By Richard Ray:


This is as much an open ended question to all you readers as it is a commentary? Are you always obligated to always bring something if invited to someone’s house for a dinner, BBQ, birthday party, etc?

I am often amazed at the generosity and thoughtfulness of some that I clearly lack to a degree. If I have a get together at my home, which happens less frequently over the years, I never expect anyone to contribute to my BBQ, dinner or pool party. The invite comes with the simple caveat for everyone to enjoy themselves with no obligation to bring anything… When someone inevitably asks if they should or could bring anything, I simply let them know what type of liquor I have and suggest if they have more specific tastes they should pick up something more suitable for themselves along the way.

I know that my super casual approach does not work for everyone and fully expect that I should bring something to a house warming or formal dinner or even holiday party if invited. However, does the obligation and even expectation to bring something to someone’s house extend for a informal gathering, kids birthday party (when you already have gifts for the kids) or pool party?

I know a queen of graciousness and generosity who never lets any occasion pass empty handed. Whether it’s food, decorations, coming to help earlier or even contributing financially, she is always, in my mind, a perfect guest to normally appreciative hosts. I have learned a lot from her, but at the same time I often feel that she extends herself too much and after being so giving and gracious for so many years I do not think that she even knows how to stop or say no at this point.

So my question is, is it really necessary to have to bring something over to every casual function you attend. Does this question change if you see the people regularly already? Does it change if you look out for their kids regularly? Does it change on how expensive or formal the event you are invited is to the hosts (steaks served versus hot dogs and burgers)?

I am not a total uncouth savage. I know that more formal engagements, house warming and first time home invitations usually deserve some type of gift, but if I come to your house all the time, see you all the time, don’t drink your alcohol or eat much of your food… do I need to bring something every time I come to your house?

I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.




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#etiquette, #housewarmings, #houseparty, #gifts, #obligations



  1. I always offer if there’s anything I can do or bring when invited to someone’s home but if the host declines then I respect their response.

    1. Every time? Even if you see them somewhat regularly and help them out in other ways?

  2. Yes, every time, although I must admit that my social circle is quite small. Like I said, I offer but my offer is usually declined. It makes me feel OK then if I show up empty handed.

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