Don't Show Up Empty-Handed

Heading to a dinner party but aren’t sure what to bring the hostess? What if she doesn’t drink? Or is allergic to flowers? Take advice from Cabana Home’s Michael Snyder: “It’s always a thoughtful gesture to show your appreciation so I always like to give something that’s useful. I wouldn’t worry about matching the gift to the event but do match to the recipient’s taste or lifestyle,” he says. This season, head to a local boutique for hostess gifts that range from elegant takes on classics like a handsomely wrapped candle to unique options like flower-shaped dish scrubbers. —S.F.

Cabana Home (Mill Valley)
“We have an assortment of beautifully packaged candles by D.L. & Company with unique scents like Exlibris—it smells like a great gentleman’s study and opium den—which is warm and romantic,” says owner Michael Snyder. $38 to $55, 415.383.0201,

Nancy Koltes (Mill Valley)
“Our linen hemstitch cocktail napkins and place mats come in a variety of colors including lilac and taupe,” says owner Janet Cloutier. $2.50 each cocktail napkins and $7.50 each place mat, 415.383.5811,

Tiller Digs (Corte Madera)
“Olivina liquid soap and lotion from Napa Valley come beautifully packaged and are nice for travelers who want something from our area for their hosts,” says owner Mercedes Feller. $21, 415.927.1266,

Columbine (Corte Madera)
“French jacquard dish towels are a great gift because they come in a variety of colors and patterns and it’s something people don’t buy for themselves, but it makes a fabulous gift,” recommends owner Michelle Sandler. $22 to $24, 415.927.8884,

Fig Garden (San Anselmo)
“People have been buying these great dish scrubbers that come in the shape of flowers and all you have to do is wrap them in one of our great bags and you’re good to go,” says owner Lesley Madison. $10, 415.457.9443

Coquelicot (Larkspur)
“Our best-selling gift item for 10 years has been a pair of plastic gloves made by a French artist. They’re great for gardening and dishwashing and come in a variety of colors,” says owner Nuria Sthymmel. $44, 415.924.0279

Country Gardens (Larkspur)
“Note cards by Carol Fine Arts come embossed with first initials in colors like gold and purple, or pick up one of the 30 other designs,” says Marty Weissensee. $8.95, 415.924.6784