Tag Archives: TJ Maxx and More

Cinco De Mayo Celebration!!


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about ………….May celebrations! Let’s see, the month of May brings the likes of May Crowning, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and the ever popular Cinco de Mayo (commemorating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla…once again, I owe all of my knowledge of obscure historical facts to Wikipedia.). Cinco de Mayo is even better then St. Patrick’s Day. The wearing of the green is all well and good, but what’s green beer compared to margaritas? While St. Paddy’s Day is filled with cozy comfort food, the warmer weather of May inspires “Cocktails on the Patio.” Cinco de Mayo? Now that’s a party……

  • Homemade Salsa and Guacamole
  • Nacho’s and Taco’s
  • Steak Fajita’s
  • Mexican Sweet Corn

 

This year my family and I celebrated Tres de Mayo (all in the name of good photo opportunities!). My tablescape was festive and my menu delicious!

You know I’m all about the layering. The brightly hued, striped tablecloth sets the tone for a good time. My tres fabulous, multi-purpose orange runner (which you will find in my “Spring has Sprung at Target” blog https://moreismoremom.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/spring-has-sprung-at-target/) with the beautiful lattice pattern, is the perfect foil (One must love Pottery Barn, especially on clearance!). Hot pink placemats, edged with a beaded trim, are festive. Toss on rattan chargers for a textural element. Amidst the sea of color, the bright green glass dinner plates are a playful tie in to the citrus orange, and the pink dessert plates compliment the pink stripes in the table linens. I completely understand that a tablecloth negates the need for coasters, but I can’t resist the decorative detail of the green sparkles. Besides, the coaster then gives the proper importance to the ever necessary…..margarita glass. I rounded out the fabric elements with teal cloth napkins with a fringed edge, and slid it in place with a rattan napkin ring to re-enforce the texture of the charger. Simple silver flatware and orange and yellow pepper’s to adorn each place completes my table setting. Bigger and better things await….

All of the elements of your tablescape should be thoughtful and help re-enforce your theme. A centerpiece can either merely compliment, or play an integral part in telling you story. How better to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with Mexican Pottery? On a TJ Maxx and More run I fell in love with this sweet little froggy planter, and these wonderful matching patterned planters. The mix of patterns is vibrant and fantastic! Some hot pink floral stems from Jo Anne Fabrics filled in the froggy planter beautifully. The decorative, air purifying, plants I picked up at Home Depot the other day worked quite nicely in the planters. Every table setting benefits from candle light and I thought the simplicity of these votive holders, down played with the driftwood and twine detailing, was lovely.

 

The expanse of my kitchen island always works well for a buffet. I chose a red and orange, big buffalo check, square table cloth to set at an angle to anchor my display. At one end of the buffet, I filled my apothecary jars with lemons, limes and moss covered rocks for color and interest. On the other end, I placed two tall black painted candle sticks with floral detailing. For the center of my display I brought out my Chiquita Banana Lady that I use to serve tortilla chips. She is decorative and useful! On either side of her, I placed oversized margarita glasses (though I suppose that is personal opinion depending on how much you enjoy margaritas.); one to serve salsa, one to serve guacamole. The rest was simple….. a blue glass pedestal dish for the warmed tortilla shells, a platter for the fajita’s, a platter for the grilled corn, a baking dish for the nachos, plates, napkins, and of course blue glass tea light holders.

Not only does your celebration have to look good, but it should taste good too! I made salsa, guacamole, nachos, tacos, fajitas and grilled corn. All easy to make and prep in advance.

 

Salsa and Guacamole:

So easy to make! I always prepare an extra big batch of salsa so we have something to nibble on for a few days, though the guacamole doesn’t last nearly as long. I make both at the same time for the sake of efficiency.

7-8 tomatoes, diced (there about….5 for the salsa in one bowl, 2-3 for the guacamole in a second bowl)

1 large white onion, diced (two thirds in the salsa bowl, one third in the guacamole bowl)

1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (two thirds in the salsa bowl, one third in the guacamole bowl)

1 bunch of cilantro, washed, chopped (all in the salsa bowl)

3 avocados’, peeled, seeded, mashed in to thin chunks (all in the guacamole bowl)

3 salsa seasoning packets (salsa bowl)

3 guacamole seasoning packets (guacamole bowl)

 

 

In each bowl, stir until the ingredients are well mixed, add avocado pits back to guacamole bowl, transfer to air tight containers and refrigerate until ready to serve….with your favorite tortilla chips!

