I remember reading an article – probably 10 years ago; I wish I could place exactly where but I think it was the New Yorker – commenting on the sad state of American wine and dinner party culture. The author observed, with much dismay, that tossing a bottle of low priced wine at your host had become the ticket to entry to respectable social gatherings. This article stayed in my head for years as i continued to hand over bottle after bottle of average wine for social gathering (no one even pays attention, what’s the point of good wine in this situation?) In the depths of my heart longed for the days when my ex-husband and I would go to Le Cirque, Daniel, etc and APPRECIATE a (very expensive) bottle of wine… however long gone those days seemed.
So I continued the custom. But then a year and a half ago I got sober. And it started to feel like a funny thing to do. For a while, I would still bring white wine for a hostess – particularly that first summer, buying the bottles and stashing them in the basement fridge to grab as I was leaving the house. But then it slowly changed… I started to put an alcohol free drink or two in my bag for myself and a small token for the hostess… a cutting board, a bouquet of flowers, herbs from my garden… As I did this I realized: 1. the memories of giving these things – and anticipation of choosing and wrapping them – was so much greater than digging up a bottle of wine and handing it over, and 2. The items themselves were so much more appreciated.
So as an ode to the start of summer I have included 7 items below that I’ll be considering for hostess gifts this year (they also happen to be from sites that have many, many great options). The more important message, however, is that you don’t HAVE to do what everyone else is doing. Walk into a party proudly with your AF beverage in hand and a small gift that shows your appreciation.
I would love to know what kinds of things you like to give as gifts (in any situtation) in place of alcohol.
Note: More about those AF drinks that fit in the purse coming up soon!
Happy summer. With love, Nicole Hough, founder and editor, AFTER Magazine
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If you take NOTHING else from this post it should be that Burke Decor is your friend for gifts big and small we well as smashing decor. In 20 years of my design career I relied on them for beautiful gifts and inspiration.
This mint scented candle says summer to me as I enjoy days of fresh sprigs of mint in my iced tea.
I love to get excited about the small things and this lighter is seriously the best thing I ever bought myself. Advertised as a candle lighter, I used this to light the paper to start a fire, for incense, and all small tasks around the house.
I am a sucker for all things brass and glamorous. This ice scoop will add a touch of glam to the party whether the ice is for cocktail or mocktails.
While we’re talking about having things on hand for a stress free summer, who doesn’t need easy access to tools. I always try to have a measuring tape with me somewhere and love this cute set and organized pouch.
I was lucky enough to be gifted this book from my friend at Better Rhodes (highly recommend checking out their site for the best AF Beverages!). It’s cute design and great recipes make this a nice gift for your sober / sober-curious friend.
Another item I have in my kitchen, this one is so pretty and keeps your counters looking cool and neat with the most essential cooking ingredient at your finger tips. (Sometimes I substitute the salt for Himalayan sea salt which I think tastes so much better … which in fact I’m going to add here next…)
Can salt TASTE good? I don’t know why or how but this one just does. I use this as a finishing salt in my kitchen – on top of avocado toast, chocolate caramels, poached eggs – anywhere you want the salt to shine. Keep it in a little salt cellar so you don’t forget to use it!
While we’re busy making life easy for the summer, stock up on these gift tags (and other wrapping essentials) so you’re never searching for a way to label a gift while running late for a party. (It’s the little things in life. – side note, learned by trial and error)
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