Readers Ask, Readers Answer!

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Hi Everyone – I’ve had so many reader questions sent in recently and it’s been hard to get to them while traveling, so I thought it would be cool to try something new and see if any of YOU would like to answer them or offer advice/ideas to fellow readers. Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated! Just post your answer in the comments section! THANK YOU! Here goes:

Question A: ———-
For the holiday season this year, I would like to send out cards to our family and friends. Last year was the first year we were married and I did not send out cards because 1) I was not sure if I should mail a picture card out or if that is something you only do with kids and 2) I wanted to do something more creative than a store-bought holiday card. Do you have any suggestions to sending out cards this year that may be creative and nice? I am not opposed to sending a picture card out…I know I am being picky but I want to send out something to those family and friends we do not see often!

Question B: ———-
Can you point me in the right direction for the kinds of hostess gifts that would be appropriate for when you are staying a few days at someone’s house?

Question C: ———-
Aloha! We’re planning a Las Vegas themed bridal shower in October for a friend with the emphasis on bright lights and gambling. We’ve been playing with “bet on love”, “lucky in love” as quotes. Think you can help us out with some decoration/favor/set up ideas?! Thanks!

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POSTED BY:jenn s.JENNIFER SBRANTI is the Founder and Creative Director of Hostess with the Mostess®, a hip and modern party planning resource.

20 responses to “Readers Ask, Readers Answer!”

  1. Meghan says:

    Question B-
    Anytime you are a house guest, you should bring a gift… you obviously know the host (or hosts) fairly well if they have welcomed you into their home, so tailor your gift to them. A few ideas: a plant, dessert (since you will be there to enjoy it too!), a serving dish, a coffee table book, scented candles, a collectible your host will treasure. Show that you’re thinking of them and get something that you know they will love!

  2. katie says:

    I only have a second right now but I’ll give some feedback tonight after work. Great idea to get the readers involved!

  3. Elizabeth E says:

    Question A-
    We did an “I SPY” Christmas card last year and it was a huge hit! Everyone either wrote us a note about it on their Christmas cards, or sent another card/phone call to tell us how much they enjoyed it. We took a bunch of memorabilia that represented things that happened in the year, took a picture, and then instead of a traditional card, we wrote “Can you find…The baseball from Jeremy’s first baseball game? The husky representing Elizabeth’s first year at XXX University, etc” Hope that helps!

  4. kati says:

    Well, I am a little partial here, but…

    A) Right now is THE time to buy stationery! A lot of stationers like have select items on promotion. Plus online stationery stores offer the ability to view and personalize a HUGE selection of holiday cards. Here is a link to current promotions. link

    For hostess gits (B) I have to agree that plants, desserts, book, candle, or stationery sets are useful. When I stay as a guest I always bring a “thank you” note set. It is a nice way for you to say thanks and for them to pass on the gratitude. I personally prefer letterpress or engraving, but flat print is not without its charms. It really depends on the card stock, fonts and motifs available. Of course, personalized stationery or a personalized stamp / embosser is a nice gesture.

    Disclosure: I DO work for but that doesn’t change the fact that online stationery shops are a great way to do your holiday cards and stationery is always a classy gift! you can totally find stationery sets from indie stationers or other companies like elum, port2port, YESpress, eggpress or hello lucky!. You can also search etsy for some wonderful handmade stationery sets and cards.

  5. Whatever Dee-Dee wants says:

    Question C-
    Vist Toast and Tables they had some cute gaming themes.
    Also you can buy custom printed poker chips heres the link.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Please post Halloween party ideas at the beginning of Oct. Thanks!

  7. Tamy says:

    We just moved cross country last year and wanted to send a card that let our family and friends know that we were happy and a little about the new place we were while staying on a tight budget. So we took a bunch of digital pictures of us, the house and the local color and then used Publisher to create a photo collage card. I bought some card stock at Staples and envelopes and we printed our own. It made it really personal and meaningful at the same time, wasn’t all that expensive and many family members even put it in scrapbooks or bulletin boards for the family pictures.

  8. Amy says:

    Question B: I have on occasion been at a loss as to what to give. If I’m staying, I try to take pictures of the hostess and her family and that has worked well. I print a nice 8×10 and mat it and put it in a frame and send it back a while later (maybe even a month!) with a thank you card. That way it’s a nice reminder of the trip and a thank you!

  9. Anonymous says:

    For Question A – does custom holiday cards that can include photos and/or photo magnets. They did ours last year (and we had a photo with our dogs, no kids). They even incorporated our “notes from the year” blurb on matching stationary. Prices were reasonable (I thought) and saved so much time. [Questions C: They probably do Las Vegas invitations, too!?!]

    Question B: I bring something unique to my town. I live in the SF area and find local preserves, sauces, cheeses, or baked goods at the farmer’s market and put a variety in a gift bag.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Question C
    Try plumparty, they have some great Vegas themed items, as well as fun lollipops,, and

  11. irene says:

    Question A – Sending out creative cards is easy! Add a photo, personalize it, and do it at the right price. Check out and you can send out a few cards on me for free. Be sure to watch the Picture Plus demo for how to make your own custom card, with your photo, in just moments.