Nachos and Tacos:

My family likes more of everything (including leftovers), so dishes with identical ingredients would be no exception….

3 lbs of ground beef, browned
3 taco seasoning packets, mixed well with drained ground beef
(Can be prepared in advance, stored in an airtight container, the mess cleaned up, and re-heated as needed.)
3-4 tomatoes diced (wrapped in paper towels, I should be paid for promoting Bounty, and stored in a Zip-Loc Baggie, I should be paid by them too, or an airtight container.)
1-2 bunches scallions, trimmed and diced (I store in a Zip-Loc sandwich baggie)
Lettuce chopped (my usual method….wrapped in paper towel stored in a container or baggie)
Black olives, sliced (I buy them pre-sliced in the can to make my life the slightest bit simpler…not usually my specialty.)
Shredded Cheese (my people like cheddar, but go crazy!)

 

Anything else you like on Nacho’s and Taco’s; peppers, sour cream…have at it!
Tortilla chips
Tortilla shells

Nachos:

Pre-heat oven to 350°

 On a baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up), or if you are serving to guests, I would recommend a pretty baking dish;

Scatter a layer of tortilla chips.

Top with a heaping layer of cheese.

Spread as a hearty a layer of taco meat as your family prefers.

Sprinkle on tomatoes, scallions, black olives and anything else your heart desires.

Additional layers if necessary.

Bake for 10-15 minutes and dig in!

Tacos:
I think we all know how to make tacos. Eat up!

Steak Fajitas:

It smelled heavenly and Chuck said it tasted even better (I was busy nibbling on Nachos).

The Marinade:
I made two batches of the marinade and separated the meat from the vegetables. Each batch required: 

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup red wine
2 TBSP light corn syrup
½ tsp hot sauce (I used way more. If you’re making spicy….make it spicy)

¼ tsp black pepper (I’m crazy for cracked black pepper, so I just kept sprinkling)

The Meat:

 

12 ounces left over flank steak slices (left over from what? I bought one pound of flank steak, sliced it against the grain in very thin slices so they were easy to eat wrapped in a tortilla shell, tossed them in a Zip-Loc Baggie with the marinade over night.)

The Vegetables:

I like a lot of veggies, so I doubled the amount.

2 green bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Toss in to a Zip-Loc Baggie with the marinade overnight.

In a large non-stick skillet, I sautéed the meat (discarding the marinade), in a little bit of oil, until cooked through.

Remove from the pan and set aside on a platter.

In the same skillet, I sautéed the vegetables (discarding the marinade), until the veggies were nice and soft, almost caramelized.

Remove from the pan and set aside on the platter.

Serve on a warmed, soft tortilla shell and top with guacamole if desired.

 

Mexican Sweet Corn:

This was absolutely beautiful, smelled amazing and was outstanding-ly delicious!

I adjusted the recipe to accommodate 10 ears of corn. As it read, the recipe was intended for 4 ears of corn. It can’t just be, because I am the More is More Mom®, that 4 ears of corn seem like a ridiculously small quantity, even for a family of 4. What if someone wants more?

10 ears of corn (husks removed. I always do that the night before I serve corn on the cob and store in a 2 gallon Zip-Loc Baggie…seriously they should pay me. I can’t stand the mess of the silks.)

Mayonnaise (or butter Mixture):

I like mayo just fine, but none of my people like it, so I substituted butter and it was delish.

 

 

2 sticks of butter, softened (or, for a single recipe they recommend ½ cup of mayo, so I assume if you were doubling the recipe, 1 cup of mayo)
2tsp chili powder (I eyeballed)
2 tsp garlic salt (I eyeballed)
Freshly ground black pepper (Again, I used cracked black pepper, and I eyeballed the amount…..I have very good eyeballs.)
Stir all ingredients together until well mixed and store in an airtight container (If you have not already stocked up in duplicates of various sizes of glass containers with lids, you should….) 

Heat the grill. Turn down to medium.

