Frugal Friday: Hostess Gifts

When we visit friends/family, I will often take along a hostess gift.  I have seen some extravagant (and even bizarre) “hostess gift” suggestions in catalogs.  However, I prefer to give items that are more personal and frugal.

One of my favorite ways to give a personal, heart-felt gift is to combine sewing and baking.  I recently gave a friend a homemade loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread, in a cloth bag I had sewn.  (Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of it!) 
Cut out a rectangle of scrap fabric from your stash.  (It doesn’t have to be heart-stoppingly beautiful at this point.  We’ll fix it up.)  Mine was a dark green floral “quilter’s” cotton.  Make sure it will be big enough to fit your loaf of bread.  (Just eyeball it; my fabric was probably about 12″x 18″.)  
I folded the long sides together, and stitched around the two sides to create a bag.  (If your fabric seems like it might fray, you can also hem the opening of the bag, or sew on a lace/edging trim.)  
Place the loaf of bread inside the bag.  (If necessary, you can wrap the bread in a food wrap first.)  Then, find a pretty ribbon to tie up the opening.  You can attach dried herb/flowers or silk flowers to the ribbon, too, with a hot glue gun, or just tucking them into the ribbon’s knot.) 
Then, attach a tag, so that your recipient knows what is inside.  I have kept a box of “Marking Tags” on hand for years.  These are cute enough to grab at the last minute, and use “as is.”  If I have more time, I will create a card with some scrapbooking paper scraps.  
Using your best handwriting, jot down the bread name on the tag. (“Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread” or “Heavenly Lemon Loaf” or whatever your specialty is.)  You can also write to/from names on it, if appropriate.  A “gourmet” flavor will add to the luxury of the gift, but as long as it is deliciously homemade, it will be appreciated!  
Using a slip knot with the tag string, or by tying an edge of the ribbon through a punched hole in the tag, attach the tag to your gift bag.  Your recipient can later reuse the cloth bag! 
Another quick gift idea is a jar of cookies.  Round chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies fit perfectly when stacked in a wide mouth canning jar.  (I usually send a quart size for small families, and a pint size for an individual.)  Make sure not to use a crumbly treat, though!  
Cut out a large circle from a scrap of fabric to generously cover the top of the jar.  Place a canning lid on top of the jar.  (This is a great way to reuse “used” lids, since you won’t be able to can with them again.  I mark used ones with a small “X” with a Sharpie pen.)  
Cover the lid with the fabric circle, and slide the canning ring on top, to hold it in place.  If desired, you can decorate the jar with a ribbon, just like we decorated the cloth gift bag.  Attach a tag (tied around the canning ring) or a label, showing the name of the special treat inside.  
The cookie jars also make great “good-bye” gifts, to be given to friends as they move away.  The jar keeps the cookies from breaking (for the most part), and is nice to have on hand for “road trip snacks.”  
For more Frugal Friday ideas, visit Biblical Womanhood!  
Image courtesy of Shabby Old Potting Shed
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