Shopping for your summer hosts

by Stacia Friedman
Posted 7/21/22

Visiting friends at their vacation homes is a summer ritual that comes with its own etiquette. 

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Shopping for your summer hosts


Visiting friends at their vacation homes is a summer ritual that comes with its own etiquette. 

Call in advance before showing up at their door with three hyper kids and an untrained Goldendoodle. Don’t track sand through the house. And always bring a thoughtful host or hostess gift.

We can’t help with the first two, but when it comes to gifts that will be appreciated long after your tan has faded, Chestnut Hill shops have you covered. 

Robertson’s Florist, 8501 Germantown Ave.

Kelly Peguero, sales associate at Robertson’s, has been helping customers pick hostess gifts for eighteen years. “People love our Mt. Airy Candles. They are made right here,” she said. These aromatic candles come in tantalizing scents, including grapefruit mimosa, Italian blood orange, and white tea & ginger.

“We have a whole beach section,” said Peguero, escorting me towards shelves overflowing with seashore-themed gifts. Pick up a pack of 25 lobster-decorated, unbreakable, melamine plates, plus a large selection of serving trays, mugs, cheese boards with spreaders, beach blankets and throw pillows featuring popular dog breeds. Can’t make up your mind? You can never go wrong with a houseplant or flowers from Robertson’s.

El Quetzal, 8427 Germantown Ave.

To keep bathrooms, bedrooms and decks at their aromatic best, consider a gift of organic reed diffusers. A modern twist on the incense you burned in high school so your parents wouldn’t know what was really going on in your room, reed diffusers are now available in a variety of scents, including cannabis. How times have changed! 

Or consider a scented ceramic or decorative glass candle by Paddywax in grapefruit, wild fig, mint & cardamom or leather & oakmoss. In a nook in the backroom, El Quetzal stocks beautifully packaged soaps and candles in beach, ocean tide and eucalyptus & mint. 

Zipf’s Candies, 8433 Germantown Ave.

Paula Fingerhut, owner of Zipf’s Candies, has decades of expertise in picking out the right hostess gift. “You can’t go wrong with chocolate covered pretzels, a chocolate assortment or licorice,” Fingerhut said. A Chestnut Hill landmark for over fifty years, Zipf’s manages to fit every candy of your childhood into a tiny space, including Wilbur Buds and nonpareils.

Booked, 8511 Germantown Ave.

Pick up a best-seller for yourself and your host at Booked. Owner Debbie Jansen recommends two page-turners, “The Hotel Nantucket” by Elin Hilderbrand and “What Happened to the Bennetts?” by Philadelphia’s own Lisa Scottoline. 

For those rainy days at the shore, Booked also has 1,000 piece puzzles with a literary bent, such as The World of Charles Dickens and The World of Shakespeare.

Kitchen Kapers, 8530 Germantown Ave.

“When we have people over to our weekend place in Bucks County, I especially appreciate a bag of coffee beans,” said Debbie Wolf Goldstein, an environmental lawyer in Mt. Airy. “That way, guests get to enjoy it themselves the next morning.” 

While you can find an assortment of coffees at Weavers Way, Starbucks and Chestnut Hill Coffee Company, stop by Kitchen Kapers where the aroma of coffee beans hits you the moment you enter. Their East Indies coffee comes in a variety of blends, including their own House Blend. Or choose a beautifully packaged herbal tea by Tea Forte.

Kitchen Kapers is also where you will find aprons for men, women and children in prints that range from wine-themed to cat-themed and come with matching oven mitts and potholders.  

Tailored Home, 8528 Germantown Ave.

The host who has everything and then some will appreciate a gift from Tailored Home. Make it a luxurious cotton throw blanket, beach towels or linen cocktail napkins. 

Serendipity, 8506 Germantown Ave.

This is where you will find the largest collection of Philadelphia-, Chestnut Hill- and Wissahickon themed T-shirts, hoodies and baseball caps for men, women and children.

For your environmentally concerned hosts, check out the Sand Cloud, 100% cotton, fringed beach blankets. Ten percent of the price goes to support marine life. For hosts who miss a taste of Philadelphia, a novel gift is a soft pretzel kit in a bag that comes with all the ingredients.

Artist & Craftsman, 7926 Germantown Ave.

If your hosts have children or grandchildren, stop by Artist & Craftsman for the largest selection of children’s games, toys and puzzles to keep the kids engaged while you and your host knock back a sunset cocktail. 

The Spice Rack, 8428 Germantown Ave.

If your host is a foodie, talk to Shannon LeBraun Williams, owner of the Spice Rack.
“Our best sellers are olive oil and vinegar,” he said. 

These are not the imported brands found in Whole Foods, Weavers Way or Trader Joe’s. These are California made vinegars and oils that impart unique flavor to salads and meals. 

“Our vinegars come in white balsamic.  strawberry, peach and pineapple,” Williams said. “Try drizzling pineapple vinegar over grilled shrimp and spinach salad.” 

Williams is equally enthusiastic about his shop’s chutneys, which go well with vegetarian or meat dishes. Stop by to sample his bourbon maple hops and Austin Steak Rub. Overwhelmed by the offerings?  Williams will break it down. 

The Night Kitchen Bakery, 7723 Germantown Ave.

Sacha Rosenfeld, formerly of Wyndmoor, always has guests streaming in and out of her Ventnor home in the summer and Sarasota abode in the winter. 

“Paper goods are always welcome, as are candy, cheeses or a hanging plant. But what I miss most are lemon squares from The Night Kitchen,” Rosenfeld said. Other specialties sure to delight hosts are The Night Kitchen’s wonderfully gooey cinnamon buns and apple cakes. 

For those not venturing further than their own backyard this summer, we recommend treating yourself to a wonderful gift - and sampling the many delightful offerings of the shops on the Avenue.