Not sure what to give your hostess or mother-in-law? Consider these always-appropriate presents.

By Sara Dickinson
June 25, 2020
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David Meredith

Looking for a gift idea that's not only a crowd-pleaser, but is appropriate for any time of year? Whether you're buying a gift for a birthday, holiday, house warming, bridal shower, or something completely different, we've got you covered. We spoke with etiquette expert Myka Meier to get her take on the best gifts that work for every occasion, whenever it happens.

Gifts that strike an emotional chord.

Meier reminds us that the first thing you should consider when buying someone a gift is how it will make them feel, not how much it costs. "Gifts that strike a chord of emotion will be memorable and appreciated," she says. Consider going for a present that feels personal, like a framed photo, artwork you created, or a custom drawing of their pet. "From linen napkins with a monogram to hand soaps with the family's last initial, a personalized gift shows it was chosen just for them," she adds.

Your best baked goods.

Any recipient will appreciate a gift of baked goods, so you might consider whipping up your favorite recipe for cookies, brownies, or pie. Going out of your way to cook something special takes effort and shows how much you care. Meier also suggests gifting a bottle of Champagne—which is "always a welcome gift for anything celebratory. And let's face it, we can likely always find an occasion to celebrate."

Already-arranged flowers.

If you choose to send flowers, Meier reminds us to make it easy for the person on the receiving end. "Make sure you bring or send an actual arrangement, one that does not require the host or hostess to have to do any work cutting stems or finding a vase," she says.

A fruit basket.

Another gift idea that's always welcome? A fresh fruit basket. "Often small orchards and farms can ship baskets of fresh lemon, limes, grapefruits, and oranges along with other citrus jams and goodies," she says. "Never have I ever heard someone complain about freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice!" If you're not sure what type of fruit the recipient likes, go for another assorted gift basket with coffee, candy, or cheese.

A meaningful book.

Books are also a thoughtful present that will be welcomed any time of year. "A book selected just for them—that you've inscribed inside—is a great gift," Meier says. Consider sending along your favorite novel, a non-fiction book on a topic they're interested in, or even a coffee table book (on art or fashion, perhaps?) that they can display in their living room.

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