Forget the Wine, This is What Your Host Wants

May 23rd, 2011 · 13 Comments · Children's Books, Gifts, Culture, Dinner, Kitchenlightenment, Rituals

Almost always, when we have friends for dinner, there comes a point when Andy turns to me or vice versa and says “Should we check on her?” And by that we mean, should we try to lure back whatever guest has walked in our front door only to be whisked upstairs to Abby’s lair for a “tour” of her room. It’s not that we don’t think our seven-year-old is doing anything but charming the pants off  her, but receiving a personal introduction to all 8,000 of her Littlest Pet Shop Pets is a task I believe only a mother could love — scratch that — I mean, a task only a father could endure, and definitely not in the job description of “dinner guest.” Unless you are my friend Lia that is, who, oddly, seems to like my children as much as I do. Last Friday, she came over for some minted pea dip (with potato chips…mmmm) and tagliatelle, but spent the first half hour locked into conversation with the girls as they all crafted Papertoy Monsters together from the book she bought them. To the point where I felt bad interrupting them to, you know, catch up with my friend. I should’ve known Lia would show up with a gift that killed. When Abby was at the height of her Hello Kitty obsession, she came with a fleet of Hello Kitty books, calendars, and magnetic dolls. Last year, she arrived with two kids’ umbrellas from Pylones. And as if this isn’t enough, she is almost always armed with Magnolia cupcakes, chocolate chocolate for Phoebe, and assorted for the rest of us. Believe me, this is all any guest ever needs to do to a) win my friendship forever  b) warm my heart  or c) be invited back.

The Papertoy Monsters book was in heavy rotation long after Lia left — not just making the monsters, but playing with them, too. If you are visiting a family for dinner this Memorial Day and there is a 6 to 10-year-old in the house, I highly recommend picking up a copy along with a bottle of rose. If you have any suggestions for hugely successful host gifts for kids, please enlighten!

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // May 23, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I MUST MUST MUST get this book, how fun!!! Julia is obsessed with Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony….. and also dragons and monsters, go figure. Thanks for the reminder that it’s MINTED PEA TIME!! xoxo

  • 2 julie // May 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

    That’s such a cute idea. And I know a few kids who would love that book for a birthday present!

  • 3 Vanessa G. // May 23, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Sculpey clay is my favorite thing to take with me when I babysit. It comes in tons of colors and hardens only when baked so it won’t dry out on its own! You can use it to make pretty much anything but if you create almost flat creations, you can use stick on magnet strips after you bake to make your own magnets!

  • 4 Caitlin // May 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I arrived at my brother and sister-in-law’s last month with this in tow: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/books/review/Pogue-t.html

    My nephew, who is only 3 but knows every detail of every piece of star wars trivia, was obsessed for hours, quietly humming the imperial march as he played. And when he went to bed, my brother took the book over. Auntie score. Love the looks of this book though too!

  • 5 paula // May 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    i made your yoghurt and caramelised onion pasta last week, it is absolutely delish, I can’t wait to make it again :)

  • 6 Tara // May 24, 2011 at 10:48 am

    This sounds like a great book. In a similar vein, the Klutz activity books (http://www.klutz.com) are always a big hit. Window Art, The Paper Flowers book and The Paper Airplanes book are all big hits with my kids, but there are so many others to choose from as well. And the thing I really like about them is that I can order additional materials for most of their kits when we run out, which keeps the books useful much longer.

  • 7 Jenny // May 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Tara – I forgot about that paper airplane book — I love that one and I think it’s time to revisit. Thanks for the other suggestions, too.

  • 8 Joanna // May 25, 2011 at 10:34 am

    My kids just bought this and they love it!! Don’t use glue though, tape works much better :)

  • 9 Jen // May 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I bought this book last night from my friend’s son, a little difficult to find in Border’s but I did find it eventually. He can’t wait to start making the monsters from this book! A hit!

  • 10 Andrea // May 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Looks fantastic-can’t wait to pick up a copy! thanks for the tip! My new favorite? http://www.amazon.com/This-Book-Made-Me-Do/dp/0756668816/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306425557&sr=8-1
    Full of tons of fun info and projects and oddities! “PS: Your newsletter sent me. Do I win the apron?”

  • 11 Chika // May 28, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    This looks like a ton of fun– will definitely pick up a copy for an upcoming trip in July as I think it’ll be a hit with my oldest (she’s 7). Thanks for the great suggestion!
    Some favorites of mine are the books by Taro Gomi–”Doodles” and “Scribbles”. They have always been well received in the past, and I just love Gomi’s style of drawings.
    P.S. Your newsletter sent me. Do I win the apron?

  • 12 Gabe // Feb 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I Secret Santa-ed an office friend DOODLES AT DINNER from Blue Apple Books, a publisher who always has beautifully fun interactive items for the around 7 crowd.

    We were invited for dinner not long after and did in fact doodle. I mistakenly thought we’d be allowed to take our place mats home. Nope! Our hosts kept them in a folder to flip through on their own.

    http://www.blueapplebooks.com/books/64

  • 13 Gabe // Feb 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    hmm…i forgot to add the secret code:

    “I am a newsletter subscriber. Do I win the Baked Better Bread Prize?”

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