Tis the season for holiday parties and gatherings! While I love getting dressed up and seeing all of my favorite people, the task of whether or not to bring a gift to an event is almost as overwhelming as my jam packed December calendar. Raised in a household where you never showed up anywhere empty handed I am forever programed to ask "Can I bring anything?" whenever I'm headed to a party, it the host graciously says no, I think it is still a good practice to bring a small gift especially if this is the first time you have been invited into their home. Here are a few simple rules I like to follow:
F O O D
Never bring a dish to a party when you have not been asked to do so. It's rude. The host has probably given a lot of thought to planning a menu for their guest and an uninvited dish is almost as bad as an uninvited guest! Whatever you bring will be forced to be shared even if it doesn't sit well with the rest of the menu. If you bring food stick to non-perishables that could be enjoyed later, or are easy to open and share with guests during appetizers or desserts. I love jam, tea, pretty chocolates, interesting spices or oils.
TIP: Whenever I travel throughout the year, I buy up lots of interesting foods that are unique to that place and then I have a stockpile of interesting hostess gifts to share. Plus it always sparks up a great conversation!
W I N E / S P I R I T S
Always a good idea! Even though sharing libations is a natural and easy choice to bring to a party be sure that it is still a thoughtful and appropriate gift. Be sure the host drinks?! If they don't, things could get awkward quick. Also, don't expect it to be opened at the party especially if the host has taken the time to pair the wine with their menu.
TIP: When you find a wine that you really like, look into buying a case. You will likely get a price break and then you are stocked for any random gift occasion. Plus then you are confident it is good, rather than playing the "What has a pretty label, and is under $20." game at the supermarket 10 minutes before you are supposed to arrive!
H O U S E W A R E S
Keep it Simple. Keep it Neutral. Keep it Useful.
I follow these three mantras whenever I'm curating a gift box for someone I don't know. From candle scents to dish towels neutral is always the way to go. Avoid kitschy gag gifts and gadgets, these always end up in the junk drawer or the Goodwill pile and honestly who wants to give the gift of clutter.
TIP: Correspondence cards are a wonderful hostess gift because it's something we are always in need of. Wrap them up with a pretty pen tied in the bow.
For a few more pointers check out this great article "Should I Bring A Hostess Gift?" from The Emily Post Institute, my go to source for all etiquette questions, and here are a couple of gift ideas for your host with the most!