Invited to a Dinner Party: What Should You Bring?

by blackspanielgallery

When you are invited to a dinner party, whether it is for a holiday or not, the question arises "What should I bring?"

If you are invited to a dinner party, it is often a good idea to bring something along. The question is what might be welcomed, and what might be embarrassing. You can ask, but too often the host or hostess will suggest you bring nothing. That is just a polite response, and that response may not be something you should follow.

You do have several options, but one is certainly not the main course. The main course is the part of the meal that sets the tone for the event, and that should be left to the host or hostess. It is always inappropriate to bring a second main course, especially if it upstages the one chosen by the host or hostess.


Wine can be problematic.  Some people are careful which wine to pair with which food.  Unless you know what the main course is to be your well-intentioned wine may clash.


Worse, you may not know the entire guest list.  There may be a recovering alcoholic invited, which would force either a revelation of the problem or serving wine to that individual. 


Yes, picking up a bottle is easy, but there are problems with the idea. 

Do I Have Choices?

Are There Pitfalls to Avoid?

Well, there are three obvious choices.  You can choose wisely from below.  Just remember, never upstage the host or hostess. 


Be practical.  Some dishes travel well, others do not.  And some dishes require heating before serving, yet other must be chilled.  Will there be adequate heating or refrigeration to add your dish?  How can you know?  Choose dishes that can travel well and remain at an acceptable temperature during the process.


Always make the dish yourself.  Buying a prepared dish, unless you are miles from your kitchen and cannot cook, might be less work, but the others can always buy the same dish themselves.


Always make known any ingredients that might be he cause of an allergic reaction, or might be a problem for those whose faith prohibits consumption of certain foods.


If you offered to bring a dish it is important that you be on time.

Option 1: A Board

Options within an Option

Bring a board filled with cheese, vegetables, fruit, or any other food that might be eaten while awaiting other guests to arrive. 


I recommend that you use a decorative board and leave it as a gift.  Yes, people have cutting boards, but a paddle shaped board or a circular board can serve as a serving piece.  If the event is part of a holiday celebration a board decorated with the holiday theme is a good idea.

Option 2: Side Dishes

Side dishes are another possibility.  Of course, two similar side dishes are a problem.  One will disappear faster than the other.  This is an embarrassment to the person who spent time and effort preparing the one left behind.

Safety First

Party food is often out for a period of time. Make certain the food is safe when eaten. There are items available to help with this.

Option 3: Dessert

Bring a nice tray willed with a dessert.  If the dessert is a cake, pie, or cupcakes you can bake the dessert yourself.  And, if you have the skill, you can be even more creative.


Remember, it is not a competition.  Do not try to overshadow the desserts brought by others.


Pies are perhaps the easiest food to bring to a family dinner. Many pies can be kept at room temperature for long travel, and can add delight to the meal. Pies are tasty.

Do Not Be Repetitive

If you are invited to multiple dinner parties in a short period of time, try to change your dish each time.  Some of those attending may well be the same people you were with a week or two earlier.

Be Discrete

Unless you wish to be considered annoying, it is not necessary to announce repeatedly that you brought a certain dish.  It is vain and will be perceived as such.  You might also make someone feel obligated to partake of your dish even though that person abhors that particular food.


A dinner party is to be enjoyed.  Despoiling an event that should be a happy occasion is a good way to no longer be in the circle of invitees in the future.


This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting, and allow me to earn from qualifying purchases. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


The intro image is our Zazzle product using an image in public domain from W. P. Clipart.

Updated: 06/29/2021, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 06/30/2021

Sparkling water comes in many flavors, and I would wonder which to choose.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/30/2021

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for pictures, practicalities and products.
In particular, I appreciate your gentle reminder about not upstaging anyone or anything and your thoughtful suggestion about leaving decorative boards with the host/hostess.
This past year, I discovered sparkling water brands carried by the local manifestations of a nationwide grocery-store chain. What do you think of bringing that by itself (questionable since each bottle cost 59 cents last year, 69 cents this year) or, for instance, with cutting-board food, side-dishes or desserts?

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