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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 gift!

See Also:

Gift Baskets - Create Simple Easy Gifts For the Person Who Has Everything!

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Jan K., The Proofer is freelance proofreader and copyeditor. Visit http://www.janktheproofer.com for more information. Visit Jan K., the Prooferís sister sites: Momís Break at http://www.MomsBreak.com for free printable projects and crafts.

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