When friends or family members choose to open their homes to others, it is customary for guests to offer a gift of thanks in return.

There is the old adage that guests should "knock with their feet" when arriving at a party or social event. This means their hands will be busy carrying a gift or something that can contribute to the event.

Although presenting a gift to the hosts will not guarantee a future invite, it certainly will show the current invitation has been much appreciated.

There are many gifts that can be offered. Some guests choose to bring a dish that can be served or a dessert. Bottles of wine will always fit the bill, unless it is a dry household. However, those looking for other unique ideas can consider the following gift concepts.

1. Picture frame: If the party host is known well -- as is his or her design style -- purchase a picture frame that fits in with the decor. A silver or black frame is generally neutral and can be a go-to choice if one is not certain of the style.

2. Guest book: Having guests sign a book at a wedding or other big event is a customary tradition. The idea can also be applied to smaller gatherings. Hosts and hostesses may want to keep track of those whom they have invited to their homes and re-read in the future the small notes of gratitude that have been expressed by guests.

3. Candles: Candles impart a warm glow in the house, and a decorative set of candleholders and some scented candles can be a wise gift idea.

4. Fine chocolates: Gourmet chocolates will appeal to the sweet tooth in many people. A hostess can choose to keep the chocolates to herself or serve them to the rest of the guests. Select a higher-end brand of chocolates, not simply the standard that is found at the nearest drug store.

5. Houseplant: A decorative houseplant can brighten a home's interior. Plus it's a gift that will grow year after year and can make for a fond memory of a special occasion.

6. Cookbook and cooking supplies: If the party host is a resident gourmand, treat him or her to a cookbook from a favorite chef and include some tools of the trade in a gift basket.

7. High-end linens: A thoughtful gift is a set of monogrammed hand towels for the bathroom or kitchen. Find a company that does monogramming, or purchase the towels separately and then bring them to a kiosk in the mall that does embroidery.

8. Handmade gift: Guests may want to offer a gift from their own kitchens. For example, if someone is known for her decadent brownies, a platter wrapped in cellophane would make a fine hostess gift.

While hosts and hostesses can be in receipt of gifts, it is by no means mandatory. On the flip side, hosts and hostesses can also offer their guests a parting favor as a thank-you for enjoying the event. Food favors or other small knick-knacks are considerations.