q: should I bring a host gift?
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