Knowing what to bring to a dinner party can be VERY controversial. I posed it on my Instagram account and got lots of comments.
Believe it or not, there ARE some rules behind being invited to someone's home. The last thing we want to do is overstep boundaries. So just stick to these tips below and I can guarantee it won't be your last dinner party invite! 🙂
The Instagram Post
Having a hosting and entertaining blog, I am always talking hosting and guest etiquette. However the gifting situation always stumps me. Yes it's good manner to bring a gift to any party but sometimes it can do more harm than good.
Maybe it's an easy answer for some, but not for all. After posting this reel on my Instagram channel, I got over 400 COMMENTS!! So I started to understand where people are coming from.
To give you context, what to bring to a dinner party depends on many things. I do not recommend just bringing whatever you want unless it's a specific type of gift. Keep reading...
First off, I recommend asking the host what you can bring. Most hosts will either say to not bring anything, to bring a specific item OR they will say, bring whatever you like. Now if they say not to bring anything, that doesn't mean they always mean it. They may not want to impose. So as the guest, it's safe to bring something that does not ruin the host's menu or hold them up. This is important!
Here are the responses I got that I can definitely relate with when asking if it's okay to bring something even if the host says no.
So this leads me to the next point. If they say don't bring anything, this usually means don't bring anything FOOD related. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't accept a bottle of wine or host gift.
With that said, I do NOT think there is anything wrong ever with bringing an extra dessert. Desserts are usually easy to set out and do not require much added effort if any.
But there are exceptions! If it's a themed party or a pre-planned event, the dessert table may already be set with name tags and a stand for each item. This leads me to my next reader comment who offering the genius idea of bringing a dessert or appetizer and leaving it in the car. This way, you have time to gauge the party and make a last minute decision whether to get it or not.
Overall, we usually know what our hosts will want if it's a close friend or family member but if it's a first time dinner party or someone you're just getting to know, here are some safe options that will not get in the way of the hostess plan...
What is an appropriate gift to bring to a dinner party?
The term "appropriate" is debatable and certainly depends on who you are and where you're going. But regardless of these factors, there ARE many no fail gifts you can bring to your dinner party that will make any host smile!
Here is a quick list of gift ideas to bring to a dinner party:
- Wine or Booze: A safe and easy choice. Any bottle of quality wine or unique craft beer is a classic and appreciated choice.
- Appetizer: Appetizers like a cheese platter or dip always wins but there are some things to keep in mind when bringing an appetizer. Read below!
- Dessert: Sweet treats are always welcome and probably the best food option. It could be a homemade or store-bought dessert.
- Flowers or Small Plant: A thoughtful bouquet is a classic hostess gift (a potted plant is even better). Read below on my tips for gifting plants!
- Basket: A thoughtfully curated gift basket is always a sweet touch. Included a bottle of wine, some artisan chocolates or cheeses, and a scented candle.
- Unique Teas or Coffees: A great gift for coffee or tea lovers! Pair with some tea biscuits or scones.
- Gourmet Snack Basket: An assortment of high-quality snacks for post-party munching is never a bad idea.
- Fancy Hand Soaps or Lotions: Luxurious items to pamper the hostess after hosting a fantastic party is a gift that keeps giving.
- Bottle of quality EVOO: Good olive oil can be expensive. Try gifting a flavored olive oil or one that is imported from Italy or Greece.
What do you bring to a dinner gathering?
Okay so now that that's out of the way, let's dive into the details, shall we?
A bottle of GOOD wine is the best way to go. Step it up a notch and gift a bedazzled champagne bottle, or a carton of their favorite craft beer instead. It's an easy way to show your appreciation for the invitation and help smooth over those awkward social moments.
I recommend tying a fancy ribbon on the bottle or place it inside a cute wine bag!
What is a more "customary" gift to bring on a visit to someone's home?
A customary gift for a visit to someone's home often includes a bottle of wine or champagne, a bouquet of fresh flowers, or a small potted plant.
Gourmet treats such as chocolates or artisanal cheeses, along with thoughtful items like scented candles or personalized gifts, are also popular customary choices.
Food related gifts are a bottle of quality olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar, freshly baked goods, or a stylish home decor item can make for elegant and appreciated gestures. Ultimately, tailoring the gift to the host's interests ensures a thoughtful and warm expression of gratitude for their hospitality.
What to bring when told NOT to bring a thing?
Ahh this is the toughest thing and something I still struggle with. You don't know if the hostess truly means "don't bring a thing" or if they're just being kind. However I have learned a few things over the years and even asked my Instagram followers for their opinion!
Here's what some said...
"I hate it when someone brings a dish when I've told them not to bring anything. You've planned the meal and bought all the food and they bring something. Grrr. I always bring a bottle of wine."Heidi
"I always bring a very high quality box of chocolates".Joan
"Cut flowers are my pet peeve too. I don't bring food you expect to host and serve. My friend and I have a fu hostess gift we give each other- a pound of really good coffee and some muffins."-Becky
The comments are all over the place to be honest but the one comment that most people all agreed upon was WINE.
The next way a dessert. Whether it's your grandma's famous chocolate chip cookies or a store-bought cheesecake, desserts are the perfect way to end the night on a sweet note.
Or you can JUST bring a box of chocolates meant for the host. And if they want to share it with the party, then it's their decision.
Now, let's tackle some common questions about being the perfect dinner party guest:
1. Wine or Booze:
An appropriate gift often revolves around the theme of the evening. Wine, appetizers, desserts, flowers, or small gift boxes with fancy hand soaps are classic choices that cater to different tastes. Wine glass charms or whimsical wine bottle stoppers can add a touch of fun if you know the host's preferences.
2. Appetizer Awesomeness:
For a dinner gathering, think shareable and thoughtful items like appetizers or a dessert. It's a great way to contribute to the feast and show your appreciation.
3. Dessert Delights:
Flowers, a bottle of wine, or a small plant are customary gifts for a home visit. They express gratitude and add a touch of warmth to the host's space.
4. Flowers or a Small Plant:
If the host insists on not bringing anything, respect their wishes. In such cases, consider a heartfelt thank-you note or a follow-up message expressing your gratitude after the event.
5. Playlist Power:
Now, let's talk about adding a personal touch to your gift-giving. Consider bringing a thoughtful gift, something that reflects your connection with the host. It could be a book by their favorite author, a cozy blanket, or a beautiful scented candle. Personalized gifts show that you've put extra thought into your gesture.
6. Homemade Food
Sometimes it's more thoughtful to put the time and love into making something from the heart. Something like homemade croutons or candied nuts are usually much appreciated and something that won't distract from the party.
7. Homemade Happiness:
And for the pièce de résistance, consider bringing a homemade dish. Whether it's your famous lasagna, a batch of mouth-watering cookies, or a rustic loaf of bread, homemade offerings add a touch of love to the table. It's a labor of love that's sure to be appreciated.
What NOT to Bring To A Dinner Party
While the possibilities for thoughtful gifts are endless, there are a few things you should avoid to ensure you're the perfect dinner party guest.
- Uncut flowers in plastic
- Any savory appetizer/main that was not approved or might need reheating
- Scented candles
- Alcohol if they do not drink it
And remember, arriving fashionably late by about 15 minutes is considered polite. It allows the host some breathing room as they put the finishing touches on the meal
Remember to indulge your host's requests, be it dietary preferences or seating arrangements, to make the evening enjoyable for everyone.
Also! When it comes to offering help, don't just bring your charm; offer to assist with the cleanup. This not only shows appreciation for the hospitality but also increases your chances of securing an invite to the next dinner party.