happy Hands” gift set by Olive cosmetics|
Handmade soaps and scented candles are indulgences that many women love but rarely buy for themselves. Object at Park Towers mall has a great selection and offers the facility to make up your own gift baskets. N’ecos Natural Store also offers an extensive selection of handmade organic soaps as well as an interesting selection of honeys and other organic produce.
|Breathe has unusual, elegant diffusers|
Diffusers are an attractive alternative to scented candles. Chen One has a limited but decorative collection of diffusers. Breathe boutique has an extensive selection of chic diffusers and delicious scents. Breathe also has some eclectic, elegant personalized stationery.
|Stationery with personality – available at Breathe|
If you are looking to gift stationery, Accessorize, Lifestyle and Solo all offer pretty notebooks, as does Liberty Books. Liberty also has the best selection of books in town ranging from novels to coffee table books. From Moghul art to cupcake decorating, there are books to suit every taste.
|Mosaic Photo Frame by The Craft Company|
At the end of the day, the best gifts are those you’ve put some thought into. It needn’t be expensive but a small yet thoughtful token is the best way to acknowledge the time and effort the hosts have put into the evening.
Published in the Express Tribune on 3rd Nov 2013