When Personal Hospitality Morphs Into A Business Arrangement

by admin on May 28, 2014

My husband and I received this invitation by Evite yesterday. I think it is rude and will not be attending. My husband wants to go to the pool party/ bonfire that night and skip the dinner so we do not have to pay. The people hosting used to be good friends but we have grown apart over the years. I was wondering what Ehell Readers think? We do not have other plans that night, but I really want no part of this. I told my husband to go if he wants but I will be staying home. The invite is below.

“We are excited to host our 1st annual Surf & Turf 4th of July Celebration! This is a new tradition for us as we have been asked by several people to host an event like this!

We’re asking for $25 per couple/family to help cover the cost of the steaks, crab and lobster. Please RSVP YES only if you are certain that will will be attending. We cannot return several of the grocery items if our head count is lower than actual guests who RSVPed Yes!

We will be having a pool party and bonfire after an early dinner. We’ll have hot dogs and chicken nuggets for the kids and sides for everyone. If there’s something specific you want, feel free to bring it. We’ll also have some cocktails, soda and juice but if you have a specific preference please bring it. Also, please bring a blanket or chairs for the bonfire.

Hope to see you there!”

P.S. – We are not of the “several people” that asked them to host and event like this. 0527-14

If the $25/couple fee is to cover solely the steaks, crab and lobster, I’d be inclined to think people were being overcharged.   I can get 2 nice ribeye steaks for the hubby and I for half that price.  For a first time event, they appear to be very extravagant in their food choices.  Seafood and cocktails?  And I think they may have a challenge in keeping track of who paid and who did not and therefore who eats what.   It’s a lot more complicated of a BBQ than I would do because anytime you turn guests into paying customers the dynamics of the relationship changes.   What if there is a freeloader among the guests who did not pay but enjoys a lobster tail?  Or someone is a pig and eats far more seafood than $12.50 worth which deprives other guests of an appropriate amount of seafood? The latter is definitely quite likely to occur and I wouldn’t want to be in the role of “restaurant manager” with my friends refereeing who eats what.

{ 136 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny Islander May 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm

If they had gotten word of an awesome deal on steaks and lobsters, but only in large quantities, then they should’ve just come out and said it–“Hey, gang, if we can get X people together, we can all eat surf’n’turf for cheap!” But in that case, just collect the money, order the steaks and lobsters, and divvy up the boxes. Have a party some other time.

This isn’t anything like a potluck party, at least in my circle. Potluck parties involve knowing people well enough that you can ask them for something that they can eat and also make, or at least buy, while you provide the party space and the roasted beast. So, like, Aunt Tess on a fixed income always makes this one side dish that’s cheap and tasty, and Uncle Silas who does not cook but has disposable income handles the drinks, and so on.

Reply

Rosie May 28, 2014 at 5:48 pm

My first thought was along the lines of many of you, that people should have the parties they can afford. But then I thought of a whole summer of hot dog BBQs without any variety. In some ways, I like that these organizers are willing to try something different so the group of friends can enjoy a special dinner, for frankly not very much money. I’ve heard of a group of wine-loving friends chipping in money to buy some expensive wines for a group tasting, which sounds like a fun idea. We have a group of friends that all celebrate their (non-American) national holiday together, and each family chips in for food and drink for several days of celebrating, instead of putting the burden on one host. But I think event ideas like these should stay with the original group of people that came up with the party idea. If the organizers wanted to extend the group, they could reach out to other individual friends and explain the situation, rather than pitch it as a party over email to many of their friends. With the current setup, it does seem like there is a potential for hurt feelings and unhappy “customers.”

Reply

Rosie B. May 28, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I could see a group of friends agreeing to do something like this: one family hosts and everyone else goes in on the cost of food and drinks. However, those kinds of things have to be organized by prior agreement, and everyone participating should have a say in how things are run. One family coming up with the plan and then volunteering their friends to contribute is rude and entitled.

It’s possible that the “several people” who asked this couple to host the event had offered to pitch in on food and drinks, so the couple figured they could go ahead and ask their other friends to do the same. What they should have done is either limited the guest list to those people or cut waaaaay back on expectations.

Reply

NostalgicGal May 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

All you need is someone to sidle up and mow through the seafood (and there are LOTS of instances of this on e-hell submissions) and the whole charge-for-bit is out the window.

You’d have to literally put stamps on the backs of hands AND have it sit-down with platefuls delivered at a set time to the diners; to keep any sort of control on the food.

I’ve done ‘steaks for adults and dogs and burgers for the kids’ and all the adults wanted dogs and all the kids wanted the steak. Then what?

