dinner parties – the gifts 

That classic question –

“Do you want me to bring anything?”

Here are some suggestions that might trigger your imagination, without breaking the bank.

1. the presents

2. the wrapping

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 “It’s better to give than to receive.” I say, it should give pleasure to the recipient and the giver in equal measure. 

Unless it’s 3 dozen roses, a small bunch of flowers bought at the petrol station or a bottle of plonk won’t do.

 The Bloomsbury etiquette suggests:

Handmade gift from a french market,
Failing that a Cezanne,
Your manners,
A dazzling wit,
Your latest manuscript,
A thick skin (for criticism of your work)
Gossips, plenty of it.

Well, we live in different time. I say, it’s not about how much you spend – an inexpensive present beautifully wrapped shows that you care and made an effort.

“Think inside the box”

Here are some of my suggestions, for gifts I like to give… or to receive.

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1. Bring back memories of holidays in the sun 2. One can never have too much good Olive Oil 3. Homemade jam is obvious – Lemon Preserve is zingy 4. Designer bottles by Basso & Brookes (www.turningleafwines.co.uk) 5. Cocktails, cocktails… cocktails set (www.tigerstores.co.uk) 6. Your very own Champagne, print your own label and stick it on the bottle 7. A very special key 8. Save the host the hassle of having to look for a vase 10. Chocolates are yummy, but Marrons Glaces are much more indulgent (www.fortnumandmason.com) 11. Let them eat cake 12. Apples from your orchard, or plums, or cherries…Metal basket (www.johnlewis.com)

  all wrapped up

1.  No need to buy expensive paper, newspaper will do, if you wrap it again in cellophane paper, to give it a touch of class.

My tip – pick a page of the newspaper relating to the recipient’s interest- art, sport, fashion…

2. Brown packing paper can be given a makeover with colourful ribbons in velvet or satin. Foliage, a few sprigs of greenery, anything nice from the garden, will enhance the must ordinary brown parcel. Tie it with garden twine for a rural look.

Photocopy some old photographs or old postcards and make a collage.

Buy old stamps in bulk on eBay and stick them on the paper.

3. A single cellophane ribbon can look sad, so pile on multicolour strands for a fiesta look.

4.  Fabric can also be used. A piece of hessian or denim will give your parcel a natural look, while a print can say “look at me.”

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1. For the stamp collector 2. Cellophane paper (www.amazon.co.uk) 3. To the tea addict 7. For the sewing enthusiast 9. Large selection of wrapping papers (www.paperchase.co.uk) 10. Lace rolls (www.tigerstores.co.uk) 11. To the dog lover 12. Inside out – the gift becomes the wrapping