Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

Mind Your Manners with Host and Hostess Gifts

August 12th 2010

Many individuals do not see the logic behind the giving of host and hostess gifts by the guests to the party. Their rationale is that the host and hostess invited them to be guests at the party and, hence, their presence is the gift in and of itself. Also, their viewpoint is that the host and hostess may be offended by the gift – no gift, no mistake, so to speak.

Miss Manners will the first person to rebuke these individuals about their lack of good manners as guests to a party from the first get-go. These gifts are tokens of appreciation by the guest to the host for the latter’s graciousness in inviting the former to the special occasion. After all, the host can always choose to snub any prospective guest.

And since the host and hostess gift is a token of appreciation, its monetary value is secondary to the sincere thoughts behind it. Of course, it will be a nice gesture when you choose the gift with a practical value or a sentimental significance or both. Just don’t settle for the cheapest one on the shelf either since you also want to be proud of your host and hostess gifts.

The following are a few good ideas about excellent gifts for the host and hostess, no matter the theme, reason and venue of the party:

• A bottle of wine with good vintage is always welcome. We suggest giving wine that you may also like to drink with your own meals.
• A homemade or gourmet treat will be appreciated, too. Just make sure that it can be saved for later use as the menu may have been set. Think wrapped gourmet food, chocolate treats and pastries.
• A bouquet of flowers or a small potted plant may also be given to the host. These gifts can brighten up the atmosphere well after the party has ended.
• Other gifts like candles, stationery and even knickknacks are also suitable gifts. The trick is in knowing your host’s preferences but it should be easy if and when you are a member of the family or a friend.

Hostess Gifts

After deciding on the host and hostess gifts, the next decision to make is when to give them. You have two choices – send it ahead before your arrival to the party or give it upon your arrival to the party. Your choice will depend on factors like longevity of the gift, distance between your home and the venue, and the element of surprise.

When giving the gift to the host, you should also remember certain good manners. For one thing, you should not expect your host to parade the gift in front of other guests and to even say something positive about it. Your host will greet you at the door, receive your gift and then move on to other party responsibilities.

For another thing, you must not expect your host to actually use the wine, serve the food and display the flowers. Your gift is just that – a gift that the recipient can choose to open and use when and where desired.

On a final note, host and hostess gifts are your thank-you gifts for the invitation. As such, don’t expect to receive a thank-you note from your host. Instead, you should give a thank-you note after the party.

Posted by admin under Gifts & Hostessing | No Comments »

White Elephant Exchange

December 19th 2009

elephant White Elephant ExchangeI love to do a white elephant exchange at my holiday get togethers. You want to have at least 5 or 6 people to make it fun, but there is no limit to have many people can participate above that. Each person needs to bring a wrapped present so it’s a surprise for the person opening it. As people arrive you will put all the gifts on a table to be picked later.

It’s often more of a funny gift exchange that happens at most holiday work parties. You can do a gag gifts if you want, but you can also tell people a theme and to bring things they would really want to take home themselves. As in any gift exchange you will want to set a price range so everyone is on the same page.

Personally, I love the funny kind. In the past I’ve gotten usb fuzzy-bear-hand-warmers, a ceramic moose, and boxes of chocolates. Watching someone open a silly gift can really bring laughter back into this stressful season. You’ll be surprised at what becomes the most wanted gift!

The white elephant exchange starts with each person picking a number from a bowl. There will be a table with all the gifts wrapped up for people to select from so people don’t know what’s in them. After all it’s supposed to be a surprise.

The person who picked number one will pick a gift from the table, open it, and show it to everyone. The next person (#2) gets to decide if they want to ‘steal’ number 1′s gift or pick one to unwrap themselves. If number 1′s gift is taken they choose another gift from the pile and starts all over.

There are a few rules and you may find that some people feel strongly about their variations. I say go by the host’s rules. Everyone has a rule that states that you can’t steal back a gift that was just stolen from you. Meaning if person 1 can’t immediately steal back their gift if person 2 took it. This continues throughout the numbers people selected.

One variation is that after all the gifts are open person 1 gets to decide if they want to keep their gift or steal someone else’s. If they steal one then that person steals one, and so on.

Most people agree that the third time a gift is stolen it’s out of the game and with a really large group of people it’s important. As you can see this game can take a long time if people keep stealing from one another. But that’s part of the fun!

Posted by Myriam under Gifts & Holiday Entertaining & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Secret Santa Party

December 16th 2009

santa cat Secret Santa PartyShow your friends that you’re thinking of them this holiday season without breaking the bank. It’s nice to buy presents for everyone if you can afford it, but there are ways to spend less money and still have a ton of fun.

