Gift Baskets for House Guests

by Jane

I found myself in a dither as the guest in a lovely European home. The hostess had prepared a basket full of lovely small gifts -- French soap, olive oil with truffles, two kinds of Swiss chocolate, and other delicacies -- for our guest room. When it came time to leave, I wasn't sure whether to take all the gifts as if they were specifically intended for us, or leave them all for the next person, or take some and leave some, risking that our hostess might think that we weren't thrilled with everything she selected. What should we have done? Taking everything seemed a little gauche. Leaving everything seemed high-handed. Picking through the basked seemed tacky. I really am at a loss. Thank you.

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Nov 24, 2015
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Jul 10, 2011
guest etiquette
by: Anonymous

It depends on the context. If this is a house that is generally full of guests and guests are frequently not personally known to the hostess, you might treat the basket the way you treat the things laid out for you at a nice hotel (use what you want, leave the rest). Were you specifically invited? Do you know the hostess? Is there any kind of tag or note with the basket? Traditional hospitality involves the host/hostess giving gifts to the guests, not the other way around. If this is a situation where you were personally invited by the hostess and you know each other, you can probably assume the gift basket is meant for you. If you are still uncertain or feel awkward taking the basket, you could make a comment to the hostess about the lovely basket and how the things look so nice you hardly dare to use them. Her response should be enlightening. If she just laughs, then I would leave it alone. If she says "oh no, dear, those are for you!" then take her at her word.

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