Yesterday for Easter, I spent the whole day with my aunt, uncle and cousins. We went to church in the morning and then came back and had some breakfast. I played some Portal 2 with my cousin (sweet game), and then we headed to a neighbor’s house for an Easter brunch. There were about five or six families over there, and when it came time to eat, I was sitting at one of the kids tables.

My 26th birthday is less than two weeks away, and I was at the kids table.

This is a pretty common occurrence for me. I’m actually happy to be at the kids table. Even though I was the oldest “kid” there, I am much closer in age to all of the other kids. Plus I really didn’t want to be responsible for the “adult” responsibility of bringing a dish of the host’s choosing to the party.

If you are ever invited to a house party, you should always offer to bring a dish. The key here is whether you are the one invited to the party. If the invitation is to your parents + family, then you are a kid and just have to show up.

“Kid” Can Mean Many Things

A 25 year old “kid” has more responsibility for “just showing up” than a high school kid or younger. It is always a good idea to show up with a gift when you go to someone’s house. A bottle of wine is usually a good choice, but make sure to find out if the hosts like wine, and if so, what kind they prefer. If you know the hosts well enough to get a more personalized gift, that’s even better, but it usually shouldn’t cost more than $10 to $20.

little kid

photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/roxinasz

I’m actually a dummy and forgot to bring a gift yesterday. I would usually grab it on the way over, but I left for church at 6:30 AM and you can’t buy wine until noon on Sundays in Dallas. I can try to atone for my mistake by following up with a hand-written thank you card. It’s the right thing to do and it let’s them know that you truly appreciate being welcomed into their home.

I am by no means an expert on manners, but here are my personal thoughts on bringing things to house parties.

  • If you are in high school or younger, you are never expected to bring anything.
  • If you are in college you still aren’t expected to bring anything. However, if you don’t know the family well then I would recommend following up with a thank you note. (for example, none of my college-age cousins who have grown up with these neighbors need to send a note) However, since I don’t know the host family very well, I should send a thank you note even if I were a freshman in college.
  • If you are out of college you should bring a small gift ($10-$20), such as a bottle of wine. Following up with a thank you note is usually a good idea as well. If you brought a stranger (ie significant other), the gift and thank you note are even more important.
  • When you become a real “adult” and start bringing a dish, it is still nice to bring a gift. However, the gift can usually be smaller, and may even be more food (like a special desert you weren’t asked to bring). A thank you note is always a nice touch as well, even to good friends. It lets them know you appreciate them opening their house to you and your family.

As a young person transitioning into being an adult, it can be hard to know what you are supposed to do. Most of us weren’t taught these manners, so it’s up to us to figure out how to be courteous on our own. If you really want to get it right, I suggest reading Emily Post’s Etiquette or, for my gender challenged friends, Essential Manners for Men. Manners seem to be a lost art in modern America, and you can really make a good impression by having them.

Now I’m off to write a “Thank You” note and at least do something right after I forgot a gift yesterday.