You’re standing at the door, about to ring the doorbell for a dinner party. Question: Do you have a host/hostess gift in your hands or not?
Well, it depends on the situation. Let’s break it down.
If you have a dish of food in your hand, an assigned side dish from the host, then there is no need to bring an additional gift. However, don’t bring a side dish unless you’ve been asked. The host has planned out the menu and your surprise addition could be more hassle than help as he or she scrambles to fit it into their plan.
If you have not been asked to provide anything for the meal, then it’s a good idea to show up with something in your hands to thank your host. It could be anything from a bottle of wine to a set of pretty hand towels, or my favorite—a tin of cookies.
If an invitation comes last minute, no need to panic about a gift. Take or send something a day or two later as a token of your thanks. Even a hand-written note will do.
How much should you spend on a hostess gift? I use this rule of thumb: If you were going out to dinner (instead of to a dinner party), the amount you would typically spend on an entrée is about how much you should spend on a gift. If you stick to that rule, your gift will always be appropriate because it will always be in your budget.
Speaking of dinner parties, I’m off to one now! And what am I bringing? I’ll give you a dozen guesses…