Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Summer Gift Guide for Hosts and Hostesses:

Family and friends celebrate Independence Day.

If your summer months are full of barbecues, backyard parties or gatherings with friends at somebody's swimming pool, you may have had a fleeting thought or two about gifts.
Maybe not, of course – perhaps you're just thinking about the free food or wondering what's on television tonight. But let's assume you've gone to a few backyard barbecues in the past and wished you had brought a gift for your host or hostess, like a case of beer or a bottle of wine. Or perhaps you are really into hosting and are looking for ways to upgrade your next summer bash. 
Whatever your motivations, here are some gift ideas to fit all three categories. (And it should be noted that any mention of a brand in this article shouldn't be considered an endorsement.)
Category 1: You're going to a summer party or social gathering. Aviva Samuels, a wedding and event planner in Delray Beach, Florida, has several ideas. You could bring: 
  • A homemade gift basket. "You can place a variety of items in there," she says, "such as a bottle of wine, cheese, crackers and a variety of nuts." Better yet, if you're visiting from out of town, and you have a local shop back home that sells gourmet food items, you could kick it up a notch, Samuels suggests.
  • A citronella candle. Citronella oil is plant-based insect repellent. This is "the perfect gift option for your host or hostess as the [remaining] summer months are sure to be rough when it comes to mosquitoes and other bugs that thrive in the outdoor heat," Samuels says.
  • personalized cutting board. A nice break from the conventional bottle of wine, it definitely complements the entertaining theme. Samuels suggests getting your host's initials in a monogram fashion or putting his or her name in the corner of the cutting board. "Someone who likes to entertain a lot can surely use another cutting board," she says. "There are plenty of personalized cutting board options on"
  • Something conventional. Hey, any gift is going to be appreciated, even if you think it's kind of cliché. If you don't have a lot of time or imagination, your host isn't going to complain if you bring a conventional bottle of wine or a case of beer. Or go with another idea from Samuels: bring flowers ora gift card.
Category 2: You want to buy your favorite summertime host a gift just because. The world is your proverbial oyster. But you could try:
  • The gift of ambiance. Ambiance can mean a lot of things, from lighting to music to food. But lighting is an easy and fairly inexpensive gift. Think string lights, tea light candles or tiki torches.
  • The functional gift.  If your friend has lots of outdoor gatherings, why not consider lawn chairs? It's always helpful to have plenty of seating. Or purchase some grill accessories; a shish kebob set, say, or maybe some heat-resistant grilling barbecue gloves.
  • The gift of chilled beverages. After all, it's hot outside. People need to drink. Sure, your host or hostess probably has a cooler stocked with beer and soda, but there are some unique coolers that could make a nice gift. The Corkicicle.AIR (retailing for $24.95), for instance, functions as a wine cork, but it also keeps the wine at the proper temperature, aerates the wine and acts as a pourer, all in one device – and it eliminates the need for an ice bucket.
  • The family-friendly gift. If your favorite host has a lot of gatherings where kids are present, you could buy some old-fashioned potato sacks for potato sack races (you can generally buy a bunch of them, 12 say, for about $25, judging from what's on the Internet). Or think of something for all ages. You could gift your host a croquet or cornhole set; cornhole is a bean bag tossing game popular in the Midwest.

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