Local customs vary. If you see everyone else bringing a gift to a party and you don't have one, you can drop one by later or write a wonderful thank-you note of appreciation.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Hilarie Blaney, etiquette and international protocol consultant: According to Emily Post's 18th edition, hostess gifts are obligatory in some places but only for special occasions in others. Here is my rule and when I give a hostess gift: 1. If I am being honored at a wedding or baby shower. 2. As a formal dinner guest in someone's home. 3. Weekend house guest. 4. Casual dinner in someone's home where I am not a regular guest. 5. Holiday party guest in someone's home.
The gifts should be cost appropriate, such as a nice bottle of wine, cocktail napkins and cheese knife, flowers or a homemade gift of a special item.
My view is that it is an honor to be invited or hosted; therefore, I reciprocate in some kind way by showing my appreciation through a gift and thank-you note.
To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com. For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to blog.newsok.com/partiesextra.