A Piece of Cake

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” – Julia Child

 

Mrs. Child and I wholeheartedly agree on the necessity of cake (or another sweet) at a party. My mother-in-law’s birthday was this past Saturday, and she, my brother-in-law and my nephew all came over to our house for a family party. We grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, and I make Paula Deen’s Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake. It lives up to its name. It’s simple to make, but it tastes wonderful (even if you fail to realize you don’t have McCormick Imitation Strawberry Extract).

Considering that I have four patterns of china (Lenox Vintage Jewel Platinum-Banded Bone China 5-Piece Place Setting, Service for 1, Lenox Autumn Gold-Banded Fine China 5-Piece Place Setting, Service for 1, Noritake Crestwood Cobalt Platinum 5-Piece Place Setting and Noritake Crestwood Platinum – 5 piece place setting) and two full sets of silver-plated flatware, you would think that somewhere along the way I’d use my silver-plated cake server. I just rarely think to go to my dining room, sadly, to get my utensils. My go-to is a much less expensive set I’ve picked up along the way. It doesn’t match my everyday flatware, which is Oneida Julliard 20-Piece Flatware Set, Service for 4, but that’s completely ok.

I enjoy using my serving utensils, and I love how decadent it feels slicing into a frosted cake. If you do not have a set that currently matches your pattern, here are two lower-cost options I recommend: Reed & Barton 04230800 Lyndon 2-Piece Dessert Set with 13-Inch Knife and 11-Inch Server and Wallace Hotel Pie Server and Cake Knife Set.

Reed & Barton Serving Set

Wallace Hotel Serving Set

Both options include the knife and server, which is my preference over a serated server. I think these options are both beautiful and are a perfect house warming or hostess gift, as it’s sure to get lots of use over the years.

Even if you don’t entertain often, it’s okay to want to enjoy to small things. Sometimes the kids and I will make a cake or pie, and we’ll serve it up on some of my china dessert plates on a random Tuesday.  These are the memories I hope last them for a lifetime. I hope you’re able to make memories like these, as well! Happy eating!

 

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My Top 5 Christmas Party Hostess Gifts

Hi, everyone! Happy December 13th. Quick note: The Twelve Days of Christmas start on December 25th, not today! 😉

Today I wanted to give you a few hints for Christmas party hostess gifts. Here are my top 5 gifts!

Josh Cabernet Sauvignon. I love the flavor, and it’s moderately priced at around $13 a bottle. The label, however, is very clean looking, and I feel like it tastes comparable to higher priced bottles. Don’t forget, though, that when you give a bottle of wine, you’re giving it for your hosts to consume at a later date.Kind of along those lines are these adorable and very functional glass markers.

These Wine Glass Markers with Colorful and Stylish Design – Set of 6 (Pineapple) are perfect because they can be used on stemless glasses, too.

I also LOVE these cute cocktail napkins. I always have several sets, usually Southern themed, in my hostess basket at home. If the person(s) you’re visiting enjoy cooking, I always recommend theseGrand’aroma Bruschetta,garlic, Basil, Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 8.5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 4). Garlic is my favorite one for everyday cooking, but they’re all delicious and add a new level of flavor to your meals.

Honestly, my last favorite pick is a giftcard to a local coffee shop. I know giftcards are very debateable, but I have noticed that the majority of people enjoy coffee. If they don’t, they enjoy tea or soda or the sweets coffee shops have.

I hope you have enjoyed this list, and I’d love to hear what your top picks are, too! Thank you for reading!

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Hostess Gifts (And When To Use Them)

Confession: I have a bag FULL of hostess gifts at all times, ready to go. Blame it on my Southern roots. It just feels wrong to show up to someone’s house empty handed. Some exceptions apply with very close friends and family, but even then I like to usually bring something small – a token of appreciation, if you will. After all, that is exactly what a hostess gift is. A visible thank you of the hostess’s time and efforts. However, this is also an area that has become grayed over time. What is an acceptable hostess gift? Is the corn dip you bring for an appetizer a hostess gift? When should the host and hostess use the gift?

