All excited about the “Arabian Nights” theme for a friend’s bridal shower party? We totally understand. The decor will be fabulous for sure. The menu definitely an adventure into Middle Eastern cuisine. But have you thought about the guest favors?
Of course, these should be suitably exotic—but nothing too difficult to source nor too pricey. We have a suggestion! Why not delight guests with charming bottles of spices that you can DIY? These will help bring back both the flavors and the fond memories of this special celebration long after it’s over. And best of all, they can be put together in a snap…even without help from a genie!
Step 1: Prepare your materials.
- small apothecary bottles with cork stoppers
- your choice of spices (see options below)
- “magical” sayings or messages printed on strips of paper
- ribbon, sequins, beads, tassels, etc. for embellishments
Step 2: Fill the bottles.
Select your favorite spice or one with an exotic flair that is used in a special dish.
Fill each bottle with a special Middle Eastern spice you’ve selected just for your guests. There are many intriguing ones to choose from, but here are perhaps the more familiar (and readily usable) ones:
- cumin - A member of the parsley family, cumin is used in dried or ground form to bring a very strong, spicy flavor to foods. It is amber in color and you may recognize it as a key ingredient in many dishes of Mexican, Asian, Indian as well as Middle Eastern origin.
- nutmeg - Nutmeg is actually the seed kernel inside the fruit of a large evergreen tree. It is sold both whole (to be grated as needed) or ground into powder. It is primarily used in desserts like pies, custards, cookies, and spice cakes, as well as in the holiday favorite of eggnog! But it is also great in souffles, soups, egg dishes, and vegetable dishes.
- turmeric - Turmeric is taken from a root whose flesh gives it its bright yellow or orange hue. It is best known for flavoring curry dishes, while it also gives mustard its distinctive golden color.
- cinnamon - Certainly the most familiar of all these spices, cinnamon is obtained from the bark of the cinnamon tree. We all love it as the spice in apple and pear pies, cinnamon rolls, and cinnamon toast! But it is also used in savory dishes in the Middle East, and is becoming increasingly recognized for its medicinal and health benefits.
- baharat - Literally meaning “mixed spices,” baharat is an all-in-one concoction for flavoring Middle Eastern dishes. In specialty food stores, you will often find this labeled as “sebah baharat” or “7 spices.”
Step 3: Add your scrolled notes.
Enclose a recipe card from your favorite dish! Then you can also serve this dish during the bridal shower party.
Roll up your printed messages into little scrolls and slip one into each bottle. These could bear fittingly “magical” sayings or wishes for each guest—or a personal thank-you note for coming to the party!
Tip: A great addition would be an accompanying card with a description of the spice being given, plus a special recipe using it.
Step 4: Seal and decorate the bottles.
Seal up each bottle securely with its cork stopper. Important: Do inform guests that they should keep the stoppers tightly in place and the bottles stored in a cool, dry place to preserve the spice’s best qualities.
Finally, add pretty embellishments like ribbons, sequins, beads, or tassels to complete the special look of the favor!