If it hasn’t been established yet, I like things to be as easy as possible. It is nearly impossible for me to stop on the way to whatever event I’m going to to pick up a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine. And don’t even get me started on Saturday morning birthday parties. There’s zero chance I can pick up something during the week, and trying to buy a gift with a toddler and baby in tow on the way to the party is a recipe for disaster. (Seriously, taking your kids into the Target toy aisles is for sure a method of torture.) To make my life easier and to minimize the risk that I’ll be the a-hole that shows up empty handed to a party, I keep a little stock of grab-and-go gifts so I’m always prepared. Here are a few things I keep in the house so I have something for every occasion.
I like to keep a supply of host/hostess gifts for those unplanned dinner invitations, housewarming parties that I just didn’t get around to buying anything for, or an adult birthday that I forgot to add to my calendar. The key for me for having these on hand is neutral, universally appropriate items.
- Stemless wine glasses: Most people have their own wine glass sets, but a set of stemless wine glasses with a classy pattern on them is sure to please. Best when paired with a bottle of wine to go with it. I like a set of 4 so they’re usable for a double date night or a girls’ night, but you’re not gifting them an entire set for which they might not have storage.
- Wine/champagne: I try to keep a couple of reds, whites, and champagnes on hand for a quick and easy on-the-go gift. I keep my giftable ones on one shelf in our wine fridge so I don’t accidentally grab the limited edition champagne that was gifted to my husband or the $6 bottle of crappy wine that I won at a silent auction.
- Neutral throw blanket: Typically, I wouldn’t recommend gifting something as personal as home decor unless you know the person’s taste really well, but a super soft throw in a neutral color is pretty likely to match anyone’s color palette.
- Coffee table book: Almost anyone can appreciate a good coffee table book. Choose something to have on hand that has broad appeal like landscape photography.
It feels like some months we are going to 2-3 birthday parties every weekend and others we don’t have a single one on the calendar. But kids’ parties are the ones I am least likely to be prepared for, so I’ve taken to keeping a small stash of gifts that I can grab on the way out the door.
A few important tips:
I keep things on hand that fit within the appropriateness for my own kids’ age range since those are the ages of kids to whose parties we are most likely to go.
I don’t like to stock up too much, since I prefer to give gifts that the parents have time to return or exchange. Tape gift receipts to the item.
Hide these well. If your kids find them, they will open them.
- Building blocks: I like any block sets that come with their own container. Lord knows parents don’t need another toy with a million pieces that has no home. Blocks can be a great gift for so many different age ranges.
- Balloon powered vehicle set: This is inexpensive and a fun toy for budding engineers (or just kids who like to see things move fast).
- Classic literature board book: I like these fun classics in board book form. They’re a cute, original gift for younger kids and parents enjoy them as much (or more) than their babies.
- Planting kit: Encourage curiosity and responsibility with a planting kit (and maybe teach people to be less of a black thumb than I am). I like this one because it’s inexpensive so I can add a kids’ gardening tool set to it.
Having just a few items ensures you’ll never be caught empty-handed. Don’t forget to restock when you start using them all. What are you go-to gifts?