Friday, March 23, 2012

Hostess Gifts With A French Twist



Sam and I have been friends -- albeit cyber, unfortunately -- for about two years. I have always appreciated no, let's be frank, I've always been in awe of her sophisticated approach to entertaining and the ease with which she seems to whip up chef worthy marvels in her kitchen. I love to hear about her travels, her discoveries, what's for dinner. . . 


When you visit her at My Carolina Kitchen, you'll understand.


That's why I asked her if she would be so kind as to offer some beautiful -- and delicious -- hostess gifts. As you can see, we can learn from her divine inspiration below.

                                               ***********

No one wants to go to a dinner party empty handed, but choosing a hostess gift can be challenging. The two choices that immediately come to mind are of course wine and flowers. I always keep a nice bottle of wine tucked away “just in case” a dinner invitation is extended at the last minute. It’s always easy to pick up flowers on the way.

However, I have a problem with taking flowers to someone sans a vase. Pourquoi you ask. I don’t like to put the hostess in a position of having to search for a vase while she’s greeting guests. In fact sending flowers the day before the party, or the day after is the rule in France. So I keep a spare vase to use for such an occasion. It’s an all purpose kind of vase that will hold almost any bouquet. Problem solved.

What if you would like to be more creative with your hostess gift and give something special, perhaps something you’ve made yourself? Here are a few ideas. For the recipe, just click the name.


Do you have an invitation to someone’s house who is entertaining house guests? Take a jar of homemade breakfast granola. You’ll be doing them a great favor – their guests can make their own breakfast in the morning.


Seasoned salt will please absolutely everyone. This seasoned salt with rosemary is simple to make and uses only two ingredients – sea salt and rosemary. If you can find French grey sea salt, by all means use it. Grey sea salt has been hand harvested from the clay bottoms of the French Atlantic sea marshes each summer since the seventh century. How’s that for being around for a while?



Are you going to someone’s home who loves martinis? Take a jar of blue cheese stuffed olives along with some Southern cheese straws. Stuff the olives yourself or pick up an assortment at an olive bar.


If you’re coming to my house, bring an interesting bottle of flavored vinegar. I am an avid collector of vinegars and embarrassed to tell you how many I have on my shelf. One more will always make me happy. Raspberry would be a nice choice.


For your friends who are bakers, take some homemade lemon curd. Maybe they’ll bring you a slice of their tart when they make it.


How about a jar of your Italian grandmother’s spaghetti sauce made from her recipe that’s been handed down through your family for generations. No Italian grandmother? No problem: neither do I. Mario Batali’s recipe for marinara sauce has never let me down.

I would like to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying something and making it pretty.  There’s no rule that says you have to make everything yourself. For example, tie a fancy silk ribbon around a really good slice of cheese from your favorite cheese shop and present it with pride along with a bottle of nice wine.


For someone who loves to read, gift wrap a book. Here I’ve used brown mailing paper and a dried hydrangea. My absolute favorite book to give is Lydia Cassett Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman. Inspired by five Mary Cassatt paintings of Cassatt’s older sister Lydia (who is dying of Bright’s disease), the book gives you insight into Lydia’s thoughts on how she feels about modeling for the paintings for Mary in Paris in the late 1870s.  The five paintings, beautifully reproduced, appear at intervals in the book along with fascinating real-life figures that include Renoir and Degas.

So there you have it – some ideas for hostess gifts. You’ll never go empty handed to a dinner party again.


All photography by Meakin Hoffer

39 comments:

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I needed these ideas and they are wonderful!! I will wrap my books like this from now on! Thanks so much...

The enchanted home said...

Excellent gifts that come from the heart and that have great function.

Mrs. Sutton said...

What wonderful ideas! I particularly love the seasoned salt and the flavoured vinegars - both of which I will most definitely be trying this weekend. Thank you for the tip!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Thank you Tish for the opportunity to share my kitchen with your readers. You have inspired me to look and be more French. Merci beaucoup.
Sam

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great gift ideas and lovely guest post!

Cheers,

Rosa

Susan said...

Sam, you have written a wonderful posting and Meakin, once again, has been right-on with his photography. I am always at a loss for a hostess gift and you have just opened a new door of ideas for me. Thanks.

FOODalogue said...

Lovely post ... I'm a big fan of Sam and her Carolina Kitchen.

Penny said...

I have been enjoying your blog through the recommendation of Sam, Tish. Great hostess gift ideas Sam. You two make a great pairing with your blogs.

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful suggestions! I've been meaning to make some granola and shall give your recipe a try. As always, Meakin's photography really does justice to your work, Sam.

And how nice to visit this splendid blog!

ms. caboo said...

