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Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer—its dust and lowering skies.” – Toni Morrison

dinner party summer spread
Savory summer bites | Photo courtesy Unsplash user Brooke Lark

As the sensations of summer loom on the horizon—the blooming of roses, strawberries making their way to the stands at the farmers’ market, spring sweaters staying put in the closet and being replaced by sundresses—I begin to daydream of summer dinner parties.

As with each new season, my favorite part of summer tends to revolve around gatherings, time spent sharing meals and stories with friends and family. In the warmer months, the options for dinner party dining are plentiful, from tables inside adorned with fresh flowers, to picnic blankets on the lawn, to twinkle-lit decks and patios.

When I receive a summer dinner party invite, I like to be prepared with some creative hostess gift ideas that feel genuinely thoughtful. From a s’mores kit, to a treat yourself lounging bucket, to a picnic basket filled with goodies, here are three of my favorite gifts I like to bring along with me to summer parties. But, more important than the gifts themselves, are the feelings I hope they leave behind: contentment, gratitude, and a little bit of self-indulgence.

A Make Your Own S’mores Kit for the Sweetest Hostess

The tradition of s’mores is one I’ve loved and looked forward to every summer since I was a kid. Whether I’m roasting marshmallows at the beach or around a backyard bonfire, it’s still the sweetest-smelling dessert I’ve ever made. And, as they’re usually reserved for the summertime, they’ll forever remind me of the season of sand, sea, and sun.

s'more summer treats
S’more summer, please | Photo courtesy Etsy seller FavorBoxParty

I love putting together seasonal cookie kits as gifts (a mason jar filled with layers of flour, sugar, and Halloween sprinkles in the fall, anything green and red for winter, and pastel colored M&M’s in the spring), but in summer, I step out of the box, and the jar, and wrap up the makings for ooey-gooey s’mores.

They’re fun to have on hand for last minute camping or beach trips, and they don’t require any time on the recipient’s end spent measuring ingredients or sweating over an oven when it’s hot outside.

The Ingredients List:

  • 1 chocolate bar
  • 2 big marshmallows
  • 2 graham crackers
  • A piece of clear cellophane
  • A length of cute baker’s twine or raffia

To put the kit together, break the chocolate bar and graham crackers in half. Then, on an open piece of cellophane, place two pieces of graham cracker, followed by a piece of chocolate, then the marshmallows, then another piece of chocolate. Top it all off with the last two halves of graham cracker and there you have it! Now just wrap it all up and gift to a lucky hostess.

Hostess Sand Bucket, er… Gift Basket… Ideas

gift basket for summer
Poolside lounging in style | Photo courtesy Etsy seller InfinityLOVECo

This hostess gift is for your friends and family who could use some rest, relaxation, and a bit of lounging. It was inspired by my sister who chases three kids around daily and always feels like a million bucks when she’s able to paint her toenails, slather on some sunscreen, and lay her head back to lounge in the sun with a good book.

Sometimes, summer calls us all to take a few simple moments to unwind and enjoy being by some form of water—and that is exactly what this gift is offering your favorite hostess.

What to Put in a Beach Bag Gift:

  • A pair of flip flops
  • Nail polish
  • Sunglasses
  • Magazines or a new book
  • Sunscreen or lotion
  • A new beach towel

Stuff all these goodies in a sand bucket or woven tote and gift it to a hostess who may be in need of some summer poolside rest and relaxation. Remember, if you don’t want to go with this detailed of a gift, any one of these single items will make a beautiful hostess gift on their own. You know your hostess best and what will encourage her to get footloose and fancy free this summer!

Picnic Basket Gift Ideas for Summer

a summer picnic gift
A picnic ‘neath the shady trees | Photo courtesy Unsplash user Bonnie Kittle

My love for summer picnic baskets started a few years ago and now it knows no limit. Summer evenings spent in Portland always meant packing a basket with favorite things from the local market down the street before venturing to concerts in the park or outdoor gatherings with picnic party foods. We’d grab a baguette, a few selections of cheeses (like bacon cheddar or dill Havarti), a bottle of San Pellegrino, and top it all off with some kind of sweet or tangy spread, like tomato jam homemade from the spring or summer season’s bounty. Throw in some raw vegetables and salumi and you have all everything you need for an easily transportable meal.

This gift is wonderful to bring your hostess in the summer; perhaps it will spark the idea of getting together as a group to venture to some neighborhood outdoor activities. Even if a live concert isn’t on the calendar, there’s still something so nice about spreading a picnic blanket down on the grass, opening a basket, and spending a few hours of the day chatting and eating bit by bit as the summer sun goes down.

To properly pull this hostess gift off, you’ll need:

  • A vintage-style picnic basket (check your local thrift stores)
  • A fresh loaf of bread from a local market or bakery
  • Some specialty cheeses available at high-end marketplaces or local cheese shops
  • Bubbles, like a bottle of San Pellegrino or a light sparkling lemonade
  • Homemade tomato jam, or a locally crafted option from your farmers’ market

A Homemade Tomato Jam Recipe to Preserve Summer’s Bounty

While I like to include my homemade tomato jam in a picnic gift basket, your hostess would be equally delighted with a couple jars of this as a stand alone present as well. Here’s my go-to recipe for preserving summer’s fresh tomato bounty:

summer tomatoes make jam as a gift
Sweet and savory summer tomatoes | Photo courtesy Unsplash user Vince Lee

The Ingredients List:

  • 2 pounds of ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

The Recipe:

  1. Add the ingredients to a large saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring consistently so that the bottom does not burn.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir until the mixture thickens into a jam. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Transfer to well-sealed jars and enjoy!

