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What to Bring to Every Type of Party

Last updated: March 27, 2024

Ever stood in front of your pantry or wandered aimlessly around a store, pondering that age-old question: “What should I bring to the party?”

If that sounds all too familiar, you’re in the right place!

This post will serve as your guiding star, ensuring you will always know what to bring to a party.

In the coming sections, we’ll delve into:

  • Know the Party: Whether it’s dinner, housewarming, or casual, understanding the essence of the party can guide your contribution choices.
  • Cultural Sensitivity Matters: Always be considerate of diverse backgrounds and traditions. It’s a sign of respect and adds depth to your relationships.
  • Thought Over Price: A gift or contribution chosen with care and love will always outweigh its price tag. It’s the thought behind it that resonates.
  • Be in the Moment: Parties are about connections and creating memories. While it’s essential to bring the right thing, it’s even more crucial to bring the right attitude.

Understanding what to bring to a party is not just about etiquette; it’s about making lasting impressions and building stronger connections. A thoughtful contribution can become a conversation starter, a memory-maker, and a testament to your care and consideration for your host and fellow guests.

Why you should listen to me: Hi! Nick Gray here. I've hosted hundreds of parties, some even at significant museums. I was featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and I was referred to as the host of "culturally significant" parties by New York Magazine.

Understanding Different Party Types

Navigating the social scene means encountering a variety of gatherings, each with its unique vibe and etiquette. Let’s delve into understanding a few of the common party types so you can always be the perfect guest.

Dinner parties are often intimate gatherings that revolve around, you guessed it, dinner. Here, the focus is primarily on food, so if you’re thinking of bringing something, consider complementing the meal.

Depending on the host’s menu, selecting the right wine or drink can be a delightful addition. If tasked with desserts or appetizers, aim for something that’s delectable yet easy to serve.

And always be mindful of dietary restrictions – it shows thoughtfulness and consideration.

Housewarming parties, on the other hand, celebrate new beginnings in a new living space. Gifts for these occasions often lean towards practicality: items that can be immediately used or displayed in the home.

Whether you opt for popular housewarming gifts like kitchen gadgets or plants, or choose to make it personal with customized items, remember to consider cultural nuances. A thoughtful, culturally sensitive gift not only decorates the house but also warms the heart.

Lastly, for more laid-back casual gatherings like a breakfast party, the atmosphere is typically relaxed, with food and drink taking a more spontaneous, diverse turn.

Popular breakfast dishes might be in the mix, like casseroles or pastries. Fresh fruits, juices, and a variety of coffee and tea options can be present to cater to the early risers and the brunch enthusiasts alike. Vegan and vegetarian options should also be on the radar, ensuring everyone feels included.

In essence, each party type has its charm and set of unwritten rules. The key is to be observant, considerate, and, most importantly, enjoy the moment. Because parties, regardless of their type, are all about shared laughter, stories, and memories.

General Party Supplies

You’re invited to a party, and the excitement bubbles up in your chest. Before the bubble pops with anxiety, you ask the age-old question: “What should I bring?”

Some items are like the golden retrievers of the party world—always welcomed with a smile. Wine, for example, is a classic. It’s like that friend who fits in every social circle. Bring a bottle that you love, or explore the shelves for something new and exciting! Chocolates, too, are like sweet little ambassadors of joy, universally beloved and oh-so-sharable.

Now, there’s a fine art to bringing food to a party. Imagine it’s a canvas where you’re painting impressions of taste, shareability, and convenience.

Finger foods? A masterpiece! Opt for things that don’t require the host to don an apron and hustle. Bags of chips, cheese platters, or pre-sliced fruits are your allies. They slide seamlessly into the party’s flow, no fuss, no mess. Think cookies, baby carrots, sweets—the simple, delightful nibbles that don’t anchor people to a spot.

This next one is the most important party supply that I have ever used. Name tags.

Ever find yourself in a conversation, inwardly panicking because you’ve forgotten someone’s name? Name tags are here to rescue you! They’re like tiny billboards, telling other guests that you are excited to meet them.

Now, here’s a wild card— the harmonica! I find it as the smoothest way to gather everyone’s attention.

Papers and markers are your tools to craft signs that help guests arrive to the gathering.

And here is the one thing that you should never bring to a party.

What to Bring to a Dinner Party

Ah, the age-old question: “What should I bring?” Stepping into a dinner party with just the right contribution can truly elevate the evening, making it memorable for both the host and the guests.

When pondering over the drink of the evening, wine often comes to mind as a classic choice. Selecting the right bottle can be a delightful task if you keep in mind the menu.

If the evening leans toward pasta, seafood, or poultry, a crisp white wine or a light rosé can complement the dishes beautifully. For heartier meals featuring steaks or rich sauces, consider a full-bodied red.

Not a wine aficionado? No worries. Craft beers, artisanal sodas, or a bottle of sparkling water with a twist of lemon can be just as appreciated.

Now, if you’ve been given the sweet task of desserts, think of something that’s both delectable and easy to serve. Tarts, mousses, or even a classic cheesecake can be crowd-pleasers. Consider a dessert that isn’t overly sweet, as it allows your treat to be a delightful end to the meal without overwhelming the palate.

For appetizers, the world is your oyster. You could go with a creamy dip served with fresh vegetables, a charcuterie board with a mix of cheeses and cold cuts, or even some stuffed mushrooms or mini bruschettas. The key is to keep it light and not too filling.

Now, in today’s diverse world, considering dietary restrictions is crucial. It’s always a thoughtful gesture to check with the host beforehand about any allergies or dietary preferences. Vegan, gluten-free, or nut-free options are becoming increasingly popular and can be easily found in stores or whipped up with a quick online recipe search.

