With the start of the holiday season so close, we've already received several invitations to friends' homes for get-togethers or parties. Like in many households, money might be in short supply, but that doesn't mean we have to go empty-handed.
Hostess gifts are wonderful things and they can literally be as beautifully simple as a scented jar of sugar.
Here are five reasons why a jar of sugar can be the perfect gift this fall season. This idea is one we've used for years (and apparently so has the staff at Martha Stewart). It requires very little energy to create and there's no frantic last minute stopping at the store. You always show up with something to give to a wonderful host or hostess, no matter what the occasion.
Here are a few reasons why we love it so much:
1. Inexpensive: Although sugar isn't as inexpensive as flour, it is far less pricey than a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates you pick up at the last minute. Buy a large bag from a bulk retailer for around $15 and you'll be able to make 50 or more gifts depending on the containers used! How's that for thrifty? Plain jars are sold at small prices, $2-$3 per container — or just use canning jars!
2. Shelf Stable & Ready To Go: Once you have your batch of sugars made up, they can sit, well, for years without problem (assuming they're airtight). Certainly through a holiday season anyway! After an hour's worth of work you'll have a whole collection of sugar containers ready to walk out the door with you. Take it one step further and dress each one with a napkin or tea towel and raffia with a tied-on blank card. Then you won't even have to wrap them — just pick them up and walk right out the door!
3. Everyone Can Use It: There aren't many households that can't use sugar and having some that's a little more special than others gives them a gourmet product to use with love and care in dishes for other friends and family. Even in households where sugar isn't used as much it can still be used in small amounts or in dishes for events where many people will be gathered, like potlucks.
4. It's Pretty & Practical: A jar of sugar with a few hints of herbs, spices or fruits not only acts as an ingredient, but also looks great on display. We like to keep our kitchens practical and all the things on display in them usable. You don't have to worry about the recipient finding a place for them as it can sit out on the table or counter without looking out of place!
5. Big Bang For Little Work: Pretend for a moment that you bought an industrial size bag of sugar from your local Costco or Sam's Club. It's huge, it weighs as much as your 16 year old! Once you get it home, the shopping wraps up 75% of the work involved in this craft. You can add in dried fruits (which would require drying) but things like basil leaves, cinnamon sticks or vanilla beans are simple and easy to add in without any real "work." They don't have to be perfect, just layer in your stuff and that's it. Making many will only require a few minutes of your time, so how can you say no to that?
• More details on making scented sugar: Scented Sugars at Martha Stewart
Do you have a hostess gift that can be made ahead that is small on budget? Let us know in the comments below!
Related: Hostess Gifts From The Kitchen
(Image: Martha Stewart)