What to Bring to a Dinner Party to Assure Your Spot as the Best Guest

Blog written by Mixology & Craft.

To attend a dinner party is to truly be an adult. As a bit of an adult myself, I can say I’ve attended multiple dinner parties, at most of which I caused neither chaos nor confusion. But before I was a professional partygoer, I too wondered what it would take to be the ultimate dinner party guest. What would it take for me to stand out above the rest? 

More importantly, what is it that you’re supposed to bring to a dinner party even? Should I bring food or gifts? What are some host/hostess gift ideas that won’t make me look like a total clown?

No need to panic! We’re adults now, we can do this! Luckily, there is quite a bit of etiquette and pre-established rules surrounding the art of the dinner party attendee, and we’re going to go through it all: How to prep for a dinner party, what to bring to a dinner party (depending on the type of party), and even some top-tier host/hostess gift ideas that won’t break the bank (but will boost your status as Certified Best Dinner Guest).

So, without further ado, let’s take a look into the wild world of dinner parties!

So You’ve Been Invited to a Dinner Party…Now What?

Let’s say this is your first dinner party. What are you even supposed to do? 

Time to break it down. As a dinner guest, you don’t have very responsibilities - but what responsibilities you do have are very important. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know before you go to a dinner party: 

Find out the dress code.

The dress code of dinner parties varies wildly depending on the host. I’ve been to casual dinner parties, business casual dinner parties, gothic 1920s murder mystery dinner parties…all of which required you to know what to wear beforehand.

Be sure to ask your host or hostess what you need to wear before you show up in slacks at your friend’s Lord of the Rings-inspired Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy LARPing-themed dinner party. 

Be punctual (or only slightly late).

This also depends on your host or hostess. Some dinner party hosts may expect their guests to be right on time, but that’s a little bit out of the ordinary. In reality, most hosts expect their guests to be a little bit late (at least I do). I recommend showing up within a 5-15 minute window of the official starting time - this gives your host time to prepare in case they’re running a bit behind!

Figure out what you might need to bring (if anything).

I know this whole article is about what to bring to a party, but before you figure that out, find out if you need to bring anything at all. There’s a chance your host or hostess may have everything they need to have a stellar time, and anything you bring might be overkill. 

What To Bring to a Dinner Party

So, let’s say your host/hostess does want you to bring “a little something”, whatever that means, and failed to elaborate. What the hell are we supposed to do about that? Does this person mean that I need to bring food, a drink, or a gift? Or all? Or none? 

I wish the answer to this was simple. I really do. 

But it isn’t. 

To solve this social quandary, I’ve broken it down into subcategories, divided by the type of party. This, I believe, is the most socially acceptable method of deciding what to bring to a dinner party

Let’s get started: 

For a Fully Catered Dinner Party: Drinks

Drinks are the most socially acceptable thing to bring anywhere, and unless you’re going to some kind of AA-themed dinner party, you will not be turned away. Here are a few options for you, depending on the occasion: 

Full Bottles

For an Outdoor Event (BBQ, Backyard Party): Beer

  • Beer is beloved when it’s warm, and appreciated in the cold. I recommend bringing a rich pale ale, IPA, or wheat beer to a dinner party - those often work well with summer food flavors like burgers or steaks. 
For a Nice Cocktail Party: Bourbon or Whiskey
  • Going to something a little more formal? Getting a nice bourbon or expensive whiskey is always a good option. You can add it to the liquor table, or use it as a great host/hostess gift idea for your friends. I typically go with Bulleit 10 year bourbon or the Cutty Sark blended scotch whiskey. Oh, and don’t forget the whiskey stones!
For a Casual Dinner Party: Red or White Wine 
  • This is usually people’s answer for what to bring to a dinner party. Wine is by far the most popular thing to bring to any casual get-together. It’s fancy, pairs well with most foods, and is usually pretty affordable! 

Bulk Cocktails

These can be made in any pitcher, and keep pretty well for the journey to your destination. 

For a Party on the Wilder Side: Margaritas
  • Nothing gets a party going like margaritas, baby! This is the easiest (yet tastiest) bulk recipe for margaritas that are going to make you the talk of the town: 
1 part simple syrup
2 parts lime juice
3 parts tequila
4-6 limes (for the rim)
Salt (for the rim)

What to do: Get (or make) the simple syrup, your lime juice, and your tequila, and mix them together in a pitcher. Cut a lime into wedges and bring them to wet the rims of the glass. Bring your quartered limes and salt to the party, and serve! 

