Entertaining, Tips, Timesavers & Troubleshooters

Inspired Hostess Gifts from a Gracious Houseguest

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It’s August. High season in Newport for houseguests, a beloved summer ritual. What are you giving your hostess/host this year? Do you “come bearing gifts” or expect to pick one up on a planned, or impromptu (the best kind) shopping spree?

Either way, indulge yourself in the images below and be inspired. These gift ideas have been selected from many considered sources – the 80+ boutiques that grace the lawns of Rosecliff during the Newport Flower Show in late June, the private trunk shows that are peppered across our calendars come August and the various and colorful established retail shops in Newport…plus the welcome pop up stores!

After years as both a hostess and a houseguest, and loving both, here are  some fun ideas  that will satisfy any houseguest’s best intentions; I’ve either received them or have been given them…or have them on my wish list.

Entertaining Essentials

French Provencal tablecloths – coated for practicality! These wonderfully charming patterns are at home anywhere. Traditional Jacquard-weave (treated with Teflon® to resist stains and spills.) “Seurgette” pattern, 63″ x 63″, $90 (rectangular cloths, and additional patterns, also available.) (La Cigale)


Travel “Companions”

One can never have enough of these…and Tory Burch appreciates this point. Love the two-tone colors for separate compartments and their durable nylon fabric. Approximately 8″ x 5″ x 5″ $115. (Michael Hayes, Newport, Rhode Island)


For the Gardener

Now this would be a compliment for your host or hostess…and you’re also providing a piece of history. The English Haws watering can, designed nearly a century ago, is made from heavy gauge steel, coated with galvanized zinc to prevent rusting and then painted; holds up to 2.4 gallons of water. There’s also a very utilitarian spigot that holds the sprinkling head when not in use. I’ve never seen this before but certainly feel like I’ve been missing out. $140 (Haws Watering Cans)

Haws Watering Cans

Picnic Must-Haves

How to be practical and chic at the same time. That wonderful Melamine (we never call it “plastique”) in colors and patterns that immediately become the centerpiece of a picnic or garden party. Allegra Turquoise plate $13, and Antiqua Blue plate $17; both available as a dessert plate or a lunch plate. (Pomegranate Seeds)

17-blue 13-print Pom. Seeds

For the Bedrooms…Especially the Guest Room

No matter how many hangers I have, I always need more. Truly pretty, feminine hangers are scarce, especially in yummy colors. Pair them with the coordinating accent pillows to decorate the bed. Beautiful and restorative at the same time, the pillows (and hangers) are in luxurious raw silk filled with crushed lavender and detailed with carved stone medallions. Rectangular pillows, 8 1/4″ x 5″ $68; neck roll pillows, 10 1/2″ x 3″ $39; hangers $28.50. (Cynthia Alexander)


What hostess wouldn’t want to be flattered by a sparkly piece of jewelry? Oh, go ahead and get a pair for yourself, too! Interchangeable grosgrain ribbon bracelets are adorned with Swarovski Crystals, from $29 to $59. (Michael Hayes, Newport, Rhode Island)


Handy Organizer

The “Whatever” Basket, made in France…and the “whatever” is a long list. I have one, in coordinating fabrics, in every room…for guest’s jewelry, to hold notepads and paper by the phone, for cosmetics on a shelf. $18 (La Cigale)

For the Collector

Beautifully crafted ceramics can always find a place in one’s home, even if the hostess/host doesn’t think of themselves as “collectors.” Aside from the tantalizing subject matter (inspired by antique English Delftware pottery) the shapes of Wanderlust Ceramics’ plates are a stand-out (the secret? She uses old silver pieces as molds.) The “Well Bred” platter 13″ x 8.5″ $45; the “Garden Variety” platter 14″ x 11″ $60 and the “All Together Now” platter  14.5″ x 11″ $30.

Wanderlust Ceramics

Wanderlust Ceramics

Additional note…bringing local art to your hostess personalizes the thought even more!

For Her Wardrobe

With Newport’s cool nights, 70% cashmere/30% silk shawls are indispensable, an elegant addition to her wardrobe while being practical at the same time. Exquisitely hand painted, they now have become a fashion statement (these are made to order in Nepal, where this small business supports the livelihood of its local village.) 28″ x 78″ $325 Barbara Arnett

Extravagant Necessities

It only makes sense…one of the best gift categories is one with a “limited shelf life,” whether it be food, wine, or candles. They’ll thank you forever.

Allen Brothers lamb loin chops; 12- 9 ounce chops, 2/5″ thick.  $251.95

Lamb Loin Chops

Case of Veuve Clicquot, approximately $683.88.

Precious and Personal

A petit antique sterling silver basket “rings holder” for the hostess’s beside table; priceless. AMW

Dressing Up Your Home

A new coffee table book is definitely an answer for the “person who has everything.”

Living Newport: Houses, People, Style

Or, an out-of-stock vintage selection.

Private Newport: Houses, People, Style

Put on your thinking caps…what’s your favorite hostess gift, to give or receive?

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

4 thoughts on “Inspired Hostess Gifts from a Gracious Houseguest

  1. Bettie

    Oh how I enjoy your Newport Summer Blogs. Thank you for the many phenomenal gift ideas. You have created a need for ” one of each” Many Thanks. I shall be in Newport for ” Coaching Week” Perhaps I shall see you during any of those wonderful days Mary Xxx

  2. I like to give Porthault printed linen handkerchiefs. I sometimes give them to myself, Elsie

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