Give a host and or hostess a small gift, and they'll immediately know you appreciate their efforts. While there is no shortage of options for sale, there are also lots of easy, affordable projects for making a more personalized token of your gratitude.
These projects represent a range of handy skills, including sewing, painting, cooking, and gardening. I hope you find one that fits your talents or challenges you to try something new.
1. Wine cozy A good bottle of wine is the best standby gift (I like Côtes du Rhône). Show added thoughtfulness by sewing a small cozy.
2. Cork trivet: If you're a wine drinker or have hosted your own party recently, this project won't cost you a dime. The only downside is that it can be a little hard to cut the corks, and you will definitely want to use a thimble for the stitching. Overall, it's worth it; I made one of these for my dad for Father's Day several years ago, and he loves and still uses it.
3. Hand-printed tea towel: Tea towels are always handy, and printing can be easy. Buy a few plain cotton or linen ones, and try one or several ways of printing - linocut blocks, potatoes, lotus root (Image 3), stencils, et cetera. Just make sure you use paint that is made for fabric and you set it properly with an iron. (For paint I like Setacolor by Pébéo).
4. A jar of jam or fruit butter: Making your own jam is much easier than it sounds, and I go into it knowing I will share most of it. I love this recipe, but now would be a great time to try apple butter. If you want to avoid canning, you will have even more impetus to share your jam before it hits its approximate 2 week expiration date.
5. Painted china: Pébéo Porcelaine 150 will be your new friend for decorating tea cups, platters, bowls et cetera. For ideas and techniques, check out LoucheLab's "How to" on Etsy, Martha Stewart's tips or a video from Dick Blick.
6. Tea or candies in your own packaging: In the same vein, there are many ways to dress up a quick treat of your host's favorite tea or candy. Just one option is to put them in a half print mason jar with a customized label or just a nice fabric top tied with ribbon. Get creative with your container.
Images: 1. Brett Bara for Design*Sponge 2. Design*Sponge 3. Namoo Handmade 4. Emma Christensen for The Kitchn 5. LoucheLab 6. Martha Stewart 7. Style Me Pretty 8. Giant Jeans Parlor 9. Laure Joliet for Apartment Therapy