…why would I bring something other than my fabulous self?
Q. Hey Jordan! In a couple of weeks, I am going to my boyfriend’s hometown, and will be staying with his family. This is going to be the first time I am meeting his parents. From all of the stories I have heard they seem wonderful, but I have no idea what to get them for a gift.
A. First, remember this: even more so than with most gifts, host/hostess gifts are mostly about the gesture. The point is to express gratitude for their generosity in having you stay in their home, so really, anything from flowers to a simple candle is totally fine.
That said, these are THE PARENTS. And so this presents a real opportunity to show them both who you are and – even more importantly – that you’ve made an effort to understand who they are. Ask your significant other about their interests; their style; what their home is like. Pick that brain! I also think it’s nice to bring something that can serve as a conversation-starter: some seeds that you can help to plant; an unusual item for the home; a DVD of a movie you love that you can all watch together; a board game (but not Cards Against Humanity, please and thank you).
Some Ideas For You:
- If your boyfriend’s parents are into gardening, try bringing a pretty set of tools and a potted herb. (Crabtree & Evelyn’s Gardener’s Hand Therapy is a nice additional touch.)
- Something for the home is always welcome: try a luxe soap, a frame in a neutral color (so it’ll be sure to match their decor), or a cool set of coasters (I love this Etsy shop that allows you to print coasters with maps from any city or country in the world).
- Games are great ice-breakers, and Cranium is literally fool-proof. You will all be laughing. This is good.
- If they’re into wine, how about a nice bottle of red and a cool decanter?
- Everyone loves candles, and I’m obsessed with Paddywax’s outdoorsy, retro enamel candles. Bonus: the scents are amazing, and at just $20 they’re totally reasonably priced. (If you prefer a more modern vibe, their concrete-encased candles are equally gorgeous, unique and inexpensive.)
- An odd foodie-type product is always fun – some unusual salts, a cool gadget, or a product distinct to your hometown (a locally popular seasoning, maybe, or a condiment from a specialty shop) are all good picks.
More “Meeting The Parents” Advice:
- Make Yourself Useful. While staying with friends, I usually don’t recommend offering to cook because it ends up being more work for the hostess (who probably had meals planned out anyway) – what I like to do is keep the place stocked with wine, act as sous-chef with any meals-in, and maybe treat my hosts for a dinner at a nice restaurant. However, the staying-out-of-the-way rule goes totally out the window when you’re with in-laws (or potential future in-laws). If you’re handy at a stove, go ahead and volunteer to make a dessert or an appetizer. That said, if your boyfriend’s parents make it very clear that they’d rather not have you in the kitchen, don’t push: just help out in other ways whenever you can.
- Keep It Clean. Keep your room and the bathroom spotless (bed made right when you get up, toothbrush neatly lined up by the sink, etc) and please-and-thank-you your head off. Best manners apply from the time you arrive until the moment you depart.
- Make Yourself Comfortable. It’ll stress out your hosts if they feel like you’re tip-toeing around, and they’ll probably appreciate the break if you’re respectably self-sufficient. Once you get the lay of the land, go ahead and make yourself some coffee in the morning, grab a soda from the fridge, etc; if you feel like you’re at home (but still on your best behavior!) it’ll make everyone else more comfortable. And it’s always nice to send a follow-up thank you card (or at least an email) a few days later.