How to be a Good Guest this Holiday Season (or any time, really)

The mantra when I was growing up was, “Never show up at someone’s house empty-handed.” I still adhere to that rule, but what does it EXACTLY mean? Each time I go to a friend’s house I should bring something? Well…not precisely. Here are a few guidelines for you. And if you are coming to MY house for any festivities please know this is NOT a hint.

Picture of leaves on the ground
Fall is for families.

When to bring something:
 If you are an overnight guest in someone’s home
 If you have never been to this home before. Especially important if it is a coworker or business associate
 If there is a party going on. A small gift for the host(ess) lets them know you appreciate the invitation. Friend Sam has a HUGE catered Xmas party every year, and even though I have been to her home numerous times, I always bring a little something.

When NOT to bring something:
 If the host has specifically asked you not to (a planned menu or catered event might be disrupted by an unexpected dessert showing up).
 If you spend as much time at the host’s house as your own. For example, Friends Laurie, Lynn and I are always at one another’s homes. We’d go broke gifting for each other!

What to bring:
 Sweets are almost always welcome
 ANYTHING homemade – baked goods, jams, jellies, soaps, etc. They are all great ways to show appreciation in a very personal way
Simple Banana Nut Bread

Lovely Mead that Friends Tina and Nate brought. Extra special because of the custom labels.

 Alcoholic gifts – see rule below* – Wine, spirits, funky cool barware, all good choices
 Flowers – because according to my husband, “Bitches love flowers.”

 Anything from your garden – If you have fab herbs or an abundance of veggies, it’s always nice to share.

There are exceptions to every rule, so always use your best judgment. My friends Bobby & Chris invited me to their upstate NY country home for a long weekend and I had no idea what to expect, and since I flew there, I didn’t want to pack anything extra. When I returned home I sent them a thank you gift appropriate for that house and stocked their NYC fridge with goodies from the corner store. As an overnight guest, taking your hosts out for a meal is also a fab idea. They appreciate the gesture and it takes pressure of a meal off them.

As for being a good host(ess) – don’t EXPECT gifts, but be gracious when they are given. Personally, if it is something edible, I always ask if we should open it and share it that day. Flowers immediately go into water.

Enjoy the Holidays with your friends and family, and be on the lookout for my Holiday shopping guide coming soon to this blog!

*KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – when I was a very young newlywed wife, John and I were invited to dinner at one of his classmates’ homes. Of course we brought a bottle of wine. Yeah, well, they were Mormon (I had never met any LDS folks before so I didn’t know the drill). Needless to say I was mortified, right up until they showed us a “recruiting video”….