June 06, 2008

q: should I bring a host gift?

mine... mine... also mine...

Absolutely. If you've thrown a party, you know how much time, effort and money go into it. Bringing a gift for the host can help offset those costs, and it's a handy way to help yourself get invited back. And by the way, guys, a "host gift" does not have to be something girlie like scented soap. It can be beer and stuff.

So the next question ... what should you bring? That depends on how formal the party is and how well you know the host.

For a casual get-together, beverages or food for the party is always a welcome gift. If you don't know the hosts well, stay away from alcohol in case they don't drink.

For a gathering that takes more time and planning, think like a party planner: Give a gift the hosts can use at the party if they're in a pinch. Some party staples people can always use more of include pitchers, vases (especially handy if another guest commits the party foul of bringing cut flowers with no vase; see below), wine openers, wine stoppers, coasters or a CD of party music. Place your unwrapped gift in a party bag filled with tissue paper so the hosts can easily bust it out if necessary.

At a more formal event, bring a gift that lets the host indulge after all of their planning: muffins and tea for the morning after, a bouquet of flowers, a good book or gourmet chocolates. For a really lavish affair hosted by a close friend, spring for a gift certificate for a massage or an after-party clean-up service.

Some gift ground rules to keep in mind:

  • Don't upstage the host. If you're bringing food or drink for the party, find out what the host plans to serve and bring something that would complement it. In other words, a flaming baked Alaska would be a tad much at a pizza party.       
  • Don't add to the host's stress. If you're buying flowers, have them arranged in a vase so the host doesn't have to run around looking for one. If you're bringing a dish, plate it.
  • Do include a note. Hosts have a million things to think about during a party, and trying to remember who brought those great chocolates will drive them crazy the next day.

Posted by Eva on June 6, 2008 in Etiquette

Permalink | Comments (11)

11 responses to "q: should I bring a host gift?"

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Remember: the gift is for the host, not for you. Don't bring a cake or a CD and then insist that it has to be eaten or played right then and there. It's always polite to ask the host how you could help contribute to the party, and then bring exactly what they asked for. It makes things easier for the host and for you. Some hosts would never ask for anything and in that case it's best to bring something nonperishable for the host. If you're giving flowers, sending them the next day is a nice gesture.

I often host parties at my home and the above response is absolutely accurate: it DOES take a lot of time, effort and money to throw a successful party so I always appreciate when my guests contribute thoughtful gifts. I am constantly amazed though by the number of people who will show up to a gathering empty-handed. It's just plain poor manners. I am thankful that some people are still aware of social etiquette and common courtesy. Thanks for your thoughtful question and informative response!

If you do bring a dish, and plate it, don't forget to get your stuff back. One of our serving utensils has been at my office for months from a lasagna I brought for a pot luck. And I *never* remember to bring it back, except when I'm not at work.

I agree with the above comments completely. If the hostess say not to bring anything I usually bring a bottle of wine and or some special chocolates for them to indulge in at a later day.

I too am always surprised when guests show up empty handed. I am not expecting anything much, it just seems a tad thoughtless. A small gesture is such a nice way to thank your hosts in advance.

I guess I am shocked! That's what I get for having parents that didn't go to parties.

Thank you for the imput - I guess I better pull out my Miss Manners Book and actually read it this time!

I am surprised that hosts/hostesses expect a gift from their guests. That never crossed my mind when I invite folks to my home, and my guests rarely bring something, unless it is a planned oot-luck.

I agree with the last two responses. I don't have a party and expect a gift or a reward. People now days ALWAYS expect something in return and if you don't, they think you have poor manners. Oh bother!!

If you offer to bring a plate of food to a gathering. When leaving, is it improper to take your plate at the end of the party while offering to leave all or part of what's left? Or,should you always leave what's left at the home?

If you want your guests to bring food or drinks, mention in the invite that the party will be potluck style. Otherwise, why not be content with your friends simply coming to your party? Although, it is very nice to take a plant, for example, to a party. It takes a lot of time and, sometimes, a great deal of effort to throw a party.

Please help me find a way to deal with this situation I have just encountered. My niece announced she was pregnant at a family gathering and immediately I said with pleasure that I was going to throw a shower for her. Her mother and grandmother were delighted and approached me just a month ago and asked me if I still planned to do so and were relieved to find that yes I planned to and we set a date for June 27th. The next thing you know I get an invitation by evite from her sister to a baby shower for my niece listing herself as organizer and hostess but at my house and rsvp to herself as well. I have had no previous communication with my my niece regarding this what so ever. Not one time did we ever mention that she would host a shower at my home! It was well understood by the entire family that I was hosting a shower for my niece and I am quite shocked at her behaviour. How do you think is the best way to handle this situation. Thanks in advance for your input. Sany

For me, one of the hardest thing to do in life is to decide what's the best gift for a special person to you but with your advice I'm enlightened. No flattery, I really learned something good with your post.
This is helpful especially for a person like me who never bother brings a gift to the host of the party. It surprised me that it's okay to bring food or flowers. Thanks.