Wow ‘Em Entertaining: One Simple Item

To me, October is the start of holiday entertaining season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s. Boom, boom, boom. There’s no stopping once it starts. Even if you don’t host, you’re a guest and following etiquette. All this week (and really til the end of the year), I’m sharing scrumptious recipes and tips for being an awesome host and guest. Cheers!

Maybe you’re already an awesome cook and know all the ins and outs of creating a delicious meal. But we can’t forget that presentation is half of it. How it’s plated, the color of the food – it all matters. Here’s one simple trick that will knock their socks off. Serve drinks and apps on a tray. No, you don’t have to be the maitre’d all evening. But imagine stepping out of the kitchen with a gorgeous plate of goodies. Who cares if the rest of the dinner is just average? You came out with a tray!!

Custom lacquer trays, various prices

 Bent wood tray, $99

Square lacquer tray, $24

Chevron tray, $9.99

Quadrant square tray, $49.95




Japanese Gift Wrapping: Furoshiki

My sister chastised me one year for wrapping my niece’s presents in newly bought, shiny gift wrap. Apparently it was “wasteful and expensive”. Oops. But who doesn’t love a handsomely presented gift??

A-ha! Problem solved. I’m a fabric hoarder. I’ll see a fabric that’s luxurious, colorful, just gotta-have-it. And then it’ll sit in my closet. Forever. But now I have a great solution for wrapping and appeasing my sis – furoshiki. This age old Japanese method of wrapping things in fabric isn’t just for presents. Packing a picnic or a small item for work can be sweet and useful. And they make beautiful handbags and holders for just about anything.

A simple sweep up of one side, and then the other and a simple knot on top, looks like this:

Photo via Sweet Pine Soaps

Transport and gift wine easily like this:

Photo and instructions via Martha Stewart

Plus many more fun and complicated methods can be found at Makezine.

How to Write a Really Fabulous Thank You Card

Oy. The wedding/baby shower/anniversary party is over and you’re faced with dozens of thank you cards to write*. You could put it off or attack it right away but either way, you have to write something  in each and every one. What to do? There are a few simple tips to writing meaningful cards that will really feel heartfelt.

*For those of you that are wondering, there are no hard and fast rules but my personal thought is that thank you cards are meant to be hand-written, not digitally sent. And most etiquette specialists will feel the same. But in the case that you’re a brain surgeon or rocket scientist and short on time, a digital card is better than no card!

Floral Thank You notes, set of 8, $18.50

1. Have a list done in advance of who gave you what. This is a good rule of thumb through life because cards get separated from gifts and then you have nothing to go on unless you have a photographic memory. Make sure to mention the actual gift that was given to you in the card.

“Dear Aunt Millie, Thank you so much for the beautiful china pieces we registered for from…”

Favor box kit, set of 20, $25

2. Make reference to something personal between the two of you whether it’s a memory or an upcoming event.

“We can’t wait to see you at George’s surprise party next week.”

Use the keepsake pen from your wedding to write the cards. Victorian lace pen, $32

3. If you can’t remember what they gave you, go the sentimental route. Even if they’re your parents’ friends or just acquaintances, there’s some language that you can use to make it seem personal.

“Thank you so much for your generosity. Our day was unforgettable and having you there made it even more special for us.”

4. And what ever you do, make sure to send the card. Don’t let them sit in the box too long (over six months is probably not appropriate). Believe me, once you’ve sent them, you’ll sit back with a sigh of relief! Good luck.

Extra Thought Put Into a Gift: Being there for a Friend

I had to attend a funeral for the father of a very close friend over the weekend and it was excruciating. I hardly knew what to say or do and it was hard to figure out if bringing something was appropriate. But what I’ve learned is that keeping some sense of normalcy, while being particularly supportive, is the way to go. Everyone requires something different when they lose someone in their lives but there are a few things that will help someone that’s grieving.

Cook, make, bake something. A homemade pie or a pan of lasagna will be a comforting sight. While people are grieving they forget to take care of themselves and can forget to eat. The delicious goodies will be a welcome sight when they finally get home and have time to themselves.

Apple Pie recipe via Simply Recipes

Give a personal comfort item. Maybe it’s toiletries after a long trip to come home for the funeral. Or a scented candle for them to set by their bedside for some (hopefully) soothing sleep.

Papa frame, $24

Wrap something pretty. Maybe it’s a photo frame, a piece of small art or a large photo book. Giving something that will be long-lasting and distracting from the moment. Every time they see it, they’ll think of the thought you put into it.

Something nice from Home Goods 

These are just a few ideas for gift giving during a difficult time. The best thing you can do is still offer your priceless presence and support.

Giving Etiquette: Is it Ever Ok to Regift?

You’ve probably considered it. You’ve probably done it. But should you have? Regifting is one of those sticky situations where you know you probably shouldn’t but don’t want a perfectly good gift to go to waste. I mean, just because I can’t use it doesn’t mean that someone can’t. Right? Just make sure your heart’s in the right place. Maybe you don’t have the budget to get a gift, but giving a less-than-exciting present won’t make up for it. You’re better off giving a heartfelt card.

Gift wrap ideas via Martha Stewart

All of us at Tenereze think that giving a gift should be something very special but we understand the need to bend the rules every once in a while. Here are the Dos and Don’ts for Regifting – if you must!

Do give a gift that you would want. Maybe you already have the same vanity mirror and they didn’t include a gift receipt. Or you know someone that wants this exact item and you won’t use it nearly as much. If it’s something coveted, it’s acceptable to regift.

Do check for cards, notes or inscriptions that were made to you. My friend once got a book that had an inscription made out to the person that gave it to him. There’s no way to get out of that one!

Do rewrap it. Put a little bit of care into giving a meaningful presentation, just as you would have had you purchased it yourself.

Do give a gift card. Everyone loves the freedom of picking out what they want. If you’re someone that tends to forget that you have them and you have some to spare, put it in a nice new card and envelope.

Gift wrap options at Paper Source

Which bring us to the Don’ts…

Don’t give a gift card that you’ve scratched the code cover off of. Even if it has the full value, it looks less than new. And don’t give one that’s about the expire.

Don’t regift at a party where your circle of friends will be. If one friend gave you a gift, there’s a chance that they’ll be there or someone that they know will recognize it. Just don’t chance it.

And last but certainly most important – if you’re not sure who gave it to you in the first place, don’t regift it. You might just be returning it to the original giver.