Lovely Host(ess) Gift Ideas (Under $50)
One of my girl friends and I were talking about how sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what to get a host -and no, I most definitely am not talking about the generic bottle of wine- although, a lovely bottle of wine is always welcome in my home.😉
I’ve decided to put together a list of ideas that use for the next party you’re attending:
Herb Garden Kit–Williams Sonoma ($30)
This kit contains the containers, so I would go to your local home improvement store and pick up packet of seeds and soil disks
Cheese Tray–Amazon.com ($35)
Spa Kit- BathandBodyworks.com ($38)
Who doesn’t enjoy a nice aromatherapy set?
Board or Card Games– Amazon.com ($25)
(Please only give this gift to someone that has a good sense of humor)
The Ultimate Cocktail Bar Tool– UncommonGoods.com ($40)
This is the only pocketknife of your minibar will ever need. I think we all have someone in our lives who would appreciate a device like this.
Personalized Cookbook- Amazon.com ($18)
There are thousands of cookbooks out there and only one you want to give to your host(ess)… Pick something that is straight to the heart of that person.
For example, if you’re going to a party being thrown by an amateur mixologist, then pick a highly rated recipe book full of inventive recipes.
Spice Box– Penzeys.com ($38)
If your host knows their way around the kitchen, they will LOVE using these spices in their next dish. I’ve given these to my Mom and she loves how they take her meals to the next level.
Keep this list in mind the next time you are invited to someone’s home for an intimate gathering. There’s a very good chance you’ll be invited back😉
Host with the Most for Overnight Guests
I always try my best to do posts that apply directly to my life in the exact moment (with hopes it can help my readers as well). If there’s ever something you need help with (when it comes to the home and entertaining, please let me know- all I ever want to do is help my readers.
This week my Mom is coming down from Minnesota to stay with me for my birthday as well as Mother’s Day. Whenever I host (whether it be family or friends), I always want them to feel as though my home is their home- I guess you could say that hosting is my love language. 😉 Hosting isn’t always common knowledge, so I wanted to put together a checklist of items that will be helpful for when you are hosting family or friends in your home.
Ready? Let’s get to it!
Hostess with the Mostess Checklist:
- Bed: If you don’t have an extra bedroom for your guests (or a pull out couch), please pick up a blowup air mattress for your guests. This will allow them to get a much better night’s sleep
- Bedding: Personally, I always purchase white sheets (be sure to dress the bed with a fitted sheet, lose sheet and comforter or duvet). Why?
1.) You can bleach them (keeping them extra clean all the time)
2.) Replacement sheets are always available
3.) It reminds me of a high-end hotel
- Sleeping with Ease: If your guest isn’t sleeping in their own room, have sleeping mask, and earplugs ready (you can find these at the dollar store)
- Light Reading: Keep magazines or books near the bed to nurse sleeplessness
- Flowers: a small vase of flowers (from you local grocery store) will bring the space to a new level
- Allergies: learn about any food allergies your guest(s) may have
- Breakfast: breakfast can be quite tricky sometimes (with all the options available), so be sure to know what your visitor enjoys eating
- Drinks: this applies to adult beverages and non-adult beverages. Be sure to have bottled water available in your guest room/sleeping area
- Snacks: make a small midnight sweets basket to enjoy
Photo credit: Lindtusa.com
- Toiletries: Whenever I travel to hotels, I try and keep the little shampoos, conditioners, body washes and body lotions for my guests. I keep a fully stocked cupboard in the guest bathroom in case your loved ones forget these items at home.
- Medicine: I keep my medicine in the linen closet across the hall my the guest bedroom in case your visitor get a stomach or headache in the middle of the night
- Bathing: Be sure to have a clean bath sheet, hand towel and wash cloth for everyone
Photo credit: darientimes.com
If your guest has a rental car (or there’s public transportation near your home), a list of great restaurants and areas of interest left on your visitors bed helps keep everyone busy and happy
Photo credit: Journeysinlightphotoblog.net
My wish for you is that these checklist items help you with your next guests that spend the night.
How to Throw a Memorable Bonfire
I had a bonfire party with some of my girlfriends the the other week and we had a great time! A bonfire party is a fun, and inexpensive way to celebrate life with those you love. I know certain areas of the northern hemisphere aren’t exactly ready for bonfire season, but if not, you can keep this stored in your entertaining archives.
