hostess gifts

Kudos to @valkyrie1969, one of the most generous, creative, and funny persons I’ve ever met. Pictured above are kale chips, bread crumbs, a canned whole chicken, almond butter, Mac ‘n Trees, ground coffee (in case there’s no grinder) and mixed nuts. This was her hostess gift to @fromheretoeternity1121. I canna even, still 🤣!

Get Carried Away

With my fun and stylish Carryall Pouches.

Available in sizes small, medium and large, or as a set of three (shown).  Lots more designs and photos to choose from.  See my entire collection at Shop MellowCat.  Worldwide shipping.

This took the form of a very expensive looking oblong parcel which in its glossy splendour made one suppose that it must contain something of the highest value. When my aunt opened it she found two pieces of bark from a tree which where, according to Tennant, of the most exquisite and subtle beauty. Virginia didn’t agree and was rather cross.
—  Quentin Bell, on a hostess gift from Stephen Tennant to Virginia Woolf
Doubling the power in your witch’s garden

The garden is a magnificent tool in the witch’s magical arsenal. My witch’s garden is a collection of plants with various meaningful origins. Those origins determine the power of the plant, along with the corresponding magical properties naturally living inside it. Plants given as gifts contain magics pertaining to the giver. For example, if my best friend gives me a rose bush as a gift, the roses will not only contain love, as all roses do, but rather HER love. This allows any spell I may want involving her to be done with the roses from the bush she gave me. The plants energy is tied directly to the giver and receiver. So the roses from the bush not only contain HER love, but rather HER love FOR ME. This makes the roses from this bush extra powerful. It may seem difficult to cultivate a witch’s garden like this, but just think of all the seemingly casual reasons people give and receive plants as gifts:

 ~Poinsettias and small evergreens at Christmas time

~Easter lilies

~Tea roses and hydrangeas on Mother’s Day

~Mums at Halloween and Autumn time

~Get well plants given when someone is ill or recovering

~House plants / herbs as housewarming gifts and/or hostess gifts

~Rescue plants from people you know with black thumbs

~Inherited plants

~Any plant that friends/loved ones give you starts from

~Roses on Valentine’s Day, at dance recitals/live performances/dates

~The menagerie of funeral plants such as peace lilies, philodendron, etc… when a loved one dies

Cut flowers, like roses, can sometimes be placed in a rooting hormone mixture and later planted, thus increasing the value of your magical garden. Of course, not every plant in my garden comes from a meaningful place. Some come from a store. But the ones with sentimental value have more power. Isn’t that how it is with just about everything? 

DIY Natural Room Scents

Fragrant items for naturally scenting your home:

  • Citrus — I’ve tried other fruits. Some of them smell good initially, but they don’t hold up for more than one use. Citrus is sturdier, longer-lasting, and gives these scent recipes freshness. Lemons and oranges are particularly fragrant and have the best staying power in these scented waters.
  • Herbs — Any herb can be used for making a room scent, but the ones that are sturdier and on woody twigs hold up the best. My favorites for room scents are rosemary and thyme.
  • Pine or cedar twigs/needles — There may be other fragrant trees that will work, too; pine and cedar are the two I’ve tried for their appealing, fresh fragrance.
  • Extracts — A touch of vanilla or almond extract improves most room fragrance mixtures. Mint extract has a nice fresh scent.
  • Spices — You can use ground or whole sweet spices. The whole spices look prettier, if your scented water will be in a location where it will be seen. I have found that cinnamon sticks and whole cloves have the most scent staying power. Cinnamon sticks can be rinsed off and reused several times. They keep on giving.

Five Natural Room Scent Recipes

These are all scents that my nose likes. But, scents that are pleasing to one person may not be to someone else. Consider how many different scents of perfumes, soap, and candles there are in stores in an effort to appeal to the masses. So, use my recipe combos as guidelines that you can tweak and customize to suit what your nose likes.

General procedure: Combine the ingredients in a 2 cup (pint) jar or container, or in a pan on the stove top. Cover them with water and heat. I’ll explain different heating options further down. Keep reading.