For a Classy Yet Fun Addition: Mojitos
  • Refreshing, tasty, and easy to make! Everyone likes a good mojito. Here are the base ingredients you’ll need: 
½ cup white sugar
3 Limes, quartered
36 leaves of fresh mint
1 liter club soda
1 cup rum

What to do: Muddle sugar and mint leaves together in your pitcher (don’t have a muddler? This bar tool set does) until the leaves have completely broken down. Add the limes and muddle again until they’re juiced. Stir in rum, add the club soda, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. 

For a Lighter Affair: The Raspberry Smash
  • This classy drink is a great solution for those stumped by what to bring to a party. It’s beloved by all (or those who like raspberries, at least), and is great for year-round parties. The recipe is in the above link - for a bulk recipe, just quadruple the recipe! 

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Not looking to booze it up this time around? No sweat - here are some other delightful drinks to bring! 

  • A few liters of the soda of your choice
  • A few liters of juice (mango, orange, pomegranate, you name it)
  • Flavored Sparkling Water
  • Tonic

For a Low Key Dinner Party: Small Portions


Here are a few super delicious (and very easy) appetizer options to bring to your dinner party. Be sure to clear it with the host/hostess first, just in case! 

  • A charcuterie board
  • Breadsticks
  • Meatballs
  • Deviled eggs
  • Cheese or chili dip


If your host/hostess needs a side, feel free to volunteer with 1 or 2 of these options: 

  • A simple salad
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Mac & cheese
  • Potatoes (roasted or fried, your choice)

For a Potluck-Type-Deal: An Entree or Dessert

This is specifically if you’ve been assigned an entree or dessert at a dinner party potluck. I don’t recommend bringing one of these unprompted, because you might upset the host! If you’re confused about what to bring to a dinner party that will wow the guests and the host, try these: 


These are delicious, simple ideas that will have people salivating for more (and make you the best guest by far)

  • Pan pizza
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Honey glazed salmon
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Linguini (or other types of filling pastas)


You’ll be everyone’s favorite if you bring one of these: 

  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Apple pie
  • Ice cream
  • Banana pudding
  • Cheesecake
  • Boston cream pie

The Top 4 Tips to be the Best Dinner Guest There Is

So you know what to bring to a party, but do you know how to act? Here are some tips to show your host you don’t just talk the talk - you walk the walk. 

Ignore your phone at the party. 

You’ve been invited to this dinner party to talk, not text! Put your phone down and use this as an opportunity to get to know some people! 

Show gratitude.

Hosts work really hard to make sure their parties go off without a hitch. Don’t ruin it with bad vibes, bro. Good energy, enthusiasm, and thankfulness are what to bring to a dinner party to get the best out of your experience. Thank your host!

Don’t bring unannounced guests.

You may think it will be fine to bring over your roomie to a party without asking, but it almost never is. Hosts often need exact numbers of people to focus on plating and food portions. Bringing someone without asking throws those numbers off and will stress our host out. 

Bring a gift. 

Every host appreciates a little somethin’ somethin’. Bring something you know they will like or use. 

Stumped on this? No worries, I was too - but not anymore! I’ve compiled a helpful list of host/hostess gift ideas, just for you: 

Some Host/Hostess Gift Ideas (So You Don’t Come Empty Handed)

  • Wine, beer, or liquor. Stick the bottle(s) in a bag or box and give it to the host directly, and make sure to emphasize that it isn’t for everyone. 
  • Chocolates or candy. This can be a nice little gesture to show that you appreciate being invited. Find out what kind of candy they like and bring it over! 
  • Some handy glassware or bar tools. What better gift to give a host than something that will help them be an even better host in the future? A bar tool set, whiskey stonesor glassware would be an excellent gift to show your host you’re thinking about them. Hell, maybe they’ll bust them out at the party! 

Final Thoughts

This advice will most certainly get you to the top spot of Best Guest of the Year. If it doesn’t, you can at least be Best Guest of the Month. For any other fun tips or cocktail recipes, check out our blog! For more amazing products, don’t be afraid to check out our website

Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor