They do say it is rude to attend a dinner party empty-handed. A gift for the host is almost always necessary. Most people find it challenging to decide on the most appropriate gift for the dinner party’s host. A gift is a form of appreciation for the invite to the party. A gift to a dinner party, formal or casual, is part of proper guest etiquette.
When deciding what gift to take to a dinner party, think about the host and their likes. Expensive gifts are not the only option. The gift also has to be appropriate for the occasion. For instance, what you gift a single host may be different from a gift you give to a couple hosting the dinner. Read further to get the scoop on what to get or to avoid gifting your dinner party host or hostess.
Gifts to Bring to a Dinner Party
A gift for your host is a lovely way of thanking them for their hospitality. Below we have compiled a list of appropriate gifts to gift a host or hostess of a dinner party. There are a pocket-friendly option and also relatively expensive ideas. Regardless of what gift you get, remember to keep it fun and thoughtful.
- Desserts: You can bake a few pastries like cookies, macarons, brownies, and cupcakes if that’s your forte. If you have to buy desserts, it is best to buy from a high-quality bakery or local bakeries, ice-cream, and pie shops specializing in desserts.
- Beverages: Alcohol is always a great ice breaker at a party. You can go for wine, champagne, or dark liquor like brandy, whiskey, and rum.
- Flowers: Flowers are lovely and can always add color and a night scent to the room. Go for a medium-sized bouquet that requires minimal maintenance that is only watering the flowers. Instead of just ordering a simple bouquet or roses, try seasonal flowers like lilies, sunflowers, gardenias, and orchids.
- Potted plant: A potted plant is an excellent gift for a home dinner party. It is best to go for low maintenance plants like cacti and a snake plant. You can also do potted kitchen herbs like basil, rosemary, and mint. They are edible and even add a great aroma to the room.
- Gift box: A gift box is an excellent opportunity to customize a gift for a close friend. You can do a package of inexpensive treats that the host will enjoy. You can do a self-care package filled with bath salts, body scrub, body butter, and a candle.
- Kitchenware: Kitchenware gift for a host who enjoys spending time in the kitchen. It can be a simple appliance like a cutting cheese board or a set of fancy cutlery. A kit of coasters for the host’s glass tables, and you can never have enough kitchen towels.
- Herb infused olive oils: A nice bottle of infused olive oil is a unique gift that also goes quite well with a fresh baguette or a salad.
- Customized gifts: Getting a personalized gift, whether it’s a t-shirt, mug, pillows with a personal message, will make any host feel special. It can be a picture of the host, a special message like ‘best dad ever,’ or even an inside joke statement on a t-shirt. Customized gifts are most appropriate for special parties like graduations, birthdays, engagement or baby showers,
- Recipe: A recipe book for food or cocktails for a dinner host with a passion for cooking or cocktails is always an appreciated gift.
- Home items: You are spoilt for choice when it comes to home pieces for your host. You can surprise your friend with something stylish to add to their home; make sure it matches with their home decor. They also come in different fashions; get one that compliments the host’s house’s theme like masculine vibes, contemporary, modern.
- A great book or books: Did you just read a book that your dinner host would enjoy? Get it. And even add a small notebook or a cute bookmark with it.
- Pet Gifts: If the dinner host has a pet, you can get a gift for the pet like a water bowl, a toy, or dog treats.
- Fruit basket: Go to the nearest farmer’s market and get several locally produced organic fruits for your dinner host. These are usually seasonal, fresh, and have the best quality.
- High-quality nuts and cheeses: Nuts and cheeses can be enjoyed during the party or stored later by the hosts. Go for soft and hard cheeses like a block of well-aged cheddar or Parmesan cheeses are great for snacking before dinner. Do consider people with nut allergies.
- Hobby toolset: You can’t go wrong with a DIY toolset for that dinner host into DIYs and art and craft hobbies. It could be a gardening toolset, paintbrush set, baking mold set of hardware tools like a set of wrenches.
- Card games or board games: Card games are great for entertaining the guests before or after a party and adding a party’s vibe. It also allows the guests and hosts to interact. You can also give a hosting couple some couple games.
Gifts you should avoid taking to a dinner party.
In some parts of the world, the guest must bring a hostess gift. So how do you know what not to get? When you are unsure about a hostess gift idea, you are likely to make a few mistakes. Here is a list of things you should avoid taking to a dinner party.