 Brush the cobs of corn with oil and place on the grill.

Turn until all sides are charred, 6-10 minutes.

Remove from grill and slather on your butter or mayonnaise mixture.

Serve on a pretty platter and garnish with quarter cut limes for anyone that might like to squeeze a little fresh juice over their corn.

So there you have it….a beautiful and tasty Cinco de Mayo celebration. Ole!

More celebrating, more delicious food, more family fun……

To schedule an interior design appointment or a speaking engagement, please email me at moreismoremom@aol.com

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Let Me Sleep On It (Baby, Baby)….


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about………..more bedding! There is nothing like getting all snuggled up into a warm, cozy and comfortable bed at night. I love the moment when we remove our pillow shams, carefully stacking them up on our wing back chair, pull the covers back and slide into bed. It’s Heavenly! Personally, I happen to belong to the “make your bed every morning” camp. In fact, I like them made before the sheets have time to get cold. Some mornings, as I’m begging Nick to wake up, I make one side of his bed, while I’m rolling him out of the other. I’m nothing if not efficient.

You know my mantra is more of everything is always better, especially more bed linens! In design, layer upon thoughtful luscious layer is one significant way that style can be achieved. In regards to bedding, layering is the most important factor because it contributes to both the over all affect and the warm feeling of comfort, whether you favor romance, luxury or serenity.

  • Sheets: Do yourself a favor and buy the very best sheets that fit your budget. The higher the thread count the better! 
  • Duvet: A duvet is down filled and a duvet cover is its outer covering (I am a master of the obvious). The beauty of the duvet cover is the ability change the whole look of your room with the seasons, without having to store large bedding items not in use.
  • Comforter: A bed cover that is filled, quilted and frequently reversible. It typically only covers the mattress, not the box spring and bed frame, necessitating the use of a dust ruffle.
  • Bedspread or Coverlet: This is usually made of a light weight fabric and extends to floor.
  • Dust Ruffle: A decorative skirt that covers the box spring and bed frame which extends to the floor. They can be anywhere from shirred and full, like a ball gown, to a tailored box pleat.
  • Pillow Shams: Decorative coverings that are typically embellished with ruffles, pleats or flanges. They range in size; standard, queen, king and Euro shams (26” x 26” square). The purpose of the sham is to add formality to the bedding. They can sit in front of or behind the pillows used for slumber.
  • Decorative pillows: They have no purpose but to emphasize a color or pattern theme and add another layer and dimension.

 

With spring just around the corner, I’m inspired to spruce up our bedding with something fresh and new. After the heaviness of the cold (and snowy) winter, the lively patterns and perky color palettes are a warm welcome.

Steinmart has a very, very nice linen department. I would venture to say that it rivals your average Macy’s at the mall (more for less!). Of course, Marshall Fields on State Street (yes, I do know that is a Macy’s too. It just seems so wrong.) reigns supreme in the bedding department. While Steinmart has a very nice variety of comforter, I was particularly taken with their selection of sheets! Their DreamScape line is a luxurious 300 thread count and is featured in fabulous animal prints, stripes and a trellis design. The colors are such a relief from the traditional dark jewel tones; coral, apple green and chocolate. Solid colors highlight soft golds, sage-y greens and dreamy blues.

 

If I’m not cruising the aisles at Target, you’ll find me at my other favorite hot spots: TJ Maxx and More and Homegoods. I’m totally ready to spring forward to summer! Cynthia Rowley designed an absolutely delightful light blue, cheerful yellow and spring green quilt with coordinating (not completely matching) sheets, pillow shams and decorative pillows. The whole scheme makes me think of daffodils.

 

The beauty of Homegoods is the interesting variety. I wish we had more beds (or a lake house) because I would have a difficult time deciding between the quilt sets bursting with color; a chocolate brown background, bursting with hot pink and tangerine flowers, a very Hawaiian turquoise featuring tropical florals and one of my all time favorite color combinations of hot pink and apple green edged in stripes and centered with flowers!

 

Kohl’s is another smart place to look at bedding. They have a very elegant Hotel Line; high style and excellent quality which marries either a soft green or a silvery blue with a quiet chocolate brown. It shows a very grown up and sophisticated restraint.  

