A friend gave me a jar filled with scraps of paper as a housewarming gift. On each one, she wrote an idea for an activity to try in my new home, like “Host a Scrabble night” and “Cook brunch for two” (she included recipes). I was so touched that she had created something that was just for me.
Columbia, South Carolina
My cousin Sharon once arrived at my house for Thanksgiving dinner with a large bag filled with paper towels and toilet paper. Her reasoning: My 20-plus guests would use up a lot of my supplies. It was an unusual but truly useful gift.
Joyce Leary Clark
Years back, a friend gave me a bottle of great gin, a liter of tonic water, and a potted lime tree because she knew that I loved gin and tonics. I planted the tree in our backyard, and for eight years it provided my husband and me with fruit. When we moved a few months ago, it saddened me to leave it behind. I hope that the new owners like citrus as much as we do.
Before my last party, I called my guests and asked them to bring nonperishable items for my church’s food pantry in lieu of traditional hostess gifts. I received a bounty of food: canned soup, pasta noodles, chili, beans, cereal, oatmeal, and more. Amazingly, it fed 32 families!
Port St. Lucie, Florida
One of my friends is from Germany. When I opened the door to greet her for a party at my house in 2001, she sang me a traditional German song and extended a small, colorful paper lantern with a glowing candle inside. I loved that she brought me a part of her culture.
Early in our marriage, my husband and I lived in Brazil, far from loved ones who could lend us a hand. When friends from back home came to visit us, they insisted on spending one evening babysitting our 10-month-old son so we could go out on a date. It was such a relaxing night—I’ll never forget it.
San Juan Capistrano, California