Arrange your jam alongside your other items in your hostess gift basket, or simply add some twine for a rustic bow, then gift as a show of your gratitude for the gathering.

Whether you’re making a sweet treat s’mores kit or pairing a cute pair of flips flops with a brand new towel, I hope these homemade hostess gifts have given you creative tidbits of inspiration for the season of summer dinner parties ahead.

The warm and sunny weather seems to bring along with it the best excuses to gather together and share a meal with those you love. And, it’s always more fun to arrive with full arms and a full heart, offering your own unique token of appreciation to friends and family who generously open their homes and kitchens to you each summer.

For more ideas on hostess gift giving for summertime soirees, explore our summer gift guide. Or, connect with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, or Instagram @Elfstergram.

Destination: Summer Fun

Destination: Summer Fun

Some of the best memories are made in flip flops.”

Kellie Elmore

Planning to hit the road this summer? Whether you are going by car or taking off to a faraway destination, Elfster has what you need to make the most of your summer travel. Our helpful Summer Travel Gift Guide has the must-haves to make planning and packing a breeze. So pack your bags for summer fun.


Summer Travel Gift Ideas Guide!

Where is your family heading this summer? Need fresh ideas for an epic summer vacation? Elfster can help guide you to the perfect destination and get you ready for when you get there. From camping gear to beach stuff, we’ve got you covered with our great summer travel ideas.










Be a Jetsetter

Travel in style with Elfster’s perfect selections of sophisticated travel accessories. From chic leather passport wallets to brightly colored fabric luggage covers that make spotting your own suitcase a lot easier, you’ll be a travel trendsetter.







For the Practical Packer

Staying organized on summer vacation may be a challenge, but Elfster’s summer travel guide has some great gear to help along the way. Try separating your stuff in labeled four-piece packing organizers. Grab your gadgets on the go in a Grid-It organizer case. And keep the kids busy on the road with a backseat organizer for their favorite books, toys and games.

Wherever your summer travels take you, make the most of them with some help from Elfster. The options for summer fun are endless…

Traveling with friends and family this summer? How about adding a little fun to your travels by hosting a summer gift exchange when you get there. Our practical gift ideas are perfect for any destination. Elfster’s secret Santa style gift exchanges are a great way to connect, no matter what the occasion. And Elfster’s Summer Travel Gift Guide has something for everyone and just what you need for inspiration for your own wish list. Need help? We are here all summer long. You can reach us via Facebook here. Tweet us @elfster or catch us on Instagram at #elfstergram.


Wish. Gift. Shop. Share.

What’s YOUR Summer Swap?

What’s YOUR Summer Swap?

Summer Gift Ideas



Summertime is here. Time to kick back, relax and enjoy the lazy days ahead. This summer, why not celebrate the season by hosting a summer-themed gift exchange with Elfster? We’ve got plenty of great ideas to get you started. Just add friends and family.





Summer Hostess Gifts


 Secret Summer Swaps

Secret Santa gift exchanges aren’t just for Christmas anymore. And Elfster groups all over the world are busy gearing up for the fun and carefree summer season. One group of fitness enthusiasts is getting “Fit, Fierce & Fabulous” as group members exchange inspirational gifts to help each other get beach-ready. Dozens of groups will be celebrating their summer babies’ big days with special packages for their secret pals. And lots of book lovers will Splash Into Summer” with an exchanges of popular e-books and paperbacks—a perfect way to relax at the beach or lounge poolside.


Another group hosting a “Summer Survival Swap” is ready for gifting and describes its exchange like this — “Oh, Summer! Season of sunshine, lip gloss, pedicures, fun drinks, long nights, good reads, arts & crafts, good music! Put together the most creative package you can spending $20 (no more & NO LESS so it’s fun and fair for all!) Wrap & ship it pretty….”  Sounds pretty perfect to us!


Summer Gifts for Kids



Celebrate with your Beach Buddies

Heading to the beach or on vacation with family and friends? Why not host a gift exchange of beach towels, outdoor necessities, or travel gear to kick off the festivities. The kids will love getting in on the secret exchange, like one large extended family using Elfster this summer to celebrate their time together at the beach. Looking for ideas to get you started? Check out Elfster’s Beach Getaway Gift Guide for some hot gift ideas for the summer of 2015.





summer-wines-mr-article-x Host a Summer Soiree

Planning a summer gathering? Pick a theme and start an exchange for you and your guests to share fun gifts—summer barbeque essentials or unique delicacies are just a few great summer gift ideas to get your party started. One family is using Elfster to help plan an “Unbirthday Gift Exchange” to add a fun twist to a get-together. And even though they can’t be together in person, one online community will be hosting a “Hometown Hop,” swapping gifts to represent their own hometown’s unique flavor. No matter what the occasion, Elfster has great summer gift ideas.


Make a Summer Connection

Can’t get together in person this summer? Are you a part of an online community looking for a way to get to know each other better? Online communities all over the world use Elfster to help them connect. Why not start a summer swap for your unique group? It’s easy to get started. It can be as simple as a handwritten “snail mail” letter or an interesting postcard, like two groups using Elfster this summer to get to know each other better.

Elfster’s Summer Gift Ideas Guides have something for everyone and just what you need for inspiration for your own wish list. Need help? We are here all summer long. You can reach us via Facebook here. Tweet us @elfster or catch us on Instagram at #elfstergram.

Wish. Gift. Shop. Share.