We’ve all heard it said before: Never come to a dinner party empty-handed. Bringing a gift for the host shows that you appreciate the time and effort (not to mention the money!) that they spent to put the party together. But sometimes, hosts don’t tell you outright to bring something.
To ask what to bring at a dinner party, start by finding out what dishes your host plans to make. Then, you can give them a call and offer food or drinks that will complement what’s being served. If the host refuses, you may bring a dinner party gift instead.
Not all guests can be as pleasant as hosts expect, but you can be the kind of guest that everyone will love to invite when you know how to ask what you can contribute to the event. In the rest of this article, you will learn how to ask what you can bring and how to give your host a gift they will love.
You can ask your host what you can bring to the party by finding out what the dinner will look like. Are they serving Italian food? Korean dishes? Is it a cocktail party?
Politely asking about your host’s dinner party plans will help you pick out something that you know will match what your host will prepare. Being courteous when inquiring about their dinner menu selection also shows that you are interested in being part of their event.
If your host is undecided or you don’t know what will go with the dinner plans, here are some food and non-food gift ideas that are guaranteed to light up any hostess’s eyes:
Bringing something that will go with your host’s plan will keep things fun and easy—all they’ll need to do is set what you bring on the table or put it in the corner of the house, and everybody’s happy! By bringing appropriate food and drinks to the party, you’ll also save your host the hassle of figuring out how to serve what you brought.
Sometimes, your host doesn’t need a dish or a bottle of wine for the party. They may have errands that need to be done before or after the dinner or lack items necessary for the dinner, but the host doesn’t have them at home.
Depending on how close you are to the hosts, there are lots of things you can offer to give or do for them that will make the dinner party a success. Here are a few ideas:
Asking your host what you can contribute is a thoughtful gesture that will surely be appreciated. Take note, though, never make an offer you can’t follow through.
Don’t hesitate to give your host a call to ask them whether you can offer to bring a dish or two—something that will complement what they plan to prepare. If the party is a potluck and you’ve been assigned to bring a specific dish or drink, be sure to bring what you’ve been assigned, and don’t change plans without your host’s knowledge.
With dinner parties, the first thing that comes to mind is a bottle of wine. Your host and their other guests will probably enjoy it, too, especially when you know to pick a good bottle. But because wine has become so common as a dinner party gift, it can sometimes be perceived as a last-minute gift or something you didn’t think about.
A big part of what makes gifts lovely is the thought and effort you put into picking them out. So unless you know your hosts would love that bottle of wine, you can always offer to bring other food or drinks that everyone will enjoy.
That said, if the host is sort of a wine connoisseur, check out my article discussing what type of wine to bring to a dinner party for a comprehensive list of recommendations.
When bringing food and drinks to a party, don’t forget to ask what the host and the other guests are allergic to. You should also tell them if you are allergic to anything or have diet restrictions. Some people find this conversation awkward, but it will save you lots of worries at the dining table.
If you are thinking of bringing a dish, find out whether everyone can enjoy it. You will want everybody to have a great time and the host to be relaxed about which dishes are safe and which are not.
Some of the most common foods that cause allergic reactions contain the following ingredients:
Most hosts will say out of politeness that you don’t need to bring anything to a dinner party. However, I suggest that you bring something anyway. Not only is it a way to show your appreciation for the host, but it can also make the evening more enjoyable for everyone.
If you don’t know what the menu will look like, opt for safe dishes or drinks that you know your host enjoys. A party basket, for example, is always a good option.
However, try to be mindful of your host’s personality and culture. Sometimes, when a host says you don’t have to bring anything, bringing something anyway can be perceived as rude or even annoying.
If you know your host well, you probably already know whether they’re just being polite when they decline your offer.
Also, remember that when hosts say you don’t need to bring anything and you do bring something, there is a chance that it won’t be served during the dinner or shared with other guests. It may be because it doesn’t go with the main dish or doesn’t match the occasion.
There are tons of gift ideas for the host of a dinner party. But sometimes, it’s not material things that are the best gifts. Here are ways to ensure that what you bring will make your host feel genuine appreciation.
We often hear of people bringing gifts to dinner parties, but very few of us behave in the best way possible during these occasions. Social gatherings can be a lot of fun, but they can also be social landmines, given the right (or wrong) people who couldn’t care less how their behavior affects others.
So aside from bringing your host a gift, remember to bring your best self too. Dress appropriately for the occasion, behave respectfully towards the host and other guests, come on time, and appreciate the food on the table.
If you are attending a dinner party where the host’s culture is different from yours, it’s best to learn proper etiquette and taboos beforehand to avoid mishaps during the party.
When you bring a gift, make sure that it matches the occasion. For instance, if you’re attending a housewarming party, you can give kitchenware, a recipebook, or an appliance. Racy lingerie may not be the best gift for the occasion.
This shows that you made an effort to give something that your host will appreciate or need and didn’t just throw in a box whatever caught your eye at the store.
Also, any host will surely appreciate a gift that is carefully thought-out and especially picked. So aside from matching your gift with the occasion, remember to cater to your host’s taste as well. What may look attractive or appetizing to you may not be the best thing for your host, so consider their likes when deciding on a gift.
If you bring food, bring something that will need no prep whatsoever. So if it requires reheating, transferring to a presentable plate, or cooking, leave it home and bring something else!
Your host has probably spent the whole day preparing dinner and hours cooking an entire menu. You definitely would not want to give them more work to do.
If you’re interested in giving something other than food, you can bring a fun board or card game instead. You can ask your host what board games they enjoy or whether they would like to have games after dinner. Give your own recommendations to help your host out, and if they give you the green light, gather those board games, and bring them along!
Board or card games are a fun way to mingle and have fun after a party, so long as they’re not being played at a formal dinner. They’re also great if you have guests who are new to the group or that your host and other guests are not close with, as they help break the ice and encourage people to talk and have fun.
Prepare to have a house roaring with laughter with these games:
As always, check with your host ahead of time to make sure that you’re not bringing anything inappropriate to the party. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for everyone if you show up with something that isn't allowed or expected.
Asking what to bring to a dinner party is always a polite gesture that any host will appreciate. Even small items such as drinks or desserts can make a big difference in helping them prepare for the party. You can level it up by making sure that what you bring will be enjoyed by everybody, require no prep, and match the occasion and your host’s taste.