I love all of the suggestions! The salt would be welcome at my house :)

déjà pseu said...

These are wonderful ideas, thank you!

Splenderosa said...

Thank you Tish & Sam. Everything Sam does has her unique elegance, and I would be delighted to receive anything on this list. I especially love the infused salt idea. I need to ask Sam about the various peppers I've seen around, those in the little wooden chests. xx's to both of you...

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Flea Market Makeovers said...

Hi Tish,
I am visiting from Sam's blog...nice to meet you! I know I am going to enjoy reading your blog....

Sam's gift ideas are wonderful!
Penny

Rita said...

Sam does have a talent for making beautiful things; I love following her and always anxious to learn her great ideas.
Rita

LPC said...

Sam has a great blog. And I love the idea of interesting basic foodstuffs, salts, vinegars, oils, as a hostess gift.

Kate said...

I started following your blog on Sam's recommendation and I have totally enjoyed it. Sam did a lovely guest post! Her ideas have inspired me to "go beyond" a bottle of wine which seems to be my "go to" hostess gift!

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Lovely and creative ideas they are more exciting and personal than a posy of flowers which is my go to gift.

vicki archer said...

Wonderful suggestions Sam... xv

Angie's Recipes said...

Great gift ideas. I love that jar of preserved olives!

BigLittleWolf said...

Wonderful inspiration in these gifts. It's always a nice touch when you can offer something with a warm, homespun touch - and still so elegantly presented.

Duchesse said...

Edibles are always a nice gift but please no weird stuff. We accrued shelves of odd olives, weird flavoured vinegars, bizarre jams. (There is a reason why it's hard to find quince-pomegranate marmalade.) All eventually trashed.

I like to bring a bottle of a seasonal aperitif, in winter, red Lillet, in summer, Pernod or Campari.

Eileen said...

Wonderful ideas. I love the seasoned salt and flavored vinegars. Sam's blog is wonderful; I've followed it for a couple of years and it remains one of my favorites.

Barbara said...

Some fabulous, creative ideas from one of my favorite bloggers! Great work, Sam!

Worthington said...

mmm cheese straws. So glad I live in the former Southern capital and I can get some on my way home tonight, or, even better... at a bar! GREAT ideas!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Lovely ideas, Sam! I'm so happy you did this guest post so I could find Tish's blog. I l love all the fashion tips and am looking forward to more browsing here :)

kathy peck said...

I get unreasonably annoyed when someone brings me a bunch of flowers when coming for dinner. I've always arranged things how I want them to be, and to rush around, finding a vase, and then to find a proper place to put them is a real imposition, although I know it's not intended that way.
I'm not even thrilled with a bottle of wine, because again, I've selected the wine for dinner, and don't know if the guest expects their wine to be opened etc.
So - I usually bring a bottle of very good olive oil. Something special - everyone seems to appreciate it, and they can just stick it in the kitchen! But you have some really lovely ideas that you've shown, so maybe I'll expand my hostess gift idea.

Asmita said...

LOve all these hostess gifts. Very creative and beautiful!!!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Great post, Sam. You have given me some wonderful ideas for future hostess and holiday gifts. Thanks so much for introducing me to Trish. I'm looking forward to reading more of her posts. You have a lovely blog, Trish.

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Tish, you have excellent taste, choosing Sam to do a guest post!

Sam, I love your ideas! Some of these ideas I would never have thought of, some I have done. I especially love the seasoned salt and the dried hydrangea on a book!

For my very close friends I bring some of my canned preserves, they are always a huge hit!

Thank you ladies, and have a wonderful weekend!

Mary

Pam said...

Way to go, Sam! They're all great but I esp. love the hydrangea and book. You have definitely given me an idea for my dried hydrangeas! I like your blog Trish!

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

Love Sam and these are fabulous gifts...just like she is. Dinner with her would be a special treat in itself. Mona

Rebecca Subbiah said...

wonderful idea's love Sam

Kim said...

A beautiful array of hostess gifts. So many inspiring ideas.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

All great ideas. I make so much jam and pickles here during summer they are always my standby. Well done Sam. Diane

Velva said...

I love these ideas, I have made notes. Thank you for sharing these hostess gift ideas.

Velva

Pacheco Patty said...

Wonderful creative and delicious ideas, sure to be favorites with the hostess;-)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Sam's ideas are steeped in knowledge and style. I love them and love it that she sent me here.

Thanks for brightening my day. I wish you the same.

All joys,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

All great ideas and I'd be thrilled to receive any one of them:@)

Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

I really ought to pop over to her blog today, but the sun has just decided to riase its head...
I always send flowers ahead. usually the day before the dinner party.

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