So, let’s talk hostess gift etiquette for a minute. When should you bring a gift to a gathering? The rule of thumb (especially here in the South) is to never show up to a gathering empty-handed.
When to Bring a Hostess Gift
Even if it’s just a dinner party at someone’s home, if you’re expected to dress for the occasion, you should bring a gift.
Holiday parties can be quite elaborate these days and there is a good chance your hostess went to a lot of effort to make your holiday gathering feel special. A thoughtful token of appreciation can go a long way during the stressful holidays.
Most of the time when you’re just getting together with some friends, a hostess gift can be overkill. People tend to be pretty laid back these days. But sometimes, a casual gathering calls for a special gift. My rule of thumb is if there are over 5 families attending and there’s no other occasion (birthday or shower) or thing to bring (potluck), I will bring a gift to a casual get together. My thinking is that the hostess has gone to a lot of effort to host everyone and I know she would appreciate a thoughtful gift.
When You Are The Honoree
If you’re being honored (birthday or award) or showered for a special occasion (bridal shower or baby shower), you should show appreciation to your hostess for putting the event together. In these occasions, a hostess gift is part hostess gift and part thank you gift.
When Not To Bring A Hostess Gift
If you’re bringing food for the meal, you can consider that your semi-hostess gift.
When you’re getting together with a group of people because you all belong to an organization (not just because you’re friends or family) like a church or civic organization for a regular type of meeting, a hostess gift is not typically expected. (Not to be confused with non-regular events for an organization (e.g. If your boss has a group of people over to his or her home for a formal dinner. You would be expected to bring a gift even though you’re part of an organization.))
Parties With An Honoree
These are occasions where you’re typically expected to bring a gift for someone like a shower, graduation, or birthday party. If you’re bringing a gift for the honoree, the hostess typically does not expect a gift from guests.
Need a Unique Hostess Gift Idea?
Check out this post for creative hostess gift ideas!