The interior decorator Mark Hampton liked to present a weekend host with one of his small watercolors. Martha loves to show up with an armful of peonies or a basket of freshly harvested asparagus. I have neither a painter's talents nor a garden, but I've come up with my own tried-and-true tokens of thanks: easy-to-assemble packages that are designed to entertain not only those opening their homes but their houseguests, too. Personally, I prefer giving (and getting!) gifts that are useful and fun β classic board games, a cocktail kit, dominoes. And I always put as much thought into wrapping as I do into choosing them. An over-the-top bow is my favorite crowning touch; itβs a gesture the host is sure to remember.
Who doesn't love a cocktail party? It's especially fun when you bring it yourself. I pack the essentials -- a shaker, coasters, straws, umbrellas (we all secretly love them), napkins, a recipe book, plus a can of mixed nuts -- on a bright lacquered tray. (This orange one is perfect for summer.) Then I wrap it all up in cellophane and top it with a colorful bow. It's my way of playing host on one night of my stay.
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