No matter what your personal style, there are fabulous bedding options this season. Ready made is fantastic, but I also have a great guy that fabricates custom bedding; as simple as pillow shams or a dust ruffle to pull the whole look together, or the Full Monty! If you’d like help with your Interior Design projects, shoot me an email. I’d love to help. moreismoremom@aol.com

More luxurious bedding, more spring nesting, more restful slumber…….

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Why Did the Grinch Steal Christmas? Because of His Shopping Experience at Abercrombie…


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more Christmas shopping for the teens!

Abercrombie

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas……. everywhere you go…..especially at the Abercrombie store. You know my mantra, more of everything is always better, so I totally get how it works; more crowds, more lines, more waiting, more noise, more merchandise……more fun! I was at my most favorite place in the entire world, The Mall, and I was happily making my list, and checking it twice as I approached, what is Mecca for the tweens and teens….the Abercrombie store (which is the same way I feel about a good Target or TJ Maxx and More!). I sensed that I was getting closer, even with my head down, furiously texting messages of the utmost importance as I made my way through the throngs of busy shoppers (you know, I am a very important person), when my animal instincts made me acutely aware that I had narrowed in on my prey. Well, really it wasn’t all that difficult, because the Abercrombie store is overwhelming with its powerful, hypnotic scent, even from outside the store, and down the promenade. I am drawn inside, like a moth to a flame (or me to a double discount sale or a bottle of Pino Grigio), with the promise of what they are selling; ridiculously over priced merchandise, which is so incredibly small in scale and as paper thin as a scalloped potato, that I am required to purchase three shirts to do the job, and provide the proper coverage, of one (the need for layering is absolutely genius marketing), just so my daughter sports an appropriate amount of clothing to cover up her body, as you see, I am not raising a hoochie mama!
I entered the store, already under the toxic influence of the cologne that they are very clearly pumping in through the air vents like they do oxygen in Vegas (baby). I was so taken by the over powering scent that I barely noticed that I had been lured in to another dimension, that is so dark that I could scarcely see my own hand in front of my face, much less the merchandise. I know that those brilliant Abercrombie people keep the lights so dimly lit with the intention that the customers (adults) can’t possibly see the price tags; otherwise you would find them as they ran screaming from the cave like a bat out of Hell (that’s Abercrombie Hell). I felt my way through the store, as my eyes adjusted to my new surroundings, and I unearthed some items that might have been of interest to “Santa.” When I couldn’t find the size I was searching for (small, a size I have never personally worn in my entire life. It is sooooo fun to make purchases for someone else!), I decided it was my mission to hunt down some assistance. Surely, they must have had one of these drawstring waisted, jacket style, dealy-wigs in a super small size. But, alas when I finally located help between the dark, the smell and the noise (which even I found to be at an irresponsible and offensive decibel level, and I adore irresponsible and offensive), I had to tap the young man on the shoulder as he could not detect my presence through his senses of sight, hearing or smell (as I smell of Givenchy, not Abercrombie) and he greeted me with a, “Hey. What’s up?” What’s up?!? What did you think was up you dope? I would have liked some customer service……
He nodded as if he understood what I was looking for, but I couldn’t be certain. I had a feeling he was accustomed to not understanding what was said to him, but agreeing to it anyway. Ah, to be so beautiful. It seemed that he was gone for about half a second when I asked him if he had located my items. He replied that “someone” was looking for them upstairs in the storage room. Yeah, right. I was sure the other Abercrombie beautiful people were doing exactly what my children do when asked to look for, or do something; pretend they did it. I skulked around the store until I found the magical “employees only” door, and simply discovered that there weren’t any more small sized, drawstring waisted, jacket style, dealy-wigs in any color. Humph. I supposed it was time to make do with what I had (not that my pals needed any more clothes, but Santa must bring something!).
I gathered up my purchases and headed for the only register open in the entire store that coincidentally was being manned by only one worker. Hello Mr. Abercrombie, it is Christmas. You know, the busiest season for shopping of the entire year. Well the little girl behind the counter was as cute as a button, but not too terribly efficient (I shop a lot and could certainly have taught her a thing or two that she apparently did not learn in her Abercrombie training sessions. I believe that there they learn to pout, pose and stare off in to the distance, therefore averting the gaze of customers in need of assistance). A line began to form as she picked up each item, one by one, scanned them and put them on the counter behind her. More efficiency…PLEASE. Why didn’t she scan, remove the sensor and fold each item as she had them in her hand? Seriously, I am a big believer in touching an item once, be it the groceries, the mail or the laundry. She could have sped up the process immeasurably had she been paying any attention at all, but I suppose she thought, “For minimum wage…why bother?” I’d tell you why to bother right here and now, but my opinions on a job well done will have to wait for another day.
While the little girl at the register was taking an absolute eternity to complete my transaction (15 minutes for 7 items seemed a tad excessive. We’re talking clothing here, not explosives), the line began to grow, and two more Abercrombie associates stepped behind the counter. The next woman in line behind me asked if someone could ring her up, and the new cute little girl behind that counter said that no, she couldn’t, that the first cute little girl would have to. So, efficiency expert, and irritated shopper that I was, I suggested that perhaps she could help the register girl fold, and box up my gifts. To which she replied, “No, that’s not my job.” Confused, I inquired, “Then, what is your job?” I kid you not, with a straight face, as if she actually believed the nonsense that was coming out of her mouth, she said, “I am in charge of walking around and making sure the customers are happy.” Dumbfounded, with my mouth wide open catching flies, I pointed out, “I am a customer, and I am not happy.” She looked at me as though I were speaking a foreign language and had three heads. I followed up with, “What is your name?” She answered me in such a perky manner, as if we were girlfriends talking about going to a concert, rather than a customer turning psychotic, “Keeley.” “Keeley”, I said, “may I please speak with your manager?” Without missing a beat she told me, “I am the manager.” Oh. My. God. She had to be kidding! Where were the grown ups? Seriously, what grown up in charge of anything is named Keeley? What are these Abercrombie people thinking permitting the inmates to run the asylum?
What recourse did I possibly have? I informed them, in a huff of irritation and self importance that I was going to name names and blog about them and their poor customer service on my blog page! Ha! The other grownups in line high-fived me as I stormed off with my purchases. I sure showed them. I bought $200.00 worth of merchandise. So who’s the winner now? Oh……. I guess that would be those smart marketing people at Abercrombie. Curses! Foiled again…….

