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hold the flowers

I entertain frequently and provide everything needed for the event. People arrive and rarely are they 'empty handed.' And I generally appreciate whatever they bring which, usually, is wine. But it might be a book or anything or nothing.
I can't stand when people bring cut flowers. At the moment guest arrive with coats and conversation and need to be 'settled' here comes the flowers needing trimming and arranging and a vase. It's a big interruption. Of course I'm gracious and enthusiastic but annoyed and inconvenienced. Am I alone in feeling this way? Am I just cranky?

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  1. you're cranky.

    I do not have flowers at home (I do not buy them , and receiving some is always welcome.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      What about obnoxiously stinky flowers (like Easter Lilies)? They give me a headache, overpower the food, and linger in the house for days.

      Can I reasonably tell my guest to leave them outside the front door? (No, I suppose not.)

      I currently put them in a vase, excuse myself from the conversation and quietly tuck them out the back door on the deck and then pitch them out the next day.

      1. re: Atahualpa

        A fine way to deal with what is for you an umpleasant gift (and yes, some flowers can smell obnoxious). And the giver is none the wiser!

    2. I have to admit to being thrilled anytime someone brings me flowers and I agree that it can be a bit of a scramble, but if you think it may happen, you can prepare.

      When I have certain guests, (likely to bring flowers) I have a couple of vases clean and ready under my kitchen sink. I've also been known to ask them to get the flowers into water for me if I have other guests to attend to at that moment.

      1. I say stick em in the sink until you can deal with them.

        1. Sorry, but I agree with Maximilien. (Full disclosure: I have been both a flower bringer and a flower receiver.) Your guest is simply trying to make a contribution to the party, and you're not obligated to interrupt anything in order to accept it. Cut flowers can sit in the kitchen in their wrappings until you can attend to them, or you can delegate that responsibility to another guest who wants to feel useful. Also, many people will respond to an invitation to someone's home by asking what they can bring. That's your chance to respond: "Not flowers!"

          1 Reply
          1. re: Miss Priss

            I usually have the flowers I want when entertaining but if someone brings them (don't like it but smile graciously and say how pretty even if it the arrangement they grabbed in the supermarket) I pull out a vase and ask them to take care of them while I'm greeting my other guests.

          2. I often take flowers (non-stinky) and immediately offer to deal with them myself, just show me where you keep your vases. We love it when people bring flowers too, they repeatedly remind us of what a lovely time we had with our friends for a few days or even a week after our dinner.

            1. No, I don't think so. I have allergies and some flowers can make me miserable either because the smell gives me a migraine or the pollen aggravates my sinuses/give me an asthma attack. At any given party, you don't really know who may have plant allergies.

              1. I appreciate the thought but it's hard in a small house w/ no extra space. I had a chocolate truffle making party and lunch one day w/ a lot of people and someone brought cut flowers. I was in the middle of assembling everything, no counterspace anywhere and had to stop to cut the flowers, arrange them and find a place for them that wasn't the floor, all while trying to answer the door, get coats put away, temper chocolate, etc. It's one thing if you're having one family over but another when you're the sole hostess, 15 people and have an activity planned. It's like trying to juggle w/ the maximum number of balls you can do and having someone throw another one on.

                3 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  I agree. I love flowers, often have them in the house, and, when I'm having a dinner party, I'll buy the flowers to go in the various places where I want flowers. I live in a Manhattan apartment and have, literally about 3 square feet, if that, of counter space, in a very small kitchen that is open to the living room. My vases are stored on the top shelf in the kitchen, where they gather dust until I bring them down, wash them, and use them. The counter space is usually full of my prep etc., and for me to get to the vases would require me to go get a ladder. Pulling some vases down in anticipation requires me to use up some of my little counter space. I then have to unwrap the flowers in my kitchen sink,, find the right scissors to cut the stems, cut the stems, fill up my very little kitchen garbage (which, thankfully, I've just emptied prior to the arrival of guests) for the stems and the wrapping, etc. The bathroom sink is too shallow to be used to fill up a vase, and, since it's my only bathroom, I've made sure that it's clean and tidy in case my guests need to use it, with hand towels and new soap set out, maybe a little vase with a flower or two, and a candle. So, that area too is not the ideal area to deal with flowers.