Scent #1: Oranges, cinnamon & cloves (allspice and anise are optional). This is my favorite, both for it’s wonderful aroma and for it’s staying power. This scent carries into multiple rooms better, and it can be reheated to scent your rooms for several days.

Scent #2: Lemon, rosemary, & vanilla. A similar scented water is often simmering in Williams-Sonoma stores. It has a lovely freshness to it.

Scent #3: Lime, thyme, mint & vanilla extract. This combination has such a fresh, pleasant scent. I initially made it without the mint extract, but have found that it really kicks up the aroma.

Scent #4: Orange, ginger (fresh or powdered), and almond extract. This is a sweet, delicious scent.

Scent # 5: Pine or cedar twigs (or other fragrant twigs), bay leaves, and nutmeg. These scents combine for a complex aroma. If you have whole nutmeg, use a microplane to grate off the outer surface–this will release the scent. Add the whole nutmeg piece along with the gratings.

Here’s the gang of five. Aren’t they beautiful? I like to make these up in pint jars and keep them on hand in the fridge so I’m ready to start a pot of simmering scents as needed.

Make ahead and…

  • …store in the fridge. Uncooked jars of scented waters will keep in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks, so you can make these ahead to have on hand. I recommend adding all of the ingredients, including the water, to the jars before refrigerating them. I’ve tried refrigerating the fruit/spice/herb combos in jars without the water, but they don’t last as long that way.
  • …freeze them.  I’ve tried freezing them both with and without the water added, and both ways work fine. I haven’t tested them in the freezer longer than 2 weeks, but I’m confident that they can be frozen for a month or longer. Make sure you use freezer-safe jars. (Not all mason jars are freezer-safe.)

How to heat the scented mixtures

I’ve tried a variety of methods, and all of these work to varying degrees. Some of them provide a more powerful scent than others. Just like the air fresheners you buy, none of these will scent a whole house; but I’ll show you some ways to set up individual scent sources in multiple rooms. Hopefully you already have what you need to try out one or more of these options.

Stove top method. This is by far the best way I’ve found to get the most powerful scent that will spread to more rooms the fastest. It’s easy as can be. Simply combine the ingredients in a pot on the stove, bring them to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer. They will immediately begin to scent your kitchen and spread to other rooms. How far the scent spreads depends on the size and layout of your house. A simmering pot like this makes all four rooms on our first floor smell good. The only drawback of this method is that you have to keep a close eye on the water level. If the pan dries out, you’ll be smelling burned citrus instead of sweet, fragrant citrus.  NOTE: For a stronger scent, simply double or triple the recipe in a larger pot on the stove.

Uncovered Slow Cooker Method. This is my personal favorite for having my house smell pleasant every day. I use a mini slow cooker–the kind made for keeping dips and sauces warm. Mine only has one low heat setting. The mixture never actually bubbles and visibly steams. I leave it uncovered on my kitchen counter to slowly release scent throughout the day. It’s subtle, but creates a pleasant smell in the house. When I’m home, I keep my mini slow cooker going. It’s easy and uses very little electricity. When I fill mine in the morning, it won’t dry out for an entire day. If you’re concerned about accidentally letting it run dry, you can put a lamp timer on it so that it automatically shuts off at the desired time. I put a scented jar mixture in the microwave for 2 minutes to get it really hot before I add it to the slow cooker. That gives it a jump start on releasing the scent.  NOTE: For a stronger scent, simply double or triple the recipe in a larger, full-size slow cooker.

Fondue Pot Method. If you have a fondue pot, then you have a portable scent station. Set it up in any room you’d like to scent. Below is a small ceramic fondue pot I have that uses a tea light for heat. So, this will only remain warm as long as the candle lasts–3-½ to 4 hours. Like the slow cooker, this is a low level of heat and releases a very subtle scent–enough for a small room. Get the scent mixture boiling hot before adding it to the fondue pot. I like to set this up in our entry way when we have guests. It makes it smell wonderful when you walk through our front door. And, it looks pretty.