In the end, the most crucial element is the thought and effort you put into your contribution. Whether it’s wine, dessert, or an appetizer, when chosen with care, it not only adds to the meal but also to the shared memories of a delightful evening.

What to Bring to a Housewarming Party

Housewarming parties are a celebration of new beginnings, and nothing complements this joy better than a thoughtful gift. As you walk through the aisles or scroll through online stores, you might find yourself surrounded by an array of options.

Popular housewarming gifts often lean towards practicality. Think of items that can be immediately used in the new home: kitchen gadgets, elegant tableware, or even potted plants that breathe life into the space. Candles with soothing scents or a collection of gourmet teas and coffees can also be a hit, offering warmth and coziness to the new residents.

But if you want to leave a lasting impression, personalized gifts might be the way to go. Items engraved with the homeowners’ names or a date, like a custom nameplate or a bespoke key holder, can hold sentimental value. Picture frames, customized coasters, or even a tailored piece of art can remind the homeowners of the special bond they share with you every time they glance at it.

However, while choosing a gift, it’s essential to tread with a touch of cultural sensitivity. Different cultures around the world have varied traditions and beliefs when it comes to housewarming gifts. For instance, while a bottle of wine might be a perfect gift in one culture, it might not be suitable for someone who doesn’t consume alcohol due to religious reasons.

The key is to understand and respect these nuances. It’s always a good idea to do a bit of research or even subtly ask the homeowners about any specific preferences or cultural considerations.

In the end, housewarming gifts are all about the heart. It’s the gesture, the thought, and the love behind the present that truly warms the house. So, choose with care and celebrate the joy of new beginnings!

What to Bring to a Breakfast Party

Breakfast parties are a delightful twist on the usual evening get-togethers. There’s something about starting the day with good company and scrumptious food that sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. If you’re wondering what might make for a winning contribution to such a gathering, you’re in for a treat.

Popular breakfast dishes are aplenty. Casseroles are a top choice because of their hearty nature and ease of serving. Whether it’s a classic egg and sausage casserole or something with a bit of a spin, like a southwest quinoa and vegetable mix, it’s bound to be a crowd-pleaser.

Then, of course, pastries have a special place in the breakfast realm. Croissants, muffins, scones, or cinnamon rolls, fresh from the oven or from your favorite bakery, can make mouths water with their mere presence.

The essence of a breakfast party lies not just in the food but in the shared moments as the sun rises, the world awakens, and a new day begins. So, with your chosen dish in hand and a smile on your face, you’re all set to make some beautiful morning memories!


Navigating the party scene is an art as much as it’s a social dance. We’ve taken a journey through the various types of gatherings.

Each offers its unique ambiance and expectations, but the common thread that weaves through them is the significance of thoughtfulness.

A few takeaways to pocket as you head out to your next gathering:

  • Know the Party: Whether it’s dinner, housewarming, or casual, understanding the essence of the party can guide your contribution choices.
  • Cultural Sensitivity Matters: Always be considerate of diverse backgrounds and traditions. It’s a sign of respect and adds depth to your relationships.
  • Thought Over Price: A gift or contribution chosen with care and love will always outweigh its price tag. It’s the thought behind it that resonates.
  • Be in the Moment: Parties are about connections and creating memories. While it’s essential to bring the right thing, it’s even more crucial to bring the right attitude.

In the end, being a memorable guest isn’t just about what you bring to the table, but how you make others feel. So, arm yourself with knowledge, grace, and a dash of charm, and you’re all set for any gathering that comes your way!

Do you want to learn how to UPGRADE your parties? Want to host an amazing event that is easy, fun, and has your guests begging for more? Do you want to make new friends, build big relationships, and boost your career? You can do all of that with a simple 2-Hour Cocktail Party. Check out the book that I wrote and download the first few chapters for free to see exactly how it works.

Send me an email with the date of your first party! I’d love to hold you accountable and answer any of your questions. My mission is to convince 500 different people to host their own cocktail party.


Do you have any other questions that need to be answered? I’m sure one of these could help you.

What are Some General Items to Bring to any Party?

Commonly appreciated items include wine, chocolates, and finger foods that don’t require the host to do much prep, like chips or baby carrots.

When Deciding what to Bring to a Party, how can I Ensure it Complements the Occasion?

Knowing the type of party – be it a dinner, housewarming, or casual gathering – can guide your choice. For dinner parties, consider wine, desserts, or appetizers. For housewarmings, practical or decorative gifts are ideal.

Are There any Popular Housewarming Gifts that are Safe Bets for what to Bring to a Party?

Absolutely! Kitchen gadgets, potted plants, candles, or gourmet teas and coffees are often well-received at housewarming parties.

I’m Going to a Breakfast Party. What Should I Consider Bringing?

Breakfast parties are a delight! Casseroles, pastries, fresh fruits, and a variety of juices, coffee, and teas are always welcome.

How do I Cater to Dietary Restrictions when Deciding what to Bring to a Party?

Always check with the host beforehand. Vegan and vegetarian options, as well as gluten-free and nut-free choices, are becoming increasingly popular and are a thoughtful gesture.

What are Some Personalized Gift Ideas to Bring to a Housewarming Party?

Custom nameplates, tailored art pieces, engraved items, or personalized coasters can make your gift stand out and hold sentimental value.

Are There Items I Should Avoid Bringing to a Party?

While items like flowers or fried chicken wings might seem like good ideas, they can sometimes create extra work for the host or may not suit the occasion. It’s always a good practice to check with the host or consider the party’s nature.

Why is it Important to Consider Cultural Sensitivity when Choosing what to Bring to a Party?

Cultural traditions and beliefs can influence gift preferences. Being culturally sensitive ensures your gift is well-received and shows respect and consideration for the host.

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About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

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