Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hostess Gifts

I always like to bring a little something when visiting someone at their home, however I am always struggling to find the perfect gift. I may see something when I'm in the store, but seem to forget about it when I actually need it. So, I have been keeping notes of fun hostess gifts to bring with me.

1. Personalized to the interest of the host: For instance, when I visited my cousin (who is originally from Maryland, but lives in SC now), I thought it would be nice to bring something from home to her. What says Maryland better than steamed crabs and Old Bay?! Well, I don't think I would be allowed on the plane with steamed crabs, so I improvised. I found a cute little glass Old Bay shaker with a silver top and silver crab on the front. I paired one of those with a cute white kitchen towel with a pretty painted pink crab on the front. I thought that was pretty good for bringing Baltimore to Columbia! How about a pretty nail polish color with a cute pair of flip flops and a nice beach towel for a friend hosting you at their beach place who loves to get regular pedicures or layout in the sun? Or a personalized cheese tray with knife for the wine lover?

2. Beautiful scents: Candles, soaps, and diffusers. You can vamp them up with some monograms or you don't have to break the bank and can find many options at TJ Max or Homegoods. I also love to give William-Sonoma hand soap and lotion, who can't use that?! (They discontinued my favorite, Olive Oil, but there are some great new scents!)

3. Alcohol: Forget the usual bottle of wine. Spruce it up a bit with these ideas. How about wine coupled with either cocktail napkins, coasters, wine charms, or a bottle stopper? What about a margarita mix with two margarita glasses, great for outdoor deck parties! (And the creative artist in yourself could always paint a pretty design on the glasses for a more personalized touch.) Or a bottle of liquor with a recipe for a cocktail tied to it. And if you are creative, bottle up a concoction you made. One of my best friends' mom would always make Kahlua around the holiday season and bottle it up with a personalized sticker on the front. I always thought it was such a great idea!

4. Baked goods: Many ideas here (of course, because I'm a baking nut!)
-How about baking up some of your famous cookies and pairing them with napkins?
-Or placing your baked goods in reusable container for the hostess (great idea is to use cookie tins around the holidays when everyone is busy baking).
-Think of your favorite cookie recipe and bottle up all the ingredients by layering them in a cute jar. Attach the recipe with a ribbon around the jar.
-Take it a step further and wrap up your baked good with an item that is needed for making it (such as muffin pan), or a serving utensil you would need (such as a pie server) with recipe tied to it with a pretty ribbon.
-Also, think of your hostess for the morning after. I'm sure she hasn't even thought about what she will be having. Wouldn't it be nice to make some homemade blueberry muffins or coffee cake for her to enjoy the morning after the party?

5. Pretty picture frame: You could find a nice silver frame from Pottery Barn or even Marshall's. Its even more fun if you find an old picture of yourself with the host and get it developed in black and white for a more personalized touch.

6. Pretty jar: Fill an apothecary jar full of candies, nuts, or seasonal items such as pine cones. Tie together with a coordinating ribbon. You can find tons of these jars at Michael's craft store.

7. Fresh flowers: You can never go wrong with these, but why not step it up and send the flowers or arrangement a day before the event so the host can display at her home? Or an oregano or basil plant that the hostess can use to make recipes and add a wonderful scent to her home.

8. Ornaments: What a perfect idea around the holiday season. I also like to stock up on ornaments around the holiday season for events that may occur throughout the year. For instance, its always fun to get a graduation ornament or baby ornament in December, but hold on to it until May for the big event. Great hostess gift or great name card to tie onto a gift for a shower.

9. Paper goods: How about napkins with spreader tied together? Personalized stationary?

10. Linens: I'm a sucker for monogrammed linen towels and cannot have enough of them! I also recently found lovely handmade coasters on Etsy that came in all sorts of fabrics. You could find Christmas coasters or even coasters made from Lilly Pulitzer fabric for a summer deck party!

11. Dishes: Make an appetizer or dessert and serve on a nice platter or serving dish and leave the dish for the guest.

12. Books: A book for the coffee table that is specific to the interest of the host is a great gift.

*Newlywed Note: Keep extra gifts on hand for when hubby comes home to tell you there's a party you were invited to...tonight and it just happened to slip his mind all week.*
Hope some of the ideas will be useful to you for all your summer events!

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