Mandatory Party Items:
- Dry firewood
- Kindling (Dry twigs)
- Tinder (dead leaves and pine needles)
- Matches or lighter
- Lighter fluid (in case the fire doesn’t take)
- Speakers and music
- S’mores Ingredients (graham crackers, marshmallows and candies)
- S’mores roasting sticks
- Blankets (incase the air is chilly)
- Decor to set the mood (I set candles up around my home to create an intimate and comfortable environment)
Step 1: Pick a theme or tone you want to convey
Since this was an intimate bonfire with about 7 ladies, I decided to take more of a relaxed environment with candles.
Step 2: Pick the menu
This this is a bonfire, so I decided to go with a s’more bar. I picked my friends’ favorite candies to add instead of just chocolate (I bought Reese’s, Snickers, Hershey’s with and without almonds, Ghirardelli chocolate with sea salt, Milky Way and Twix)
For beverages, I had white wine, red wine, beer (I love the Shiner Birthday Pilsner) and sparkling water. This covers almost all the bases your guests could ask of. If your guests would like something more specific, I wouldn’t worry about it- they are more than welcome to contribute to the party.
Step 3: Pick the music
This should be consistent with the theme. I chose (my favorite Pandora playlist), Hipster Cocktail Party. It’s a great combination or Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, as well as a nice mix of today’s music from The Black Keys, The Lumineers, Of Monster and Men, and other great artists.
Step 4: Prep the fire
The best (I personally believe) way to build a fire is by building the teepee style structure.
It starts with newspaper, tinder and kindling in the middle. Above this, build the teepee with the firewood and more kindling.
Note: Make sure you have a backup plan for if your bonfire isn’t starting (we ended up roasting the marshmallows over the gas oven 😉 I didn’t have any kindling)
Once your guests start to arrive, just light, turn on some tunes, roast your s’mores and enjoy!
Christmas Entertaining with Ease
I’m glad I can be a part of your holiday party planning. This can be a very stressful time of year, especially for those entertaining for Christmas Eve and/or Day. The best way to relieve this stress is to prepare as much as possible ahead of time.
By starting to prepare for the event several days ahead of time, you leave less to go awry last minute.
The best way to start is by looking back at Set Your Table the Thrifty Way for starters. From there, we will customize for your party.
Like stated before, it’s a great idea to keep your plates simple and add color and zest in your napkins and centerpiece.
The napkins were purchased at Target, plates were purchased at HomeGoods, and the flatware is Oneida.
I took spruce clippings (two types), placed on the napkin, and tie with a sheer ribbon (an alternative to a napkin ring)
Below is a simple and inexpensive (>$14) centerpiece for the dining room table:
Floating Candles -$2
Glass bowl or vase – $5
Spruce needles- $5
Sprinkle a handful of needles on the bottom of the bowl or vase
Fill 3/4 full of water
Fill with cranberries
Place floating candles on top and light (once you’re ready to enjoy)
To decorate the rest of the table, simply, go to your local florist, buy a bundle of spruce clippings, and lay the table with cranberries sprinkled about.
Whenever I entertain, I have to have background music. The best soundtrack for the season is definitely the Frank Sinatra (Holiday) Radio on Pandora Radio.
I strongly suggest having a veggie tray for an appetizer. This insures the kiddos stuff their face with veggies and not a filling cheese ball. You can either go to your local grocery store and buy a pre-made tray, or you can pick your veggies, cut them the day before (keep in an airtight container in the fridge) and place on a tray the day of your event.
Here is an adorable veggie tray from Mom Endeavors
The best way to be stress-free is by putting your main dish in the Crock-Pot. This is an awesome way to set it and forget it.
I’ve attached a delightful and easy recipe for you:
I always suggest having a variety of games for your party. This is a great way for people to get to know one another if there’s a variety of friends and family that don’t know one another. This will also keep the family from talking about religion or politics 😉
Minute to Win It Games– This is a wonderful ice breaker that can be played in teams. Click HERE to see the variety of games used with common household objects
Catch Phrase– This my family’s favorite. This is a fast-paced game where one person is given a word or phrase and the people on your team must guess the word by giving them clues
Cards Against Humanity (Adults only)- An adult version of Apples to Apples (Make sure everyone playing has a good sense of humor)
By doing these ahead of time, you will be much more at ease on the day of your get-together.
