Best Guests

Area design mavens weigh in with their top picks for personal thank-yous

This month, I decided to reach out to some of Litchfield County’s designers, art and antiques dealers and all-around tastemakers to find out what their favorite host/hostess gifts are during the summer months in the country.The responses are fabulous; I was very inspired by the suggestions!

“My favorite hostess gift is by far chocolates or a plant; I hate getting soaps or nonsense like that. They are a complete waste of time and money.”
—Florence de Dampierre, interior designer

“I have yet to meet a host or hostess who doesn’t completely love anything from my favorite bakery, Sweet William’s in Salisbury. It’s my go-to for all things sweet and delicious, and the tarts are perfect for any occasion.”
—David Duncan, owner, David Duncan Antiques, NYC



“We like to bring a wonderful Cire Trudon candle from Privet House in Warren (there are no wrong fragrances, every one is sublime) or a small basket of amusingly shaped chocolates from Belgique in Kent.”
—Annie Kelly, author, and Tim Street-Porter, photographer





“I like books. Last year I gave Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness to several people and now I love Mud Book by John Cage and Lois Long. But, the book I give depends very much on who’s getting it. The best gift I received was a cheese board made of cheese from the New Museum.”
—Phyllis Posnick, executive fashion editor, Vogue

“I love when someone brings a gift, and my favorite I ever received is a set of beautiful Italian-linen cocktail napkins. It always seems that people never have enough of these, and there is no reason to use paper napkins for cocktails when the party is for a dozen or less.”
—Jack Levy, interior designer

“I love arriving to a party with a beautifully potted myrtle topiary. Everyone loves topiaries, and they can be used throughout the house in different ways—on kitchen counters, patio tables or even next to the sink in the powder room.”
—Susan Bednar Long, owner, S.B. Long Interiors

 paul newman: Leo Fuchs, Courtesy KMR Arts Gallery

“My favorite host/hostess gift would have to be the newly published photography monograph: Leo Fuchs, Special Photographer from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The lavish coffee-table book consists of photographs—some never before seen—of such screen idols as Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Gregory Peck and Shirley MacLaine, which were taken on film sets around the world in the 1950s and 1960s.”
—Kathy McCarver Root, owner, KMR/Arts (Editioned photographic prints and the book are available at KMR/Arts.)


“A copy of Litchfield Style by Tim Street-Porter and Annie Kelly sums it up.”
—Matthew Patrick Smyth, interior designer

“A monogrammed L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag. Who doesn’t have a use for one?!”
—Susanna Salk, design expert, Today Show contributor and author of Weekend Retreats

“Wilson and I started bringing our hosts these fabulous little bottles of natural flavored honeys available at Privet House, called the Savannah Bee Company. It’s a sweet gift and the packaging is really good. And who doesn’t like honey?”
—Bruce Glickman and Wilson Henley, owners, Duane Antiques and Duane Modern, NYC

“Hermès playing cards!”
—Malcolm James Kutner, interior designer