Today, I'm excited to share a few of my favorite hostess gift ideas with you guys! It takes a lot of time and energy to host a gathering, so I love to give a little gift to the hostess to show my appreciation for having us. Here are some of my favorites... things that I wouldn't normally buy for myself but would love to receive!
O N E
Desk Calendar - This is seriously the prettiest calendar! And I love the gold stand it comes on (you can order it in silver too, if that's your jam). I love it when a new month comes around and I get to turn the card to a pretty new one on my desk.
T W O & S E V E N
Luxury Candle - I can't usually justify spending a lot on a candle, but when it's a gift I can. This candle smells sooo good! I also love the Frasier Fir for the holidays!
T H R E E
This is the cutest little recipe box! So cute it could stay on your countertop. This is another gift idea that I wouldn't normally buy for myself, but would love to get!
F O U R
Who doesn't love a monogrammed hand towel, and they are under $10! I have gold J's in our bathrooms and love them. They add such a nice elegant touch to the bathroom.
F I V E
Copper drink ware! Moscow Mules are a popular cocktail year round and they are the best served in copper cups. You can also monogram these.
S I X
I recently went to a happy hour in my neighborhood and the hostess had drink napkins that had her zipcode on them. They were new to the neighborhood and got them as a moving in gift and I just thought that was the cutest idea.
E I G H T
Monogrammed hand towels and soaps truly make a guest bathroom feel luxurious.
My grandma passed away before I really had the chance to develop a relationship with her. I would've loved to have gotten to know her better and for her meet Parker. I also would've loved to learn all of her tips and recipes for the kitchen. My mom always talks about what a wonderful baker she was. Every year since I can remember, I use her cutout cookie recipe and I think of her as I bake them. So I thought I would share it here in case anyone is interested, the cookies are SOOO yummy! I usually make homemade frosting too, but the cookies don't turn out as pretty, but taste WAY better than the ones with the fancy decorating frostings.
Grandma Dilly's Cutout Cookies
2.5 cups of sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter or margarine (I use butter and typically add a little extra)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Sift together flour and salt.
2. Cream the butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla, beat thoroughly - I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment.
3. Stir in sifted dry ingredients.
4. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. I usually just keep the dough in the mixer bowl and cover it for a few hours. You want the dough to be easy to handle and not too sticky otherwise it's a pain!
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6. Roll out dough, a portion at a time, on a prepared pastry cloth to 1/8 inch thickness (I use a cutting board or parchment paper that is lightly floured. I use a lot of flour on the surface, on the dough and on the rolling pin so it doesn't get sticky. I also make my cookies a little thicker because they are easier to handle.)
7. Use your favorite cutout shapes and then carefully transfer them to a greased baking sheet. (I don't grease mine, I think they are pretreated and theres already so much flour on the bottom of them I don't have a hard time with them sticking.)
8. Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees) until lightly browned on edges - about 7 minutes.
9. Let cool completely, frost/decorate and enjoy!
Grandma Dilly's Homemade Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1.5 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Add a dabble of hot water
I usually make 3-4 different bowls of this frosting and add food coloring to make the colors I'd like to use to decorate. This frosting is seriously the best, way better than store bought, it's just kinda thicker and isn't as pretty.
I took some close up shots to show how I decorated these. :) I tried to stay consistent with my neutral theme and go with an all white, gold and silver decorating theme. I've linked my pans and favorite decorating goodies at the bottom of the post.
The finished cookie is the one below - middle left - I just added three little prongs at the end of each tip and then lightly sprinkled white sprinkles on top. Ignore the super burnt color, haha! I was feeding Parker while they were baking and got totally distracted.
The frosting I used came out kinda chunky here, but that's ok! I just covered it in white sprinkles anyway so it didn't look so bad.
First line the cookie (make sure you have a pretty fine tip - I used this sparkle frosting from Target). Then draw a straight line out to each point but leave a little space between the outline frosting and the tips. Then create little V's at the end, when finished, add a pearl decorative ball on each of the points for some dimension.
I then added little V's with a dot above them to the center to give it a more fully decorated look.
For this cookie, I just spread the frosting around and added decorative pearls on each of the tips of the snowflake.
For this polka dot decorated cookie, I added large dots of frosting in each corner, then added two smaller dots in the center and put pearls on those smaller dots. I added sprinkles to the bigger dots for different textures.
For this cookie, I piped the outside, then drew lines to each point and then added the decorative pearls.
If colors are more your thing, I did these little reindeer and candy canes too! I did red and white stripes and then covered them in white sugar sprinkles.
You can shop all of my favorite cookie baking things by clicking on any of the pics below!
It’s taken me awhile to get the courage to write and share this post. I haven’t wanted to offend anyone or cause stress on the relationships that I have made within the blogging community, so I’ve hesitated to share my thoughts. However, I have felt a strong nudge to share them, and hope that it can offer some insight into my blogging experience and the challenges I’ve faced, and that hopefully others may relate to these struggles.
I started my blog in January of 2015, after starting to follow a variety of different blogs and getting really inspired by them. I wanted to use my blog as a creative outlet and share my style - both my personal style and in styling our home that we were going to be renovating. I didn’t know much about photography and photo styling (if you look back at my early pictures, they are SO terrible!), and I was super self-conscious about posting pictures of myself. It just wasn’t really all that natural feeling to me. And, if I’m being honest, I was really preoccupied with what others thought of me, so over time, it was just a place where I posted pictures of things around my house, pretty things outside, occasional pictures of my style, and it never really went anywhere because I was really inconsistent (sometimes not posting for months...) and put too much stake into what others thought about what I was doing.
