Generous friends with cottages who invite you to stay are precious and deserve to be treated as nicely as humanly possible. Bring one of these awesome gifts with you the next time you’re a cottage guest and you’ll be guaranteed a return invite. (Although you might want to read up on how to be an awesome cottage guest as well…)
1. Mason-jar inspired shot glasses
For when you don’t actually want an entire Mason jar’s worth of alcohol, these great little shot glasses will remind you what’s really important.
2. Acrylic stemless wine glasses
They’re unbreakable, so they’re safe down at the beach, but they’re nice enough that you’ll have to pick them up to realize they’re not glass.
3. Snow cone maker
What’s cottage life without a little retro fun? This snow cone maker will make you the life of the party. You’ll have even more fun if you experiment with toppings.
4. A selection of treats from the local bakery
You know, the one that makes the great butter tarts/pies/Polish jelly doughnuts/nanaimo bars.
5. S’mores kit
This one’s easy: grab some chocolate bars (Jersey Milk tend to be popular) some graham crackers, and a big bag of marshmallows, and get set for a delectable sugar rush.
6. Hudson’s Bay pattern beach towel
It doesn’t get much more iconically Canadian than a beach towel in Hudson’s Bay’s signature colours. This towel is big enough to keep anyone warm after a dip in a chilly swimming hole.
7. Chillsner beer chiller
Help your hosts keep their beer cold without watering it down with these ingenious drink-through beer chillers. Simply freeze and slide into any standard beer bottle.
8. Something for the family pet
Anything from rawhide bones to catnip mice to these waterproof LED collars will be appreciated if your hosts have furry friends.
9. Basket of natural garden products
If your hosts are gardeners, they’ll appreciate a collection that helps them indulge their hobby in an environmentally friendly way. Include natural bug spray with essential oils, some neem oil to keep pests away, a tub of natural hand cream, and some handy gardening gloves.
10. Giant lawn dominoes
Nothing says “awesome guest” like being willing to join in with cottage silliness. Get the fun going with this giant set of lawn dominoes.
11. Cards Against Humanity
If you’re good friends with your hosts, nothing cements a bond like a night of raucous awkwardness playing Cards Against Humanity—just wait until the kids go to bed.
12. Maple syrup candle
This clean-burning soy wax candle smells deliciously warm and sweet. Up your awesome guest cred with a tin of real maple syrup as well.
13. A supply of their city favourites that aren’t available in cottage country
Are your hosts craft beer drinkers? Cheese connoisseurs? Bring a care package from their favourite city food stops and let them enjoy the best of both worlds.
14. Carabiner/brim light
Nights at the cottage get DARK, so a handy, clippable light is always useful. These LED lights come on a carabiner and can also clip onto the brim of a hat for hands-free use—perfect for those later-than-expected barbecues or campfire-lighting sessions.
15. Maple-flavoured whisky
Maple goes with everything, including smooth Canadian whisky. Drink this Quebec tipple over ice, or use it to make a variety of yummy cocktails.
16. Antler-handle cheese knife
Combine this rustic cheese knife with a piece of local cheese, then sit back and hope your hosts share.
17. Custom lake map
If your hosts’ cottage is on a lake, get a custom laser-cut map made for them. It’s a unique conversation piece and a thoughtful keepsake of your time there.
18. Deluxe sudoku board
Make stretching your brain fun (and aesthetically pleasing!) with this deluxe sudoku board. Set up a friendly competition to see who can complete a puzzle in the shortest time. Just don’t gloat too much if you win, because you might not get asked back.
19. Chef’s apron
This unisex chef’s apron will fit any cook, thanks to adjustable back straps. Plus, it has a super-handy loop where you can hang a towel.
20. Wine bottle candle from Rewined
The only thing better than these luscious, wine-scented recycled candles is the punny name of the company that makes them. Combine a candle with a bottle of the real stuff, and you’ve got a party all ready to go.
21. Personalized cutting board
You can never have too many cutting boards, and these personalized ones add a touch of family togetherness to even the most chaotic cottage kitchen.
22. A basket of garden bounty
If your garden has been prolific this season, bring up a basket of veggies or fruit (bonus points if you then offer to cook dinner). Even better, try a culinary project, like making hot sauce or pickled beets. If you’re going to leave produce with your hosts, include a couple of recipe or menu suggestions.
23. Chore coupons
For a lot of cottagers, there’s not a lot of downtime when they’re hosting guests. Give your hosts a little bit of time off with some homemade chore coupons: offer to make all three meals one day, launder the beach towels, devise an evening’s entertainment, take the kids for a day trip or paint the deck.
24. Heated travel mugs
The only thing worse than sitting in cottage traffic is drinking lukewarm coffee while you inch along the highway. Help your hosts keep their coffees piping hot with a plug-in travel mug.
25. Ice shot glass molds
You can use these neat ice molds for shooters (freeze water or juice), fun kids’ drinks (two kinds of Kool Aid, anyone?) or even tea lights.
26. Titanic ice cube mold
If you like a little dark humour with your cocktail hour, this Titanic-and-iceberg ice cube mold is just the thing.
