Rustic planters look good indoors or out, and any season of the year.

It's almost November. The holiday entertaining and gift-giving season is soon to begin. And now that our rainy autumn has settled in, it's also that time of year when we love being inside with friends for a cozy get together. Which gets a gal to thinking: besides just a bottle of wine (which of course you can’t go wrong with), what else can you bring as a pleasant but not over the top token of appreciation for a friend who is kind enough to have you over for dinner?

In the olden days (or in Martha Stewart’s neighborhood even now), said item was called a “hostess gift.” In my neck of the woods, in casual Portland, it’s something useful but nice for the home, something beautiful but versatile, that will not just gather dust or get banished to the basement as soon as you've said good night. Rustic, indoor-outdoor planters are a good solution. Fill it with a plant if you're feeling extra generous.

A planter made of natural materials can transition from fall to winter and beyond. More importantly, it can remain useful even if it is banished, since the recipient can always place it in the very back of his or her garden, or behind other planters on the porch! But real wood bark covered planters (or vases) are especially lovely and will probably not be hiding. They're on special at One Kings Lane, but other rough yet elegant planters available at local garden stores like Digs Inside and Out on NE Alberta (they have some nice concrete examples).  

Bark covered metal planter from One Kings Lane is on special for $12.

Indoors, a rustic planter is a beautiful but unexpected centerpiece for a holiday dinner table or buffet. For fall, fill one with colorful gourds or squash; depending on your selection, you could have a centerpiece that looks nice for a while but turns into a delicious dinner when you've gotten tired of looking at it. Which is to say, many varieties of squash are visually stunning but also last a long time before they need to be eaten. During the holidays, ornaments can be piled into a planter for an overflow of color.

Birch bark covered plastic planters are rustic yet more refined than the roughly textured concrete or thick tree bark. Find a good selection (for under $10) at Save on Crafts