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September 2016

Give Great Gift

I’ve been invited to spend the weekend with friends. What’s a girl to give? Houseguest rules: Help with the dishes, entertain yourself—and bring a great hostess gift. We love to find that special something our hosts wouldn’t think to get for themselves. Here are some of AskMelissa’s Best Kept Secrets for summer gift giving.

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Le Creuset Lobster Stockpot

Nothing says summer like an old-fashioned clambake. And your hosts can have them year-round with this cherry-red, 16-quart Le Creuset lobster pot with an adorable lobster decal. We love to make Ina Garten’s stovetop clambake in ours. So, toss in her Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook, and you have the hostess gift with the mostest.

Price: Stockpot, $99.98

Purchase Stockpot

Price: Cookbook, $23.10

Purchase Cookbook

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Teuscher Chocolates

We admit it—we’re chocoholics (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And if your hosts are too, this is the gift for them. In our vast experience with all things dark, rich and creamy, Teuscher is tops. From the champagne truffles to the buttercrunch to the adorable solid chocolate animals, this is the best we’ve ever had. No time to stop by their Manhattan stores as you leave town? You can order online and ship directly to your destination.

Price: $12.95 and up

Purchase Teuscher Chocolates

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KitchenAid Waffle Maker

After a day or two spent waiting on you, your hosts may prefer curling up with the Sunday Times to curating your next meal. Instead, bring our favorite waffle maker—along with waffle mix and all the trimmings—and make breakfast for them. We love ours doused with fresh berries, maple syrup and a healthy dollop of homemade whipped cream.

Price: $167

Purchase KitchenAid Waffle Maker

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Personalized Beach Towels

You can never be too rich, too thin—or have too many beach towels. Whether it’s the beach in the Hamptons or the pool in Connecticut, beach towels from the Monogram Shop are a welcome treat. We love their heavyweight feel in stripes or solids, and monogramming them adds that little something extra. Embroider your hosts’ name or initials, or go tongue-in-cheek with Houseguest, Private Property or No Trespassing. Need to kick it up a notch? Skip the gift wrap and roll up the towels inside a monogrammed tote bag!

Price: Towels are $60–$80 each; totes start at $145

Purchase Personalized Beach Towels

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Ice Cream and Sorbet from Il Laboratorio del Gelato

Your hosts will scream over this ice cream from Il Laboratorio del Gelato. No need to trek to its Lower East Side outpost. They will ship directly to your hosts. The only difficulty? Choosing among their delectable flavors, from classics like mint chip, coffee and dark chocolate to exotics like honey lavender, ricotta, and toasted almond.

Price: Four 18-ounce containers are $60, plus $35 for overnight shipping

Purchase Ice Cream and Sorbet from Il Laboratorio del Gelato

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Bocce Set

It’s always important to curry favor with the kids. And they—and their parents—will love to play bocce (pronounced bahchee), an Italian game of bowling with balls. We play in the backyard and at the beach and always seem to attract a crowd of willing participants.

Price: Starts at $39.99

Purchase Bocce Set

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