Best hostess gifts: What to bring when you’re a good Muskoka guest

be our guest sign
Another Shade of Grey, Minett


You’ve been invited to a friend’s cottage and you want to be a good guest (and maybe even be invited back next summer). So having had many guests come bearing gifts, MD can tell you exactly what is appreciated (and what is not!)

Enuf Stuff

Most cottagers already have tons of stuff that they want to get rid of so please think again of a bowl, tray, waffle maker, cutesy sign (I’ve received nude women on a Welcome to the Lake sign–you can just imagine where that currently resides) or chatchkas. Please don’t bring a teapot that you saw that you just love. Chances are we already have several.

Food Stuff

One of my closest friends made a birthday present rule that no more stuff but if you REALLY want to buy a gift, a good bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar is always appreciated. Same for cottage hostess gifts. Good olive oil, maple syrup, vinegars are always used and appreciated. You can never have enough. One of my considerate friends who knows I love coffee, bought a good pound of regular beans and a good pound of decaf beans and a coffee grinder. Thoughtful gift. If your hosts are tea drinkers there are so many good blends both hot and cold. If you are buying loose leaves though, make sure you include a strainer. These are also food stuffs that are easy to get at specialty stores in the city, but not necessarily so widely available in some of our villages in Muskoka.


From Artifacts, Port Carling


A great guest brings their own towels to the cottage (and takes them home dirty eliminating more laundry for your hosts). An even better guest brings beach towels for their hosts. My sister-in-law used to bring towels for her own family to use and take home and bright, beautiful beach towels for me. I still have the black and white moose towels she bought me and think of her every time I use them.

Offer to bring a meal

Maybe you do the bagel run (again, something not as readily available in Muskoka) and bring breakfast for all. Or offer to bring dinner one night. If you do this, make sure you have it all. If in doubt, order from Pusateri’s and pick up in Port Carling. Pusateri’s is bringing the city’s very finest foods, premium grocery and gourmet prepared foods and catering to Port Carling every Friday this summer.

  1. Call-in or email your order by Thursday, 2pm (Wednesday, 2pm for catering).
  2. Meet at Edgewater on Lake Muskoka, 97 Joseph St. (right at Port Carling Locks), between 12-3pm every Friday to pick up your order.

When in doubt, bring wine

One of my guests knows that tequila is my drink of choice and Don Julio 1942 was really hard to find in Muskoka a couple of weeks ago so a bottle of the really good stuff was liquid gold. If you plan to be drinking wine or beer (or both) bring some to consume while you’re visiting and some to leave for your hosts. Just like going to a dinner party in the city, wine never goes to waste. If you know that your hosts are partial to Italian reds or California Chardonnays, you can even stop at one of the local LCBO’s if you haven’t had time to shop before you hit the road.



I know I said not to bring “stuff” but especially if you have kids, bring games and activities that you can all enjoy you are there (rainy day fall backs) and that you can leave for your hosts.

boat cribbage board.JPG
Cribbage Board, Barron’s, Port Carling

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