Whoever said, “It is better to give than to receive,” is a big fat liar. As the More is More Mom® I can tell you with certainty that everybody loves to be on the receiving end of a beautifully wrapped package. Gift giving is truly an art form.
When in doubt….. BRING A GIFT! I can scarcely imagine an event that would not be improved with a token of affection. Why just this past week I was included in a get together for a friend whose company I enjoy very much, but don’t know particularly well. It was a cocktail and appetizer girl’s night out, where the girls pitched in for the fun. I have a general rule of thumb which considers reciprocity as a guide for the type of gift that is appropriate. For instance, in this case the girls were contributing to the cost of the evening, and the guest of honor was an acquaintance, therefore a whimsical treasure was in order. The birthday gal in question is the beautiful, glamorous, out going type, so really, what is there possibly left to get for the lady that has everything? I searched and I pondered until I came upon the perfect little gift. I found a heart shaped, pink and silver rhinestone studded, purse holder. It is a handy little gadget that fits on a table top, and dangles a hook from which to hang your purse while you are out for the evening (rather than setting it on the yucky, skanky floor). The message I wrote said: Happy birthday to a girl that sparkles and shines…..
The perfect accompaniment to a thoughtful or meaningful gift is of course in the way that it is presented. As the More is More Mom® I am a collector of many things which would include……….wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper and ribbon! The well appointed gift giver is excessively well stocked with; tape, invisible, double sided and packing; scissors with straight edges, pinking sheers, and specialty edges with curly cues and zig zags; beautiful and colorful wrapping papers, in an array of patterns and colors to fit every conceivable event and occasion; gift bags of every shape, style and size; a rainbow of tissue paper, and plenty of classic white; and……ribbon. I don’t even know where to begin describing the ribbon. I have several Rubbermaid containers full, jam packed and over flowing in colorful and fanciful reams. I purchase most of my ribbon assortment from Cost Co (though I am a lover of ribbon from Jo Anne Fabrics and Hobby Lobby, too…how those people stay in business I’ll never know. Their inventory is not computerized and something is always on sale for 50% off. I LOVE IT!!). I am also quite partial to gift tags, note cards and stationary; and of course multi colored felt tipped pens and Sharpies. Like a good Girl Scout, I am always prepared.
I am a big believer in Hostess Gifts….because I always want to be the first guest invited to return! If your host’s have gone to the trouble of inviting you to their home, then you are obligated to show your appreciation by bestowing upon them a gift to thank them for their hospitality. To host a party or an event, big or small, is very time consuming (requiring an insane number of hours of preparation) and can be rather expensive. I like to consider the investment of generosity (thoughtfulness, time and expense) involved in including me in a celebration as I determine how best to thank my host’s.
Another factor that I like to consider when I give a hostess gift is whether or not children (high school students included) live in the home. It is actually a bribe because I like to be popular, and anyway, kids love a good treat too. I usually like to bring them something chocolaty. In my inventory (again I should have been a shopkeeper) I always have on hand those big Hershey’s chocolate bars (if I am giving a gift card as a gift to a kid, I always wrap it up with a Hershey’s bar…yum!) , but if time permits I like to make something sweet. My quick go to’s are homemade chocolate chip cookies (I think I have discovered the magic secret to cookie making, because mine get RAVE reviews. In fact I sent them with Nick to a game film review night for his hockey team and his coach told me later that mine were the best chocolate chop cookies he’s ever had. I told him that I would make him a batch each week if he always put Nick out on the power play. He laughed. I wasn’t kidding) and pretzel sticks dipped in melted chocolates with brightly colored confection sprinkles scattered about. I always stock up on sprinkles from the bakery aisle especially the colorful kind for the various holidays and seasons. They just make a cake or cupcakes look so cheerful! After I dip the pretzels and the chocolate sets, I place several in clear sleeves (small party favor bags) that I stock up on from Party City. I prepare a bag for each child in the home (much less arguing involved for the recipients), make a gift tag and wrap it up in pretty ribbon (!). The kids always remember you then. For instance, a few summers ago I was invited to my friend’s for two gatherings in seven days as it worked out, and I brought her pals each a little something special for both events. The second time her little one had remembered me from the week before and asked me, “Are you going to be the last one to leave again?” “Of course,” I told her, “because I brought my jammies for a sleepover this time.”
Over the past few weeks I have been invited to a few fun events. For the first one, Chuck and I were invited to join our host’s at a fundraiser for a very worthy cause. We were their guests, so two days prior to the event I made them a batch of chocolate chip cookies (Glad makes these great disposable containers with lids, which I like because they keep your baked goods fresh and safe from harm, like Wrigley stepping on them in the car, and the message is clear that nothing needs to be returned to you) for their family and I wrapped them in a beautiful ribbon around a silver platter, which was the real gift. I brought it to their home in advance of the event so they knew that we appreciated being invited as their guests, and were looking forward to spending the evening with them. Rather than bring the gift the evening of the party, I brought it to their home so as not to burden them on that evening at an offsite location.
Then, I was lucky enough to have two fun things to do in the same day! My book club has decided that while school is in session we will meet during the day for lunch, rather than in the evening for snicky snacks and splishy splashes of wine. Evenings are tough during the school year with homework, sports and traveling husbands. However, evenings in the summer are a refuge from the madness of the bustling days. In February we read The Reliable Wife (which was curiously somber and strange) and were treated to a beautiful luncheon in my friend’s home. Oh, how I wish I had brought my camera. Everything was beautiful! On her kitchen table was a lovely floral tablecloth, set on the diagonal, with rows of wine glasses, water goblets, and coffee mugs, and an urn used as an ice bucket. The lunch was delicious! An enormous green salad, with strawberries, nuts and crumbled cheese topped with sliced grilled chicken breasts, fruit salad, rolls and mugs filled to the brim with asparagus soup. It was apparent that so much care and effort went in to planning and preparing this luncheon. I brought a festive spring platter with a small rabbit in the pink center of a platter edged in a spring green. My friend has two boys, so I made them each a sleeve of chocolate dipped pretzels with pastel sprinkles. I fastened each bag to the platter with double sided tape and wrapped them up in a big pink striped bow!
Our Lady of Perpetual Donations was in need of more…..donations, for the annual gala auction. The auction committee customarily asks the eighth grade families to donate a basket and a few of my gal pals agreed to spearhead the project. They had a fantastic idea: Hold the event at a cute little shop in downtown Winsome (……where winning is a way of life) that sells hip and happening clothes, and fun and funky jewelry. Ladies love that! A night out for a good cause, with wine and snacks, and the opportunity to purchase sparkly baubles! The girls were great to put together a fantastic event for a good cause, and I wanted to get them each a token to thank them for their generosity. I found three of the sweetest pedestal plates with little pink, yellow, green and blue chicks dancing around the rim. I had quite an assembly line of chocolate dipped pretzels, in individual sleeves, for the children in each household. Many thanks to the “smart-icles” (as Amanda would say) at 3M for the invention of double sided tape, as I once again taped down the sleeves of pretzels to the pedestal platters and tied them with a big bow.
Okay, you got me. On second thought, maybe it is as fun to give as it is to receive……