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7 Unique Italian Wedding Favors
Discover bomboniere, the little treasures Italians cherish whenever they attend a wedding or other formal event
By Francesca Di Meglio
When Italians attend a wedding, baptism, communion, or other formal family affair, they expect bomboniere, or Italian wedding favors. This is serious business. People need to show off their goodies in their China closet for years to come. Many Americans have adopted the tradition, but they have mostly gone the route of edible treats.
Often, Americans give five Jordan almonds in a sweet container, such as a fabric flower with each piece of candy serving as a petal. Or they put them in adorable little boxes or cellophane sleeves. The couple might make note of the fact that Italians offer five Jordan almonds because they represent the wishes of health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity.
Of course, Italians expect their sugarcoated almonds, too. Nowadays, they may have a candy bar with candied almonds in a variety of flavors alongside gourmet chocolates. But that can't be the only thing you offer guests. You'll be the laughing stock of your town if you do.
Usually, the almonds top a beautifully wrapped gift that will last a lifetime. I've received espresso pots, demitasse spoons, and more ceramic figurines and baskets than I care to count over the years. Among my collection, the most beautiful are a crystal vase with silver butterflies and a ceramic teacup set that fits together like a puzzle.
Nowadays, however, you can search Pinterest and the Internet for Italian wedding favor ideas that are way different than Nonna's bomboniere. The best part is you don't have to apply these ideas just to weddings. You could work them into a christening or graduation or backyard family reunion.
1. Nutella Jars and Spoons
This is adorable. Little jars of Nutella with a dainty spoon attached with a string make for the perfect Italian favors. You can make personalized labels or simply attach a tag to the spoon. It should include the title of the event and date. Adding, “Grazie di cuore,” is a nice touch.
2. Bottles of Olive Oil
Everybody loves good olive oil. My husband collects vats of the stuff and then doles it out to our relatives in lovely, affordable glass bottles. We've had luck finding cute ones at Christmas Tree Shop. But you can also look online. Then, you just have to fill each one with the best olive oil that fits in your budget. You can also flavor the olive oil with a hot pepper or rosemary and garlic.
3. Bottles of Wine or Limoncello
My family is big on making both its own wine and limoncello. You can get the recipe for limoncello, which is simpler to make than wine, online. Regardless, you can purchase bottles and make personalized labels. Just make sure your drunk zio doesn't mistake the bomboniere table for the free bar.
4. Fancy Chocolates
Ferrero Rocher and Baci Perugina are always welcome imports at our family events. For this favor, it is all in the presentation. You can make the chocolates the center of a pretty paper flower. In that case, you can either give out a single, big flower to each guest or smaller flowers turned into bouquets. Otherwise, these chocolates can be part of a candy bar, or you can place them in a lovely container, preferably a glass one. After all, the Nonnas in the crowd are going to want something to keep.
5. Key Ring
Many Italian friends have given out key rings as favors. In fact, I recently received one that was a silver seashell. You could pick one that depicts the city in which the event took place or somehow represents the theme of the party. I've also seen baptism favors in which the key ring features a frame with baby's picture in it.
6. Italian Favor Cake
Certainly, you could offer up slices of cake as a favor. But that's not what this is. You can purchase paper boxes that are in the shape of slices of cake. When put together, they form a tiered cake. People use ribbon, fabric flowers, and other decorative items to make them look like tiered cakes suited to the occasion at hand. For instance, I made one of these for my rehearsal dinner. Inside each box my guests found both Hershey kisses and Baci Perugina with a note saying, "Kisses from the bride and groom." (The candies represented my American passport and my husband's Italian one.) You could put anything inside, even one of those key rings.
7. Plants, Flowers, or Seeds
Most of the southern Italians I know were once contadine or farmers. They worked the land, and now they can't give up their gardens. Plants, such as succulents, or Roma tomato seed packets make for a special Italian favor. This is what my brother and sister-in-law handed out at my niece's communion. The label read, “We grow in God's love.”
With a little imagination and some good search skills, you can complete DIY projects and find deals. Infusing this tradition into your event should not break the bank. And you'll make all the native Italians happy. Just make sure the food you serve is good to boot, and your event will be a hit.
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.
Article Published 8/06/18
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