Our digital age allows us to stay in touch with family and friends outside our immediate circles; we certainly can read their updates and see their posts. But relationships can’t grow deeper without spending time together. We need face-to-face interactions. We need to talk and laugh, and share life’s challenges and deepest joys with each other. We simply need to be with each other. Travel is required.
Most of us don’t think about visiting friends and family as “travel.” Instead, we think of the big and the extravagant, the vacations to remote locations planned weeks and months in advance. But let’s not discount the impact of overnight getaways; families and friends have been visiting each other for centuries. These ritual visits are embedded into the fabric of our society. We even have Jane Austen’s novels to prove it. Would our dear friend Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice ever become engaged to Mr. Darcy without family visits?
Weekend trips are invaluable because they keep us close to the people who refresh our souls. So the question we’re asking is how can we keep them afloat with some regularity? How do we create rich experiences that prompt such visits? One way is to appreciate the hostess who creates the atmosphere for us to reunite.
Appreciating The Hostess
While we don’t want to rob a friend of the joy of entertaining, we certainly can make things easier on our hostess. That means remembering little things, like bringing our own hygiene items: toothpaste and shampoo, a towel and our own pillow if we’re picky sleepers. We want to be refreshed, recharged, and well rested on our trips.
Bringing a gift is a thoughtful way to show honor to the lady who made the entire weekend possible. But what should we give? How much should we spend? When should we give it? While there are no hard and fast rules, we can follow some principles for kind and generous living.
How Much Should Your Gift Cost?
Of course, there’s no easy answer here. Yes, it’s the thought that counts, but we want to back that thought up with a gift that is enjoyable – and one that’s neither stingy nor too extravagant. Remember, the goal is a rich experience that both sides want to replicate. It’s deepening our relationships. That means avoiding a one-up competitiveness in gifting.
A good first step might be to consider how much it costs for a couple of nights stay in the area. This is a free vacation. Would we have booked it, or would we book it as frequently without our hostess? Ask yourself if the trip would be nearly as fun staying somewhere without the camaraderie? We don’t think so – not for a family and friend weekend visit.
So, determining the overnight stay savings in the areas can give us a good reminder of the financial value of the weekend. We don’t, however, recommend a gift that equals the cost of the stay. That’s too excessive. It almost – we say almost – appears as though we’re looking at our relationship as a business contract. I help you, you help me. Let me pay you back right away, for I live in a transactional world. Again, you can offer them a gift that puts them in a bad position. Would she feel obligated to match your gifting the next time they visit your place? Isn’t that a bit of a burden and wouldn’t that start to chip away at the fun of weekend stays?
So let’s work with the rough cost of one night’s stay. That’s getting closer. How about an equal swap? A gift that costs exactly what it takes to stay for a night, half the cost of a 2-night trip? Maybe, but we’re not so tight about creating rules. We still think you avoid a performance, strings-attached approach, so prominent in our digital, transactional culture. If the perfect gift happens to cost the same amount as a one night’s stay – and it’s fitting for the dynamics of your relationship – than take it. And if this is a special situation that warrants a higher priced gift, then by all means, you know the relationship dynamics better than we do. But if we’re looking for a general principle for a dollar amount, we say at most the cost of one night’s stay, and often less than that night’s expense.
What Kind of Gift is Best?
Of all questions, this is the biggie. We know approximately how much we should spend, but what gift should we bring? Again, there are many options (and no hard and fast rule). Think about the purpose of your visit. Weekend stays are short. Weekend stays are intentional. Weekend stays are for reconnecting. Packing the car and leaving early at week’s end (only to return Sunday afternoon or evening) tells our hostess in unspoken words, “We care about you and we want to build memories.”
So, let’s start with memories. Wouldn't it be lovely if your hostess thought of you fondly every time she used an everyday item? Bringing her a gift she can use or enjoy after you've left can make a lasting impression. A gift of Courtly Check Kitchen Tools nestled in a sturdy yet delicate caddy will brighten every day and make a beautiful addition to her kitchen.
And speaking of lasting impressions, a gift that keeps on giving makes a splendid memento of your weekend together. Parsley, basil, and rosemary growing in our elegant Courtly Check Enamel Herb Pots make an aromatic offering that will continue to gift her with fresh herbs all year long.
You can also demonstrate how well you know her tastes and personality with a gift that is unique to her. Tea lovers will love tea time even more when it includes our signature Courtly Check Whistling Tea Kettle. Gardeners will cherish our whimsical Flyer’s Folly Birdhouse and Birdhouse Hook.
Candles make a lovely hostess gift because they can lend an elegant touch to meals during your visit or be saved for another event. But lifestyle experts Dana Holmes and Martha Stewart recommend steering clear of scented candles unless you know your hostess has a particular favorite. We have a glorious selection of unscented candles in beautiful jewel tones, spring pastels, our signature Courtly Check, and many more.
When Should You Give Your Gift?
Typically, people give their hostess a gift as soon as they arrive, or just as they are ready to depart. Either way works. But consider the gift you are bringing. Is it something you can put to good use during your weekend? If you are celebrating tea time, then we say give the Courtly Check Whistling Tea Kettle early and enjoy it. Is your gift suited to a celebration you are attending? Then you may want to give it at the appropriate time. Are you introducing your hostess to Mackenzie-Childs for the first time with an accent piece? You might want to offer it as a farewell or parting gift to bring closure to the weekend.
Of course, there are many ways to think about weekend visits and all gifts speak to the particular dynamics of your relationship. Most of all, we want you to remember your hostess and to have a wonderful time.
Weekend travel has a special purpose. We hope you enjoy yours.