It’s an understatement to say the last couple of years have been stressful, unpredictable and tumultuous. But if anything, it’s taught us the value of comfort and consistency. And who better to keep us grounded in those things than the people we know — and rely upon? It’s no wonder that in light of this, personalization is one of the more trending ways to entertain these days.
Now, as this year approaches its end, it’s all about smaller, more intimate venues.
As 2022 inches closer, take a look at these 10 ways to celebrate and honor the ones who have kept you going these last few years.
Selfies are fun. But if you’re looking for a way to capture memories that doubles as a gift, consider the professional route. Think about hiring a professional photographer with custom backgrounds and props or a photo booth. Another option is to invest in instant cameras and set up your own themed stations. And don’t forget to provide a collection of frames. Many people have surpluses of forgotten or vacant picture frames that can be repurposed. Encourage friends to bring their leftovers to your candid camera event.
Tea for two or three
Ritualistic and routine in many cultures, tea time beckons a moment to slow down and converse over a hot cuppa. To make a tea party particularly cozy, provide a takeaway cup and saucer for your guests (antique malls and sellers often sell unique sets for reasonable prices). Pick a set that best reflects your friends’ personalities. Include bite-sized sandwiches and mini desserts you know are top favorites and make extra for your guests to take home with their porcelain teacup takeaway.
Rather than using your own personal monogrammed stationery to invite friends and family to an occasion, flip the script and send them personalized invites with their initials. After the party, the take-home gift is the remaining monogrammed stationery bearing their initials or the first letter of their name.
Cookies with character
Is one of your besties Harry Potter-obsessed? Or a fall season fanatic? Take inspiration from Sweet Seeker Cookies (check out sweetseekercookies on Instagram) to see how to curate collections of delectable sugar cookies with your favorite people in mind. Throw an appreciation party with your cookie collection as the centerpiece. Think about featuring an autumnal selection with its variety of pumpkins, “thankful”-labeled, and seasonally-colored, leaf-shaped cookies.
Baskets of bounty
Do you have a friend who swoons over Sunday night football? Or goes nuts for goofy socks? Loves any kind of bath bomb or shower scrub? To show you know your buddies, invite them over and present each with a specialized gift basket or box with some of their favorite things. If you lack the time, creativity or desire to compile your own goodies, take a look on Etsy for “Gift Baskets for Friend.” This will provide you with a menagerie of options from color-coded “Sending you Sunshine,” (HeartTalkCompany) packages to fuzzy socks that resemble cupcakes (HappytoGiveBotique).
Many of us have spent the pandemic with either really good or hideously bad cooking skills. For those of us who perfected the culinary arts, this theme is for you. Showcase your new (or refined) cooking prowess by sharing your kitchen with those you love most.
Make a shared meal, or encourage friends and family to prepare a favorite quarantine discovery alongside you. To make the occasion extra special, splurge on an engraved cutting board for each chef you host (you can get a reasonably priced wooden option on weddingcollectibles.com).
Before we know it, winter will be upon us. To help your inner circle feel cozy and festive, invite them for a pre-holiday soiree. Prior to serving seasonal soups, hot chocolate, homemade bread and other cooler weather options, adorn each guest’s plate with a mini stocking stuffed with your winter-themed menu. For literary hosts, write a poem or words of thanks in place of a menu. Or top place settings with personalized dreidels engraved with the name of each friend (check out Engravablez on Etsy).
Who doesn’t love a hot cup of java? OK, some people don’t. But for those who do, make them feel special by inviting them for coffee and sending them home with a coffee caddy. Start by stocking up on a few craft organization bins with handles (check out the Design Plastic Portable Craft Storage Organizer Caddy Tote on Amazon.com). Rather than filling it yourself, entreat your friends to bring their favorite K-cups, ground coffee, creamers and other accompaniments (i.e cinnamon, nutmeg, mocha and vanilla powder, etc.). After everyone shares conversation and a cup (or two) of coffee, have friends pick their favorite coffee items to fill their take-home, carry-and-go coffee container.
At the heart of all preceding ideas on this list is gratitude. Why not take it a step further by hosting an event with thankfulness as its foundation? For each friend you invite, provide a journal, pen and any other creative elements such as stickers or page markers. Encourage each person to write down what they are grateful for. Or have each person scribe what they appreciate about the person on their right. When everyone is done writing, pass the journal to the person on their right. Then, everyone has a keepsake and reminder of how supported they are as well as how good it feels to be grateful.
Whatever personal touches you choose to honor the ones you care for most, don’t forget about those who are far away. Remote friends can be appreciated with a mailed care package and note of gratitude.
These ideas work best with a small group. Gather three to five of your closest friends to keep costs and coziness at a perfect level.