Mug Warmer Method. I normally keep this little mug warmer next to my computer to keep my coffee and tea warm. I’ve discovered it also can be used to keep a jar or small bowl of scent mixture warm. It only keeps it warm, it doesn’t actually heat it up. So again, be sure to heat the mixture before adding it the bowl. Or microwave a jar and set it right on top of the mug warmer. This low heat puts off a soft scent that is perfect in a bathroom.

  • Here’s a hint to keep it pretty. As the mixtures cook and lose their color, they’re not as attractive. You can spruce it up by floating a fresh slice of citrus on top. Or add a few cranberries (I keep a bag of them in my freezer); they float and add a touch of color.

Candle Warmer Method. These work just like the mug warmers. Candle warmers come with a little bowl on top for melting scented candle pellets. Instead, you can add some heated scented water. Or, remove the bowl and set a jar or other bowl on top.

  • Note: I tested the temperatures of these with a thermometer. The mug warmer and candle warmer both kept the mixture at about 120°F. That’s enough to let off a very subtle scent, but don’t expect these to strongly scent a big room. You need more heat and steam for a stronger scent.

Tea Pot Warmer Method. My tea pot warmer also uses tea lights. I can put two or three tea lights in mine to achieve the temperature I want. These only last as long as the tea lights burn, but they can get hotter than the mug and candle warmers, thus releasing more scent. I can put a bowl or jar on top of my tea pot warmer, as long as I put it somewhere that I can keep an eye on it. I don’t like to leave candles unattended.

Add more hot water as needed. As the water evaporates from any of these warming bowls or jars, top it off with additional HOT water. It needs to be hot when it’s added so that it doesn’t cool down the temperature of the scented water.  Higher heat = more fragrance.

Gift them! These make a fun, unique hostess gift. Take one along to a party as a gift for your host that can be simmered and enjoyed the next day.

Reuse each mixture 2-3 times. After these have been heated and simmered for awhile, the water becomes cloudy (as you can see in the jars below), and some of the ingredients lose their vibrant color. Although they don’t look as pretty, they still smell good. Usually, you can reheat and simmer these again 2-3 times. Jar them up and refrigerate them between uses. Open the jar and give it the sniff test–if it still smells good, reheat and reuse it. Add more water as needed.

Cost saving tips

You can save, use and reuse a number of fragrant ingredients. These scents don’t need to be expensive.

  • Leftover ginger —  If you ever cook with fresh ginger and end up with leftover pieces , this is a way to use them up before they spoil. Slice the leftover ginger and freeze it in a bag or container to have on hand for whipping up a quick batch of scented water.
  • Save your orange peels – When you eat an orange, save the peel for use in scented waters. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer until you need them.
  • Save your juiced lemons and limes – After you’ve juiced these for use in a recipe, refrigerate or freeze the leftover pieces.
  • Save your leftover herbs – If you have herbs in a garden or have leftover herbs that you’ve purchased for cooking, they can be frozen and saved for use in these scented waters.
  • Use expired juices. If you have fruit juices that are past their prime, use them as a base in place of the water in these mixtures. They’re both fragrant and colorful.
  • Use expired spices. Spices are supposed to be replaced after a year, because they lose much of their flavor. But, they still smell good! Instead of throwing out old spices, use them for scenting water.

There are endless combinations for these scented waters. If you have some additional ideas, please share. I’m always looking for a new, pleasant scent for my home.

Natural Room Scents By Monica Ingredients
  • Citrus, sliced — lemons, oranges, limes (may use peel only, if preferred)
  • Herbs — rosemary, thyme, & bay leaves
  • Spices– whole cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice (optional), anise (optional); may substitute ground/powdered spices
  • Ginger (fresh or powdered)
  • Extracts–vanilla, almond, mint
  • Pine twigs (or other fragrant twigs)
Directions Use a pint (2 cup) jar, container, or pot to combine scent waters. Add ingredients to container, cover with water, and choose from these options:
–simmer on stove top, topping off with more water as it evaporates
–add heated mixture to a slow cooker, fondue pot, or something similar that will keep mixture heated. Preheat waters to a boil (in microwave or on stove top). As water evaporates, always top it off with HOT water to keep the temperature as high as possible. Higher heat = more fragrance.FRAGRANT COMBINATIONS:1. Orange, Cinnamon & Spice. 1 orange, 2 cinnamon sticks (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon), ½ tablespoon whole cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves), ½ tablespoon whole allspice (or ¼ teaspoon ground allspice), 1 anise star (optional)