- Food: Unless you’re attending a potluck where you must bring food, avoid getting food to a dinner party. It is a dinner party, and the food is already available; bringing food will be pointless. If you want to bring your host something edible, keep it small and minimal, like treats, sweets, and chocolates. Also, if a dinner party is not at the host’s home, it may be a bit awkward when you bring food to a restaurant.
- Flowers: However, they are also very tricky to get right sometimes. You have to think about allergies and cultural connotations that come with various flowers; for example, some people believe yellow roses are more appropriate when visiting a sick person. Some Asians believe white flowers are for funerals. It is also best if you get a vase with the flowers, most people who are not a fan of flowers do not own flower vases, and your host may have nowhere to put the flowers. Unless you’re sure of your host’s flower preferences, you should avoid getting him or her flowers.
- Re-gifted items: You should never re-gift a present you received from someone else. Re-gifting may work if the item has never been used or opened, but it is best to get a new gift. It would also create a tense moment if the person who gifted you the item is in the same dinner party you’re attending.
- Decor pieces: Avoid taking decor gifts unless the host is a close friend and you understand their decor style and taste.
- Christmas ornaments: You might think Christmas ornaments as an appropriate gift for a dinner party in December, but in many modern homes, people do not celebrate Christmas with trees. Also, some people do not share the same religious beliefs as Christmas. Do not bring religious gifts unless you know the host has a traditional Christmas tree and gifts that express religious views.
- Costly gifts: It is best to avoid bringing expensive gifts to a dinner party. The high-priced gift may pass if you and the host are in the same financial class, a present they can easily reciprocate when the time comes.
- Very cheap gifts: The idea of dinner gifts is to keep them pocket-friendly, but you should not also get very inexpensive items. There is an unwritten rule about keeping the gifts between $15-$50. Do not always go for the cheapest chocolates or wine.
What to bring to a dinner party when told not to take anything
When a host tells you not to bring something to a dinner party, we advise you to ignore it. It is still a good gesture to show gratitude for the invite. You would rather be the only one bringing a gift than the only one who doesn’t. The idea here is to keep it as minimal as possible. There are a few gifts you can bring that the host would appreciate.
- A box of chocolates: Be mindful of nut allergies, but a box of chocolates is an effortless gift to a dinner party. They are also easy to carry around if the party’s venue is not the host’s home.
- Wine: A good bottle of dessert wine can be shared among guests and be a great conversation starter. Avoid beer or very cheap wine.
- Olive oil: A delicately flavored olive oil to a dinner party show you were thoughtful.
Alternatively, you can always send your gift before or after the dinner party to the host’s home address. Sometimes hosts refuse gifts because as they will be too preoccupied with welcoming guests at the dinner party. Sending your bouquet and a box of chocolates with a thank you card will be more appreciated when they are less worried about the party.
Is it rude to bring food to a dinner party?
Typically, we advise against bringing food to a dinner party—a dinner party is structured correctly with a set food that the host is preparing. The host creates a menu and chooses the wine to compliment; bringing more food will insult the host’s efforts.
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It is also impolite to carry your food and drinks, particularly for yourself, to a dinner party. It may be impossible for the host to account for every guest’s tastes, diets, preferences, allergies, and medical needs. So if you have strict dietary restrictions like gluten-free or allergies, you can always communicate with the dinner host ahead of time, and they make the necessary arrangements.
When should you not bring a hostess gift?
Though gifting your dinner host is considered proper dinner etiquette, but you do not have to bring a gift to every party. There are circumstances where gifting is entirely not necessary. These situations include:
- Potluck dinners: When you’re bringing food to share at the party, you do not need to get an additional gift.
- Recurring diner parties: If you and your friends have dinner parties very often, you do not have to bring a gift at every dinner, though a bottle of wine or helping with cleaning the dishes is a good gesture.
- Formal dinner parties: You do not need to carry a gift when attending a large formal function, especially if you aren’t close friends with the host.
Your gift to a dinner party host does not need to be elaborate or expensive; always consider the occasion’s nature and local customs. When in doubt about whether or not to bring a gift, always bring something minimal. If you’re running late and can’t pick up a gift or the hosts ask you not to bring gifts to the party, you can always send one after the party and remember to keep it simple.