1. What do you suggest as a good hostess gift for parties?
With party season rapidly approaching, our fabulous Fayette ladies are certainly prepared to dazzle their hosts. Cookies, candies, and cakes in a pretty tin or on a festive platter that the hostess can reuse are always appreciated, whether you bake them yourself or let the bakery to it for you (our secret). Top your treats with an ornament or decoration to fit the holiday and you’ll surely be appreciated. A nice bottle of wine or champagne wrapped in a special bottle wrapper can be used by the hostess for the party if she chooses. Flowers, either from a flower shop or plucked from your garden, are a thoughtful gift that can also be used as a centerpiece for your hostess’s table. Some other suggestions were candles, picture frames, or a book on entertaining. Send a thank you note after the party to let the hostess know how much you enjoyed it and you will always be invited back.
2. How can I make my house look festive without spending a lot of money?
Look no further than right outside your door, say the women of Fayette County. Think leaves, berries, pine cones, magnolia branches (this is the South, after all). Use them around the house to add fragrance and a bit of nature to your décor. Shop the plethora of local garage sales on the weekends and check out the dollar store for glass containers, candles, and ribbon. Fill containers with inexpensive ornaments and place them throughout your house for a festive look. Look around your house for items of a similar color and dress your mantel with them. One of our ladies suggested using some kids’ toys, “a red wagon, bucket, or toy truck” as a starting point and then use some foliage from outside to dress it up. Also, after the holidays are over, purchase a few things during store clearances. Put them away with your decorations and then next year, when you open your boxes, it will be like getting something new.
3. What is your family’s “can’t be a holiday without____” meal?
Good southern food abounds with our Fayette ladies’ families. Turkey with all of the trimmings was mentioned by our panel more than once. Those trimmings include cranberries, greens, dressing, mac-n-cheese, and sweet potato pie. A few of our ladies had some other suggestions that could easily be incorporated into your holidays. Cream cheese and olives stuffed in celery, or a traditional meat/cheese/crackers combination. Make these ahead of time and have on hand for when company stops by. Another one of our ladies makes friends and family feel welcome on Christmas Eve with a big pot of chili. This way it doesn’t compete with the big meal the next day.
4. How can I start a new holiday tradition in my family?
Traditions don’t have to be complicated, just something that you and your family can do together. Something simple like decorating cookies with the children and grandchildren can be done each year. Volunteer some time together as a family and give back to your community. Exchange ornaments with extended relatives or letters about what your family has done that year. Get the children in your family involved and ask them what kind of tradition they would like to start.
5. What is a good “go-to” gift to have stashed in case of emergencies (ex. Great-aunt Edna shows up out-of-the-blue with a gift for me)?
First, it’s the thought that counts, and no one expects a return gift. “Opening your house is a gift in itself” says one of our generous ladies, but we’ve all been there when someone shows up at the door with a gift and you have nothing to give in return. During holidays keep small stash of gifts, gift bags, and blank cards handy and you will never be caught without something to give. Some suggestions from our ladies include gift certificates to local restaurants, writing paper or journals, Bath and Body Works lotions or soaps, picture frames, candles, or a good book.