27. Kitschy retro salt and pepper shakers
For cottagers with a retro sensibility (and a sense of humour) you can’t go wrong with vintage salt and pepper shakers. Pick them up at a garage sale, Etsy, eBay or a thrift store—the uglier the better.
28. Cloth napkins
Chances are, your hosts go through way too much paper towel up at the cottage. Get them into a greener mood with a supply of cloth napkins.
29. Whisky stones
These are perennial favourites among whisk(e)y enthusiasts, because they cool a drink down without diluting it. Simply pop them in the freezer for at least four hours, add them to a drink, wait five minutes and voila—a perfectly chilled dram.
30. Triangular pizza plates
It’s the age-old problem—too much plate, not enough pizza. Solve the dilemma with these great, space-saving pizza plates.
31. A collection of crossword puzzle books
Go to the nearest bookstore and pick up a range of crossword puzzle books. The New York Times puts its famous puzzles in anthologies arranged by ease (they’re easiest on Monday, then get harder through the week), which makes selecting a puzzle to complete nice and simple.
32. Pub game coasters
For a little extra fun while you enjoy an evening’s beverage on the dock, put your brain to the test with these pub games, which are conveniently printed on absorbent coasters.
33. Popsicle molds
There’s nothing more fun than popsicles at the cottage, and with these easy-to-use silicon molds, your hosts can let their creativity run wild with juice, yogurt, fruit purees or chocolate milk. (Plus, you’ll be a hit with the kids!)
34. Rowboat serving bowl
This surprisingly pretty (and useful) serving dish lends just enough whimsy to the dinner table without descending into all-out kitsch.
35. Something you made from your garden
If you’ve been canning up a storm, bless your hosts with some of your creations to create a basket of nibbles. For example, package homemade tomato sauce with a good bottle of olive oil and some premium pasta. Red pepper jelly goes well with water crackers and some nice cream cheese.
36. Tarot card set
If your hosts have a mystical side to them, they might enjoy learning the ancient art of tarot card reading. A campfire provides ready-made atmosphere!
37. Cold-brew coffee pot
It’s summer, and iced coffee is a refreshing alternative to the regular stuff—especially if your hosts don’t have air conditioning. This cold-brew pot lets you make rich, flavourful (not watered down!) iced coffee overnight.
38. Molecular gastronomy kit
Are your cottage hosts foodies? Do they like to experiment in the kitchen, even when they’re away from home? This molecular gastronomy kit makes for a fun evening of delicious experimentation.
39. Movie kit
The ideal remedy for rainy days, a movie-watching kit could combine popcorn (cook Jiffy Pop on the stove or campfire for the full cottage experience), a selection of DVDs (consider a theme, like 80s Classics or Vintage Disney) and some movie theatre candy (Junior Mints, Glosettes or Twizzlers).
40. Beer making kit
If your hosts will be spending the summer at their cottage (or will be back and forth over the course of a month or so) then this make-your-own IPA kit is a nice, long-term project. And if you time it right, you might get a taste when you go up to visit.
41. Pixel Pack magnets
Adults and kids alike will enjoy using these magnets to create pixelated pictures, and your hosts’ fridge will turn into an ever-changing gallery of retro arcade-inspired art.
42. Scratchable travel maps
For the family or couple who travels a lot, this map offers a scratchable surface to reveal each place that’s been visited. Underneath, each area has a wealth of facts and geographical details.
43. Scented sugar
This is an easy DIY that will add a touch of luxury to your hosts’ morning coffees.
44. LokSak waterproof bags
If your hosts are hauling a lot of gear by boat (or if they take regular canoe trips) they’ll appreciate these heavy-duty waterproof zip-closure bags. Different sizes help keep documents, maps, and cell phones safe and dry.
45. Terracotta watering system
For the cottagers who enjoy having outdoor plants, but aren’t around enough to keep them watered, this deep-root watering system works wonders. Simply bury the pot with the spouts sticking up, and fill them every seven to 10 days. The porous terracotta will let water seep into the surrounding soil.
46. Cheesemaking kit
For the DIY foodies in your life, these nifty cheesemaking kits will give you delicious fresh cheese in about an hour. Pick a favourite flavour and enjoy!
47. Breakfast basket
Give your hosts the gift of sleeping in with an all-included breakfast basket. Include premium coffee (which you can volunteer to make in the morning), a selection of jams, some baked goods, some mild cheese, and a variety of fruit.
48. Dinner bell
When dinner rolls around, chances are everyone’s scattered everywhere—down at the beach, lounging on the dock, chopping wood or cleaning fish. Your hosts can call everyone together with this vintage-styled pig-shaped dinner bell—and get a smile in the process.
49. Diner-style coffee mugs
Cottage coffee is made to be served in thick-walled diner-style mugs—they keep coffee hot, and they’re less fragile than your ordinary, run-of-the-mill coffee cup. If you can’t find genuine diner mugs at a garage sale, you can get a set online.
50. Neko cat cups
If your hosts are a little, um, eclectic in their decor choices, they may appreciate these weird-and-wonderful Neko cat and Buddha cup/figurines. Cute little cocktail umbrella not included.