My aunt Edith was a prolific hostess. Her home saw many gatherings, from casual lunches to coat and tie soirées on the lawn. No matter the occasion, she was always in control. She was gracious and witty, and when it came to hostess gifts, we knew her philosophy: “If I can’t eat it, drink it, burn it, or watch it die, I don’t want it.”

When it comes to giving the hostess a gift, I always follow Aunt Edith’s philosophy, especially when I don’t know the hostess very well.

Eat it: Chocolates, petit fours, or any festive confection, really.

Drink it: My go-to is champagne because nothing says “celebrate” like champagne.

Burn it: Candles are lovely, and I’ve extended the rule to include my favorite potpourri crystals from Bastide.

Watch it die: Cut flowers are always, always appreciated.  

Thank You Know Who

A hostess gift us not given in lieu of a thank you. As the deans of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits say, “Lavish us with your praise and a post-party wrap up . . . . A handwritten note, a phone call, a detailed text, or an e-mail are all acceptable. Silence is not.”

Pro tip: never to begin a thank you letter with “Thank you.” Start with something more personal.

I hope these tips will help you lavish love upon the ones who open their homes up for the holidays.

Warmest wishes for the season!