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With the world of socializing back open safely (with precautions, of course), your schedule is getting full again. Whether you miss having a social life or not, it’s time to get out of your pajamas and say yes to some of the invites you’re getting.

This also means trying to figure out what to bring so you don’t show up empty-handed. Your go-to dish is your perfected brownie recipe, but that’s not always appropriate—is it?

While most people do love a delicious homemade brownie, the reality is that it’s not always the right host/hostess gift. And if you were planning on making a traditional “pot brownie” with recipes like this one from Veriheal, you have to be extra careful who gets them.

As you’re trying to get ready for this year’s social season, use this list to decide when brownies are okay and when to go with something else instead.

1. Meals

Invitations to get together for a meal are the most common. Whether it’s okay to bring brownies or not depends on the time of day.

This one is pretty standard. We’d all love to eat dessert for breakfast and lunch, but the rest of our day would be a downhill sugar crash.

When you’re headed to socialize over a meal, you can bring brownies for anything after 3 p.m. Before that time, it’s considered breakfast, brunch, and lunch.

Mimosas are appropriate if it’s a kid-free meeting; desserts are not. It’s not a bad trade-off, though!

2. Game Night

Are you ready for some football? Or an evening of cards and board games?

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Virtual games were used as a way to stay connected during the pandemic, and their popularity has only increased since then. Even Oprah has her favorite suggestions of friendly games.

From watching the big sporting events on TV to kicking it old-school with Monopoly and Pictionary, game nights are always fun. And they’re also always perfectly paired with brownies. The “enhanced” kind is allowed here, as long as you know the group you’re with is good with it.

3. Bridal Shower

Bridal showers are an occasion where you need to tread cautiously with your gift. If the host asks for guests to volunteer to bring food, you can quickly RSVP to make brownies.

You’ll also be expected to have an actual present for the happy bride, so keep that in mind.

Without a specific request, though, skip the brownies here.

4. Baby Shower

The same rules apply to a baby shower as to a bridal shower. If no one requests you to bring food, assume there’s already enough planned.

You can offer, of course, yet, most hosts will provide refreshments.

Focus on picking out adorable gifts for the little one on the way. It’s always more fun to shop for babies than to bake, anyway!

5. Adult Birthday

Choosing what to bring for an adult birthday party gives you a lot more freedom. Adults always love brownies (and most of us will appreciate your special recipe, too).

Does the invitation specify “no gifts”? Brownies don’t count as a present. Just make sure you use a disposable pan, so they aren’t dealing with remembering to give your good one back.

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If gifts are welcome, get what you’d normally have given the birthday person. Then, decide if you want to add the expense of baking, too.

6. Child’s Birthday

For kids, it’s a good idea to bring presents from the wish list they probably provided.

If you know the parents, you can ask if they need help with any of the prep work, like food (a.k.a., brownies). Otherwise, stick with getting the best gift for the birthday boy or girl you can.

7. Tea Party

An invitation to a tea party might sound dull, but it can be a lot of fun! Garden tea parties, hosted on a porch or backyard, have become more popular than ever because of the “outdoors” venue.

Typically occurring between meals, a tea party includes light refreshments. The idea behind these gatherings is to stave off hunger until it’s time for a normal meal.

You can volunteer to bring brownies as one of the finger foods offered. However, if the host is going all-out on the English tea party, they’ll probably serve scones and other traditional items instead.

8. Holiday Party

For any holiday party, gifts are usually optional. Showing up with brownies is most likely safe unless the gathering is already catered.

Just make sure you bring enough for everyone, which might mean calling the host to find out how many guests they expect.


Tea parties, birthdays, and plain old get-togethers are filling your schedule. It’s a great time to socialize again, and we all appreciate getting back to normal.

Should you load up on ingredients to make your brownies for every event? Only if it’s on this list as an approved gift!