It’s easy to think, “oh well, it’s the thought that counts,” when you give a gift your recipient clearly doesn’t love. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could give a gift that was truly appreciated? Use this list as inspiration to discover what to bring to a dinner party and feel confident about giving something meaningful and practical.
1. Sea Salt
For anybody that likes to cook, salt is a key component in almost every dish – even dessert. And, good salt makes a difference. If you’re trying to figure out what to bring to a dinner party, flaky or high-quality sea salt is a practical option for any host. You can pick some up at a farmer’s market or a local deli or buy some online.
If you feel cheap about giving one, give a set of two! My go-to brand is Maldon.
Maldon Sea Salt – $8
2. Olive Oil
Like salt, olive oil is a staple in most people’s kitchens. It can be expensive, so gifting a nicer-than-normal bottle to drizzle over salads and finishing dishes will be highly appreciated. Just like wine, picking an olive oil can be overwhelming. Two things to watch out for when investing in a bottle are:
- Harvest Date – unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t get better with age. Be sure to buy an olive oil that isn’t over a year past it’s harvest date.
- Bottle – look for dark and opaque bottles that have been kept out of the light for maximum freshness.
Frantoi Olive Oil – $38
3. A Favorite Bottled Sauce or Dressing
If there’s a bottle of salad dressing, marinade, or a sauce you go crazy for, pick up an extra bottle next time you buy it for yourself and bring this to your dinner party. It’ll be something to talk about, and since you’re a superfan, your host will trust it’s good stuff.
4. Something Homemade
An affordable option for those that are naturally crafty or good in the kitchen is something homemade. You could give a small painting, some of your homemade beer, or make chili oil, bone broth, or muffins. The options are endless.
Tip: Try this recipe for a simple and delicious homemade chili oil.
5. Something Sweet
Sugar is celebratory. If you didn’t like any of the suggestions on what to bring to a dinner party so far, a small box of gourmet chocolates, cookies, or candies is a safe and easy choice.
Gifts You Can Drink
I’m a bit of a coffee snob and appreciate good coffee. If you think your host does, too, bring them a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans or ground coffee from your favorite coffee shop.
Tip: Make sure you know how your host prepares their coffee just in case they don’t have a coffee grinder and you give them whole beans.
7. Sherry or Port
After drinking some delicious port in Portugal, I’ve come to realize there’s a real difference between good and bad port. Because fortified wine isn’t something we usually buy for ourselves, it makes an excellent host or hostess gift.
Tip: Look out for Tawny port which are aged longer than Ruby ports.
If you know the host drinks alcohol, wine is never a bad choice when you don’t know what to bring to a dinner party. Buy something mid-range that you’ve either had before and enjoyed or one that a wine professional recommends.
I’m not a whisky drinker, but my dad is. Even if the bottle of whisky isn’t exactly to his tastes, if someone brings a whisky as a gift, I know he always appreciates it. If you’re unsure what kind of whisky to get, visit your local liquor store or ask the bartender next time you’re at a cocktail bar for a recommendation.
10. Craft Beer
Knowing what to bring to a dinner party doesn’t need to be complicated. If the host is a beer drinker, there’s nothing wrong with getting a six or four-pack of your favorite craft beer.
Gifts for Home
Bringing a book might not seem like a dinner party-related gift, but it’s thoughtful if you know the host well enough. If you’ve read a book recently and know they’d enjoy it too, get them a copy.
Amazon Books Best Sellers – from $10
12. Flowers In a Vase
If you bring your host a beautiful bouquet of flowers, make sure it comes in a vase. It’s even more helpful if you bring one without the plastic and tissue, so the host can immediately set it down on a table to enjoy. You don’t want to create any more work for the host by having them trim stems, find an appropriate vase, and make counter space.
Tip: If you have a garden, give them a small bouquet of freshly cut flowers, fresh herbs, or ripe fruit from a fruit tree.
13. Wooden Platter or Tray
A beautiful platter or tray for the hosts’ future dinner parties would be a generous and thoughtful gift (if you can afford it). I’ve seen some beautiful ones at farmer’s markets or craft fairs. Or, if you prefer to purchase online, you can support artists on Etsy.
Walnut Serving Board – $42
14. Coffee Table Magazine
Hardcover coffee table books can be expensive. A thoughtful and more affordable alternative could be a magazine such as Cereal, Kinfolk, or Monocle. If there’s a particular article in the magazine you thought was thought-provoking, this could be an excellent way to break the ice.
Kinfolk Magazine – $18
15. Something They Ask For
If you really don’t know what to bring to a dinner party, and you’ve left it to the last minute, there’s no shame in asking your host. While it might not be very glamorous, picking up something like extra ice or a key ingredient for dinner, your contribution will be well received.
Hopefully, this list of what to bring to a dinner party has inspired you to give better and more practical gifts. Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean a better gift so keep this in mind when selecting something. If you have other suggestions for gift ideas, leave a comment!