Now that we have sent off last year's hostess presents to the flea markets, rummage sales and white elephant tables, I'd like to offer a few suggestions for acceptable house gifts.

Bring food.

Please don't bring a trivet or a windsock or napkin rings or potpourri. We don't need them. What we can use is something to eat. With guests scheduled for just about every weekend in a house we've tried to keep simple, we can always use something for the pantry or the freezer.

Keep your fancy hand towels, gourmet cookbooks, high-tech coffee makers, cunning plastic ship tumblers. Bring a really good baked ham, Vidalia onions, salad greens or tomatoes out of your home garden, some Sumatra coffee or cookies you've baked or brought from one of our good local bakers. Home-baked bread is a real treat.

We don't need another clock, thermometer or knife sharpener. We do need some good Schaller and Weber sausage. Or if you're coming from New York, bagels: plain, poppy seed or onion.

An Edam cheese would be most welcome, or imported Parmesan. Keep the smoked mussels and pickled herring. We have the best right here in Maine.

What we really don't want is another sailing book or novel or coffee table picture book. We have the sailing and cruising guides we prefer. We have good libraries and a list this long of books we want to read this summer.

What we do need are some shallots or fresh peaches or watermelon. Or grapes or lemons and limes.

A couple of steaks would be great. Or good prime ribs. Not liquors or wine or gin. Your preference is probably not ours. And no candy. We're trying to eat healthy, sorbets and angel food cake when we don't eat fruit for dessert.

Tins of crackers, good tea or olives would be useful. Forget the plants and flowers and dried arrangements on sale along the highway. We have beautiful flowers all around the house.

Mind you, we love to have you visit. We love sharing our beautiful state with you. We love catching up on old times and memories. But we know that after the walks and talks and sails, we have to feed you. And we need help.

The writer, who lives in Ellsworth, Maine, was executive women's editor of The Post in the 1960s. This article appeared in the Bangor Daily News.