Q: How do you feel about guests bringing cut flowers to a dinner party? A: In a word, ambivalent. Any gift of flowers makes me happy. My spirits always rise...

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Q: How do you feel about guests bringing cut flowers to a dinner party?

A: In a word, ambivalent.

Any gift of flowers makes me happy. My spirits always rise when I see the beautiful colors of the flowers cradled in a guest’s arms, waiting to be given a place of honor at the party.

Yet there’s the rub: No sooner do I admire the blooms than reality sets in with: “Oh, no. Now I have to drop everything, trim the stems, find a vase and find a perfect place to display these.”

The problem is that while I’m genuinely delighted that my guest acknowledges the time and attention that a host invests in a party, I get flustered by last-minute additions and changes.

My own hosting limitations have fine-tuned the definition of “host-friendly” gifts. Cut flowers, as glorious as they are, do not fall into that category. Better to send flowers earlier on the day of the party — allowing time for the host to arrange them. Or better still, send the flowers the day after the party, when the host can relax and enjoy them.

While we’re on the subject of host gifts, be considerate when giving food and wine. As you enter, say to the host: “These are for you to enjoy later, when you can relax.”

In other words, don’t expect the host to serve something you have brought.

Mary Mitchell is a Seattle-based corporate trainer and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette.” E-mail questions to Mary@themitchell.org. Sorry, no personal replies.