My grandmother taught me to never show up to any gathering, no matter how small or informal, empty-handed—always bring a little gift for the hosts.
I delight in doing this myself, and as an avid entertainer, I am floored by the gracious generosity of my guests as well as their creativity and originality. I’m thankful and surprised by anything a guest gives me and I certainly don’t expect anything, but bringing something small, yet personal can elevate a customary act of politeness into something far more meaningful and memorable. An item well-chosen can become a souvenir of good times spent with dear friends.
For example, a few years ago a friend of mine, who has since moved away, brought a rosemary plant to my Christmas party. I planted it beside my front door and it thrived. Now, when I come and go, I think of my friend when I see and smell the fragrant herb and it makes me happy.
Wine is fine, but it’s unoriginal—everyone brings wine. Challenge your gift-giving creativity and consider some of these ideas instead:
Fill a small bottle or dish with shells and sea glass.
A seasonal themed flower arrangement.
Pick some flowers yourself!
A box of tea with a couple mugs.
Fancy, all-natural soaps for your host’s bathroom. My friend gave me a bar of lemongrass, goat’s milk soap she’d found on vacation. I was completely in love.
Mix essential oils in Epsom salts, scoop into a mason jar and tie with a ribbon for lovely and rustic, homemade bath salts.
Share the harvest. If you have a garden, bring your host fruit from your trees, veggies from the garden or bouquets of flowers or fresh herbs you’ve grown. I have a lot of fruit trees, and I love to bring my friends fresh mangoes, guavas and bananas from my yard.
When attending a dinner party, bring your host a bag of pastries or bagels with good quality butter and a flavored cream cheese to enjoy for breakfast the next morning.
A potted orchid. They go with all décor and are easy to grow. White orchids are a symbol of purity and bring fresh, positive energy into a home.
A small basket of exotic spices.
Bake a homemade dessert. (Check for allergies beforehand of course.)
Assemble your own fruit basket.
Anything you made by hand. If you knit or sew, make your host a simple scarf, apron, a pot holder or any small token of your friendship.
Paint a simple watercolor design and frame it. Be sure to sign it.
Can’t paint? Write a poem and frame that. Can’t write poetry? Print out a favorite poem or quote and frame that.
Frame a photo of you and your host to preserve a special memory.
Something for their pet.
The best book you’ve read recently. Even a used copy will be welcomed.
Seasonal hand towels to decorate the kitchen.
Make or purchase a miniature terrarium.
A little something made in your host’s hometown, home state or home country.
A special book or small toy for their child.
Gather together a bouquet of wooden spoons, tie with a pretty bow and present along with a package of organic bean soup mix.
Personalize a small box of stationery with their initials. You can buy these already printed or get a stamp and an ink pad and make them yourself.
Find a seedling of a fruit tree that grows in your climate that your host can plant in his or her yard.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Bryonie Wise