When to Bring a Gift: A Guide

The only thing trickier than buying the right gift is knowing when to bring one. Bringing a host or hostess a gift is a great way to show your appreciation for their hospitality and be remembered as terrific guests. However, with so many different occasions it can be hard to know the proper etiquette for gift-bringing. Follow the guide to know when bringing a gift is appropriate (hint: it almost always is) and how to always be the guest who is sure to bring a gift.  

Dinner Party 

As a general rule of thumb: You should always bring your host a gift for a dinner party. The gift is usually a nice bottle of wine or a gourmet food item. However, dinner parties can vary depending on who is throwing them or what they may have told guests about the party prior. The host may ask you to bring a dish specifically for sharing during the dinner, but if not, don’t panic or get offended if your drink or food item isn’t consumed at the party. Remember: What you’re bringing is a gift for the host, not for everyone.  

First-Time Home Visit  

Whether your friends bought a house or moved into a new apartment, bringing a gift the first time you visit shows you respect their new abode. Try and get a gift that speaks to the couple or individual. However, you can never go wrong with the following housewarming gifts: house plants, dishtowels, picture frames, flowers, or a fruit or sweets basket. 

Bridal Shower 

Always bring a gift to a bridal shower. The great thing about bridal showers is that the soon-to-be bride should already have a gift registry set up by the time you receive the invitation – so finding a gift shouldn’t be difficult. If there’s no registry, don’t feel awkward asking the bride what she needs or wants. If you’re invited to both the bridal shower and the wedding, then you must bring a gift to each occasion.  

Staying With a Friend or Relative 

If you’re traveling and using your friend or relative’s place to stay, it’s only appropriate to acknowledge their hospitality. Whether you’re staying for a week or just one night, your host was kind enough to clear out a bedroom for you. They may not expect a gift, but it’s still good manners to show your appreciation. Gifts could range from a gift card to a restaurant to a bottle of wine, or something for the house. 

Graduation  

Certain milestones warrant gifts. If your niece, nephew, grandchild, or friend’s kid invites you to their graduation party, you should consider bringing money, a gift card, an inspirational book, or even taking them out to dinner. If there is no party or if you live too far away, consider sending a card or check in the mail acknowledging this special event. 

Holiday Party 

Whether it’s Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, or any special observance, your host deserves a gift. Gifts for holiday parties can be as unique as the holiday itself. Depending on the occasion, you may want to bring food, a gift basket, or a decoration in keeping with the spirit of the holiday. Be sure to check with your host if there’s anything he or she would like you to bring.  

New Baby 

Unless the parent-to-be says no gifts, plan on bringing a gift to a baby shower. If a close friend or relative is having a baby but no shower, sending them a gift will show you care and are thinking of them. New baby clothes, toys, or care items are all great gifts.  

Retirement 

Retirement gift etiquette depends on the party and the person, but you should always do something to recognize the retiree. If the retiree is a coworker, group gifts are always an option. Gather a few colleagues and ask to all go in on a gift together. Consider the person’s hobbies or passions they like to pursue outside of work. Sentimental gifts like scrapbooks or photo albums of the person’s time there are always a good option too. If the person is someone you are personally close to, it might be more appropriate to get him or her a gift specifically from you.

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