Traditionally the kitchen tea or bridal shower was done as the pre wedding celebration where guests bring items for the new couple in the kitchen (basically it’s from a time where women were the homemakers and expected to cook their husbands every meal).
The event is usually hosted by the maid of honour or bridesmaids and they will usually stipulate the rules for gifts. You may be conscious if you are the host about the range of other expenses guests have already for the wedding (such as engagement and wedding presents). If this is the case why not put a spin on the party and provide cheaper alternatives for your guests.
These are great ideas also for couples who have already been living together for a while.
I have been to a number of kitchen teas where the bridesmaids have asked for your favourite recipe to compile a cookbook for the bride as an alternative to bringing a gift. This is not only cheap but also adds a nice personal touch for the bride to be. Make sure there is a range of entrees, mains and desserts.
Build up the pantry
Many couples have already lived together and have much of the kitchen utensils they already need. You could get everyone to bring one item for the cupboard such as spices, oils and sauces. Most of these items can be purchased relatively cheaply under $5-$10.
Similar to the recipe book, this involves everyone writing down a household tip or marriage advice on index cards. This can be placed into categories such as laundry, kitchen, bathroom etc and can include things such as how to remove a red wine stain. This could be incorporated as a game/activity to do at the shower.
I am a sucker for Christmas and I absolutely love Christmas decorations. You could ask your guests to bring one Christmas decoration for the couple’s tree to celebrate their first Christmas together. Again Christmas decorations can be purchased for less than $5 so this is a great way for your guests to cut down on costs. This is probably more suitable for a spring/summer bride but really could be used year round.
If your bride already has everything for the kitchen but is purchasing a new home with her groom why not get everyone to bring a packet of seeds for their new garden. Everyone can bring their favourite flower or plant-this will last for many years to come.
This could be combined with the recipe book. For instance I recently hosted my best friend’s kitchen tea and got all the guests to send me their favourite cocktail recipe (because she loves cocktails) and a photo of them with the bride. I put this together into a book as a present from everyone. Alternatively you could use the kitchen tea day to snap photos and give this as the present to the bride as a memory of the day.
Cookie cutters and tea
If you bride is an avid baker get everyone to bring a cute cookie cutter (again this will bring the cost under $5). If she loves tea or coffee guests can bring along their favourite flavours to build up her stockpiles.