To gift or not to gift, that is the question?

There are so many occasions when bringing a gift is the right gesture, like birthdays or weddings, but to often we forget about dinner parties.

You just received an invitation to dinner party hosted by a friend. Do you have to bring something to the dinner party? After all you were invited and you accepted to attend.

What is a hostess gift? What if you just met your hostess? What do they like? All valid questions which we will go into According to the etiquette rules out there, it is customary to bring a hostess or host gift to show your appreciation for the invite. Now before you look through your wallet trying to determine how much you are willing to invest into a gift, remember it could be as simple as a fresh baked apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Yum doesn't that sound delicious and simple.

Unless otherwise stated "no gifts" I would say it would be a great idea to bring a small gift for your host or hostess.  with so many websites dedicated to hostess gifts, finding the right gift should not be an issue. There are also great ways to figure out what to bring without alerting your hostess to your plans and scoring brownie points for being an appreciate guest.

According to Amanda Meadows of, she says, "Find out what the menu is, and determine what item to bring. If you can't cook, a good bet is a bottle of wine, a pie, or an appetizer tray."

Couple of weeks ago, I was invited to my cousin and his girlfriend's housewarming party, and I simply call and asked them what they needed. I knew other family members were cooking, so I was in charge of bringing the drinks. Now in this instance, I called ahead partly because we were also providing the DJ for the evening festivities. I would suggest dessert. Something light and neutral. This is  not the right time to try that new gluten-free blueberry pie that seems to just be sitting on the shelves on sale. Chances are it's not selling too well because, well, it taste nasty.

Before you run out and buy a bottle of wine, I would make sure that your hostess would at the very least drink ii. Not everyone is a wine drinker. Oh by the way, a great rule of thumb, don't expect to have your gift to be used at the dinner party and definitely DO NOT suggest he or she does. Let your hostess decides that.

Debby Mayne, an etiquette expert states that, "It’s always a good idea to show your appreciation with a gift when invited to someone’s home." she went to also added some ideas of gifts that would be great to give, "Appropriate gifts for a dinner party hostess include:
  • Bouquet of flowers in a vase
  • Boxed candies
  • Potted plant
  • Bottles of wine
  • Tin of cookies
  • Decorator candles
  • Guest soaps
  • Flavored vinegars
  • CD or DVD
  • Tickets for a movie or event
That's a pretty nice and simple list. Are you getting the idea now? Bringing a gift does not mean empty out your pockets. It just a simple gesture that shows your much you appreciate the invite. A simple thoughtful gift will go a long way. When buying a gift consider, your host or hostess, what does he or she like? How well do you know them? Do you know any of their interests? Me, a $25 gift card to or a bottle of wine will have me smiling for ear to ear. And if I'm going to my sister's for a formal dinner, a bottle of gel polish will have her ending dinner early so she can go paint her nails.

So what type of gifts do you get someone you either are not too familiar with, or maybe its a new friend or colleague, the answer is a lot simpler than you think. Here are 6 unique ways you can find out:

  • Let's get social: Most people either have a Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest account, browse through their feeds, there are great sources of people's likes and even dislikes. 9 out 10 times, there will be a post about a favorite dish, store, food, or even wine. Can you tell what some of my likes are on INSTAGRAM or PINTEREST.
  • If you met through a mutual friend, ask them for ideas.
  • Stay neutral, yes, wine for most is a great idea but it's a risky one especially if you don't know if your hostess is a Merlot or Chardonnay type of drinker. In which case, opt for a Pinot Noir, a red wine, that is lighter than your typical bold red wines and goes great with dinner pairing.
  • I found a great article at that breaks down different types of wines and when to serve each of them. Great source if you are not a wine enthusiast.
  • Flowers are never a bad idea. Nice fresh flowers will go great. You can go the extra mile and grab a nice glass vase for Michale's to bring along with your fresh flowers. 
A nice box of gourmet chocolate or cookies is not a bad idea, if you are willing to spend a little extra.  The picture to the left is a great example of mixing it up. You can always visit online stores like for some very nice selections of hostess gift.

As you can see, none of the above ideas will empty out your pockets, but it will show what a great a thoughtful guest that you are and if you are trying to make new lasting friends, that is a great start.

What are some of your ideas? Or the worst hostess gift you ever received, please share so someone else don't make the same mistake.

If you are hosting a dinner party and still need dish ideas, check out my post on delicious healthy dishes that your guests will absolutely love. (just don't tell them they're eating healthy meals.)


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Welcome! First thank you for taking the time to stop by my little corner of this world. This is the place to be if you're a bride-to-be, hostess, wedding & event planner or anyone who loves the art of entertaining. You can expect to find great posts from industry professionals, as well as my own designs and all the tools you need to plan your perfect event. You can always reach me via email at Don't forget to subscribe and share this blog around.

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