Ask Colin: Lifestyle


Host gifts you should avoid bringing?

Whether you’re attending an informal cocktail party or an informal dinner, it’s customary to bring a gift to your host and/or hostess. Give your host something he or she would not think of buying for himself or herself. Don’t bring a gift that has to be tended to immediately like a large bouquet of stunning flowers. As much as it’s a lovely thought, your host would then need to unwrap them, snap the stems, hunt down and appropriate vase, and then arrange them, all the while keeping an eye on roasting chickens and a pitcher of cocktails that needs refilling. If you want to send flowers, send them earlier in the day or the following day, accompanied by a note (ideally and most impressive, one that’s been handwritten).

On a similar note, don’t show up bearing baked goods, either, unless you’re visiting a close friend. Chances are your hosts already have that night’s menu planned, and you’ll make them feel obligated to include your chocolate mousse unless you call ahead.

Fail-proof gifts include a great bottle of wine or Champagne (an old standby), a fragrant candle, a favorite book, or a great playlist. Your host can choose to open, pop in, and play your gift it if fits the evening, or write your name on the wine bottle’s label, stow it away for another time, and drink a toast to you at a later date.