PUBLISHED IN THE RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
As we travel, visit and gather this holiday season, host gifts are great ways to show our love and appreciation for the family, friends and others who have invited us into their hearts and homes. We can bring a traditional bottle of wine, flowers in a simple vase or a home-baked or specialty food item for a host gift that never goes out of style. Or, when we know the host’s hobbies, we can tailor our tokens of thanks and make a lasting impression.
Personalized presents for plant-lovers include an herb basket or succulent terrarium, a holiday blooming plant or potted houseplant or a winter patio or garden accessory. These items can all be purchased at your favorite local garden shop for quick gifts on the go. If you have more time, you can customize or even hand-craft these gifts at home.
When choosing which gift to give, ask yourself about your hosts. Are they avid chefs as well as gardeners? Then the herb basket is the way to go. Do they have a lot on their plate right now? If so, a low-maintenance gift like a succulent terrarium or an outdoor accessory would be best. Items that attract, feed and house birds through the winter bring color and sound to the garden for your host to enjoy while requiring minimal work on their part.
Do houseplants and cut flowers brighten their day? Three beautiful, easy-to-grow holiday flowering plants are Christmas cactus, Cyclamen and Gloxinia. Poinsettias are also a popular choice, but do not feel pressured to go with a holiday houseplant staple. Any houseplant, when festooned in a holiday themed or colored pot, will bring cheer into the home. When gifting plants, a few simple steps will ensure they are long-lasting. First, select plants that are healthy and vibrant. Then, transport them in the cab of your car and not the trunk or bed. Finally, remove and discard decorative foil, plastic or paper, and, after a thorough watering, place plants in an attractive outer container with a drainage saucer.
Extend the life of cut flowers by using a commercial cut flower preservative and a clean vase, trimming cut stems that have been out of water for more than a few minutes, removing leaves that would sit below the water level and keeping flowers in a draft-free but cool area prior to gifting them.
Not sure when to gift? The Emily Post Institute, advisors on etiquette since 1922, recommend bringing host gifts to casual dinner parties unless you know the host well and dine together frequently. They recommend abstaining from gift giving when attending large, formal parties hosted by someone you do not know well. For visits, the Institute recommends bringing or sending a gift that reflects your length of stay and the care your hosts extended to you.
If you are having trouble deciding if or what to gift a holiday host who gardens, stop by your favorite local nursery or garden center. Staff will advise and brilliant holiday displays will inspire.
Ashley Andrews is the Horticulture Assistant with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. For holiday houseplant care information, visit growyourownnevada.com/keeping-holiday-gift-plants-happy/. Or, contact a master gardener at 775-336-0265 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on drought, visit livingwithdrought.com.