William-Wayne: My Mecca for Hostess Gifts

'Tis the season for house guesting and with that comes the Hostess Gift. Whether the gift you choose is humorous, whimsical, useful or drinkable, the most important requisite is that it's stylish.

For this weekend's gift, I headed over to see Janet at my fail-safe favorite, William-Wayne & Company, where everything on offer is a must-have. If overwhelmed by all the perfect choices available, you will have no better guide to help you make your decision than Janet whose advice is so inspiring, it's like shopping with your best girlfriend, or even better, Martha Stewart.

Love the raffia roller shades...

Janet will show you a handsome wooden salad bowl complete with matching serving tongs that is impressively well-priced and walk you through the 100 other uses one could get out of it. No effort is too much for her and the William-Wayne staff, and everything (except packets of paper napkins - they do draw the line there) can be boxed and wrapped in their signature hunter green and ivory Florentine paper. Carolyne Roehm will be the first to tell you that presentation is almost as important as the gift itself.

Here are a few things on my list to give...

a bee for your hostess' honey.... or sugar, or nuts.... Janet told me the glass derriere screws off so no worries with cleaning. Why not get some honey at the Farmer's Market to go with? $40.00

Well, actually I already gave this last year. The wire mesh dome will protect your cheese plate or other sundries from pesky flies. This little beauty retails for less than $25.

This little tortoiseshell-lacquered tray may be coming home with me soon. Am I the only one whose gotten into trouble for choosing gifts one wants oneself, then not actually ever parting with the said gift? $55.00

Who can ever have enough linen napkins? The answer to not getting around to washing and ironing is to just buy more. At $16.50 for 6, you can - the splashy chartreuse and turquoise make this a must.

The winner for this trip: spreaders with novelty miniature cheese handles - camp and summer go hand in hand. $6.00 each

Janet's most excellent colleague Marianne told me these pitchers where the glass slips on top as a cover/stopper are very popular in the South where they know how to entertain. Southerners - and your favorite decorating book - will tell you a pitcher like this is perfect for a guest's night table.

If you have two minutes to decide, then you can't go wrong with this bestseller: Votivo in Red Currant. EVERYONE - including the Material Mom herself - loves this candle - not too heavy, too feminine or masculine, and it's perfect season round. $27.50

Or of course you could pick up a copy of Regency Redux, which they have a few signed copies laying about!

40 University Place
Between 9th & 10th Streets
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212-533-4711