  12. Preppy Napkin says:

    I would suggest personalized guest towels, cocktail napkins or coasters. It will be something they can use and remember that you gave it to them. Who doesn’t like something with their name or monogram on it. Check out

  13. Anonymous says:

    I found the best most unique cards on etsy. I looked all over the web and found that for personalized cards the cost was so much! Like hundreds of dollars. I have sent out custom personalized holiday cards in the past that I got off ebay, then punched holes in the top and tied ribbon in a bow. Looked very expensive but were so much cheaper than any others I found. That being said I do love Kate Spade’s new holiday cards, more $$$ than most though.

  14. lisa says:

    Stamping is a great way to make a creative card yourself. There is every kind of stamp imaginable from whimsical to modern to traditional. You can just get one ink and some really great notecards to start — I love chalk inks on Fabriano notecards myself (you can get them at Dick Blick)! Add a little glitter for an extra special touch, and don’t forget to sign and date the back. In this day of technology people truly appreciate handmade cards.

    I must admit, I do work for a stamp company — Hero Arts. Some of my other favorite companies are Paper Source, Impress Rubber Stamps and Savvy Stamps. Hope that helps!


    Ooooh, GREAT questions!

    A. Holiday cards: there are so, so many wonderful, ready-made cards on the market these days. You can’t go wrong there – with or without a photo.

    If you want to make something really personal, a “first year” recap might be neat. I love the “I Spy” idea above!

    Depending on how many you’ll be sending, you could create an elegant, mini-accordian fold book with “a year in photos”, ending with your names on your stockings by the fire place or something similar, based on the holiday you celebrate.

    Places like Cafe Press can print anything you’d like on an ornament, t-shirt, magnets, etc. You could use a photo or personal message and have those printed up as your card, or to send with a card.

    Personally, I LOVE when my friends send newsletters during the holidays. It’s a great way for us to catch up with each other when we don’t always have a chance to call or write. We all send photos of our kids and write about all of the milestones that happened to the family during the year.

    B. If you know the person really well, maybe a new book by their favorite author with a personalized book plate added to the inside cover, or other favorite treat that you know they’ll love. Ditto the all purpose gifts mentioned above…plants, stationery, candles, etc. Maybe give a small lavendar potted plant instead of a house plant, or potted herbs like a hearty rosemary. I, too, am partial to stationery, so whether it’s personalized or a beautiful set of notes with a fun pattern, you can’t go wrong. Journals are great, too.

    C. Las Vegas ideas: First, pick a color scheme that contains a main/base color and two accents and then go cazy! Let’s say you choose Red. Red and Las Vegas can tend to get a little bit cheesy if you’re not careful. You can tone it down with peach, pink or even cream. Fill the room with lots of the base color and accents to set the tone. Then, find plates, etc. in any of the accent colors to pull it all together. Lucky in love or bet on love leave the door open to so many wonderful possibilities.

    Fuzzy Dice are easy to make and would even be neat as the table decor using fuzzy fabric and felt circles for the die count.

    Other Vegas icons are:
    =Vegas sign [welcome to vegas] – you could do something similar that says “welcome to friend’s-name shower”
    =dice, poker chips, playing cards, martinis, slot machines, show girls, money, lights and glamour.

    Hope this sparks some ideas!


  16. angeline says:

    yes, i agree that personalized stationery is usually ultra expensive, but our handmade papergoods shop is pretty reasonable ( that being said, i love (nicely priced pers. stat, too), and recap newsletters from friends are treasures in my heart.

    i’ve hosted many guests, and all their gifts were for my son. not complaining at all, but i would’ve loved something from (such beautiful packaging) because i could’ve used it to replace stuff guests used. it’s kind of tacky leaving out half-used bottles of pretty soap for the next guest.

    hope that helps!

    – angeline
    { from }

  17. kristie S. says:

    I stayed with some friend in New Jersey a while back. I am from Memphis and we are famous for our BBQ here. There is a local BBQ restaurant here that will ship their ribs and all the trimmings packed in dry ice to just about anywhere. I arranged to have enough ribs shipped the day before I arrived to feed eight people. While I was there we grilled the ribs and they were able to invite a few of their other friends over as well.

  18. Chic and Charming says:

    A) I’ve always wanted to order custom printed Holiday Cards from Paper Source. They are completely adorable.

    B)I like the idea of taking my hosts out for a dinner. Also, it is nice to send a really fabulous bouquet to your hostess the day after you leave. If I give a candle I like to give one from Diptyque, because I know the quality will be amazing and it is a treat most women read about in magazines but will not splurge on.

  19. Terina says:

    i like to make my cards every year. and i don’t think a picture card is reserved just for families. i love getting pictures in my christmas cards!! i use stamps and cardstock to make my cards. i also like to keep them fairly simple as i have two kids and usually make at least 50 cards to mail. and this blog has had many awesome stationary companies spotlighted and i have seen some really amazing christmas cards on their websites.

  20. Jan says:

    HELP! We’ve got a sweet tooth! I’ve offered to make the centerpieces for a friends Bar Mitzvah. It’s a low key luncheon and the theme is Hershey candy; Kisses, Kissables, Cookies & Cream bars,Hershey bars and Twizzlers. Looking for sensational,sweet ideas.