More hustle and bustle, more Christmas cheer, more spending all of your money at Abercrombie….

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Rain, Rain Go Away….Flood My Basement Another Day!


As the More is More Mom®, you know that I love more of everything……but more rain? Not so much. During the daylight hours, Friday was the perfect day, warm and sunny. By early evening, our car was all packed up with chairs, snacks and bug repellant. The one and only Huey Lewis and the News were playing at the Morton Arboretum (which may not be The Heart of Rock n’ Roll, but it’s still pretty good). I know that the weather people had cautioned us with the threat of rain, but how often are they actually right? I mean, isn’t the Doppler Weather Tracker System really more of a guideline? Who knew its findings were carved in stone? Certainly not me; though I suppose I was entirely optimistic because I was super psyched to hear Huey (cute as he is, he’s still no Donny Osmond….Patron Saint of Teen Idols).

And then the monsoon arrived, completely uninvited. Well, when life gives you lemons, you just have to make lemonade. We diverted the caravan and instead went to a friend’s home with our picnic. They played their Best of Huey Lewis and the News CD. We had cocktails, dinner, some dancing and lots of laughs. It was a perfect evening…..

I will tell you however, when we stopped laughing; the minute the continual rain flooded our street and our sump pump gave out. Ugh! Fortunately, Chuck is a More Handy kind of husband and he tends to pay attention to just this sort of nonsense. At 7:30 AM, as Chuck raced out the door for Home Depot, he instructed me to watch the hole and if the water got too high, he told me I should start to bail. Double ugh!

Naturally, the water was on the rise and my son Nick and I got to bailing. We had a four bucket system going. I filled up the buckets and he emptied them out. This is why we have sons, to do the heavy lifting.

It seemed like Chuck was gone forever, because he was. Our Home Depot was flooded. Our Ace Hardware was flooded. Menards was not flooded, but sold out of sump pumps. Finally, he arrived at his favorite, well kept secret Ace Hardware and they had sump pumps. Who knew how excited we would be to find plumbing supplies?

