When entertaining, there are two secrets to a host’s success: An ability to bring together people and create lasting memories, and the foresight to see — and resolve — problems before they arise. Once a week, our resident experts Mindy Lockard and Coryanne Ettiene will weigh in with helpful advice to help the modern host tackle even the stickiest of situations with grace. Have a question you want answered? Send us an email with your dilemma, and then check back every week for new tips and advice.
This week’s question:
I've been invited to a friend’s home for dinner and was planning to bring a bottle of wine. Is this still an appropriate gift to bring? If not, what are some alternatives?
Mindy: In short, a bottle of wine is still an acceptable gift. However, sometimes it lacks creativity and the spirit of selecting a gift with your host or hostess in mind. My favorite thing about giving a gift is picking something that will light-up the recipient’s eyes. This happens when you give them something that is specific to their interests. But if you don’t know them well and want to bring wine, that’s fine. Just remember that a host or hostess isn’t obligated to serve it at the meal, so don’t get your feelings hurt if they opt to add it to their wine collection.
Coryanne: I’ve noticed that wine is fast becoming as unpopular as a dozen red roses. But I wouldn't recommend following in Larry David's steps and gift a baguette to your dinner hosts (then again, it might come in handy for use as a weapon, see below).
If you are dedicated to bringing a bottle of wine and want to appreciate it with your host, call ahead and ask them what wine they would like to serve at the dinner, or what their favorite wine is. By no means pick up a bottle wasting away in your kitchen, or that you picked up on special on your way to the party.
Better yet, try something original. My favorite hostess gift to receive is a “morning after basket” filled with fresh eggs, bacon, jam, coffee, and fresh fruits. It shows that you took the time to think outside the wine bottle and how much effort it takes to host a party, considering that the morning after a big party is not always an easy one!
About Our Experts: Mindy Lockard is The Gracious Girl and offers traditional etiquette advice with a modern gracious twist. Coryanne Ettiene believes entertaining at home should be an everyday affair; she shares contemporary advice for modern living at Housewife Bliss.