NOW THAT the CDC says vaccinated persons can mingle and entertain, your friends with houses out of town likely have a long list of folks desperate for an invitation. Should you be lucky enough to snag a coveted weekend, make sure to charm your hosts with a thought-through token of your appreciation. To save you time and to go easy on your Venmo account, we’ve found eight charming gifts for under $60 to help you stand out in the crowd. Doing the dishes will also help, of course.
1. Magic Fingers
On the surface, toaster tongs may not seem the sexiest gift. But before long, your hosts will be wondering how they ever lived without them. No more crisped digits or knife-assisted bagel retrievals with this beautiful pair made of a single piece of bent oak. Nokka Tongs, $45, finnishdesignshop.com
2. Pretty Produce
Build your host a photogenic still life by filling this 1980s-inspired enamelware colander with farmstand fruit and giving her the whole thing. Its artful, 1980s-inspired pattern riffs on the work of Italian design cadre the Memphis Group, whose colorful furniture and objects of that decade are highly collectible. Kapka Flashback Colander, $56, darlingspring.com
3. Earthy Cleansers
Each bar of this three-pack of woodsy-scented soaps takes its fragrance from a national park. Redwood is scented with juniper and fir needle; Acadia with scotch pine and rock rose; Zion with sage and sabino cedar. Produced in collaboration with the National Parks Project, 5% of each sale benefits forest conservancy. Looks good, does good, smells good. National Parks Soap Set, 40 for three, available June 11 at ursamajorvt.com
4. Striking Matches
These vintage-print-covered matchboxes from homey-gift hero John Derian bring a classy kick to lighting up citronella candles and barbecue briquettes. Matches, $4 each, johnderian.com
5. Minute Miso
Don’t thoughtlessly tempt your host with sweets when swimsuit season is upon us. Opt for something lighter: artisanal instant-miso soup. The little bonbon bouillons come in a set of five savory flavors, from sesame to fried Japanese rice. Just add boiling water for a savory treat. Instant Miso Soup Bombs, $20 for 5, brooklynmisomaru.com
6. Storied Seeds
Short on space in your weekend bag? Gift your host slim sachets of garden seeds from Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia estate, Monticello. Any history buff will be impressed: These heirloom varieties come with a documented lineage.The Globe Amaranth, for example, was imported from India and planted by Jefferson at Shadwell, his boyhood home, in 1767. And with your host’s green thumb, the seeds’ issue will become a lasting reminder of your time spent together. Heritage Seeds, from $3, monticelloshop.org
7. Better Dish
Summer’s not complete without buttered corn-on-the-cob. And while we don’t suggest you travel with 12 ears of the stuff, a vessel to keep the butter out of the sun will be a welcome addition to the picnic table—especially a handmade stoneware version like this one. $40, nickeykehoe.com
8. Timeless Stitches
A hammock plus a browseable photo book is an ideal summer combo. Equip your hosts to sway and gaze with this newly published tome, “Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories” (MFA, Boston), filled with photos of vibrant, historical and modern hand-stitched textile art. Hint that you’ll upgrade their hammock…next time. $45, mfa.org
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Corrections & Amplifications
The National Parks Soap Set will be available June 11 at ursamajorvt.com. An earlier version of this article implied the soaps were available now and listed the incorrect website. (Corrected on May 28.)
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