A Dozen Hostess Gifts

Hey Annabel!
My fiance’s family friends are throwing us an engagement/announcement party in Louisiana next month and I don’t know the etiquette regarding hostess gifts. Can you help?! Am I supposed to bring hostess gifts? (I’m not sure guests are even supposed to bring gifts to engagement parties, are they?) There are 12 couples hosting (yes, 12). If I should bring gifts, any moderately priced suggestions?
B — Nashville, TN
Hey B, congratulations on your engagement!
When someone throws a party in your honor, you definitely need to bring a hostess gift. It doesn’t have to be wildly extravagant, just thoughtful.
I saw a swell idea in the spring/summer 2010 issue of Town & Country Weddings that might just solve your dilemma.
When Zoe Winkler (daughter of Henry, aka “The Fonz”) got married last summer, she sent each guest home with a box of heart-shaped Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a copy of the next morning’s New York Times.
(The Times also covered Zoe’s adorable wedding — click here to read all about it.)
Perhaps you can adapt her idea and multiply it by 12. Call it breakfast in a box! Since you’re traveling to attend this party, I suggest gathering all the supplies at home and assembling your gift boxes once you arrive in Louisiana.
Start with pristine white gift boxes like these. (Purchase them flat so you can pack them and maintain their crisp exterior en route.)
If you’ve chosen colors for your wedding, now is a great time to incorporate them. You’ll need pretty tissue paper to line each box and enough grosgrain ribbon to turn each one into a delectable-looking package.
Now comes the fun part: filling them up! Make (or buy) muffins, scones, or some other breakfast treat. Do this after you arrive or at the last possible second before you leave. Be sure to store them tightly in tupperware to preserve freshness.
Inside each box, place 2-4 baked goods (wrapped in cellophane), a miniature jar of jam like this, and some coffee or tea. (You might consider purchasing a coffee sampler, then dividing the contents among your breakfast gift boxes.)
Depending on your budget, you can add or subtract elements, but you get the idea.
After the party, be sure to send a handwritten thank-you note to each of the 12 couples. You’ll win the hearts of those Louisiana ladies for sure!
Graciously yours,
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