Meeting the Parents – What to bring to dinner

Meeting the Parents – What to bring to dinner

Ask A Woman:  Should I bring something when I meet her parents?

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Hello Beth:

I’ve been seeing a girl for more than a few weeks now, it’s getting pretty serious, and next weekend we’re going to visit her parents.  This will be my introduction to them.  Here’s my question:  What should I bring for them for the first time, especially when they’re the hosts?  Are flowers for the mother appropriate?  Would a bottle of wine be better?  Or would both be okay with flowers for the mother and some wine for dinner?  Also, know that I’m 25 and she’s 20.

Thanks in advance,

- Ben

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Hi Ben,

On the surface, this might seem like a relationship question, but it’s really an etiquette question.  And because I believe that manners and civility are highly underrated and frighteningly overlooked, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to address this.

Anytime you go to someone else’s home for dinner or a party, you should bring a host gift.  Period.  They are feeding you; they are buying extra ice; they are vacuuming and dusting their house beforehand; they are dealing with the aftermath of your sloth and filth the next day.  Bring them a gift.

Resemble your host? Leave the wine. Take the flowers.

Ben, you clearly recognize this, so good for you.  Now, as to what you should bring?  Wine is a good bet, although, find out beforehand if they drink.  A teetotaler isn’t going to have much use for a great bottle of Bordeaux.  For a boozehound like myself, it’s hard to imagine living in a dry household (or attending a dry dinner party), but I’ve heard rumors of such dark and sad things in far off places.  Shudder.

If they do drink, bring a bottle of wine.  You don’t have to spend a fortune, either.  You can get a good bottle of wine for $15-20.  Unsure of what constitutes a good bottle?  Go to a reputable wine store, tell an employee your price range and the occasion, and they’ll set you up.

Flowers, too, are a great idea.  Something restrained and tasteful is best, like a simple bouquet of tulips or lilies; you don’t want to haul in something that looks like you just won the Belmont Stakes.  To me, flowers are an “add-on.”  Assuming your host drinks, default to a bottle of wine, and then if you also want to bring flowers, so much the better.  If your host doesn’t drink, flowers are a nice replacement for wine.

Incidentally, I would advise everyone to shy away from food items, unless the host has specifically assigned a dish to you, or told you to bring whatever you want.  I once threw a dinner party where I made a Greek-style pizza with feta, olives, tomatoes and red onions.  A guest who had not checked with me ahead of time showed up with a Greek salad…with feta, olives, tomatoes, and red onions.  Stin igia sou!

–Beth

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