March 3, 2014

Better Than A Bottle of Wine: What to Take to the Party.

Photo: Bryonie Wise

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.

Homemade truffles.

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?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Bryonie Wise

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Victoria Fedden  |  Contribution: 19,035