                  Of course, when people do bring flowers, I smile and say thank you, and know inside that I will enjoy them the next day, but in that moment, it really is a bit of an interruption to deal with them. That's not meant to sound churlish, but it's true. I have had friends send flowers ahead of time, and that's a different story, as is getting flowers the next day.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Exactly. I hate to sound like I'm complaining because it's a thoughtful gesture and well meaning. I have to do the same w/ washing the vases. I only have a couple and they're in a display cabinet that I need a chair to reach, too. And, cutting the stems to fit the vase and to make the flowers last longer can be time consuming. Even harder, the guest who brings roses with thorns!

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I suppose it's somewhat situational - after all, a guest bringing flowers presumably knows who (s)he's bringing them to and how much space they have, maybe even whether it's a household that is accustomed to keeping fresh flowers around. I have no problem with it, but I have plenty of space (and vases), and am also in a couple. When we're hosting a dinner party one of us is usually in the kitchen as the guests arrive while the other is greeting, taking coats, and dealing with whatever the guests may have brought: "Does this need to be refrigerated? "Let me put those in water." etc.

                      On the other hand, when I was single and lived in a smaller space I never minded either. If I was busy in the kitchen I might just hand the flower bringer a vase (or some sort of container) and ask them to put the flowers in water themselves for me. No problem.

                  2. You guys can send your unwanted flowers to me!! If I receive flowers once a year it's alot. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

                    1. I guess I'm in the minority here, but I do enjoy receiving flowers from guests! When someone does bring me flowers, it's typically a smallish bouquet, perhaps cut from their own garden, which makes the gesture especially sweet. I put them in a vase as soon as I can, leaving them out for the length of the dinner party, then I put them in my bedroom once the party is over.

                      1. You are probably not alone, but you are cranky.

                        Your flowers go into a vessel of water and are to be enjoyed after you've cleaned up after your dinner.

                        Hint: you can always have a vessel of water waiting for people to deposit the flowers in.

                        Of course, if the guest is able to arrange them without getting in the way of the dinner arrangements, you can invite him or her to do so...

                        But your job is to smile, say thank you, and proceed with your event. And not be resentful.

                        It could be worse: they could be brining BBQ ribs when you are serving your own special BBQ ribs....

                        1. Jfood hates when there are no fresh flowers in the house. There are always a vase of roses in the foyer and usually another dozen in the eating area/family room. Orchids as well are always present.

                          Anyone who brings flowers to casa jfood gets a big hug, a thank you and onto the event.

                          What he does is keep a few extra vases in the basement. When guests bring flowers, he runs down stairs, grabs a vase, a little water and a beautiful presentation for that nighjt and over the next few days.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: jfood

                            Our home, too, always has fresh flowers. Can't live without them, even in the winter in Minnesota! I always love getting flowers from my guests, and my stash of large vases is quite extensive, so I can easily handle it. My favorite gift to receive when I host.

                            After reading this thread, though, I can see that others don't like it. It's an education to me, and I will reconsider bringing flowers again when invited. I would not want to cause consternation. Perhaps we really need to know what our hosts like? Another learning point.

                            Do you have guests that are sensitive to flowers and their scents? Yet another thing this thread has me considering. Do those of us who have fresh flowers in our homes risk offending or discomfiting our guests? Is this another thing to worry about when hosting? Ever have a problem with guests wishing your flowers away?



                            1. re: cayjohan

                              Something else to consider, and I hope this doesn't sound snotty, but when I have a party, I buy flowers that work with my decor. If someone brings dyed blue daisies, well, they don't quite work for me. Again, of course, I'll be completely gracious, but, if you bring someone flowers, do think about whether or not they'll work in their living room etc. White flowers are pretty safe, I think. And, I think that thinking about the kitchen space of the recipient is a good idea when thinking about bringing flowers.

                              MMR - who currently has many flowers in her apartment, awaiting dinner guests.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Oh MMR...the dyed blue daisies! I suppose when we talk about flowers, we should perhaps talk about flowers that actually exist in nature. My sympathies if you have been on the receiving end of the unnatural dyed bouquet!

                                Even for those of us who do like getting flowers, it is lovely when our guests give some thought to what would *work*. This, I think, can include considering allergies, smell aversions, decor, space and *whatnot*. I, blessedly, do know what suits most of my friends to whom I bring flowers, but as I said, this thread has been an education in making the choice of gift for those I don't know as well.

                                And *no* on the dyed blue daisies! :-O


                                1. re: cayjohan

                                  Minnesota flowers. Jfood is considering buying some and leaving in his hotel room on his week long escapades, but housekeeping would probably throw out. They would leave the dirty coffee cups and throw away the roses.

                                  Mrs jfood is allergic to several varieties and when they arrive they go in the library where she won;t get the sneezes during the meal. Then unfortunately they need to be discarded.

                                  But you never know whether people will like or dislike. For the non-drinking jfoods, bottles of wine seem same for people to bring and they create a nice stash of braising potentials if not drunk by the guests during dinner.

                                  Jfood looks forward to all flowers coming into the house.

                              2. re: cayjohan

                                my mom had serious pollen-related allergies and headaches that eventually required surgery to relieve, and was also a big gardener & botanist. because the family didn't always have a lot of money, she would always bring home-grown garden flowers when she was a dinner guest. she told me that bringing a food item might be inappropriate or insulting to the hosts, but that flowers were always welcome. we always brought seasonal floral bouquets to relative's homes when we visited, especially to apartment dwellers who didn't have their own gardens. i remember my grandmother especially appreciating unusual offerings like flowering fruit tree branches arranged in ikebana, handmade grapevine seasonal wreathes and baskets, or clove currant blooms, which are very fragrant but aren't stocked in florists'-- you can't buy them anywhere. during daylily season we'd pick enormous & spectacular bouquets of many different colors of lilies-- but there was a dark maroon daylily that was off-limits for gift bouquets-- the flower would drop from its stem overnight (like most daylilies), but had the annoying trait of staining white tablecloths. daylilies aren't stocked in florists' either, they are too transient for commercial use. some types of flowers can be impersonal, commercial and common like gas-station carnations, and then there are others that are highly seasonal, unusual/unique, heirlooms, and culturally significant, like many foodstuffs also presented as gifts. you can even use flowers to express specific emotions or messages, if you know how to "speak the language."

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  Right now we don't have a lot of pollen-heavy blooms in the house. We're getting bundles of ornamental kale with eucalyptus, some Chinese lantern plant and maybe some "Oscar balls" (I have no idea of the Latin!). You know the bouquets - we share the same Farmers' Market.

                                  Perhaps the more unusual (i.e., foliage- or seed-pod-based) elements would not be as off-putting to those guests we have with allergies.


                            2. I'm also not a big fan of receiving flowers. Sure, I know it's the thought that counts, but besides all the prep work of finding a vase and cleaning it out (since I rarely use them) being a hassle, I tend to get bad headaches from the fragrance from some flowers. I usually just thank my guest for the lovely gesture, have my husband handle the floral arrangement, and then I give them to a neighbor that will enjoy them.

                              1. If you're cranky, so am I. I hate it when people bring flowers, for all the reasons you've enunciated. I live in Manhattan and more often than not the flowers are a nearly dead mixture of leftovers picked up at a deli on the way to my apartment just so the guest doesn't show up emptyhanded. Dealing with them is a pain in the a** and it's rare that they're sufficiently thoughtfully chosen to add anything to the carefully planned decor. It really annoys me to have to drop everything, find and clean and fill and find a place for the appropriate container, all the while dealing with everything else going on, just so a guest who spent a couple of bucks and very little thought feels as though they've contributed.

                                Well. That felt good. Got that off my chest. Admitted curmudgeon here. Bring me a candle or some sea salt and I'm thankful. Flowers? No thanks.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Ditto ditto ditto! Since I don't have the space or staff to take care of these "gifts" I would put them out in the "carport" to deal with later, sometimes waaaay later. I'm so insecure that my dinner is planned down to the last minute, and if anything interferes, out!! Wine excepted, of course!

