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It’s the festive season, and your calendar is filled to the brim with social events, many of them house parties. Of course, you can’t arrive at their doorstep empty-handed, but what should you bring? Nothing’s more awkward than you showing up with an inappropriate gift, or something that screams cheap and #noeffort (by that, we mean free company products!).

Don’t commit gifting faux pas with the typical excuse of “I tried my best” or the perennial “I had no time”. Below, a list of gift ideas that’ll help you avoid making such mistakes. Sorted by five different types of parties, consider these to impress your host and show your appreciation.

1. Intimate dinner party

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When it comes to gifting for a dinner party, the common mistake that many make is to give your hostess a bottle of wine. Unless she mentions that it will be a potluck party, never show up to their apartment cheerily with booze, or worse, food. Such parties usually entail a carefully crafted menu, down to specific wine pairings for each course, so your gift will probably not make it to the table. Instead of getting something that complements the dinner, present a gift with the host or hostess in mind. Some examples:

  • A bouquet of flowers for decoration, based on her preferences.
  • A tin of cookies if she has a sweet tooth.
  • Condiments, to spice up her home-cooked meals.
  • Decorative scented candles, for that extra ambience.
  • Artisan bar soaps, for an enjoyable bath.

2. Holiday party

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Holiday parties are usually boisterous affairs and rollicking good fun. Such shindigs are where you can bring alcoholic beverages — the more the merrier — since bubbly and wines are pretty much the first to run out. Still, it doesn’t mean crates of booze is the only thing you can cart to a holiday party. Keep in mind who your recipient is, and your relationship with him or her. If he or she is your bestie, any holiday-themed gimmicky items work. The same does not apply if your boss is the one doing the hosting. For the latter — sophistication wins. Some examples:

  • Booze. It boils down to your host’s preference, but steer clear of the bargain bin. Go for flavored liqueur for something extra special.
  • A few boxes of holiday-themed cookies or candies for late night snacking.
  • Elegant gift baskets that are decorated according to the festive season.
  • Coffee-table books or cook books to adorn their table tops.
  • Themed accessories (i.e. Santa hats on Christmas and “2019” glasses for New Year’s Eve) to celebrate the festivities with a bang — but only for good pals.

3. Housewarming party

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It’s a brand new pad, so getting your host something that jazzes up the interior will be a sure win. Bonus points if it’s personalised. We suggest you do your research first. Try to get an idea of what your host’s taste in decor is like — is she a minimalist or is she a fan of Baroque art? Is she into Japanese zen or does she like quirky home-ware? Finding out the colour scheme of her newly furnished home is also a good way to start. Get something that complements her home, instead of standing out like a sore thumb. Some examples:

  • Wine glasses or glassware. Better still if they are engraved with their names.
  • A set of tools that will be handy in times of need.
  • Hand towels that match the bathroom’s colour scheme.
  • Mini potted plants that will add splashes of green to a monochrome room.
  • Classy art pieces or ornaments that can be the centrepiece of the room.

4. Meeting your future in-laws party

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Meeting your future in-laws for the first time can be nerve-wrecking. After all, their first impression of you is the one that truly matters. To avoid getting on their blacklist, you should never show up empty-handed. Check with your partner on their likes and dislikes and make sure that your gift shows that some effort has been put into it. Remember, there’s no need to overdo it with pricey and flashy items. His or her parents would simply appreciate a thoughtful gesture. Some examples:

  • A basket of wine and cheese for something elegant and delicious.
  • A vase of beautifully decorated and artistically arranged flowers for their dining table.
  • Potted herbs, if they are into cooking.
  • Artisan coffee or tea with a few boxes of baked goods for a hearty afternoon tea.
  • Monogrammed items, like journals or cushions, for that extra touch.

5. Sleepover party

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Since your hostess will be accommodating you for an overnight stay, it’s only polite to bring a gift that expresses your gratitude. After all, she’ll be taking care of your meals, the bedspreads and the cleaning after. For an extra sweet gesture, your gift can be something you can both use during the sleepover, but make sure it’s luxurious and fun, not cheap hotel samples or drugstore offerings. You can also go the extra mile and include gifts that your hostess can enjoy in the future. Some examples:

  • Spa vouchers for the gift of relaxation.
  • Massage deals to pamper your pal.
  • Fresh linen spreads or bath robes you can both enjoy during your stay.
  • Artisanal hand soaps for sweet smelling baths.
  • A gourmet food basket with a bottle of wine for peckish days.