20-40-60 Etiquette: Hostess gifts for everything

It seems that since I moved here, people bring hostess gifts for every occasion. What's the real custom? 20-40-60 Etiquette weighs in, with Hilarie Blaney as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: May 9, 2012
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If you do take something, be sure the host does not have to do something with it immediately. It is hard to greet guests while trying to find a vase for a bouquet of flowers. If you take a food item, make sure the host knows it is not be served with the meal, unless you have discussed this beforehand.

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 helen.wallace@cox.net. For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to blog.newsok.com/partiesextra.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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