                                2. You're not alone - flowers can be a bit difficult to deal with it - but i also have to vote for "cranky." You can trim and arrange them later - just throw them in a vase with water, put them somewhere, even if it's in the guest bathroom (which I think is very nice) and that's it! As someone with terrible allergies, I know that you can't always put them right in the middle of folks but the lovely thing about flowers is that they can go ANYWHERE.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Bite Me

                                    I'd have to rearrange the guest bathroom to find space for flowers in a vase, plus they don't fit readily in a vase. People who've brought flowers to my house bring the 2'+ tall Safeway variety (take up a lot of space lying down, too) and have to be cut to put in a vase or it would all fall over. I don't have a large enough vase for those size flowers. I guess the bathtub would work, though.

                                    I don't think it's a thoughtless thing and I appreciate that guests are trying to be nice. I find the people who do it are ones who don't entertain and don't realize that it adds work.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Yep - I use my bathtub for storage, so it's already full and I already have a little vase with flowers in the bathroom. And, really, pretty much every surface in my apartment is arranged, so to speak. Not that I can't move some things around ....

                                  2. You are not cranky. Cut flowers are a pain in the ass. And bringing them as a hostess gift is inappropriate IMO. I think bringing any hostess gift that causes more work and hassle for the host can easily be considered unwelcomed.

                                    Wine is good. Wine is easy. Wine isn't a pain.

                                    1. if you're bringing flowers, you've obviously purchased them in a vase or arrangement from the florist, or, since you've cut seasonal blooms from your own garden, you put them directly in a vase, ball jar or gallon bucket, & then a box, packed with newspaper, for transport. they only need to be set out to be the beautiful and thoughtful gift they are.

                                      i can't imagine showing up at someone's house with a gas station arrangement, out-of-water. maybe i'd show up to a close friend's house with a farmer's market bouquet or something, if i knew **i'd** have space & time to make an arrangement, once there-- but i think that there is a really big difference between bringing flowers to someone's home (arranged, in water). . . and cluelessly bringing in plastic-bagged flowers out of water-- the former is a gift, the latter is a task-- possibly not too welcome, unless you drop the blooms off well in advance of the party. flowers are not the problem, the guests' etiquette is.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                        Yes, of course I was discussing the uncut flowers. And they are often quite lovely, not complaining here about quality but the delivery mode which, as you point out, becomes a 'job' at presentation. The plant, arranged flowers, earlier delivery - all good.

                                        1. re: serious

                                          I think the equivalent would be bringing appetizer ingredients for the host/hostess to assemble. My parents once had friends bring live crabs to dinner. They must have been expensive but much harder to deal w/ than any type of flowers. And, then they had the friend who brought a duck he had just shot. The whole duck, not dressed or anything. So, I should just happily accept flowers in any form, I guess.:-)

                                      2. I'm still chuckling a little over how much "trouble" people here seem to think flowers are. Who on earth ever said that a gift of flowers has to turn the host into an expert flower arranger, find the perfect vase and set to cutting and arranging them beautifully? Why does anything have to be done with them there and then? Worry about cutting them later. Most flowers aren't that fragile that they can't sit somewhere for a couple of hours. If i didn't have time to deal with the water issue, i'd stick them in the sink, unless it was already full of mussels or something.

                                        but i suppose i get that the OP doesn't like recieving them....and all of us chiming in on how much WE love flowers, doesn't necessarily help. But perhaps OP, lowering your expectation of what you HAVE to do with them upon recieving....might help.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                          'But perhaps OP, lowering your expectation of what you HAVE to do with them upon recieving....might help.'

                                          Yes - that's probably my issue too, but I guess I feel as if it's rude to the giver to just dump them in a bucket of water and stick them in a corner somewhere.

                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                            Okay, I'll play along. Someone brings me cut flowers as I am trying to host a dinner or party. I don't have to do anything with them then in theory, but I do have to get them out of the path of whatever else I am doing and so then after the party, while washing wine glasses, loading the dishwasher, cleaning bakeware, etc. THEN I can take the time to hunt down a vase, trim stems, etc.
                                            And of course the next thread will be "I brought gorgeous cut flowers as a host gift and they were tossed aside."

