I watch a lot of TV shows and on those shows people are always bringing some nice gift when they go to a party. The Oprah Winfrey show has many shows in which you are told about things she loves, and items she likes to give as a gift to others. Some of her shows tell you how to make your own hostess gifts, and others reiterate how etiquette shows that you are supposed to bring a gift when you are a guest at someone elses home. But in the real world (not Oprah’s world, or Wisteria lane), when is a hostess gift appropriate? And if a gift is appropriate, what type of gift should I bring?

Last year around Christmas time I had an impromptu gathering at my home with my husbands co workers after their work Christmas party. There was no plans of having this party, but when one of the wives arrived she showed up with a beautiful Christmas ornament. I was shocked! A hostess gift! It seems that she buys things through out the year, and has them on hand when there comes a time where a little gift is warranted. What a great idea! I find that my mom does the same thing. She will see something on sale at Kohls or Target and buys it in order to give at a later date. To be honest my group of friends don’t really seem to do gifts, at least not that I’ve seen and at least not when they come to an event at my house. But to be fair I in turn have not really given hostess gifts either. People do tend to bring over wine, or alcohol when the come by…but that normally gets drank in the same evening!

I now must ask this question. Is it a generational thing? Has the art of the hostess gift gone down the tubes with my generation? Or is it just the people I know? At first I found myself leaning towards the fact that it is the people I know, because on two separate occasions I had a friend over as an overnight house guest, and both people came with a small gift. 1 with some great baked goods, and the other with a cute little candle set. But, after looking into more closely for this post, I found that most of the events I host, or attend do not warrant a hostess gift. Here is what I found on the 1800 Flowers Website. Here they are giving tips from the Emily Post Institute for Etiquette

When Should I Bring A Hostess Gift?

Cocktail party
Host and Hostess gifts are completely optional for cocktail parties. But if you’re in a generous mood, a bottle of wine or a batch of blueberry muffins for the next morning—or, for the holidays, something seasonal, like an ornament—would be thoughtful. Be sure to enclose a gift card so the host won’t wonder whose thought it was that counts.

Dinner party
Yes, bring a gift, but keep it simple and under $25. Anything that distracts the host may be a nuisance. A bottle of wine, a small potted plant, a flower arrangement already in a vase, candles, or soaps are better bets. Present the gift to your host when you arrive, or leave it on an entry way table if your host isn’t there to greet you.

Casual get together such as brunch
A gift is optional. You may choose instead to bring something to the meal—a side dish, dessert or drink. But ask: just showing up with a tray of Danish puts the host on the spot.

Overnight stay
A gift is mandatory. You can present the gift upon your arrival, during your stay, or after your exit. Consider giving your hosts something you note in the course of your visit that would be right for them, like a tray that goes with their color scheme. The longer the stay, the more expensive or elaborate the gift. For example, for a weekend stay, you may decide to send flowers. If you’ve stayed for three nights or more, a gift certificate to the host’s favorite spa or restaurant would be a good bet.

I think these are pretty cut and dry rules that we can all use as a reference. So it turns out that my friends do follow the ettiquette correctly! In the end I think it’s always nice to bring some sort of token to the hostess when you come to an event. As someone who loves being the hostess, it takes a lot of hard work and planning to put together an event, and it’s always nice to be appreciated!