Do you bring a gift to your shabbos hosts?

I went to someones house for shabbos a few weeks ago and had the toughest time picking out flowers to bring. I was going to bring roses, but then I felt that if the husband didn’t bring his wife any flowers it would make him look bad, besides they were over $10, so I went with some yellow daisies, still uncertain if the hosts would realize I had bought the cheapest flowers.

I then had a whole conversation with my host, a very interesting newlywed who went over some of the trials and tribulations of his singledom which included the very debate I had with myself at the grocery store. The debate usually goes as follows. :

Flowers or wine? What if they don’t like red wine? Women love it when people bring the moscato diasti in the blue bottle – but in out of town places it costs too much. What if I bring the sweet wine and the family is into wine, they will just stick it in the fridge and forget about it. Flowers, what if they know I bought the cheapest ones? Will they think I don’t care?

I used to bring obnoxious gifts like those huge glass vases in the home goods section of Marshalls or TJMaxx but then I got tired of it, and went back to flowers, you really cant lose with flowers. Wine has its downside, scotch is even worse because I have been noticing a trend within the more modern orthodox crowds of publicly saying they don’t like alcohol even though they have the best kiddush clubs. Beer works with younger crowds, and if you really want to take a risk you could bring desert.

I one time brought a friend with me to my Rebbetzins house and he brought something from Oh Nuts, Oh Nuts is basically an overpriced “frum” candy store which charges exorbitant amounts of money for a plastic container that organizes your jelly beans – one of my rebbetzins daughters went nuts for Oh Nuts and said this guy could come back any time – leading me to believe that if you want to spend lots of money on chocolate covered almonds and jelly beans in a plastic container it will buy you future invitations.

The next question to ask is how long you are staying? Do you bring a gift if you are going for just a meal? Some people only do if they tell them to? I am kind of torn on this one, its only a meal – but lets say I invited myself – which is mostly how I do it, I love inviting myself out, so then I feel a duty to bring something. What if you are staying for a  holiday? It all works into the determination as to what gift you should buy.

I wonder how many people judge you on what type of gift you bring. I can just imagine shidduchim being broken over non-gifts or bad gifts or whatever.

This could also be forum for the hosts to speak out on what not to bring or interesting gifts you have gotten from people.