Hosting Thanksgiving is no small undertaking. As a guest, it’s thoughtful to offer your help by asking what you can bring to the celebration. Some hostesses will respond with a request that you bring a bottle of wine or a dish to contribute, but many others will not. If this is the case, there are other ways to show your gratitude.
For help answering the question of what one should bring when your host says “bring nothing,” we reached out to etiquette expert Jeremiah Tower, legendary California chef and the author of the book, Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother.
“When the hostess says ‘bring nothing,’ she might even mean it,” Tower told us. “Bringing presents to the event can be more work for the hostess. Send flowers before, after researching the right kind and color, or after—then you will have seen what flowers were at the event and will know what kind to send.”
He makes a solid point: Your host or hostess is likely to be busy welcoming guests and tending to the holiday spread. While arriving with a gift in hand is a thoughtful gesture, sending fresh-cut flowers at a less frenzied time is an even more considerate choice. Not only will the delivery provide an appreciated surprise, but he or she will also be better able to enjoy their beauty without the distraction of keeping the big meal on track.