And not a single bottle of wine.
It’s easy to forget all the money, time, and prep work that goes into hosting a party or holiday when you’re not the one doing all the cooking (and decorating, and shopping, and seat-chart making, and invitation sending). That being said, you should never show up at your host’s door empty handed. And while a bottle of wine—the standard go-to gift—is a safe bet, there are dozens of other options on the market that’ll guarantee you an invite back next year.
Of course, how much you want to spend on a gift for your host depends on a variety of factors: how well do you know him or her? How big is the event they’re hosting? How much money per plate do you think your host has spent? If you’re visiting for a holiday like Thanksgiving—where stress levels tend to run especially high—consider something that your host can enjoy once their guests have departed, like a relaxing bath oil.
And if you’re particularly close with your host, but all they asked is for you to bring a cake, show your gratitude by presenting it on a keepsake serving stand. Despite what you may think, there’s no such thing as being so close with someone that you should feel comfortable showing up at a dinner sans gift.
To help conjure up ideas beyond the old bottle of Pinot, we asked a variety of entertainers, cooks, and new homeowners what they’d really want to receive from a guest. So scroll through our collection of gift suggestions that will make your host really happy they invited you, below. Fair warning: you may wind up purchasing a few things for yourself, too.