As much as we bailed, water had begun creeping out of our storage room and into the finished part of our basement. Slowly it made its way around the perimeter when Chuck got the new sump pump installed. Yay! He stopped the water, but what a mess. Triple ugh!     

Why is it so much fun to collect things, but so tiresome to clean them up? Fortunately, because of my compulsive and organized nature, everything in the storage room is kept in Rubbermaid containers (I should own stock), so we didn’t lose anything. The real hassle was in clearing everything out of our finished area so we could lift up the wall to wall carpet and remove the wet padding.

Where did it all come from? The urns and knick knacks? The boxes and boxes of cloth napkins and books? The busts and statuary? The decorative pillows and artwork? Oh, don’t let me fool you. I know exactly where every last item came from and we can start with TJ Maxx & More, Target and Tuesday Morning; the triple threat.

With the carpet propped up on folding chairs and tables, fans blowing to keep the air circulating, the sea of tan carpet looks like the Indiana Dunes. Minus the fun, sand and sun.

A little mess is hardly the end of the world. Thanks to a worn out motor and Mother Nature we got to our long over due spring cleaning and had a little more quality time spent together as a family……

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For the Hostess with the Mostess…..Summer Gift Ideas!


Summertime is the season for getting together with friends. Whether you are invited to a friend’s home for cocktails, dinner or the weekend, a token of your appreciation is certainly in order. As the More is More Mom®, I am always all about……..more beautiful manners and thoughtful gifts!

I’m a huge believer that when you accept an invitation, you make a contract to be a good guest. Simply stated, you are obligated to; respond to the invitation in a reasonable time frame and with enthusiasm, arrive on time, only bring those people that were expressly invited (unless you clear it with your host is advance) and ALWAYS bear gifts (of course, the fact that you should be pleasant and engaged should go without saying)!

 A few weeks ago, my daughter, Amanda, was invited to a friend’s lake house for a few days, which really got me thinking. As I was trolling the aisles of one of my favorite Homegood’s stores (also known as TJ Maxx and More…..you know how much I love the MORE!), I was inspired by all of the possibilities around me.

 

Last year when Amanda accompanied her gal pal for a summer visit, I sent her with eight beautiful, cream colored dessert plates that were embossed with seashells. When I happened to run across this stunning, silver chip and dip bowl adorned with sea creatures I knew it was destiny. How perfect for summer. Who doesn’t love chips and dip on the patio (or on your balcony, the deck or even at your kitchen table? What’s important is that you get to indulge is delicious chips and dips, and do it in high style!)?

 

Truly, there is nothing more precious than bestowing upon your host a beautifully framed, personal photograph….especially if it is of their children. I stumbled upon these darling frames. There were so many from which to choose, but I was rather partial to these creamy, white frames, embellished with lovebirds (they may just be ordinary, every day birds, but in my interpretation….they are birds of love.). The best part is that the picture stands several inches from the base, allowing you to put it behind something else, while enjoying the beautiful photograph. If you don’t have a photo to include in the frame upon your arrival, be sure to bring a camera and snap a few shots during the party. Then, when you send a personal note of thanks, you could very easily include a print that would fit the frame.

 

One of my all time favorite summer gifts is a lantern. There are an endless number of nooks and crannies that would benefit from a little illumination. The beauty is that your lanterns don’t have to match. One is just as lovely as a grouping of many. You could tuck one anywhere on a porch or a patio or even in the house in a Powder Room or on a side table. Candlelight makes everything cozier!

 

For the reader in your life, a sweet set of bookends would be so thoughtful. Tie them together with a gift card to your host’s favorite bookstore, or a perhaps a copy of treasured or inspirational book.

 

If you are invited to a garden or pool party, what would be more appropriate than statuary? I happened across a froggy obelisk, and he simply oozes charm. If that is too whacky for you or your host (and I can’t imagine why…gifts are meant to be fun!), perhaps a something a bit more classic such as a bird or an angel…

Ultimately, the most important factor in selecting a hostess gift is that it be thoughtful and given in the same spirit of generosity as the invitation. Anyway, as I always say; more good hostess gifts……more invitations!

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