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Thanksgiving gift giving

By Amelia Ross, producer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Although Thanksgiving is not a traditional gift giving holiday like Christmas, Hannukah or even Valentine's Day, if you are invited to someone's house for the holiday dinner, you won't want to show up empty handed.

First off ask the host or hostess if you should bring something.

If your host asks that you bring a dish but your skills in the kitchen are modest at best, admit that your own skills need some polishing and ask if you can bring a dessert. Search out the best bakery in the area and buy a traditional Thanksgiving dessert -- perhaps a pumpkin or pecan pie.

Or if dessert has already been planned, you could offer to bring drinks or a purchased side dish. But tread lightly: You don't want to bring anything that makes the hostess feel that she has to display it prominently, or even serve it.

"You can bring special food items -- gourmet crackers, chutneys, unique items that you would find at a gourmet stores," says Susie Coelho, lifestyle expert and author. "Or a small box of exquisite truffles. Something that doesn't have to be served at the meal."

If your host doesn't need you to bring food or drink, bring a hostess gift. Although Peggy Post director of Emily Post Institute Emily and Emily Post's great granddaughter-in-law, prefers a simple thank-you note.

"Although I approve of hostess gifts, I'd much rather receive a thank-you note after and skip the gift," she says. "Or send flowers the next day -- that also used to be traditional," Post added.

Coelho, however, disagrees: "No flowers the next day; it's so old fashioned," Coehlo says.

"Bring flowers or a plant. If it's flowers, pick just one single flower variety depending what's in season. Do not bring a bouquet from the supermarket. Bring a white orchid if you are bringing a plant, it will last up to three months," Coehlo suggests.

Talkback: What sort of Thanksgiving hostess gifts have you given? To top of page

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