'Tis the season to be invited to, and attend holiday parties. The invitations may vary - an open house, a boss' cocktail party, or a five-course dinner,but the basics remain the same. Whatever the venue and however formal, it is always polite to bring a 'hostess' gift'. That may seem sexist and outdated, as the hostess may be a host, but the principle remains the same - it is always courteous and thoughtful to bring the person hosting the party a small gift of appreciation for the invite, especially when it involves a meal.
A bottle of wine is always a great choice, but don't expect it to be served, as the hosts may have already made their wine selection. A small bundle of flowers is always a welcome and nice touch, although you don't want to saddle the hostess with something else to do. Remember, the hostess gift is a small token of your appreciation, not a birthday present.
Last week we hosted our office staff at our home. Only one guest brought a hostess gift - a very nice bottle of Cabarnet we did eventually uncork. While this hostess doesn't need any more 'stuff', it reminded me of how many people are completely unaware of this social gesture. My 'gift' came in the form of the late arrival of most of the guests!
The hostess gift is by no means obligatory either, but it is always considered good form. A candle or handmade dish towel may not guarantee a future invite, but it will certainly warm a party-giver's heart. If you are attending a potluck, no further gift is necessary.
This old-fashioned custom is one of those gestures i'm delighted has survived the test of time. It is a sweet act of gratitude that does not require a great expense or effort. So remember, if you'll be a guest at a holiday celebration this week, bring a little something with you, because it DOES 'Manner' A Lot!