Hospitality: It’s All In The Details | Guest Post with Annie West

February 20, 2019

When I was asked to write a blog about hospitality, I was honored but immediately thought how there were more qualified people to lend their expertise on this subject.

Hospitality encompasses so many ways of showing love. If you show hospitality in your home, you might be an amazing cook and know how to host a wonderful dinner party. If you’re a Pinterest person, then your ability to make delicious cakes and plan amazing birthday parties or baby showers would supersede mine. My attempt at my son’s first smash cake was a “nailed it” moment. I think a sledge hammer would have done the trick. So I’m going to stick with what I love.

My love language is gifts. I love to give gifts, and I love to get gifts. It’s truly “the thought that counts” to me, unless you buy me workout clothes. Then I’m going to wonder what you were thinking.

One way in particular that I enjoy showing love is by giving gift baskets. I’m a pastor’s wife and help with youth events in our district and used to work at a church that hosted large conferences. It was my favorite task to be assigned . . . GIFT BASKET-MAKING!

You mean, I get to spend someone else’s money to shop? Yes, please!

Sometimes, I create gift baskets just for fun. They are perfect for baby showers, wedding showers, and, of course, Easter.

Here’s a little guide to help you plan, prepare, and personalize a gift basket on a budget.

1. Plan – Make a list!

If you’re hosting an event, send an email survey or text four weeks before to see your guest’s preferences/dietary needs and allergies. If there’s an allergy, be sure to read labels. You would be surprised how many items are processed in a facility that produces nuts or has milk in it.

If you’re making a basket for a friend, be sure to think of their likes and dislikes or the purpose of the basket. You may want to reference their registry if it’s for a wedding or baby shower. Remember to bring the list of preferences with you. I always screenshot it on my phone and save it in my photos or on a new note. Handwritten lists work too for all the hard copy planner peeps!

2. Prepare – Shopping time!

Shopping for the right basket!
Get creative when thinking about what type of basket you want to make. If it’s for Easter, of course, a traditional wicker basket or decorative bucket works just fine. However, if it’s for a baby shower, think about if this basket can be reused. Maybe you choose an adorable toy bin or tote to store diapers and wipes in. You can even use a decorative box or peruse the aisles of Hobby Lobby to pick out the newest farm house metal bin. Think about how it would look in someone’s kitchen full of fruit, or if large enough, in a living room with books or a throw blanket. Don’t go over the top though. If it’s a basket for a minister just coming in for the weekend, remember that they may be flying home and not able to bring everything with them. Lastly, try to steer clear of premade gift baskets you can purchase online. Even though some are very well made, they rarely include your guest’s preferences and could even have specialty items that aren’t practical.

Use coupons!

Download store apps to receive discounts or see what’s on sale that week. At Hobby Lobby, you can receive an additional 10% off when using a church card, and if you take the time to get a tax-exempt status when shopping for your local church, the savings start to add up. Michaels, Dollar Tree, Target Dollar Spot, and other stores like this also offer individual snack items, travel-sized toiletries, and supplies to accessorize your basket. I love to get the little clear plastic bags and pretty ribbon to use to put a candle in or fill with mints. It just adds a little something extra.  

Shop bulk stores!

If you are creating several baskets at one time, remember to shop bulk. (Costco, Sam’s Club, Amazon Prime and Prime Pantry, Oriental Trading Co., etc.)

Ideas for Items to Include: Here’s a quick checklist to help you get started.

Drinks: Water/the guest’s favorite drink

Mints: Individually wrapped or a package of Altoids

Salty snacks: Nuts, trail mix, or pretzels

Sweet snacks: Ghirardelli chocolates, Tate’s cookie packages, organic fruit snacks for the kiddos

Breakfast items: Individually wrapped muffins, microwaveable oatmeal bowl, breakfast bars

Healthy items: Apples, oranges, things that say “organic” ?

Junk food items: Popcorn, chips, you name it. A couple snacks like this is fine.

Extra goodies:

Travel-size wrinkle releaser or spot remover

A candle and matches put into a clear or mesh bag with a ribbon

A portable phone charger power bank. A good gift for a man or woman when traveling.

3. Personalize – Leave a lasting first impression.

A handwritten note or a cute tie on tag that says “welcome” with the person’s name on it will ensure your guests that you planned for their arrival and make them feel special. If your guest is traveling with children, prepare their own little goodie basket or backpack. For younger children, even a little cartooned-themed bag with tissue paper, a small gift, and some snacks will have them smiling. For teenagers, a little Visa or Starbucks gift card or some cash in a card with their name on it will let them know you’re glad they came. Just remember that it’s truly the thought that counts, and any small or large gesture will go such a long way in making your guest feel loved. Hospitality through gift baskets is just one way to show you care, you planned for them, and you want to leave a lasting first impression.

Happy shopping, friends!


Annie West is originally from Indiana where she got her Associates from Indiana Bible College and a BS from Indiana University School of Education. She and her husband, Jerry, have called Kentucky home for the past 9 years and have two growing boys, Parker (5) and Bennett (3). She loves date nights at Top Golf, family nights getting ice cream, teaching Kindermusik to toddlers, and listening to podcasts. She and her husband pastor in Franklin, KY, where she is the Children’s Ministry Director.