I get lots of good things when people come to visit, almost every one of them showing great thought and consideration. Our good friends, the de Araujos, whose pictures you saw in the post on Maine in sun and rain, always, before they get here send us a big box from a wonderful source called La Tienda. It’s an enormous box with wonderful Marcona almonds.
And jars of absolutely the best olives you can imagine.
And cheese after cheese after cheese including my favourites, Manchego and Tetillo.
Because they send it ahead of time, I can really use them, both for when we are together and also when I invite people over to meet them.
People send boxes of steaks—always fun and awfully nice, because when you've been out adventuring all day, it’s nice to know that dinner—steak and the wonderful bread we have up here and a big salad—will be easy. They send wine—always appreciated. Dear, dear Natasha, arriving with my daughter, India, and another wonderful friend, Vanessa, sent a case of the most delicious Cotes de Rhone from Sherry-Lehman in New York, (who are always happy to send your presents for you. Remember, it’s illegal for you to send wine over state lines). Vanessa, in her own dear way, bought fresh plums and farm-grown pork from southern Maine, which she picked up on her way north. She also picked up Natasha and India from the Bangor airport, a present in itself. And to top it all off, she brought to Stiny, our beloved housekeeper and pancake-maker, a gift card at the One-Stop in Somesville, right around the corner from us, because she knows Stiny loves to play the lottery there. All such thoughtfulness. By the way, the whole case of wine was polished off over the weekend.
But you can also give wonderful things for your hostesses house. One of the things we sell a lot of in the boutique (Leta Austin Foster Boutique) are laminated trays from Porthault. These are great for sitting on vanity tops in the bathrooms and also to have for tea or breakfast in bed.
Or you can give cocktail napkins, always loved, either printed ones such as these Porthault ones.
Or these beautiful, hand-embroidered ones from Madeira made by Sharyn Blond.
Or if you think there’s no one there to iron, why not make a basket of a half dozen packages of paper napkins and a half dozen of paper guest towels, which can always double as buffet napkins.
Most people I know love to get baby pillows—pretty printed ones from Porthault.
Or an embroidered one from Nouez-Moi such as the blue on white “Chambord” pattern
Or maybe a beautiful, simple scalloped-edge white one from Matouk. What a super present it would be to get two of these, and if you didn’t know the colour of the room where they were going to be used, you could get them in all white.
I love to get special writing paper, especially note pads, which I use incessantly,
Or place cards, both from Mrs. John L. Strong. I always think place cards are so practical, because it means you can take the time earlier in the day to really think about who would love to sit next to whom, so that they can have fun while they eat your delicious food.
I’d love to get one of the beautiful porcelain flowers from Vieux Temps, always because they stay beautiful forever, so they are wonderful in a guest room. They are tricky to ship however, so it’s best to carry them with you.
If you are going to go for a long time, you might think about a set of vintage china. Nothing says country house quite so much as this Napoleon Ivy, an old and discontinued Wedgwood pattern, and what a thrill it would be to open up a box of it—or maybe just some tea things in it.
I love to shop for presents, and, of course, I love to get them. Spending some time on thinking what would be welcome will make you a welcome guest.