5 Things You Should Never Bring to a Dinner Party, Etiquette Experts Say

Don't want to show up empty-handed? Just make sure you avoid these choices.

Even if an invite says "No need to bring anything, just yourself," many people believe you should never show up to a dinner party empty-handed. But if there's no help from the host, you might be unsure about exactly what you should take with you. In fact, bringing the wrong thing could create an inconvenience or issue for the person throwing the soirée—making you come across as ruder than you would have if you'd shown up without anything at all. To avoid this potential slight, we talked to etiquette experts to gather insight on offerings that may offend. Read on to find out the five things they say you should never bring to a dinner party.

READ THIS NEXT: The 6 Best Things to Ask Guests to Bring—If They Offer.

1
Unexpected alcohol

Bottle of wine in a paper bag
iStock

A bottle of wine is many people's go-to gift for party hosts. But Annemarie Schumacher, an award-winning event planner and lifestyle blogger, tells Best Life she generally advises against bringing alcohol, especially if it is an unexpected offering.

"I don't recommend automatically bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner party unless you ask the host or hostess in advance, or you know the hosts well," she says.

After all, your alcoholic gift could be seen as disrespectful. "There are a lot of sober-curious people these days and that bottle of wine may be unwanted," Schumacher warns.

2
Inconvenient surprises

Group of people, diverse male and female friends together on dinner party in modern home,
iStock

Instead of a gift, you might be tempted to thank your host with some type of surprise—like bringing along your furry four-legged friend for guests to cuddle or a guitar to serenade the party. But you should never skip discussing unexpected plans with the host before a party, even in the name of a surprise, says lifestyle and party expert Cristy Stewart-Harfmann.

"Surprises that still need to be coordinated with the host can disrupt the flow and ambiance of the dinner party," she explains. "This may include bringing pets, entertainment that requires significant attention or space, or any other unexpected elements that may cause inconvenience or discomfort to the host or other guests."

3
Foods with common allergens

Two almond cupcakes with toasted coconut topping on a blue table.
iStock / Brycia James

Even if the host is welcoming dishes from guests, you should be cautious about what you're bringing. Mike Futia, a hosting expert and founder of Grill Frenzy, says it is important to steer clear of taking common allergenic or dietary-restricted foods to a dinner party.

"Bringing foods that could potentially trigger allergies or clash with specific dietary restrictions of the host or other guests should be avoided," he says.

But if you really do want to bring along something that includes things like nuts or dairy, make sure you ask first.

"It's crucial to communicate any dietary requirements in advance or check with the host about what would be appropriate to bring," Futia advises. "Being mindful of others' dietary needs demonstrates consideration and helps prevent any adverse reactions or discomfort."

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4
Anything that still needs preparation

Friends Cooking Dinner
bbernard/Shutterstock

Don't show up with any food or drinks that are not fully ready to serve, either. For instance, if you have something that still needs to be assembled in the kitchen, leave it at home, says JoAnn Moore, an experienced wedding and event planner.

"A guest should never expect the host to provide bowls, utensils, or counter space to prepare food items," she explains.

This includes uncooked ingredients for any dishes as well, according to Christine Schaub, a hospitality expert and host of the "Come on Over" web series.

"No matter how well you know the host, you cannot commandeer their stovetop, oven, or microwave during a party," Schaub says.

5
Uninvited guests

Couple Greeting Friends Arriving For Dinner Party At Home
iStock

An extra presence isn't likely to feel like a present to someone hosting a dinner party. Just one uninvited person can negatively impact their entire plan.

"Bringing additional guests without prior approval from the host can disrupt the seating arrangements, strain the available resources, and create an uncomfortable atmosphere for both the host and other guests," Futia warns.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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