the strategist

The Best Hostess Gifts That Aren’t a Bottle of Wine

Fourth of July weekend is here, and you have that coveted summer invite: a long weekend at a friend’s house outside of the city. As you rush to set your out-of-office message, pick up a bottle of suntan lotion, stuff a few bathing suits and a beach towels in your tote bag, and grab your beach tent, don’t forget the most important item on the packing list: a gift for your gracious host. Sure, a bottle of white wine is easy — but why not bring something more memorable? Whether you’re headed to a North Fork bungalow or a seaside shack on the Jersey Shore, here are some more creative ideas.

Hamptons McMansion

At the end of a long July day, your host will be happy to luxuriate on the sprawling lawn in this embroidered robe from In Bloom by Jonquil.
Buy it: $68 at Nordstrom

With a speakeasy-inspired cocktail in hand, of course, thanks to the Jack Rudy cocktail mixers you brought.
Buy it: Elderflower Tonic, $15; Sweet Tea Syrup, $19; Small Batch Grenadine, $20; Bourbon Cocktail Cherries, $20, all at Amazon

Fancy beach houses need fancy fashion candles, like this smoky-floral offering from Maison Louis Marie.
Buy it: $34 at The Line

Catskills Cabin

A Stellarscope is the perfect gift for stargazing hosts — just set the date and your latitude, point toward the North Star, and enjoy the constellations in the clear Catskills skies.
Buy it: $35 on Amazon

A pocket-size North American mammal track finder lets Catskills dwellers get acquainted with their neighboring species.
Buy it: $6 at Amazon

And if you happen to identify bear tracks, everyone will be glad you brought the bear spray.
Buy it: $50 at Amazon

North Fork Victorian

It’s Friday afternoon, and you’re stuck in traffic headed out to North Fork. What better opportunity to be the stellar guest whose gift arrives before she even steps in the door? Try shrimp-cocktail delivery, from the Lobster Guy in Maine. Show up with some cocktail sauce (Bookbinder’s is one of the better jarred options).
Buy it: Shrimp cocktail, $20 at the Lobster Guy; and cocktail sauce $14 at Amazon

Or, if you’re lucky, a lobster feast from the Southhold Fish Market might await you upon arrival — embrace lobster bib kitsch with a this 1950s-style set.
Buy it: $14 at Amazon

A set of pig-shaped corn-on-the-cob holders makes an inexpensive and fun gift, too.
Buy it: $8 on Amazon

Rockaways Bungalow

Give your hosts everything they need for a perfect beach day: a graphic beach towel (if you want to splurge), or this jokey cheap one.
Buy it: $138 at Anthropologie; $10 at Amazon

A copy of William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life for days when reading about waves is more appealing than riding them.
Buy it: $13 at Amazon

And Warm’s California-made body oil, inspired by “the pursuit of all things warm.”
Buy it: $50 at Amazon

Berkshires Cottage

Consider a pair of lightweight binoculars for Berkshires hosts — they can bring these on hikes up Mount Greylock, or to Tanglewood when they have lawn seats for a summer concert.
Buy it: $32 at Amazon

A classic L.L. Bean tote, monogrammed with your host’s initials, is ideal for gathering veggies at the local farmers market, or for filling with books at the Lenox Library’s popular annual book sale.
Buy it: $55 at L.L. Bean

If your hosts have a big backyard, gift them a Pétanque set and enjoy a sporty summer afternoon.
Buy it: $26 at Amazon

Fire Island Timeshare

Heat up your friend’s coffee table with Tom Bianchi’s classic book of 1970s and ’80s Fire Island Pines Polaroids.
Buy it: $38 at Amazon

Make your own memories with a Polaroid Snap instant digital camera.
Buy it: $100 at Amazon

A giant inflatable everything-bagel-shaped pool float will look great in the photos.
Buy it: $16 at Amazon

Delaware County Farmhouse

It wouldn’t be a farmhouse without a big farm table. Get your hosts cheery classic tableware, like Kim Seybert’s gingham cocktail napkins and a bright geranium-print oilcloth tablecloth from the Vermont Country Store.
Buy it: $20 for 6 at Neiman Marcus; from $45 at Vermont Country Store

Impress them with a gift from a regional artist, like a stoneware citrus juicer from New York’s Kelli Cain.
Buy it: $46 at Kelli Cain

And throw in a bottle of fancy Sicilian olive oil, from cult olive-oil brewers Mandranova.
Buy it: $24 at Amazon

Jersey Shore Seaside Shack

Set the Fourth of July mood with Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits.
Buy it: $7 at Amazon

These tunes are best listened to in the matching spandex American-flag crop tops that you’ve brought for all of your friends.
Buy it: From $11 at Amazon

Which you can wear while playing beer pong … in the pool, courtesy of this floating table.
Buy it: $45 at Amazon

The Best Hostess Gift Ideas That Aren’t Wine