The Entertaining issue
Things Standout Guests Always Bring to a Party

6 Things Standout Guests Always Bring to a Party

It's no secret that hosting can take a significant amount of time, effort, and planning. If you're a guest that wants to contribute in some way, we've got you covered: We tapped entertaining experts Lisa Grotts and Heloise Blause regarding what types of things you should bring to any gathering that the host will appreciate.

Meet the Expert

Lisa Grotts is an etiquette expert who helps clients navigate tricky business, social, and political situations, and Heloise Blause is the founder of cooking blog Homekitchen Land.

Extra Ice

What to Bring to a Party

Stocksy/Trinette Reed

More ice is something that every party needs. Consider bringing along a couple of bags that the host can use throughout the night. You can take it a step further and store the ice in a cooler or a large wine bucket to make things even easier.

A List of Conversation-Starters

What to Bring to a Party

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As we all know, conversations with strangers can be tricky. You should probably avoid chatting about politics, religion, or anything that's remotely polarizing. Plan ahead by preparing some light conversational topics before you arrive. For example, would you rather take a trip in a submarine or a rocket? What's one meal you could eat every single day?

A Tried-and-True Dish

What to Bring to a Party

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If you're attending a potluck-style party, where everyone contributes to the buffet line, opt for a recipe you know has gotten rave reviews. "Don’t bring a dish if it’s your first time making it and no one has tried it except you," Blause advises. "It’s good to get honest feedback from someone before you reveal your new recipes to the public."

If the host has asked you to bring a dish, don't be afraid to let them know you have a specialty, like being a standout pie maker, says Grotts.


What to Bring to a Party

Stocksy/Minette Hand

A standard bouquet of flowers is always a safe bet when it comes to guest etiquette. It might be a good idea to bring a vase, too, since the host will be busy with other things. It's a thoughtful gift that will last long after the party ends.


What to Bring to a Party

Stocksy/Jill Chen

Wine is another safe bet for guests to bring to a party. You can bring along a wine opener for good measure, but keep your big drink dispensers and decanters at home, Blause suggests. While you might think that you're being helpful, if the host has whipped up a seasonal cocktail, it might just get in the way. And if the wine goes unopened you can always leave the bottle as a gift.


candle on shelf

Stocksy/Martí Sans

A scented candle will also come in handy for your host, whether it's burning during the meal for a cozy effect or afterward during cleanup in the kitchen. Again, do your best to pick out something that won't get in the way of a tablescape, like a garland would.