"Bringing a gift for the host is of utmost importance. It sends a message of graciousness and lets the host know you appreciate all they’ve done."
If you were the perfect dinner-party present, what would you be? A bottle of wine or a beautiful book? A pungent blue cheese or a proud bouquet of peonies? The answer depends on where you might find yourself. Around the world the guidelines for gift giving are as different as can be, though they all suggest we share a universal desire to show gratitude to our host, show respect for their efforts, and maybe show off a little.
So before you pick a present, remember that gifts are weighty items, even if they’re not heavy. You’re not just giving the thing itself, you’re making a declaration, a gesture: “The only gift is a portion of thyself,” wrote the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. In other words: you are the gift, the gift is you – a compelling reason to get it right.
If you find yourself anywhere in Europe, steer clear of red roses (love) and white lilies (funerals) – opt instead for a less-loaded bloom. Anywhere else in the world, think carefully before bringing flowers at all – they’ll influence the décor (perhaps in a way not appreciated) and leave your host scrabbling for a vase. Unless you’re in Germany, where spare vases must abound, as it is the custom to give flowers to the lady of the house.
Avoid giving an intricately wrapped gift basket to a Belgian; they’ll be baffled by the fussiness, but go ahead and give a dozen monogrammed golf balls to a South African with whom you are doing business – they’ll be thrilled. Your American host will be delighted to receive a bottle of nice wine, but don’t expect the same from their French counterparts, whose drinks list will have already been chosen (naturally).
And the best gift of all? Compelling stories, generosity of spirit and good table manners. The best guests bring gifts. And the best gifts are good guests.
- A Film by The Gourmand
- Directed by David Lane
- Director of Photography: Jeremy Valender
- Styling: Julian Ganio
- Produced by Minni Von Podewils & Marina Tweed
- Editor: Emile Kelly
- Colourist: Faith Millin
- Camera Assistant: Amelia Hazlerigg
- Model: Minni Von Podewils
- P.G Commercial
THE GOURMAND is an award-winning, biannual food and culture journal founded by David Lane and Marina Tweed. Each issue features 120 pages of specially commissioned words and images by the world’s leading food writers and photographers, offering a visually stunning look into a universally loved subject.
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