Don't show up empty-handed!
You can’t show up at party empty-handed. If you haven’t been asked to bring a dish or contribute to the gathering in some other way, make sure you bring along a hostess gift to show your appreciation. Choose a gift with a spring theme to show you’re extra thoughtful, but there’s no need to be a big spender.
Pick a gift that matches the occasion or the season for a gift that is sure to be a hit. If all else fails, just go for something you know your hostess will like. Pull together a few different items to make a gift basket. Doing this lets you have the ease of a store-bought gift, even though it still has a homemade feel. You should be able to pull each of the gift ideas below together for $25 or less.
For the gardener
If your hostess has a green thumb, or if you’re going to a garden party, give her a gift that will help her enjoy the outdoors even more. Start with a small planter — if you know the colors of her home, pick one that matches. If not, choose a neutral color or a simple terra cotta. In the planter, place a packet of seeds or a bulb, and then gather a few accessories such as gardening gloves and a small spade. Place everything in the planter and tie a bow around it. You can pick up all of this in the garden center of nearly any super center or home improvement store, and your total should come in at way below $25.
Tip: Don't underestimate the power of a gift card. If you're truly out of ideas (or time) give your hostess a gift card for a local restaurant with a note saying she deserves a night off after throwing such a wonderful party! She'll love it!
For the baker
If your hostess loves to bake, put together a gift set that will help her spend time in the kitchen. Pick up a bowl with a spring theme or in a spring shade. Fill it with low-cost kitchen items such as wooden spoons, measuring spoons, a dish towel and cookie cutters. Keep the towel and cookie cutters in line with your spring theme for a gift that’s cohesive. Search your local HomeGoods store for all these items and more. They have a huge kitchen section that's filled with gourmet-style items at a low cost.
To make it really personal, write down one of your favorite recipes and place it in the bowl with everything else. Make sure to sign the recipe, because that’ll be something she hangs on to.
For the new homeowner
The list of things to do seems endless when you move into a new home. Bring your hostess a gift that will help her scratch a few things off her list. Start with a cheap plastic bucket, found in the cleaning or home improvement section of nearly any store, and fill it with little things you think may help with her to-do lists. Some items that may help include sandpaper, paint scrapers, masking tape, Goo-Gone, paint stirrers (pick these up for free at a home improvement store), sponges and change of address cards. Lots of these items can be found at a dollar store to help you cut the cost even more.
For the reader
Does your hostess like to hibernate at home with a book and enjoy the peace and quiet? Encourage that with your hostess gift. Pick up a book with a spring theme (go with a paperback to keep your costs down) and add a mug, some "springy" flavored tea and a box of microwaveable popcorn. If you’ve got some cash leftover, buy a big plastic popcorn bowl to throw everything in. If you’ve already met your budget, just tie it all together with a ribbon.
More gift ideas