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Answer Angel: Go with hostess gifts that help others

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Can you suggest a gift for me to bring to my friend who is hosting a girls’ weekend in upstate New York?

— J. Lynn F.

Dear Judy: My experience is that many hostess gifts fall into the category, “It’s the thought that counts.” Candles, scent diffusers, handmade soap, lotions, creams, cute cocktail napkins, gift baskets with assorted jams, jellies, honey, etc., often go into the “regift closet.” It’s just the nature of tokens.

An internet search for “hostess gifts” will lead you to a wide array of vases, succulents in pretty pots, assorted “serveware” and cheese-related knives and slicers.

Try this instead: Type in “gifts that give back” and you’ll turn up worthy causes that get a share of the purchase price. I’ve had good luck with handcrafted fair trade artisan gifts from Ten Thousand Villages. You can’t go wrong with a tasteful picture frame in a standard size. Sending it after your visit with a photo of your girlfriends could be just the right thing. has a nice frame assortment at a wide range of prices. And there’s always the old standby: a bottle of wine.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My lifelong straight hair is slowly going gray, and the gray hair that is growing in has a very different texture and look than my lifelong brunette hair. It is frizzy, wiry, will not be tamed. It is at this point medium-length. I can brush it sort of smooth but almost immediately it looks entirely different. Adding to the problem, my hair is quite thin. When I leave my hair salon it looks nice — for a day. I don't know what I can do to achieve an attractive look on a daily basis.

— Judy P.

Dear Judy: I talked to my stylist, Mark R., who is graying himself. He says your changing hair texture is inevitable when grays appear. Heat, as in blow-drying, is the best way to tame the frizzies which, of course, is why you look your best when you leave the salon — before humidity and nature take their course. Spray your comb or hairbrush lightly with hair spray. Rub conditioner lightly on your palms, then gently apply it to the hair. Invest in a microfiber towel to pat (not rub) moisture away after shampooing. And, says Mark, after a while, your grays will become less coarse and more manageable.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My stepson and his fiancé are getting married at a beach next year. The bride has envisioned a certain aesthetic for her wedding and the invitation will instruct women to wear light-colored sundresses or maxi dresses, which seems fitting for that setting. The problem is, I have never looked quite right in that style and prefer a more structured dress, such as a sheath. Anything I have tried on seems too formal or not quite in line with that beach vibe. Can you offer any suggestions?


— Beth P.

Dear Beth: Since the wedding is a year away, you can always hope the bride will stop worrying about what the wedding guests wear and you can make your own choices. Absent that, it seems the crucial requirement is it be “light-colored.” I’ve seen plenty of close-to-the-body summer wear in pastels, in lengths from knee to mid-calf to maxi. Here’s just one example to get you thinking: The Sheln Bishop Sleeve Tie Front BodyCon Pencil Dress (, $32.99 and up).


Angelic Readers

For reader Kathy M., who is looking for crisp sheets and towels that really absorb, Judy D. writes, “She is looking for cotton percale sheets, which are crisper (and cooler) than sateen which are silkier and heavier.” Sandy P. says, “It’s not about the thread count but the fabric. She wants percale because the way they are woven makes them feel crisp and do not get hot. Lands’ End ( carries percale sheets in 200-400 thread count).” Steve B. recommends Southern Drawl (, $193 and up per set). “They come with a thank you letter from the manufacturer and the local cotton farmer that furnished the cotton. They are located in Georgia and 100% American-made.”

For towels, Joyce F. says, “I also am not a fan of thick towels. I have found beach towels at Walmart ( to be the answer. They are absorbent but thin and come in great colors and the price is under $5. Check it out.”


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