If you are invited to dinner, take something that will not cause work for the hostess or interfere with the hostess’ carefully planned menu. If you wish to send flowers, you can have a florist deliver them beforehand or send some a day or two after the party with a thank–you note. It is perfectly acceptable to take a box of candy, after–dinner mints or a bottle of wine, but the hostess should not be expected to serve them unless they match the meal. The advantage to candies and wine, a perennial favorite, is that they keep well and can always be enjoyed on another occasion.
When invited to a large, formal gathering, it is rather awkward to take a gift at all, because not everyone may take one. It is far better to send something beforehand with a note saying, “Thank you very much for inviting me (us) on Saturday evening. We are looking forward to at–tending.” Or, you might elect to send something afterwards with a note saying, “We had a wonderful time last Saturday evening. Thank you so much for having me (us).”