When we went through our infertility journey, I created a seperate, private account where I shared our experience and made so many authentic connections with other ladies going through the same experience. I’m SO grateful that I had Instagram & the TTC (trying to conceive) community during that difficult time, because I really struggled finding people that could relate to what we were going through, and I really withdrew from life at the time. This amazing little app enabled me to receive so much support and make connections with women who are now friends in real life, and I still keep in touch with many others who are not local through social media as well.
However, once I got pregnant, I felt at odds about posting on my infertility account, because I was worried how others would feel about seeing “bumpdates”, as I know it can be a real trigger for those going through infertility. It was kind of this weird feeling, because I had created this amazing, supportive place, but now I almost felt like I was on the outside of it because I was now pregnant. I wrote a whole blog post about this, you can read it here. So I decided to go back to my neglected blog IG account, and start sharing more openly there. I started to share some bumpdates (which felt more natural to share than sharing my outfit style), how I was designing the nursery, more pictures of our home and my interior style and a little about our infertility journey. I was having fun doing it, and starting to get more into photo styling and photography and with that I was gaining some momentum, which was so fun and rewarding. It’s a personal passion of mine to photograph and style little scenes that showcase my style and favorite things for our home, motherhood and our little guy. It was so reaffirming to gain this momentum, and actually start generating a little bit of income for our family through something I was having so much fun doing.
It was about 1 year ago that I was asked to be in my first “engagement group” for Instagram. I was really excited because this was a new tactic that bloggers were doing to help create more engagement on their posts, which would help them gain more exposure and overcome the Instagram algorithm change (which has made it more difficult for your posts to be seen). These engagement groups had about 10 people in them, and every time you posted, you would let the group know, and they’d like and comment on your picture and you’d all reciprocate. I loved the appearance of how well my posts were “performing”. Soon, I was asked to join another group, and then another and before I knew it I was in a few of these groups, and spending a lot of time on my phone trying to keep up with everyone’s posts, so they’d do the same for me. I then learned about telegram from some other bloggers, an app where you send your post at a certain time, and you all just like each other’s photos, which gave me an extra 100-200 likes on a given picture. I had stopped doing engagement groups because of the time it was taking up and because I was starting to feel very inauthentic. But, candidly, I let my pride get in the way, because I was still longing for that appearance of highly engaging IG posts and to keep up with the other bloggers who were doing this, too, so I did telegram for while. I was spending so much time on my phone trying to keep up, it was hard for me to be present. I had this sweet little guy that we longed for and prayed for, for so long, and here I was just wasting my time away on my phone. I was following along with accounts that I may not normally follow and engage with, stressed out about it, and it was all to keep up with the appearance that I wanted to convey. It was almost as if I was starting put too much stake into how my posts were performing and it became such a focus for me. It took the fun out of it and it all started feeling like a chore. I got away from the reason I started all of this, to have fun and channel my passions and creativity.
So, I took a week long social media break at the beginning of the summer because I was feeling so discouraged about this whole blogging thing and wanted to spend some time doing some reflecting. I was feeling discouraged because so many people were buying their followers & likes, or “manufacturing” or enhancing their engagement by participating in engagement groups or telegram. The other thing that’s become super popular, and is basically a more acceptable form of buying followers, is doing giveaway after giveaway. It just felt like it was all kind of a big sham to me, so I took a breather. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried all of these things, and I don’t blame or judge anyone for doing them. Instagram continues to change who sees and is exposed to posts, and has made it really hard for bloggers to grow their followers organically, and even have strong, natural engagement. Here’s a link to an article about this - Instagram then & now. These new growth tactics for engagement and followers has become the norm now, but something within me didn’t feel right participating. (Note: I will still do the occasional giveaway if its something that I think my readers would love - and are products that I love - like Stabuckys and Target! But, I promise to not become a page that is constantly doing tons of giveaways, all the time.)
So quit it all. My heart just didn’t feel right doing it, and to be honest its not fair to any of the brands that I team up with from time-to-time. It felt like things have just gone way too far for me to feel comfortable, so I just had to stop participating. And my engagement is way down and my followers have remained around the same range for awhile, and that’s OK!
I’ve grown a lot in my faith as I’ve started Bible Study Fellowship and Mom’s Morning at my church this fall. It has helped me find fulfillment in Jesus and has helped me build new, authentic friendships with other moms who are in the same season of life and share the same faith. It has been so wonderful to have a community to connect with that is in this season of life with me now, too. My faith has helped me realize that you will never find fulfillment from a social media platform, or value your worth or popularity from how many likes or followers you get, or commissions you make. This has been so freeing for me. Now I can post and truly just have fun with it, be myself, and use social media when I have time for it, versus using it in a way that feels like a job to keep up an appearance. My likes and comments on other pages are truly meaningful too, not just something I felt like I had to do because I was in an engagement group. If my blog grows as a result of this, that’s great, but I’m not going to stress out about it like I once did. This will let me do this as a passion, which was the reason I started doing this in the first place.
I love being able to do something that is fun, allows me to be creative, and helps me support my family. So to everyone who has been here with me on my journey, thank you so much. I felt like I owed it to all of you to be honest and transparent about my experience with blogging, and hope that you will appreciate that. I always do my best to try to keep things real and authentic so that I can connect with people in a meaningful way. Thank you again for all of your support. XO
I've rounded up some of my favorite items for the home below. Many of these could work as great hostess gifts, too! You can click on each image for details. :)
Hi! I'm Lindsay, a new mama to our little boy, Parker. I started my blog as a way to channel my creativity and document our life happenings. From the pretty, styled shots to the real, raw experiences, too, like our journey to start our family. I love to share about my faith, my personal style for interior decorating, holidays and entertaining & for our little guy. too. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your support. XO