It’s no secret that I have several qualms with the state of our current society. Too much screen time, not enough community events, neighbors don’t talk to each other or sit on their patios and shoot the breeze…and PEOPLE WEAR PAJAMAS ON AIRPLANES. I mean, I could go on. I’ll spare you, but my point is that the craft of social graces and thoughtful involvedness has disintegrated.
One thing I have always maintained is the simple rule of how to be a guest: never show up empty-handed. My go-to is usually a nice candle or a mid-range bottle of wine (or higher price points for friends with trained palates and a true appreciation of wine). Every now and then I’ve been known to grab a bunch of flowers. Recently, though, I’ve been rethinking my approach to bringing host/hostess gifts with me to someone’s home. Are wine and candles lazy? Could I be doing something much more thoughtful? What if I started taking the time to make something meaningful or even just a little more unique and surprising?
I recently found something that I know will be a repeat hosting gift. I made these last night for a dinner I hosted myself at my home, but then today decided to make another batch to take to a friend’s house who is hosting me and my husband for dinner. So, what is it you ask? A lovely jar of marinated olives.
I found this recipe in a book called French Appetizers by Marie Asselin
The recipe is as follows:
1 medium orange
2 cups large green olives (I use the can of pitted green olives from Trader Joe’s and its the exact amount)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a knife (I double this)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
zest the orange, but in large bits (I used a peeler and did wide slices) and then squeeze all of the juice out of the orange
Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium or just-above-low heat
Heat for 5 minutes, stirring often
Spoon/pour all of it into an airtight container and let sit for at least an hour so it soaks in all the flavor
Serve at room-temperature or heated
Another thing I like to do for gifting is to choose thoughtful containers to put things in. Recently, I had a friend who was going through something extremely heartbreaking and was having a really rough time. I didn’t know what to say or really what to do, but I did know how to make freshly baked chocolate chip bread. I went to T.J. Maxx and picked out some cute earthenware loaf dishes, baked the bread and then gave them to my friend, dishes and all. Maybe it’s just my personality but I’d prefer to get homemade bread in cute dishes that I get to keep rather than flowers or candy.
For these olives, I happened to have some airtight containers from The Container Store on hand – with adorable French themed lids that say “Fait Maison” (which means home made) so I knew that would be perfect to put the olives in for gifting. Check out the end of this post for some shoppable links to similar containers you could use!
Other ideas for homemade/homegrown hosting gifts:
fresh produce from your garden
bundles of fresh herbs (I like to bundle together rosemary from my garden to take to friends!)
homemade dog biscuits for friends with fur babies
simple syrups for cocktails
Hopefully this helped to equip you with some good ideas so that the next time someone invites you into their home and takes the time to clean their house, cook you a meal and spend quality time with you…you don’t show up empty handed! Plus, I’m the girl at Christmas that gets WAY more excited when people open gifts from me than I am to open my own gifts so bringing hosting gifts to people is another way of getting little gift-giving joys throughout the year! Next time you taking a hosting gift somewhere, take a picture and tag me in it so I can share!