                                            I will always advocate for a bottle of wine or other gift that isn't "work" for the host.

                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                              I feel rude just putting them away because have always thought people would like to see them out. If you're serving a meal, the kitchen sink wouldn't work. With a small kitchen, as those of us have who have problems with it, I'm constantly cleaning and prepping. I think the bathtub might be the best solution, or maybe just throw them in the garage but I still feel rude about that.

                                              I don't think this is anything that people have to agree on but it might help to keep it in mind--if the host/hostess enjoys getting last minute flowers or not. Just as it would help to see if they want wine, etc. or not. Most people love getting a bottle of wine but there might be recovering alcoholics or people who just don't drink who don't care for it. Gifts should be tailored to the recipient. FWIW, a nice arranged vase of flowers delivered in advanced would be great for me, just not an oversized Safeway bouquet in plastic.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                And, of course, there's the issue in some societies that sending or bringing pre-arranged flowers suggests that the host or hostess is incapable of arranging them!

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  LOL, does that mean if someone brings you a bottle of wine that you have terrible taste in wine? Sadly, I do know passive aggressive people who might do that. My friend's MIL has.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Actually, yes. From what I gather, in France it is rude to bring wine to a dinner party, because it suggests that the host or hostess has not provided properly for the dinner, etc. That said, I'm having a dinner tonight w/ some hounds, and they are bringing wine. Grin.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      Good thing we're not French.;-) I like the wine, too.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        Actually, it's likewise rude in the US to do so (ditto any food in general) if you expect it to be served at the meal and the host hasn't asked you to bring it to the meal (unless you are in a social circle where such an action is customary).

                                                2. re: im_nomad

                                                  Re: lowering expectations. I'd happily lower my expectations. I have no choice, though, but to raise them. Literally. In order to grab a vase, I must first grab a stepladder. And then climb it. And then reach around on the top shelf to find one that's the right size.

                                                  Put them in the sink? You're kidding me, right? My sink is never not otherwise occupied during the run-up to a dinner party. Bathtub? You still have to find a container. And now we're back to hauling out the stepladder again. No thanks. I'd prefer someone show up empty handed. Really I would.

                                                3. I used to find it inconvenient to receive flowers as a hostess gift, too. My husband came up with the first solution, by filling a bucket and dropping the flowers in there for me to deal with later. Now I just keep a couple of big vases handy in the laundry room for quick access. It's just like dealing with anything for a party. If you can anticipate what you might need, it'll be easier to manage.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                    LOL, maybe some of us can just get umbrella stands and guests can deposit the flowers on the way in.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      Brilliant! And since my apartment is at the end of the hall, I can leave the umbrella stand right outside the door. Love it. Problem solved!

                                                  2. Flowers rule! Oh, so European and cultured. What kind of techno- computerized society have we become?
                                                    Flower Power!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                      I know that whenever I go over Europe to visit the rellies, flowers are the standard hostess gift. Maybe Europeans are more likely to expect flowers and, thus, be prepared for them?

                                                    2. I thnk there's a few variations of this sentiment ) attributable to everywhere from the Koran to "chinese proverb" to Anonymous -

                                                      "If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul."

                                                      "When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other."

                                                      "Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul."

                                                      1. When someone brings flowers, it's the nicest thing. I suppose I could find a zillion reasons to make it difficult, but it doesn't have to be. If my hands are full or the kitchen cramped and the table is crowded, they can sit in the corner or on the floor or anywhere really until I can get around to them. They are always a lovely and welcome gift. I feel the same about wine or pretty much any gift. If I had a friend who thought flowers were too much work, I would respect their opinions and just bring them a nice 8 foot christmas tree or a basket of kittens.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: rednyellow

                                                          omg that make me laugh out loud today. thx !

                                                        2. I react to certain flowers, especially lilies, which is too bad, I love them.

                                                          I am always running around like a headless chicken when having guests, and don't have time to arrange flowers, and get stressed because I think I am no good at it. (honest, no false modesty here, I really suck at it).

                                                          My vases are stuck away somewhere inconvenient and hard to reach.

                                                          There is no room on our pathetically small dining room table to put arranged flowers.

