I'm still not sure how I found, Jane Seymour's Guide to Romantic Living from the 80s, but I did a few years ago and its stuck with me ever since. At the time of it's publication Seymour described her life as, "In many ways... [something] out of a romantic novel: handsome husband, two lovely children, marvelous Los Angeles house, magical stately home in England, a good career as an actress." Hello! She elaborates, "Romance is an attitude, a state of mind. Like all best qualities, it comes from within; you just have to look for it... It's wearing silky underwear beneath an executive suit. It's swimming at night in a warm pool. It's realizing that life is there to be altered, to be made more interesting, to be lived the way you want and dare to live it."...
On the romance of little gifts:
"Little things are what affect everyone so much. The flower left casually by the bed, or on the desk, the gift for no apparent reason, the holiday (if only for two nights) that is a surprise, the note that was never expected. These little things make life richer and more special."
Her emergency kit:
"...candles, a bottle of fizzy wine or champagne, and some lump-fish roe or caviar should always be kept available to make an occasion of an ordinary day."
One of Jane Seymour's top picks:
"...take along a Polaroid camera and a multiple picture frame; at the end of the reception, as you leave, give them the frame full of photographs."
This sounds so simple but works great when you're going to a house party but find yourself without a hostess gift! Once again it's about doing what many forget that can make your gift that much more special. How many times have we been at a great party and seen people we haven't seen for ages... only to come home and find ourselves without any pictures to share with others? I can't even count how many times I wished I had brought a camera thinking someone else would (of course they didn't) and it was too dark for my phone. You don't need a super fancy camera either as Cynthia Rowley, like Jane, showed in her book Swell where she suggested you bring along a Polaroid camera, use up all the film on fellow guests and then make it romantic by adding a ribbon bow to the stack and handing it to your host on your way out the door.