Ask Design Mom – Last Minute Gifts

December 21, 2007

Ask Design Mom Question:
Hi Gabrielle.
I have so enjoyed your blog and all the wonderful ideas and things you share with us. Any tips on generic hostess gifts? We just moved to a new town and are receiving a lot of dinner invitations. Because I don’t know the people, I often am not sure what to give as a hostess gift. Your ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks, Abbey

Design Mom Answer: Hi Abbey! Thanks for your great question. I’ll start by linking to a few past posts that might give you some ideas. And then I’ll add a few more true Last Minute Gift Ideas for anyone going to holiday events this weekend in need of super quick hostess gifts.

A few of my favorite past posts about this topic:
Hostess Gifts
The Laundress
Card File
Beth’s Farm Kitchen
Minus Bags
Housewarming Gifts

True Last Minute Hostess Gift Ideas:
When I say last minute, I mean actually last minute. As in you’re on your way to the event. You’re already a little late, but you’d like to bring a hostess gift. It’s night. Gift shops are closed. You don’t have enough time to stop in at Target. But if you can make it to the grocery store and hit the express lane, here are 3 things that could do the trick.

1) Fresh Pineapple
A whole fresh pineapple is just so festive. It’s practically it’s own party. It’s fragrant. It’s large so it makes a statement. It will be eaten and enjoyed. And very few people buy them as part of their regular grocery shopping so it feels special and unusual. It even looks great sitting on the counter. Add a bow to transform it from produce to gift item.

2) Movie Candy
Forget about the traditional boxed chocolates that come with a little gold bow and are meant to be given as gifts. Grocery store chocolates are bound to be low quality and reek of last minute and little thought. Instead, stack a few oversize boxes of movie candy and tie them up with a bow. For Christmas giving, red boxes of Hot Tamales and green boxes of Mike & Ikes would look festive and be a nice break from the M&Ms; in everyone’s holiday candy bowl. Choose oversize boxes to make this an especially cute gift.

3) Magazine Subscription
This is an actual thoughtful, useful gift you can pick up at the last minute, literally in the express lane. Grab a Real Simple or Parents or Atlantic Monthly or Lucky or Blueprint or whatever you think your host would like — fashion? food? family? Pull out a subscription card and save it to send in the next day. Roll up the magazine and add a bow. You’re all set.

Final note: you may have noticed how all 3 gifts required a bow. And really, since many gifts are at least 75% about presentation, I highly recommend keeping an emergency gift kit in the glove box — especially during December. Put a roll of pretty ribbon, a small pair of scissors and a few gift tags in a ziplock bag and you’re good to go for pretty much any gift giving on the run.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alyssa Coberly December 21, 2007 at 1:29 pm

i do the pineapple gift for every party i go to! its a totally hit … and if you want to spend more in the $10 range you can pick up a pineapple corer … they are the most amazing kitchen gadget, and they have them at most grocery stores … in fact it was also my co worker gift this year for christmas :0)

we broke it out and had fresh sliced pineapple at work it was so fun!


2 e-Mom December 21, 2007 at 1:48 pm

I’m enjoying your blog through Bloglines. Just wanted to check in and say that I love your fresh pineapple idea… jotted on a post-it. :~D

Merry Christmas!

e-Mom @ Chrysalis


3 Anonymous December 21, 2007 at 2:01 pm

I like the glove box emergency gift kit idea. I actually like to keep ribbon, tape and note cards in the car year round.


4 Anne December 21, 2007 at 4:50 pm

Don’t pick up Blueprint! :( Martha Stewart has given it the axe.


5 Jill December 21, 2007 at 5:05 pm

You are brilliant! Those are fabulous idea’s.


6 laurie December 21, 2007 at 9:16 pm

oh man gabby. these are the best tips. you rock. i’m writing these down and putting them in my wallet for the next time this happens (which will be the next time i get invited to a party). awesome.


7 janeannechovy December 21, 2007 at 11:07 pm

Pineapple is even better as the traditional symbol of hospitality. And speaking as a (fairly-frequent) hostess, it’s a gift I would LOVE!


8 Camilla December 23, 2007 at 10:31 pm

For a generic gift, I always keep a few packages of Bath and Body Works lotion at my house–Vanilla Bean. It has saved me several times when I didn’t have a gift! Watch for the buy 2 get one free sales and stock up now.


9 Stephanie January 7, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Great ideas! Thanks for the helpful advice!


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