Holiday Entertaining

7 DIY Party Gifts That Are Way Better than Wine

November 18, 2015

Let's consider the attributes of a bottle of wine: It's tasty, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, it's customizable to most any budget, it wraps nicely in a tea towel, and you can probably find a bottle of it on your way home from the office in your house.

But is wine really the best we can do for a host gift? Here at Food52 we're not afraid of going above and beyond, especially in this era of over-the-top entertaining. So we've rounded up some easy DIYs to thank your friends, the folks who invited you into their homes and fed you this season, more heartily. (Besides being cute and clever, they'll also not leave you with a headache or a wine ring on the coffee table.)

1. Dried Leaf Stationery

DIY stationery made with pressed leaves. Photo by Bobbi Lin

Pressing leaves takes just a few days (maybe you even have some stashed away in your books?). Punch a few tiny holes in set of note-sized card stock, slip the stems through, and you've got an instant set of homemade stationery—just be sure to make an extra to write your own thank-you note on one. Here's how!

2. Fragrances for Simmering

Perfume their home with a case of the good smellies. Photo by Alpha Smoot

A bunch of eucalyptus leaves, woody herbs, ginger nubs, or flower petals can be used as all-natural room scents just by setting them on the stove in water and simmering them. Bring them to your host tied in twine with instructions, and the next morning's clean up will be a lot more refreshing.

3. Dried Flowers

Photo by Rocky Luten

You don't have to bring a whole centerpiece, but think outside the flower vase. A bunch of dried hydrangeas, or dried berries, or dried greenery will be the start of some very pretty and lasting arrangements—and if you're feeling very friendly, you might tuck them in a pitcher to bring over.

4. Homemade Candles

Photo by Bobbi Lin

By melting down soy wax flakes and adding fragrance, any jar or glass or mug can become a candle. Plus, once the candle has burned down, the mug can keep on giving.

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Pick up an assortment of cups at your local thrift store to use, and then keep them on hand as gifts in case anyone drops by that you didn't expect to get a present from.

5. A Towel-Wrapped Cookbook

Photo by Bobbi Lin

There really might be no better gift than a cookbook—though right you are that it isn't a DIY at all. But if you take the time to wrap it up nicely in a tea towel, we think that counts—and then you're actually giving a pair of gifts!

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Top Comment:
“I contact the hostess a few days ahead of time and bring it over with a home made cheese ball. It is a hit every time. And it last longer than a bottle of wine.”
— Jannelle

(We won't tell if your secret goal here is for the host to keep cooking for you.)

6. Ice-Dyed Linens

Photo by Bobbi Lin

By heaping a prepared piece of fabric—a plain cotton tea towel? a pair of pillow cases? a set of napkins?—in ice and sprinkling dye all over, you'll get the most beautiful watercolor pattern in just 24 hours; it's called ice-dyeing and here's how to do it. The process is low on mess and high on prettiness, and going the extra step will make a very nice impression on those kind enough to welcome you over for dinner.

7. All-Natural Cleaning Products

Photo by James Ransom

It might seem rude at first to bring cleaning products to your host, but if you make them with care (and all-natural ingredients), they're going to be very very happy. Here's how to make six different essential cleaning supplies, which can be packed into mason jars and tied up with a twine ribbon.

That said, this gift is not complete unless you pitch in to help with the dishes after dinner.

What's your go-to DIY gift? What would you love to receive? Share your ideas in the comments.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • maryschelling
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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


maryschelling March 8, 2022
I like to make a donation ($20) to a favorite charity - one of mine or one of my guest’s. We all have too much stuff!!
Lisa R. February 1, 2016
I have given soap dispensers filled with fragranced anti-bacterial soap for the kitchen: useful and appreciated! Also, flavored salt or other interesting seasonings in a grinder, all placed in a pretty bag. Another thing I love to give is some of my favorite dinner music burned to a cd!
Jannelle November 23, 2015
The last few years I have ordered a slate with a rustic wood carrier. It can be used for hot or cool items and makes a beautiful presentation for guests. I contact the hostess a few days ahead of time and bring it over with a home made cheese ball. It is a hit every time. And it last longer than a bottle of wine.
FJT November 18, 2015
Sorry, there is no gift that trumps wine!!