When my husband was in school for his JD/MBA, we had one of my husband’s classmates and his family over for their first American Thanksgiving dinner. The Korean couple was interested to learn about the traditional meal and try foods they’d never tried before. The bright orange color of sweet potatoes was particularly curious to them. They also thought it that turkey was an odd meat to eat.
Somehow even with two small children (20 months and 3 months at the time) we managed to cook all of the traditional Thanksgiving fixings ourselves. Besides the rolls, we even had everything hot at the same time. That being said, we are pretty laid back and informal hosts. No tablescapes, placecards, favors, or fancy clothes.
I had never met our guests before that day. After we made introductions, they said they had something for us in the car. I was shocked when they came in with Costco-sized packages of paper towels, laundry detergent, and a few other useful household items.
What a great idea!
I don’t know if this is normal in Korea, or anywhere else, to bring a hostess gift of household essentials, but I must say that I thought it was pretty cool!
We made that package of paper towels last for-ev-er. We were super frugal even back then, so paper towels were a luxury item (that sure came in handy with two little ones).
Being on the receiving end of such a generous practical gift opened my eyes to the idea of giving everyday useful household products as gifts. While it might not be everyone’s style to give or receive, there are definitely lots of people who would love such gifts!
Giving useful household products has some great benefits. I love getting practical gifts because:
- They are consumable– I love gifts that won’t turn into clutter or fill my house with stuff!
- They save me money– I won’t have to buy the product out of my own budget.
- I get to try new products– Others share brands or products I haven’t tried.
If you’re the creative type, you can put together a clever presentation for a practical gift. If you’re not, that’s okay too! Our Korean friends just gave us their gifts as if they were simply unloading groceries we had ordered.
Here are some ideas of household products that you could give:
- Laundry detergent (commercial or your favorite homemade)
- Dishwasher detergent (commercial or your favorite homemade)
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
- Hand soap
- Dish soap
Some people are particular about brands or scents of certain items. If you know their favorite, then you can personalize your gift. When in doubt, get something that you would like to receive. It’s always thoughtful and appreciated to share your favorites with someone you care about.
Some years we make goody plates. Some years we’ve done mason jar mixes. This year, I decided that sharing some soap as a friend / neighbor / teacher gift would be a frugal, practical gift. I’ll be giving some Mrs. Meyers hand soap that I got from ePantry, as well as some Method dish soap.
If you’re interested in quality natural household products, you should check out ePantry. You can get a $10 credit when you sign up. That will go toward several hand soaps to give away (or keep for yourself)!
I enjoy writing little rhymes for all sorts of occasions, the most notable being our annual family poem where I chronicle our family’s year in rhyming verse. No occasion is too small for a Stephie rhyme, which is why I even have a verse for gifting soap. Don’t laugh. 🙂
My kids are really into riddles these days, so they thought it was fun to wrap the soap so people would have to try to figure out the riddle.
This year instead of a holiday treat,
We’re giving you something you won’t want to eat.
You’ll use it each day when you are at home;
With each application there’ll be lots of foam.
Surely we’ve given you plenty of clues
For a holiday gift you’ll be able to use.
We’ve never had a color printer (because we’d have to buy ink for it!), so while fancy, colorful printables are cute, they aren’t practical for me. Maybe I’m the only one like that though, because cute free printables abound these days!
Suffice it to say that this is not one of them. Just black and white. Plain and simple. You can print it on colored paper or print on plain paper, cut it out, and mount it on scrapbook paper or colored cardstock.
If you’re interested in this no-frills prinable, you can download it here. That’s the “we” version for giving as a family or couple. If you are giving alone (single, child giving to teacher, etc), this version uses “I” instead.
How about you?
- Have you ever given a household essential as a gift?
- Are hostess gifts the norm in your family or circle of friends? (They aren’t in mine)
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Having just come from S. Korea, I think those sorts of gifts are typical there. My son’s field day prizes were toilet paper, tissues, kitchen scrubies, and other such practical things. My poor 3 year old didn’t know how to deal with that, since they were all wrapped up, we didn’t know until he opened them in the car.
Oh that’s kinda of funny Dianna! That would be quite a shocking disappointment for a 3-year-old who is expecting something more exciting that toilet paper!!
Eileen Claussen says
I recently downsized from a single family home to a townhouse and one of my friends treated me with cute matching paper plates and napkins as a housewarming gift. Such a thoughtful idea as I seldom spend the money on such things and I will use the idea in the future whether for housewarming, hostess gift, etc.
It’s so fun to receive useful things that we wouldn’t otherwise buy for ourselves.
My friend is originally from South Korea and as a house warming gift she brought us a Costco size bottle of dish soap. She said it’s a tradition there to give such “good luck” type of gifts. She said just as the bubbles rise when you use the soap, she hoped our success would increase as well. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.
Wow! Maybe it is a Korean thing! Who would have guessed that a simple, useful gift would be so meaningful! Now I want to write a success poem for soap! Ha ha! 🙂
Sarah-Ashley Ortiz says
My mom traditionally brings a package of napkins-often fun patterned ones- as a hostess gift. Jars of home canning have also been used for hostess gifts as well!
What a fun idea! I’ve given home-canned items, but not cute napkins!
About 30 years ago, I was newly married and have an even newer newborn, my aunt dropped by unexpectedly one afternoon and lugged in laundry detergent, toilet paper, fabric softner, dish detergent, and a huge bottle of Mr. Clean cleanser. I was so grateful, I burst into tears. Maybe she knew we were poorer than church mice and didn’t have the proverbial pot or window. Many years have passed (and I stock up on stuff like that), but I’ll never forget how grateful I was to get useful items. My living conditions have far improved since then, but I’d STILL be grateful to get them! Matter of fact, that newborn (who is now 30), brought over a full bottle of laundry detergent not too long ago. She’s mistakenly bought it and couldn’t use it in her washer, so I got it!
What a sweet and thoughtful aunt and memorable gift! You’re right– useful items are nice to get at any time in life, but extra meaningful when you really need them. 🙂