Bringing a hostess gift is a great way to show your gratitude—and possibly even score you a follow-up invitation. Hey, it’s always nice to bring a little something to thank your host for his or her hospitality. But you don’t have to get your gift on for every party. Read on to get the inside scoop on when and when not to gift.
For larger, more formal functions (such as black-tie events) it isn’t mandatory to bring a gift, especially if you aren’t close friends with the host.
Likewise, if you and your host often go to gatherings at each other’s homes (such as a casual dinner or poker night), a hostess gift isn’t necessary, though a bottle of wine or an offer to bring a dish for a dinner is a nice gesture.
Holiday parties, housewarmings, dinner parties or girls’/guys’ night
If you’re attending a party hosted at home, bring a hostess gift as a show of thanks.
If you’re bringing food to share, no need to bring an additional hostess gift. That said, you can never go wrong offering your host something small to show your gratitude.
Birthday parties, showers, graduations & other gift-giving occasions
If you’re attending a get-together where you’re already expected to bring a gift for the guest of honor, you aren’t required to bring something extra for the hostess — particularly if the party has several hosts or is held outside the home, in which case a simple thank-you note will suffice. If the party is being held in someone’s home — or has only one host — a small gift (think flowers or a bottle of wine) would be lovely, but it’s not mandatory.
You don’t have to bring something elaborate or expensive — wine, flowers, stationery or small items for the home are all great hostess gifts. Keep in mind that your host may choose to open your gift at another time. Similarly, if you bring wine, don’t be surprised if your host chooses not to serve it that evening—remember, it’s a gift, so your host gets to decide when to enjoy it. Also know that if you plan to bring food, it should be something the host can enjoy later (think chocolates, cookies or cheeses), not something you’re expecting to be served during the party (no rice pilaf, please). As you hand off your hostess gift, let your host know that your gift is intended to be enjoyed at his or her discretion. If you bring flowers, bring them in a vase—not only is too hard for hosts to deal with a brand new bouquet as guests are arriving, but it shows that you’ve gone the extra mile to show your appreciation.
When in doubt, bring a little something. Running late and don’t have time to pick something up? Don’t sweat it. You can always send a gift after the party, along with a handwritten or digital thank-you card.
Start inviting friends to your next get-together by sending the free Evite invitation below or another one of our dinner party invitations, housewarming invitations, baby shower invitations or potluck invitations.