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What to Bring to a Dinner Party: basic guidelines

Updated on June 21, 2011

The Dinner Party

You have been invited to a dinner party and are wondering what to bring. Now this will depend on who has invited you. If it is family or someone you know well, then you know what to do, but what if it is a new acquaintance, someone from work or someone you do not know all that well?

Some say that the best gift you can bring is yourself and your conversation. Do not bring flowers or food. If it is a potluck that is another story but if you are being invited to dinner then the person throwing the dinner will provide the food.

Do not bring desert or chocolates. You do not know what if any allergies your host(s) may have and, in the case, of the flowers, have no idea about the meal’s motif so to avoid any clashes no flowers.

Bringing a bottle of wine is often good form, but you shouldn't expect the host or hostess to serve it at the party. For one thing, you may not know what the dinner will be so the wine you bring may not be appropriate. It is perfectly fine, if you bring wine and the host(s) set it aside.

They can enjoy it later. Another point do they drink? Today that is not the certainty it might once have been. However, I am willing to take the chance and bring a good bottle of wine, one that I am fond of and have shared with others and received a favourable response. The host(s), even if they do not drink, can always serve it to others.

Always arrive on time, do not be early or late both are poor form. If you are early, the host has to deal with you while taking care of any last minute preparations and there are always last minute preparations.

If you are late, you are keeping people and the food waiting and depending on who is there and what is being served, you may begetting the evening off to a bad start, also lateness is simply rude.

Conversation, diner parties are a great time to practice your listening skills. People like people who show an interest in what they have to say and what they think. Listening is one way to send the signal that the conversation matters.

But do not remain quiet, talk but keep it light and short. Do not dominate the table telling that story that you think is so funny or informative that everyone you know must hear it.

Be respectful. Let them finish their story before jumping in with yours. A dinner party is not a competition that the best wit will win.

Be sure to compliment the host on the meal, early in the evening. Be sincere and do not heap praise but if you do enjoy the meal say that. You can say; this is delicious, for example.

At the end of the evening and be sure not to overstay your welcome, thank the host for the evening.

Sitting down to a meal with others is a great way to establish relationships and have a fun time. Relax and enjoy the evening.


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