So, you've asked (right?) and been told that you don't need to bring anything to the party. Still, you know better than to show up empty-handed.
"The host has spent a lot of time and money for this gathering," said Amy Fuerstenberg of Mi Mi Design. "Some sort of small token of appreciation is important."
But there are some guidelines for what to bring as well. Here are some suggestions from our experts.
A bottle of wine to open right away
Why? "That is the worst if a guest comes in and says, 'Hey, I bought you this Bordeaux, let's crack it open!' " said Stephanie March of Mpls.St.Paul magazine. "And you're like, 'Well, I've already planned this whole dinner and that doesn't actually work.' "
Why? "I hate this," said Becky Harris of Event Lab. "Now I've got to get out my stepladder, go into the cupboard and find the right-sized vase, trim the stems. Because they can't just sit out on the counter all night. The person will be offended. So you have to do something right then."
Why? "Once I had someone show up with this mayonnaise [based] pizza," March said. "Really? I just spent $30 on this wedge of cheese. It just might not be the right thing."
A dish you were asked to bring that isn't complete
Why? If your host has to make space in the oven or rummage for a serving spoon, it's taking him or her away from the party. "It's basically like people expect you to finish their dish for them, which is hilarious," said Jesse Held of Jester Concept restaurants.
If the host is a pal, pick out something you know he or she will like.
If you don't know your host well, consider candles, scented soaps, bottles of wine or spirits.
March suggested a thoughtful idea — baking (or buying) some breakfast treats. The last thing any host wants to do the day after a party is prepare more food.