Set your Table for a Dinner Party the Thrifty Way
I understand that hosting dinner parties can be quite expensive before you even start buying the food and drinks. Here are some tips that I have for anyone that enjoys hosting dinner parties or plans on hosting them in the near future:
I suggest buying nice flatware for casual use and for dinner parties. This way you don’t have to buy two sets, and a nicer set of flatware (for everyday use and special occasion use) will last a longer time as well. I like the Oneida brand. It’s great quality and reasonably priced.
I know it’s fun to buy plates with bright colors and loud prints to fit the theme of a party but let’s be honest… this is isn’t a great idea. I would recommend buying simple and timeless white plates. White never goes out of style and coordinates with every color. Here is a great option. At the very least, I would buy a salad plate, dinner plate, bowl and coffee cup (which you can buy in sets). Again, I would recommend using the same set for personal and special occasion use (this cuts down on waste).
Another inexpensive option is faux china. This could be a great option for a very large dinner party where you simply don’t have that many plates the serve people.
If you feel the need to have some color, I would choose a silver, gold or black accent color, but keep it minimal.
I think stemware definitely depends on your audience and the occasion. If you’re having a formal dinner with wine and food pairings, then you need a red wine glass, a white wine glass, a cocktail glass (not set out on the table, but available if a cocktail is requested) and a water goblet at a minimum. If your guests are more relaxed, I would have one type of wine glass (your guests can choose one wine they would like to drink), a water glass and a cocktail glass.
The place I love to buy glasses is IKEA (believe it or not). They have a great selection and their glasses run about $2/glass. Another great place to buy wine glasses are the TJX stores (T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and HomeGoods). They generally come in a 6 pack box and are ~$10.
This is the place you can really have fun with the colors (without maxing out your credit card). There are thousands of options for beautiful fabric napkins. You can go online or in stores (depending on your schedule). I always find something at HomeGoods (they generally have an entire aisle dedicated to cloth napkins, runners and placemats)
If you’d like (and are on a very tight budget), feel comfortable in buy buying paper napkins. They are beautiful (and thriftier) option that allows you to buy different napkins for every event. Etsy.com is my favorite place to buy napkins.
Centerpieces and Decor
Do not, I repeat, do not put very fragrant flowers on your table. I know this seems counterintuitive, but there are few things worse (at a dinner party) than a giant stargazer lily in your face while trying to enjoy a nice meal with fragrant foods (the two scents don’t mix).
There are plenty of gorgeous non-fragrant flowers that would look just as beautiful in the centerpiece. Something you may want to try are floating (non-scented) candles (IKEA)with non-fragrant flowers (tulips, poppies, calla lilies, hydrangea, orchids, iris, gerbera daisies… etc… the list goes on). If there’s a flower that you love and have to have it at the party, I would recommend keeping it in a mingling area, and not where you’re eating. (Again, I always advise buying flowers at Trader Joe’s because they’re so inexpensive)
Also, make sure you don’t have some sort of tall centerpiece that prevents great conversation. Nobody wants to play peekaboo around the towering candlesticks.
Succulents are another great option for centerpieces. Since succulents are so popular right now, many people have them terrariums around the house (and if you don’t you can buy then for a dollar or two and keep for after the party).
I hope this has been helpful to you and you use it in the near future (especially with the holidays right around the corner).
I think everyone loves a good theme for their party… I mean, why not? It can be as simple as two colors continued throughout the decor.
The other week some of my girlfriends and I hosted a See Ya Later party for a friend moving to California for graduate school, so we decided a Texas Cocktail Party would be the most appropriate theme.
Some items on the menu included:
- Stuffed Peppers
- Spinach Salad with Goat cheese, Strawberries and a lovely raspberry vinaigrette
- Texas-shaped sugar cookies with royal icing (as goodie bags)
- Shiner Bock
- Sarasota Lemonade*** (Recipe on the Recipe page)
Important Hosting Tips:
- Candlelight (if the event is at night)- always makes a party feel more sophisticated and intimate (I stock up on candles at Ikea because they’re inexpensive and beautiful)
- Background Music– I personally use Pandora, plug this into my speakers and tune into the Hipster Cocktail Party station
- Signature Cocktail– Whatever works with the theme and the partygoer’s preference (this can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic; whatever works for you)
- Fresh Flowers***– This makes your event that much more special. My go-to place for fresh flowers is Trader Joe’s… You can get a beautiful bouquet for less than $5
More hosting tips to come!