To begin, anything to be used during the event being hosted is not  a hostess gift. The gift is something the host and/or hostess could use on their own. So, we’ve eliminated the possibility of the appetizer you brought being used as a hostess gift. That being said, is a hostess gift required? Not at all. Here is a list of the only times etiquette “recommends” a hostess gift is given (for the record, I do, too): an actual dinner party – not to be confused with a few friends getting together at the last minute, a shower at which you are the guest of honor (bridal, baby, etc.), an overnight stay, holiday party, going to someone’s home for the first time, meeting someone significant (future in-laws) for the first time. Aside from these occasions, it is never considered wrong  to give a gift. It just wouldn’t be considered bad manners to not do so.

To extend onto the last point and cover a common mistake: wine or any drink brought as a hostess gift is not to be consumed at the dinner party or event. The hosts will have already provided a drink they intend to serve with the meal. This wine is meant to be enjoyed by the hosts later.

Some common hostess gifts include: wine, cocktail napkins, cookies, a candle, flowers, specialty foods, possibly an ornament, if it is a holiday party.

hostess gifts2

The next time someone bring you a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, feel free to tuck it away to save for another day!

What are your favorite gifts to give?

Vacation Books

Sorry for the hiatus! I just returned from a trip to South Carolina with our dear friends, where I made sure to mind my etiquette manners. 😉 We stayed at an interval our friend’s parents have at the beach, and on the last night we were there, we made her mom a meal (her dad was not there). I would COMPLETELY recommend this in place of a hostess gift when staying with someone, particularly since in this case, they live at the house only eight weeks a year, with other families living there the remaining 44 weeks. Additionally, we flew, and our friend’s mom drove there, so space was limited. A thank you note will still follow our visit.

While there, we took in some of the historical side of the town (my favorite part of any place), as well as some fun shopping. One place, The Christmas Mouse, supplied all of our 2015 Christmas ornaments. We were about to decide to return to the beach house, when my friend made the call to go ahead and go insidbookse the general store. I’m SO glad we did. I bought four books for my kids and three for myself. 🙂 Being that this blog is still very new, I’m trying new things to bring interest to this site. All three books are etiquette and South-related. My first I hope to use for a few different posts. It is “What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)” by Ronda Rich. I’m incredibly excited about this one. My other books are “Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy” and “Suck In Your Stomach And Put Some Color On” both by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson. These two are for the feisty etiquette lovers!

All of the kids books were South and beach books. The Southern Mother Goose has several Texas poems, which my daughter already loves! Do you have any etiquette books you love?

Hostess Gifts – To Give Or Not To Give

I’ve had a few messages asking about whether or not to give a hostess gift and, if so, what to give. The answer is my least favorite to hear: It depends. Ugh. I know. I’m too type-A for gray areas, but alas, that’s the answer. Allow me to explain! hostess gifts

For a dinner party, flowers are truly ideal. We’ve gotten to giving wine or chocolates, which is perfectly fine for friends, but there’s the dilemma of: do they drink? If so, is this a wine they will like? Do they feel obligated to serve it at this dinner? In my personal opinion, the last question is the biggest. They’ve prepared a meal to which you’ve been invited, and now the hostess feels obligated to serve the wine you brought, regardless of whether or not it “goes” with the meal. So, solution: gift wrap. Easy enough. If the wine (one you know they will like) is given wrapped, the hostess will not feel pressured into serving it that evening. While, theoretically, they shouldn’t feel pressured into serving it, in the back of their mind, they’ll wonder if you also know the proper etiquette. SO! Until Etiquette By Emily can reach everyone, assumptions will be made that not everyone understands social protocol.

If you are the guest of honor for said party, sending flowers ahead is preferred.

Some other options can be themed according to the party: cocktail napkins (cocktail party or housewarming party), gourmet foods, wrapped homemade goods (meant to be consumed at another time).

When should you bring a hostess gift? Preferably, if you are having dinner at someone’s home for the first time, it is quite appreciated. Additionally, if there’s a particular reason they are hosting, it is considered polite (Christmas party). If the dinner or cocktail party is small, but not all are close friends, it’s a good idea.

This is an area Emily Post really doesn’t go over much. I’ve called on other EE’s (etiquette experts). Please let me know your thoughts! Do you appreciate receiving a hostess gift?