mine... mine... also mine...

Absolutely. If you’ve thrown a party, you know how much time, effort and money go into it. Bringing a gift for the host can help offset those costs, and it’s a handy way to help yourself get invited back. And by the way, guys, a "host gift" does not have to be something girlie like scented soap. It can be beer and stuff.

So the next question … what should you bring? That depends on how formal the party is and how well you know the host.

For a casual get-together, beverages or food for the party is always a welcome gift. If you don’t know the hosts well, stay away from alcohol in case they don’t drink.

For a gathering that takes more time and planning, think like a party planner: Give a gift the hosts can use at the party
if they’re in a pinch. Some party staples people can always use more of include pitchers,
vases (especially handy if another guest commits the party foul of bringing cut
flowers with no vase; see below), wine openers, wine stoppers, coasters or a CD of party music. Place your unwrapped gift in a party bag filled with tissue paper so the hosts can easily bust it out if necessary.

At a more formal event, bring a gift that lets the host indulge after all of their planning: muffins and tea for the morning after, a bouquet of flowers, a good book or gourmet chocolates. For a really lavish affair hosted by a close friend, spring for a gift certificate for a massage or an after-party clean-up service.

Some gift ground rules to keep in mind:

  • Don’t upstage the host. If you’re bringing food or drink for the party, find out what the host plans to serve and bring something that would complement it. In other words, a flaming baked Alaska would be a tad much at a pizza party.       
  • Don’t add to the host’s stress. If you’re buying flowers, have them arranged in a vase so the host doesn’t have to run around looking for one. If you’re bringing a dish, plate it.
  • Do include a note. Hosts have a million things to think about during a party, and trying to remember who brought those great chocolates will drive them crazy the next day.