2. Lemon, Rosemary & Vanilla. 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 2 lemons, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

3. Lime, Thyme, Mint & Vanilla. 3 limes, 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, ½ teaspoon mint extract, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

4. Orange, Ginger, & Almond. 1 orange (or peel from 2 oranges), 1 4″ finger of ginger, sliced (or 1 tsp ground ginger), ½ teaspoon almond extract.

5. Pine, Bay Leaves, & Nutmeg. Handful of pine twigs or needles, 4 bay leaves, 1 whole nutmeg, outer layer grated into mixture.

Scented waters may be refrigerated between uses. Reuse for 2-3 days, or as long as they still have a pleasant fragrance.


Make your holiday hosts happy by making them a delicious homemade treat. You can try these white chocolate cranberry cookie, gingerbread cake, apple butter, and cranberry pecan granola recipes or switch it up by placing the ingredients in a jar. What are your SWEET SWAPS™ Recipes? Share them HERE and your idea might be featured!

Keep reading


etsyfindoftheday | gift blitz 2015: candle finds | 12.9.15

featured: soy jar candles by detroitrosecandleco

these yummy-sounding scented candles — sage and milk + honey, mmmm — would make wonderful gifts as well. going to a friend’s holiday party? put a big bow on one of these babies and present with your cookie plate! super cute.


This weekend’s DIY is the perfect centerpiece, hostess gift or accessory for your own home. Highly personal, incredibly easy, we’re making burlap succulent planters.

You can go for a larger pot, like we did, or choose the teensy tiny single-succulents (perfect for party favors!). We chose a roll of landscaping burlap, cut three squares that would be big enough to bunch around the pot and painted polka dots in our color of the week, Ice Mist. We laid the squares out so they’d overlap, then bunched and tied with twine. Take heart, this took a few times to get right. To finish this off, we trimmed some excess burlap from the top.

What goes great with a weekend DIY? A themed playlist:


Food Gifts

This holiday season we’re sharing the love without breaking our (already broken) bank accounts. Instead of store-bought presents or pricy dinners out, we’re making our favorite people food. Nothing fancy, just little jars and bottles of pantry-or-fridge-stable goodies. Each costs less than $5 to put together and will hopefully remind our favorite humans that we care every time they look in the cupboard.

We put together a few of our most favorite tasty presents here so you can send a little snack-love to your tribe and have more– including the best-ever simple syrup for gin cocktails–  coming next week!

Mulling Spices

These spices make warm, toasty holiday drinks feel a little bit more special. Let the recipients know that each jar of spices will mull 2 bottles of Wine (just add 2 cup of juice, like pomegranate or orange, and ⅔ cup of sweetener, like honey or brown sugar) or 1 gallon of Cider (no need to add anything [except bourbon], it’s already fucking perfect). Be sure to make some extras for yourself– or to have on hand as quick hostess gifts for last-minute holiday parties– because it’s fucking excellent.

  • 1 Orange Peel, cut into nickle sized chunks
  • 1 tbsp whole Cloves
  • 1 tbsp whole Cardamom Pods
  • 1 tbsp whole Allspice Berries
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorn
  • 2 sticks Ceylon Cinnamon

Arrange the Orange Peel chunks on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Dehydrate in your oven at its lowest setting (usually around 175-200°) for 45-90 minutes, until they look crunchy and start to curl. Let them cool completely– packaging while hot can trap moisture in your spice blend and lead to all sorts of problems. Like mold. No one wants that. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a jar (duh) and do something twee and Pinterest-y like label it with Washi Tape or something (or, um, not).

