Ellen Silverman
Ellen Silverman

Recently, I was a guest at a dinner party hosted by architect Page Goolrick. She not only designs beautiful spaces, but lighting (for Nessen) and cool desk accessories (for MOMA), and shawls (for Takashimaya).

At the end of an evening being wonderfully fed and welcomed by Page, each guest received a goody bag filled with treasures she had curated. Traditionally, goody bags are shopping bags of samples or gifts that PR people give out at the end of an event to promote something, whether a new food item, or a movie, or a fashion line. Page took the notion and turned it on its ear.  She gave her guests little things she loves: a bag full of surprises that was like opening a Christmas stocking – for grownups! Here’s what was in it:

-sweet olive-oil tortas (cookies) from Spain (that Page had served for dessert)
-bright orange industrial rubber gloves
-a white tennis ball, that Page says is great for rolling your feet or back around on, to work out kinks and tension
-a pair of black steel Japanese ikebana scissors, like a useful little sculpture
-a handy plastic air/water-tight container for traveling
-a set of pencils she designed for MOMA
-a packet of sculptural skewar/spears made of bamboo (Page uses them as handles for hors d’oeuvres)

Page’s charming goody bag got me thinking about the many possibilities for giving something unexpected for guests to take home. It doesn’t have to be a whole bag: one cool thing’s plenty. (“I’ve got enough to do giving a dinner party” you might think, but for a special occasion or very special people, it can be well worth the effort.) I think of how swell it is when a restaurant sends me home with a little baked sweet bread for breakfast, and imagine…

…a little package of anything home-made that you might have served for dessert, say chocolates or cookies, or dried apricots-in-cardamom syrup packed into teeny canning jars (just a midnight snack’s worth)…

…or something bought that you find really delicious and rare, repacked in smallish amounts, like the fragrant candied yuzu peel they sell at Minamoto Kitchoan, the amazing Japanese pastry store (can buy bags at Papermart or at your local bakery).


…or a few crocus bulbs for sprouting in winter (with instructions)…

Paul Postuma/Ars Informatica
Paul Postuma/Ars Informatica

…or a print-out of What Matters Now, the amazing free e-book Seth Godin master-minded…

…or (a) cool and  inexpensive item(s) from Kiosk, like Finnish chalk and paper…


…or Dollar Store selections…(where you can buy great looking shopping bags to put the stuff in)

…or…What’s your good idea?

Thanks Page!

*photo of fruit peel courtesy of Mokeneco via Flickr and Creative Commons License

If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

5 replies on “dinner party goody bags

  1. My friend Searah does that. And it is so wonderful. Just when you think your lovely evening is over, there is a little suprise so that warm feeling you got from spending time with friends lingers….I do think I should adopt this.

  2. much can be said for sharing a piece of ourselves…as they say “reach out and touch someone”…inifinite possibilities…how sweet they are! And I absolutely love those tortas, especially the variety with a touch of fennel!

  3. We hosted Christmas Eve this year and as parting gifts, we gave guests soaps I had made and some licorice – in reused paper bags that I hand stamped.

    It was a great way to top off the evening.

    Thanks for another great post!

  4. I’m a big fan of matches, and have enjoyed decoupaging big boxes of kitchen matches to give as little hostess gifts. I collect old illustrated children’s books, old pattterns, sheet music, gift wrap, or anything that would look good under antique finish decoupage glue. I personalize them with stick on initials (that also goes under the glue). Also keep meaning to make homemade firestarters (sawdust in paper cupcake cups held together with melted wax).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *