Etiquette Questions, Answered: Holidays and Gifts
What Should I Do When the Host Says “No Gifts”?
Q. If a couple asks you not to bring a gift to their holiday party, should you bring one anyway? If so, what do you bring?
I don’t know their exact taste.
A. Of all the quandaries in the world, the “No gifts, please” request is one of the most flummoxing. It feels rude to show up at a party empty-handed. Still, you want to respect your hosts’ wishes. To make matters worse, there are always a few of those people (you know who you are) who will still insist on bringing a big, expensive gift, making those of us who dutifully followed instructions look―or at least feel―lame. In general, I’ve adopted the following approach: If the invitation or the host makes a “No gifts” request, I observe it, meaning I don‘t bring a gift. But I do think it’s nice to bring a token of some sort, preferably something edible, like chocolate or wine. That way, you’re not disobeying their instructions―and you’ve got something in hand. And as for your concern about not knowing their particular tastes, go ahead and pick something up that you love and would want to introduce to someone else. Remember: It’s just a gesture, and as always it’s the thought that counts.