Dilemma: what gift should I take to a dinner party?

Jo Brand / 21 June 2017

A reader asks agony aunt Jo Brand for advice on what gift is best to take to a dinner party.



Dilemma: I'm not sure what gift to take to a dinner party

Just what are the rules about taking something to a dinner party? I think a bottle of wine is a good show but my wife insists on one white, one red, chocolates and flowers for the hostess. It ends up costing more than the meal we’re about to eat!

Jo Brand's advice

Why doesn’t she throw in a puppy or a small car just for good measure? I am absolutely with you on this one.

The problem is that there are so many rules, there are no rules. Read a posh etiquette book and it’ll give you the year of the champagne you should take, while other sources will tell you something very different.

Present-giving is getting completely out of control and it’s got to stop. One bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers really is adequate. Also, between people who know one another… well, this can tend to escalate into a ‘top you’ competition.

People appreciate guests who are thoughtful about their gift. So, personally chosen flowers trump a scraggy bunch of wilting yellowness wrapped in Cellophane from a service station. A handpicked bunch of flowers or even a little bouquet from your garden means more, I think, to most people.

Occasionally, when I’m feeling brave, or can persuade one of my kids to do it, we take homemade cake or biscuits, showing we have put in a bit of effort.

See if you can’t persuade your wife to put a little more effort and a little less dosh into gifts – and hope your friends follow suit when you reciprocate.

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