Flavored Salts

Food gifts don’t have to be just sweet. Flavored salts are a thoughtful way to help step-up your friends’ seasoning game. Popcorn, french fries, simple grilled chicken-and-veggies suppers. The possibilities are endless– and so are the seasoning combinations. Instructions below will get you to some intensely savory mushroom salts but run wild with this concept. Just stick to the 1-2 tsp of each type of Stuff to ½ cup Kosher Salt rule to keep things balanced! May we also strongly recommend Lemon Zest and Black Pepper?

  • 1 oz Dried Mushrooms
  • ½ cup Kosher Salt

In your food processor, whizz together the Mushrooms and Salt. And that’s it. Go as chunky or fine as you’d like– finer works better for stuff like popcorn and chunky takes veggies to a whole new level.


Extracts are secretly the easiest food gift to make. Stick ¼ cup of Coffee Beans (which we used for these photos), or 3 Cinnamon Sticks, or 2 Vanilla Beans that have been split open, or, like, literally anything else that you want stuff to taste like in as many as 3 cups of Vodka or other spirit (Bourbon is particularly nice, and Rum works, too).

Seal in a jar that seals super tight and give it a quick shake every day for three or four days, until it starts to turn colors. They’ll be ready to use in as little as one week and keep for basically ever– but taste their best after they’ve had a chance to hang out in a cool, dark place for at least one month.

Coconut Burfi

While most Indian sweets are notoriously difficult to make, these coconut burfi are the home cook’s secret weapon. They take about 20 minutes to cook, use just two ingredients, and taste like the most wonderfully soft coconut fudge. What’s not to love? I could, and have been known to eat half a tray of them still warm. My mum used to make them for us when we were tiny, cut into diamond shapes with glacé cherries on top - which, to be frank, is still my preferred option (I adore glacé cherries) - but they’re also lovely rolled in desiccated coconut as above. Although I’ve just been reliably informed by my Mum that you can only call them burfi if they stay diamond shaped, so they’re just sweets if you make them round.

To make them, just blitz 250g desiccated coconut in a coffee grinder until finely ground - you will need to do this in a few batches. Then pop the coconut into a saucepan along with a tin of condensed milk. Stir continuously over a low heat for about 7-10 minutes - you’ll know when it’s ready, because the mixture will suddenly come together in a smooth, shiny dough that comes away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Tip the dough out onto a buttered plate, and squash it down evenly to help it cool. When it’s warm enough to handle (this won’t take long), break off small sections and roll them into balls, then roll these immediately in desiccated coconut. Leave the sweets to cool, and store at room temperature in an airtight box for up to a week - though it’s unlikely they’ll last that long. Perfect for hostess gifts or birthday presents.

Vegan Earl Grey Chocolate Shakes from The First Mess

So I’m here to help with a simple little treat and a virtual high five for all the things you got goin’ on—the multiple shopping lists, the handmade hostess gifts, conveying sentiment in a way that feels just right, making the best cheeseboard ever, hitting that high note in “silent night,” flooding your sugar cookie cutouts with precision, foraging for decorative twigs to tie on your packages, planning a perfect Christmas morning breakfast, strategizing your boxing day scores well in advance, working in some time to partake in Beyoncé’s “visual experience” (you got to), shovelling the driveway like a boss, buying enough dog food to make it over the obligatory 3 day holiday retail closure, syncing your twinkle lights up to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, giving up and realizing that just telling someone how grateful you are for their light and a big hug is probably more than enough… I know that you got all of this on lock.

Gifts for the Hostess

Small offerings that make a lasting impression

Odds are you’re attending at least a few parties this season, so it pays to be prepared when it comes to what to wear and what to bring. To give you more time to focus on your outfit, we’re turning our attention to the other important factor in being a great guest: the hostess gift. Show your appreciation for all of the event planner’s hard work with a small gesture that says “thank you,” like a stylish coffee table book or a pretty plant hanger. Shop these gifts and more, below.

Archipelago Botanicals Signature Soy Wax Candle

Olivine Lotion

Bath Salt Vials

How to Be Parisian

Lacey Gold Mani Duo

Painted Caves Plant Hanger

Luxury Face Oil, 30ml

Holiday Toppings Gift Set

Knitted Gloves

Checked Scarf

Shabd Magic Dye Silk Headscarf Kit

Worn Stories