Easy and Inexpensive Hostess Gifts
by: Jan Kovarik
In days gone by, it was considered impolite to go to someone's house for
dinner or a party and not take a small gift for the hostess (or the host!). The
gift didn't have to be anything "special" or very expensive, just something that
said "Thank you" to your hostess.
It can be very easy, and not at all expensive, to renew that happy custom.
And speaking from personal experience, it is so much fun to watch her face when
you hand her a little gift!
Keep Gift Items on Hand
It is relatively simple to keep a few things on hand that make nice little
gifts. You don't need to spend a fortune either---and here's how you do it:
Buy trial-sized items! You can find hand lotions, small bottles of spray
perfume, bars of moisturizing soap, etc. I've even found very small bottles and
tubes of bath gel, body lotion, and after-bath spray all in the same
scent---these make a perfect hostess gift set!
Look for 2-for, 3-for, and 4-for sales! I watch for sales and coupons,
especially BOGO (Buy One, Get One) or sales that offer a one-price-for-several
items. Look for anything in the "Health and Beauty" category: nail files,
bathtub "puffs," fancy soaps, scented sprays, and lotions. Another idea would be
looking for sales of scented candles and other small decorative or universally
useful items. Walgreens, Eckerd's, and CVS drug stores are great for their sales
and coupons, especially right before and after a holiday.
Shop in "dollar" stores! Bargain stores or "dollar" stores are great places
to find things like small wicker baskets, votive candle holders, and really
inexpensive wrapping paper, gift bags, and bows and ribbons.
Keep your eyes open! Anytime I'm in a store like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, or
even the local grocery market, I watch for sales of "things"---anything that
would make a nice little "something" to wrap up as a gift.
Keep Wrapping Paper and Ribbons on Hand
Think "tissue paper" and "curl ribbon"! I keep plenty of tissue paper, in a
variety or colors and patterns, on hand. It is very inexpensive and makes for an
easy way to wrap just a tube of lotion or a bottle of scented spray because you
can "twist" the ends together and then tie with a ribbon. It is also a good idea
to have at least one type of Birthday wrapping paper, as well---for those
impromptu Birthday parties, or if you suddenly remember that it's your next-door
neighbor's (or your boss's!) birthday.
I have just about every color of curl ribbon on hand, as well (you know, the
kind that you can "curl" by pulling it across the flat edge of a scissor blade).
Any gift can be made to look very festive, especially if you use several colors
of curl ribbon that compliment the color of the tissue paper, or match the color
of the gift item! I recently put together a small gift set of lavender scented
bath items, all of which were purple-colored, and wrapped in silver tissue paper
tied with purple and silver curl ribbon. It was very attractive and no one would
have known that it probably cost me less than $5.
Put the gift in a basket or bag! Any gift, no matter how small (even a single
votive candle in a 50-cent plain glass votive holder) can look like a million
dollars---if you "present" it nicely. I like to put small items in a little
wicker basket or a plain-colored gift bag that is stuffed with tissue paper that
I've put through a shredder (you can buy really inexpensive paper shredders,
I've seen them for less than $10). Remember to color-coordinate the wrapping
paper and the gift item!
Be Creative! Think "Fun"!
A hostess gift can be anything, put in anything, wrapped in anything! Think
outside the box---or rather think INSIDE the...bucket, shoebox, plastic
container, empty oatmeal container, etc. Don't limit yourself---or the gift!
We recently spent a weekend at the beach with friends. For a hostess gift, I
bought a small tube of Aloe gel, a tube of Aloe bath gel, and a little pump
bottle of "After Tan" body lotion. I went to a "dollar" store and bought a
plastic bucket and a shovel (the kind that kids use to play in the sand). I
tissue-wrapped the few little times, shredded beige tissue paper to make "sand"
to put in the bucket, nestled the wrapped items in the shredded paper, stuck in
the shovel, ran several streamers of curl ribbon that matched the color of the
bucket through the handle of the bucket---and I had a perfect "Weekend at the
Beach" hostess gift! I spent less than $8 and my girlfriend laughed and
thoroughly enjoyed digging into her bucket and searching for the little presents
in the tissue paper sand!
For a friend who is very culinary-minded, I found a package of
different-sized wooden spoons on sale for $1 and added to that a small spice jar
of cinnamon and a bag of brown sugar, and I plopped everything in an empty
Quaker's Oatmeal container (after emptying and wiping out with a damp paper
towel). I printed out a recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies on an index card and
punched a hole in one side. After looping several turns of blue and red curl
ribbons around the container, I strung the recipe card through one end of
ribbon, tied it off, and then curled all the ends of the ribbons. She was
delighted with her special hostess gift. Cost? About $6.
If you need a gift for your host, you can apply all these same ideas---just
with a man in mind! Surprisingly, men can be appreciative of nail files,
clippers, fold-up comb, a lint brush, etc. For a host who is sports-minded, get
a tube of BENGAY and wrap it in an ACE bandage!
Remember: It's Not the Gift, It's the Thought That Counts!
Giving a gift that comes from the heart---and not from the wallet---is what
your hostess will appreciate the most. Take the time to select individual items,
instead of buying pre-packaged "sets." It doesn't have to be anything fancy, it
doesn't have to be anything expensive---all you need are a few little items, put
them together with a little bit of thought, and you have a delightful hostess
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