Are You Too Old to Host a BYOB Party?

When a host should supply the booze, and simple guidelines to follow for any occasion
Are You Too Old to Host a BYOB Party?

Invited to a party but the invitation didn't specify whether it was BYOB? Usually, hosts will specify if guests should bring something or not, but if not, ask. When in doubt, follow the customs of your get-togethers. If it's a long-standing tradition in your circle of friends to bring a bottle of something to share, play it safe and bring something along. And if you're invited for dinner and just want to drink your favorite (or expensive) wine and nothing else? Bring two bottles, says wine expert Anthony Giglio. "You can’t expect for your wine to be poured at a dinner party," he adds, but if you say, "This is something I've been saving for us to share," pointing to that bottle you really want to open, you just might guarantee yourself the chance to enjoy a great glass of wine.

Some words to the wise: If you're hosting a BYOB party, it's your responsibility to offer mixers, garnishes, and glasses. If you're bringing something as a guest, don't use a piece of masking tape with your name on it to claim it as yours.  And whatever is left over is for the host's consumption — don't be the tacky guest who leaves with the still-unopened bottle they arrived with.

Considering a BYOB function? Read our guidelines to consider whether you should be supplying (or not) before invites go out.


It's Appropriate to BYOB When:

• You're asked to bring your alcoholic beverage of choice.

• It's a casual or last-minute get-together of close friends, especially during the day — no matter the size of the crowd.

• It's generally accepted amongst your friends that the host cooks and the guests each supply something to drink.

• It's a casual potluck and the invitation says soft drinks and juices will be offered. While it's nice for a host to outright say "BYOB if you wish to drink," it's acceptable for a guest to bring something if they'd like something strong.

• You're the man with the fine wines racked up in the cellar, you know your host has a weakness for California pinot noir, and you want to share the wealth (literally). Assuming you know what's on the menu, consider it a hostess gift that everyone can share over dinner.


It's Not Appropriate to BYOB When:

• You're hosting a nice, adult dinner party to introduce new friends to each other.

• Your guests are travelling to see you from out of town.

• It's a 50th birthday celebration and you're providing the food, juice and soda, and of course some entertainment. If it's too expensive, scale down the celebration to compensate for the booze.

• You're the one with a wine cellar filled with beautifully aged fine wines.

• The snacks for the party consist of cocktail peanuts, chips and salsa, and Cheez-Its.

• The occasion is your wedding reception. See this sort of gathering as way of thanking guests for their gifts and for being a part of your day. There are other ways to trim down your wedding wine list or bar tab — it need not be BYOB. Forgoing gifts and set on a casual reception with friends? Then BYOB is fine, only if you don't call it a reception — think of calling it your first potluck as a married couple, instead.

• You can afford it. If you drive a fancy car and had a little help with the menu from your favorite caterer, asking people to bring along booze is just plain tacky.