The traditional secret Santa requires a little planning but it’s not too late. Each person only buys one present and everyone leaves with something just for them. I like secret Santa because you can match people together and all but assure that everyone’s holiday will be a little happier. Of course you can also leave it up to fate and have people draw form a bag (or you can download a program that duplicates it right on your computer).

Either way you can send out email to let people know who they are buying for. It’s best to have a price range. Usually under 20 dollars, but if someone is making something make sure they take their time into account too. In fact if your friends are crafty you could have a completely handmade exchange.

You can arrange your party around an exchange theme if you want. Exchange ornaments, liquors, funny shirts, anything that you think all of your friends would like. This year I’m focusing on handmade items for my friends. Check out or for great crafty ideas.

Have everyone bring their favorite holiday dish for a nice buffet spread and put out on your bright red Pimento sengware dinnerware to create the perfect table. Ahead of time mix a nice drink with a bottle of sparkling wine and Chambord in a pitcher for a festive red drink. Also grab some lime sparking water and add some cranberry juice for your non-alcoholic alternative that’s just as pretty.

Send out an evite about your little soirée and give all the pertinent details to your friends. No matter how you decide to exchange gifts you will all enjoy celebrating the holidays together.

Posted by Myriam under Gifts & Holiday Entertaining & Occasions & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Food and Cooking Holiday Gifts

December 9th 2009

gift Food and Cooking Holiday GiftsI love to give gifts and try to sprinkle them in all during the year. Buying gifts can be one of the hardest tasks during the holidays if you didn’t plan far enough ahead. One of the things I do is start filling up my gift closet the day after Christmas to prepare for next year. (And all the birthdays in between!) It also spreads the cost across the whole year. I don’t know about you but I have to buy for 4 birthdays in early January in addition to Christmas presents.

But it’s December now, and you can’t go back in time and have all your shopping done. Avoid breaking the bank with some of these inexpensive gift ideas.

Gifts from and for the kitchen are always welcome. Think about your friend and what they love to have in their kitchen. A collection of hot sauces for a chili pepper lover, fresh herb seeds or a few herb plants for the locavore in your life, or even a slow cooker for someone that’s having trouble fitting cooking into their schedule. An inexpensive slow cooker and/or rice cooker can really help out a spread-thin Mom everyday to cook for her whole family.

Don’t forget that a tin of holiday cookies or gingerbread can bring the holiday smells into a house that might otherwise go without. This is especially welcomed by elderly relatives or neighbors, students, and new parents. If you know that someone really likes your special muffins or another signature dish of yours, make a nice recipe card for them and include it in a basket of the ingredients to make the dish.

If you have a sick relative or even just an overwhelmed friend, you could fill their freezer with individual homemade microwave dinners. Make some extra for your freezer too and you’ll be assured to start the new year off eating right.

If you have a friend that was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, a great gluten free baking book like ‘Babycakes’ would be a huge help. A basket full of gluten-free holiday goodies would go pretty far too! It can be really hard to avoid wheat during the holidays, so you’ll really be giving them the holiday they didn’t think they would have this year.

The old stand by of coupons for one of their favorite home-cooked meals is still a perfect gift. The most important thing to keep in mind is that a gift supports the person’s lifestyle and hopefully makes it just a little bit easier.

Posted by Myriam under Gifts & Holiday Entertaining & Occasions | No Comments »

Gifts for the Chef

April 9th 2009

chef-gifts image

Everyone has someone in their life that is either a great chef, wanna be chef, or a foodie fanatic. Me? Well, I consider myself all three depending on the day. However, I also have a few of these “food type” as friends and as part of my family. One thing thing always seems to cause me confusion…what type of gifts do “food types” enjoy? I thought it might be helpful to put together a few gift ideas for that chef or food lover in all of our lives. So the next time you find yourself wandering the aisles of Pier One and World Market, stop and consider some of these great gift options.

- Personalized Recipe book and/or recipe cards. I know when I eat a fabulous dish prepared by a friend, I almost always ask for the recipe. I bet  having personalized recipe cards ready to give out would be a joy for a chef (or even wanna be chef)!

- A novelty kitchen necessity. Think of fun items that you typically would not buy; like colorful baking spatulas or a fun kitchen timer. What about a set of quirky dish towels? Or really exotic spices?

- A themed cookbook with accompanying gift. For example, an Asian themed cookbook and a set of fancy chopsticks. Or an dessert cookbook and personalized ice cream bowls.

- Gift Certificate! For a food lover, even the “boring” gift certificate can be reinvented. Choose a new restaurant or one they have never been to before. With a “free” meal, they may be more inclined and eager to try a new place out.

What are your gift suggestions for those who love to cook (and enjoy) great food?

Posted by Myriam under Gifts | 2 Comments »