Skip to main content

Food & Wine How should I respond when I invite people for a meal and they ask, ‘What can I bring?’

The absolute best thing to bring is yourself, along with your A game, which sparks conversation and creates a convivial atmosphere around the table.

shironosov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The answer depends on what kind of meal it is. If it's an informal dinner with children, it is a perfectly appropriate question, and you can certainly ask your guests to make a dish their kids will enjoy. If it's a grown-up dinner party, however, the question should never be asked. If it is, my answer is "yourselves."

When throwing a dinner party, the host usually puts a great deal of thought into how the evening will unfold. My first consideration is always the guest list because it is the interaction of people at a table over good food and drink that makes the evening stand out. Next, I plan the food, along with matching wines. Lastly, I plan a tablescape – evergreens from the garden perhaps. Keep it low so people can see one another.

So what should you bring? Here are some suggestions: Good-quality chocolates, not standard supermarket fare; flowers, but in a vase, not a bunch, so your host doesn't have to waste time looking for a container that fits; a plant – white orchids are popular; wine, although don't expect it to be consumed that night, as the wines have already been chosen. My husband hit on a good plan: He labels the wine and we drink it the next time you come for dinner. A foodie gift is always appreciated – local honey or jam, a great pickle or a special cheese you would like us to try. Cocktail napkins, especially cloth as these are coming back into style. Hand soaps. And always include a note, otherwise at the end of an evening, we spend time trying to remember who brought what.

Story continues below advertisement

But the absolute best thing to bring is yourself, along with your A game, which sparks conversation and creates a convivial atmosphere around the table. You have to sing for your supper.

Need some advice about kitchen life and entertaining quandries? Send your questions to lwaverman@globeandmail.com.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter