Dinner Party Do List

Oh my gosh, I haven’t posted in so long! I blame wedding season!

I recently had someone ask me whether or not they should bring anything to a dinner party at a friend’s place. I told them yes. Then they said the friend told them they really didn’t need to bring anything and I told them, “It doesn’t matter! Bring something!” It’s always easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission and you shouldn’t be bothering the party planner with such an awkward question anyway.

If someone is inviting you to a dinner party, then they are assuming they will be doing all the work. No one out there is mad if people didn’t go potluck-style on their dinner. Unless otherwise specified, you’re free and clear.

However, who likes to show up empty handed? (I know a few guys who would unashamedly shout, “I DO!” at this question, but we’re talking about us here and we’re trying to be polite!) Bringing a small gift or item to share is more than just having good table manners, it’s thoughtful and classy. I have put together a list so next time you aren’t standing at your barren cupboard and wondering if it’s more appropriate to bring a can of Spaghettios or a half-empty bottle of Bailey’s.

Next time you’re heading over to enjoy a lovely home-cooked meal with friends or family, try picking up one of the following:

Bread or Rolls:


Pick up some good bread or rolls at your local bakery. Or, if you have enough time, bake some yourself. If at all possible, please try to pre-plate or basket the rolls in some kind of way that makes sense. Showing up with a paper bag full of bread is reminiscent of showing up at a buddy’s house with a bag of  greasy doughnuts after a night of heavy drinking.


Is there a theme to the party? Try to feel it out and make your decision based on that. Champagne is always fun, especially if the dinner is a celebration. Bringing a bottle of tequila to a fancy dinner party probably isn’t appropriate. Unless you’re also bringing greasy doughnuts for the morning after.



Your host or hostess may have this covered. However, a lot of people get a little lazy about dessert since they’re so focused on serving a delicious meal. Try to make the dessert easy to store. If the party-thrower has a plan for dessert, maybe they can save the dessert you brought as a gift for themselves later in the week.

A Small Gift:

Locally roasted coffee to share. You can't go wrong!

Locally roasted coffee to share. You can’t go wrong!


Any small “thank you” item is great! Something enjoyed by the entire party is always nice: a candle, flowers or plant for the centerpiece, some small decoration if it’s a holiday party, good gourmet coffee or tea to brew after the meal is through.

The goal here is to not over do it but show that you appreciate that this person that cares enough to put in the time, cost and effort into organizing a get together.  They also cared enough to invite you. Small gestures go a long way!


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