What to Bring When Invited to Dinner

by David Coodin

Dinner party etiquette can be tricky. If someone invites you over to dinner, you may not be sure what you are supposed to bring, especially if the hosts tell you not to bring anything but your appetite. When in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of generosity. Bringing something for your hosts shows that you appreciate the invitation. Depending on what you bring, you might even add something delicious to the meal.

Wonderful Wine

Man holding up nice bottle of wine in store

Unless your hosts are nondrinkers, you can't go wrong with a bottle of wine. Buy one of your favorites, something you've been meaning to try or a bottle you think your hosts would love. Remember that the wine is a gift to your hosts, so don't be offended if they fail to open it during the meal. If you tend to drink a lot or if you are invited as a couple, don't hesitate to bring two bottles. A quality bottle of scotch or assortment of locally brewed beers offers options for hosts who do not drink wine. Choose an alternative to wine if your hosts do not drink alcohol, such as a sampler of organic coffee beans or tea.

Tasty Treats

Opened box of nice chocolate

Hosts will usually appreciate a contribution to the meal, but only if they know in advance. When you are invited, ask if there's any course you can provide. Offer to bring an appetizer, salad or dessert. If your host refuses and you'd still like to bring food, bring an item for your hosts that they can serve if they choose to but aren't compelled to, such as chocolates or a nice cheese. A basket of fresh produce from your garden may be welcome for hosts who enjoy cooking.

Plants as Presents

Colorful flowers help to brighten the day.

Flowers are a common and acceptable gift for dinner hosts. Bring a bouquet of nice flowers. Put them in a vase for your host or bring them already in a vase for display. Flowers are particularly useful if you are uncomfortable bringing wine or food. You can also offer your hosts a small potted plant as a lasting gift.

Other Gifts

Homemade oil and vinegar set

Ultimately, you should give your dinner hosts a small token that shows your gratitude and that you think they will enjoy. Try a packaged gift basket. These are usually filled with jams, candies or other items. Scented candles or soaps also make a welcome addition to any home. Other good dinner gift ideas include tea towels, matching coasters, stationery, and gourmet oils or vinegars.

About the Author

David Coodin began working as a writer in 2005, and has been published in "The Walrus." He contributes to various websites, writing primarily in the areas of education and art. Coodin holds a Ph.D. in English literature from York University in Toronto.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images