Martha Stewart's Advice For Bringing A Dinner Party Gift

You've just accepted a dinner party invitation and respectfully have asked the host what you should bring along. The answer? "Just yourself." Thankfully, we have culinary and hostessing queen Martha Stewart to guide us in the right direction. Even if you're short on time, presenting hosts with a token of your appreciation can show respect and gratitude. Though admittedly not everyone can bring a dozen eggs from their backyard chicken coop — which Stewart revealed as her go-to gift while talking with Andy Cohen on Bravo's "Watch What Happens: Live." Stewart offers other practical tips to guests, like avoiding the temptation of regifting ("You always get caught," she explains), and bringing gifts to parties even if the hosts insist otherwise. When Cohen asks Stewart whether it is rude to bring a gift even if the hosts insist nothing is needed, Steward answers, "Absolutely not, you must take a gift." 

Keep Stewart's advice in mind the next time you receive a circuitous answer or are tempted to skip carrying something along for the dinner party hosts. While bottles of wine, desserts to share, and extra chips may be appreciated, you can also think outside of the box as you head to the store in search of a present to bring with you to your friends' homes.

Resist the urge to show up empty-handed

Ask your hosts directly if there are any ingredients or dishes that you can bring to the party or whether there is a certain kind of wine that might complement the planned meal. "Sometimes I look at a wine that's come with a guest and hide it in my closet," Stewart admitted to Food & Wine, adding that hosts do not have to uncork any bottle that is brought by guests. 

If you're reluctant to bring a food item with you to the party, consider gifting the host and hostess something for their home like a candle, bouquet of flowers, craft soaps, potted succulent plant, or even a book for a coffee table. Gifts that could serve as post- or pre-meal entertainment — card decks and party games — can also add an energetic flair to the evening. On Martha Stewart's website, etiquette advisor Jodi Smith adds that arriving on time and leaving at an appropriate hour are also "gifts" appreciated by hosts. Depending on the season, holiday decorations and gift baskets can also be thoughtful gestures, or equipment that at-home chefs can use in their kitchens can be wonderful gifts. Artisanal wooden cutting boards, cocktail accessories, and serving platters can be used again and your gift will be appreciated long after the last guest has left the party.