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Help, I've been invited to attend an event and I don't know if I should bring a gift?

Sarah Reuangrith Gift Guide Party Planning

It is time for us to do another party planning article.  If you want more please check out all the other party posts here.  

Have you ever been invited to an event and had no idea about whether or not you should be bringing something for the host?  In this post we will look at the simple questions you can ask yourself to determine if you should bring something and we will then suggest some ideas.

When to Bring a Gift

We all get invited to events, some formal and others pretty casual.  Often it is very clear that we need to bring something (potluck, wedding or baby shower) but other events are much less clear.  Let's say you are invited to a casual outdoor BBQ or a dinner party at a friends house, should you bring something?  What about a family reunion where everyone pitched in for the hall but one person did all the work in organizing it?  There are always exceptions but I always like to ask myself the following two questions when deciding if I should bring something:

Am I paying any money to attend?

If I am paying, did someone invest a lot of time planning the event?

 For the first question: I usually do not bring a gift if there is a cost for me to attend, however if the event is free I like to bring something as a thank you for the host.  As I know myself, hosting can be a lot of work and in some cases cost a fair bit of money on food, alcohol, decorations and of course my time.  Hosting means hours of cleaning, planning and prepping food.  If I am paying to attend, chances are I have contributed to the planning (after all hosts should always pay) or the "host" has opted for their "gift" to be the cost of the event (not every person or event fits into the mold).  However, using the second question; if there is an event that I am paying for that I know one person put in a lot of work planning the event I would likely take something small as a thank you.  For example, there is a family reunion happening.  The cost of the hall and food is covered by all the people attending.  If one person however found and booked the venue, ordered the food, emailed information out to attendees and then collected the money from each family, I would single them out and give them a small token of thanks.

What Gift Should I Bring?

Bringing a gift doesn't have to be big deal, it could be something very simple and inexpensive.  The point behind this is to thank the host for inviting you over.  I like to either contribute to the event by bringing a bottle of wine or another food item that fits in with what is happening or I like to provide something thoughtful for the host to enjoy at a later date.  Here are some ideas for you:

  • Bring a dessert, salad or side dish that will complement the menu (I especially like this option as I am a vegetarian.  By letting the host know in advance I am bringing something that I can eat makes it easier for them to do a steak dinner for everyone else).
  • Bring a bottle of wine or other specialty drink.  This could be a hot chocolate with marshmallows for later in the evening.
  • Bring flowers or chocolates.  These are usually welcome.
  • Bring something the host will enjoy.  If they always have a candle lite during dinner than bring a scented candle you know they will enjoy or a favorite hand cream, perfume or soap.  I have also tied a few beautiful cards with a ribbon and given them that (everyone needs birthday cards on hand).
  • Bring something that follows the theme.  If for example it is an outdoor BBQ, bring your favorite BBQ sauce that you can let your host try.
  • Bring something homemade.  Perhaps a jar of jam that you made or some bath bombs.
  • Bring something useful.  Some dish cloths, hand towels or napkins.
  • Something Intangible: A gift card for their favorite store, movie passes or a spa gift certificate.  
  • When in doubt, my default is a handwritten card thanking them for the invitation and for what is sure to be a wonderful evening.  This could be given on its own or with a small gift.

I hope that this post has helped you answer when you should bring a gift as well as some ideas.  Don't forget that there are always exceptions to every rule so use your own judgement.  

Any questions?  Please ask them in the comment section.


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