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Ask VMW: What do I bring as a hostess gift?

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Ask VMW: What do I bring as a hostess gift?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ask VMW: What do I bring as a hostess gift?

I've received this question a few times, so I thought I'd better answer it.  At one time or another, you'll be invited to go to the commander's wife's house or somewhere else.  Here's the question:

"What do you bring as a hostess gift to a general's wife's luncheon at her home? The luncheon is intended for component commander's wives. She is VERY old school with the "rules" so I want to ensure I bring something. This is in Germany so European suggestions are welcome."

I have a general rule that some commanders' wives may not like...but when I am the invited guest, I NEVER come empty-handed.  Many times invitations will say "no gifts", but I consider a "small token"  not a gift, so I get away with it I think most of the, it's the right thing to do....I know they are trying not to collect junk and don't want you spending money on junk, so that's how I interpret it and do it anyway.

Now, being a former commander's wife....twice....I can tell you, I got a lot of knick knacks and things I could not possibly use.  It always made me feel bad, because I knew that some thought and money must've gone into the gift, so you accept it for what it is....thoughtfulness, genorosity and good manners.

Being in Germany you say and near a chocolate factory I see, how about a nicely wrapped box of premium chocolates from your local factory store?  Amazingly enough, here in Belgium, I am near yet another chocolate factory...I'm not complaining and MANY wives here will go there and buy huge boxes of chocolates in different flavors (cause you can only get one flavor per large non-descript box at this particular place).  They then buy cute little giftboxes and paper with all the trimmings and mix and match the chocolates in these boxes to give away as gifts.  If you don't have a lot of giving to do, then just buy a box or two....package them in smaller lots...and then eat the rest.  No one can ever have too many chocolates!  I saw a lot of this going on over the holidays up in this area.

As a hostess, I also enjoy a bottle of wine....something different, like a Riesling or a "died-and-gone-to-heaven" Eiswein....I recently bought some wonderful South African wines for 3 Euros from our local Lidl here in Belgium.  I know they are priced the same in Germany.  I also like to see these items prettily wrapped and am always amazed at how creative ladies can be.  I say this, because I'm not.  Flowers are always safe, as long as they are not of the funeral or love variety....each country may have different customs, so check that you're bringing appropriate flowers and mixed-priced bouquets work best.  I once got a really pretty small notebook, which I loved and ended up carrying in my purse for my constant notetaking.  I also had a guest make me five handmade notecards with my initials on there....I could tell alot of work went into these things, and I was really touched by that.  Of course the hard part was using them and then giving them away...but that's another story really.

Things to stay away from.....I would say books (cause interests are so different, and you don't want to risk offending anyone) knick knacks that gather dust, although I once got a very interesting Christmas ornament at a holiday gathering that the giftgiver handmade.  I still have it, and it is a reminder of our command time in an international environment.  Another time I got a very nicely wrapped basket of walnuts that came out of someone's yard....I think that is okay because it was homemade and genuine....but most careful...someone may be allergic or just not like it...for example, eating pickled herring brings good luck, but I just wouldn't bring it as a gift.  As much as I like scarves and shawls, don't bring those or clothing either....again, too much of a risk of someone not liking what you bring and then what?  Or, they may feel bad, thinking you spent a lot of money, even though you swear up and down that it was nothing.  I have a mink stole I received....yes, it was from someone hailing from a Nordic country....but I feel guilty that I got it, and it was a bit awkward in front of the other ladies as well.

Now that I've given you some ideas, I bet you just came up with another dozen!  If anyone wants to share what they like to bring or what they like receiving, please post below!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about if you yourself do not drink alcohol. I would feel awkward bringing something to somebody that I do not drink. We drink no alcohol at all at any time. So what would be a good alternative to that? I have heard that is always the safest way to go which is why I ask.

January 6, 2011 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Briar, I would never suggest you bring alcohol if you don't bring it yourself. In fact, most people who bring wine, have tried the wine themselves and think it's palatable. What if you picked up some rotgut stuff and gave that as a gift? That wouldn't go over well either. Stick with one of the other items I mentioned and never compromise either...what you believe in:-)

January 6, 2011 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I meant to say, if you don't drink it yourself....ooops!

January 6, 2011 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Candace @ArmyWives'Lives said...

Consumables are always a good bet as a hostess gift.

Thanks for stopping by the Military Family Blogger Carnival!

January 8, 2011 at 3:38 AM  
Blogger Chaotic Mom said...

Your blog is WONDERFUL! I'm working on a project, collecting essays from Army spouses. Right now I am looking for essays from specific groups, and would love for you to contribute one. For more information:, and check out the Facebook page: "Military Spouse Books". I would especially love a contribution from you re: your European experiences. ;)

January 19, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

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