Thursday, December 15, 2011

Traveling Graciously

The holiday season always brings lots of traveling: visits back home, jaunts to Jon's family in the country, and weekends away with friends.  I was taught that a gracious guest always arrives bearing a hostess gift, and as I've gotten older I've tried to be a bit more inventive and personal about what I bring as a thank-you.  I remember reading a while ago that you should generally not bring wine or flowers, especially when invited for dinner; your host might feel pressured to serve your wine with the meal even if it doesn't compliment the menu and the last thing s/he will want to do when welcoming guests is spend time hunting for an appropriate vase.

Because - especially at this time of year - the invitations can stack up without warning, I find it useful to stockpile hostess gifts.  I try to grab potential presents as and when I see them (especially if I find things on sale!) so that I don't have to run around frantically trying to scrounge something up before heading out.  If I was more organized and had more space, I'd store them in my superduper gift-wrap station that I'd carved out of a closet or cupboard...

Martha has some creative ideas for hostess gifts, as does Real Simple, but I find that I'm not very inclined to dee-eye-why amongst all the chaos usually associated with travel, especially during the holidays.  I suppose you could create fantastic homemade presents before the season starts so as to be amazingly prepared, but we probably shouldn't get carried away.  Therefore, for the past couple of months my brilliant idea for hostess gifts has been to look for items marketed as stocking stuffers (which are generally the ideal size and price, I think) that I'd love to receive but that I probably wouldn't buy for myself because I'd be too busy being a superlative hostess to even contemplate spending money on anything that didn't directly contribute to my guests' happiness.

I've got a few examples to share with you, of course...

peppermint snow / bubble bath / candle / bottle opener / notepad block ]  

Okay, now you can all come stay at my house - see you soon!

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