                                                          But I still love getting them! I am always pleased that someone went to the trouble of bringing them, even if I recognize them as the half-price dyed blue daisy bouquet from the local convenience store! I don't read any back-handed comments into receiving these gifts, as I have the luxury of being surrounded by wonderful people I love, and if I've invited you to my home it is because I genuinely want to spend time with you, and know that your gesture is sincere and well-meaning. Life is too short to fret about flowers... I would rather just try to enjoy their ephemeral beauty (in between sneezes!).

                                                          But I do appreciate what people are saying about them being an inconvenience, and will consider this the next time I think about a hostess gift for someone else.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: moh

                                                            You know, I'd love a potted plant, a mslal one, over flowers. And, I'd be eternally grateful for anyone who brought a small pot of live herbs. But, I know people who would absolutely hate that. I think it comes down to knowing the hostess/host, as with any gift giving. In the long run, I also hate throwing out flowers when they've died.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              I love the potted plant, especially live herb, idea! MUCH better than the cut flowers. See, I'm not such a grump afterall :-)

                                                          2. You are a crank. I know this because I am a the daughter of a big time crank and can spot one a mile away. And even though I am descended from cranks, I still say it's ok to bring flowers. The same goes for dogs. Except for big dumb dogs of the rott/pitt variety that don't know their own strength and tackle you at the knees. Those dogs are never welcome.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: westvillagecrankpot

                                                              That dog is in your apt now waiting for you to come home. He's brought cut flowers.

                                                              1. re: westvillagecrankpot

                                                                ok, all my friends, do not pay attention to the nay-sayers! Continue to bring me flowers! Bring them in a vase, or wrapped in newspaper, or just in your hand, I will still love them! I may not cut the ends off the stems right away; and I may put them in a drinking glass, mason jar, or empty bottle temporarily, but I will love them nevertheless! If I don't put them on the dinner table, I'll put them on the sideboard, or in the kitchen, or the bedroom, and I will love them there! But as for the dogs, you know that usually they are welcome if they will play nicely with mine, but please do ask me first. And if (and this would be unusual, and for some very good reason) I say no this time, please don't bring them anyway and figure that I will change my mind when I see how cute they are or how much you want them with you.

                                                              2. We always have a couple dozen vases handy and just let the kitchen staff handle the flowers, should the arrive.

                                                                If they are aromatic, I have them placed away from the food and the wine. Luckily, we have plenty of room for this.

                                                                While we both love flowers, such as star-gazer lilies, we also feel that they do not belong in the kitchen, the dining room, or anywhere near food and wine. These will go into the living room, or in the downstairs family room, depending on the exact location of our event. I love them in the lobby of the resort, but hate then near the dining room. However, I feel the same about ladies and gentlemen with much cologne or perfume. There is no place for these in a food, or wine venue. Heck, if I can use an unscented after-shave balm, so can others.

                                                                In the dining rooms of the great Port houses of Oporto, even the food aromas are left behind, as the guests enter an identical dining room, take the same seats, and the doors are closed, before the Port is served.

                                                                Love fragrant flowers, but they do not belong near my food, or my wines.


                                                                1. To everyone who says their vases are stored in inconvenient spots: could you, just on party days, get a large one down, clean it, and stash it under the sink or somewhere equivalent? It would help with that part of the problem, at least. And I totally agree with the posters who say no trimming or arranging is required if there isn't time & space to do so. Just bung them in water and forget about them until the next day.

                                                                  I can only think of 2 occasions that guests have brought flowers, and in both cases they were already arranged in vases. So I can't speak strongly on this from personal experience. Our friends are mostly in the wine bringing camp.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                    Small kitchen w/ no space under the sink. The only space I have is up high and the few vases I have are decoration so it leaves a space on my shelf, though that's not a big deal. But, I don't have any vases that hold those 2'+ tall flowers that people pick up from Safeway. I have to cut or they'd fall over. It's not that I CAN'T deal with it and I do, graciously because I do appreciate that they cared. It's the it's just another ball to juggle. I think it comes down to knowing the person you're gifting, as with any present. I wouldn't give a person who doesn't cook a potted herb, though I'd love it.