Okay, here it is, the age-old discussion: what do I bring? You’ve been invited to a friend’s house to hang out, and you ask if you can bring anything. They respond with, “nah, not really, maybe a bag of chips or something.” A bag of chips or something. That’s hardly helpful.
I mean, yes, if you show up with a bag of chips to a casual gathering, no one will be sad; no one will say “ugh, chips are the worst.” Because no one says that, because chips. And no one’s going to be expecting you to show up with wedding catering level apps here. But what if you want to step it up from a bag of chips? Below I’ve compiled some suggestions about what kind of snack you should bring where. (Please note that these are just my own suggestions, and there is absolutely no empirical evidence to back any of this up.) Scenario 1: close friend’s place, just you and the friend
Presumably, if you’re anything like me and my best friend, you could have two spoons and one ice cream tub and you’d be happy campers. This scenario is, I think, the easiest to deal with, because even if you come empty-handed, either she’ll have something to feed you (that is, you’ll just raid the cupboards), or you definitely know where the closest corner store is because you’ve been to her house so often. This is a very low stress level snacking situation.
Scenario 2: close friend’s place with a few strangers
This is a road a little bit less-travelled. You know your friend really well, sure, but then you throw some other people in the mix, and things get a little foggier. Maybe on a regular basis you could eat Cheetos out of the bag together and wipe your hands on your jeans, but you want to make a good impression on the potential friends-to-be.
So, the ideal is something slightly more sophisticated, but not too stuffy. Don’t bring anything that needs the oven. We’re not there yet. Maybe something like pretzels and a homemade dip. The pretzels say “I’m a little classier than Doritos,” and the dip says “I’m a relatively high-functioning adult with whom you should be comfortable making friends.” Even if the second part isn’t true, it’s a good way to fake it. And if you can’t make dip, good fallback is corn chips and salsa. Still a step up from potato chips, which is what we want here.
Scenario 3: party
Parties are actually pretty easy, because, depending on how big it is, no one is really going to know who brought what, so there’s not a whole lot of pressure. “Party” also implies that there will be alcohol involved, so, frankly, people probably won’t be that picky. This is a perfect time to bust out the two-bags-for-seven-bucks potato chip deal. The key is volume. You’re sitting on a couch, laughing, beer in hand, music loud, chatting to someone you may or may not know, and there’s nothing like a bowl of potato chips to complete that picture.
Scenario 4: dinner party
This is an entirely different can of worms. DO NOT confuse a dinner party with a regular party. If someone is going to serve you grilled salmon, and you show up with a bag of Lays, it might make for a pretty awkward evening. Simply put, if you’re being fed dinner, you’ve got to step it up a notch. You definitely have to bring a bottle of wine. Hands down. No question. And don’t cheap out on it. Be an adult, come on, they’re feeding you dinner.
The nice thing about a dinner party is that, depending on whether this is a large affair, you might actually be assigned something to bring. That’s easy. Dessert? Apps? Salad? Bring it on. If you’re not given an assignment, however, I would say that an easy-to-share dessert is a good bet. Something like a cake or brownies. If you know there’s going to be mingling before the meal, a veggie tray (maybe with some homemade dip?) is safe, too. Basically think about what wouldn’t embarrass your parents, and bring that.
I know there are a ton of variations on each of those scenarios, but I hope that my advice helped at least a little. Now it’s time to go out into the world and spread your love of snacks with the masses.
No idea how to make your own dips? No problem. Here’s Greg.