Two from the annals of e-hell and one of my own… one the person had described two parties they had held, the second one was a professional level ‘others in their profession’ party for 300, and they had paid seriously extra for ‘extra jumbo’ shrimp, done the hide the chairs, put out the small plates and all… and one couple took full sized dinner plates from the cupboard, found the chairs, set up at the buffet table and put a punchbowl of about 600 shrimp between them and ate them all. Anyone that tried to reach for a shrimp literally got growled at by both of the couple. I ran the numbers and appended to the posting that the couple seems to have eaten upwards of 8# of shrimp each. The poster said that they asked the caterer about the shrimp guarantee they’d paid for and the caterer said they’d never seen anything like THAT, and she’d agreed and not made them bring any more. Then there was a party and the hosts grilled marinaded shrimp on skewer and steaks (idea was three shrimp and a steak per person). The fellow put them on the counter while wife was finishing setting up the table; and boyfriend of wife’s sister mowed through 16 skewers of shrimp in a few minutes… when confronted he said he thought they were appetizers–well then why did he eat everyone’s appetizer?–and during the meal he moaned about he was sooooo full (it was said the relationship ended shortly after, the sister was so embarrassed). My story? The one roomie that ate like a moose and had no concept of bounds and took mass quantities of everything (she had a way of doing it FAST too) and no concept of others might like to have some too. [oh she was roomie for about six weeks, we had to confront her about eating way past her share of the communal food and other habits like daily hour long showers that meant the rest of us better heat a pot of water and use the tub; who ordered all the payforview on cable, etc; we finally called her parents who paid us off and moved her out, about the fifth time in two years...(yes we were that desperate and driven to being tossed out ourselves, and her parents were not SS'ing her but getting tired of bailing her)]

Get one of these three going and the event could be more than a disaster. I would say OP, don’t go, and strongly suggest to DH not to go, find your own thing to do together that evening. I honestly think the host couple can provide that food for everyone for that price… I’m expecting a medallion (steak) a chunk (lobster) and several flakes (crab) per person…

Reply

kylynara May 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm

I see this a bit differently. They mentioned several people had asked them to host an event like this. Assuming that is true, I suspect those people knew each other. I’m guessing the OP & hubby, hosts, and couples A, B, C, D, and E all do a lot of stuff together. Most likely hosts have a pool and a clear view of the local fireworks show from their backyard. Three or more of couples ABCD&E came up with the idea of a faux beach party with Surf n Turf while watching fireworks and approached hosts suggesting it as they had the ideal location. Hosts went with it and opted to include OP & hubby as they are part of the bigger group that hangs out together, and didn’t want them to feel excluded should they hear about the event. Probably when it was suggested to hosts it was presented as each couple paying their own way. I’d also speculate that some couples in the group have started having kids and that’s why the group gets together less often than in the past (and some couple are drifting apart as a result), based on the couple/family wording and the children’s menu sounding geared towards young children.

I agree the “hosts” are more organizing than hosting, but in either case a lot of work goes in to having the event at your place.

Most of this is reading between the lines and speculation, but not entirely without reason and I think it puts a whole different spin on the situation. Also possible the hosts assume the OP already knew of the plan from other friends and therefore didn’t explain further in the invite.

Reply

JeanLouiseFinch May 28, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I think a better way to do this party would have been to say that they are providing the grills, plates, plastic ware, certain side dishes, dessert, etc., and then have it be a “bring your own grillable” gathering where people grill their own. They could encourage people to bring a little extra to share if they want to. That way, Mr. and Mrs. Hamburger won’t feel cheated when asked to foot part of the bill for Mr. & Mrs. Lobster tail and the five little Lobster tails. We’ve been to a few picnics like that and we brought piles of marinated pork chops, and foil wrapped garlic bread which are pretty cheap but went over very well. There is always going to be someone cheesy who brings a bag of chocolate chip cookies and proceeds to eat enough for 2-3 people, but at least this way, some people would bring extras. If I were doing this today, I would bring skewers of marinated mushrooms.

Reply

The Elf May 29, 2014 at 8:10 am

“If I were doing this today, I would bring skewers of marinated mushrooms.”

Oh that sounds divine! I’m doing this for my next cook out.

Reply

JeanLouiseFinch May 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm

@ The Elf – I usually get the big mushrooms at Costco, and marinate them overnight. We have quite a few vegan friends, but at our last BBQ party, everyone ate them, even the devoted carnivores. If they are big enough, they are really good served on hamburger buns.

Reply

NostalgicGal May 31, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Recipe? Please?

Reply

EchoGirl May 30, 2014 at 1:40 am

I actually prefer it done this way because it’s really hard for me to find food in a standard barbecue that I’ll eat. I’m vegetarian but also have a series of food sensitivities that will cause me to gag on certain foods — it’s entirely involuntary — and the response when I mention it is “we have veggie burgers for you, stop complaining” (apparently, vegetarians aren’t allowed to have other preferences or food sensitivities — ironically, the people who express this attitude are also the sort who complain if they go to a vegetarian’s house and aren’t served meat, so it’s not a matter of eating what the host serves, it’s a matter of “your vegetarianism is this odd thing, so don’t you dare force it on us by trying to make us cook vegetarian food or by denying us our meat!”). I also don’t tend to eat as much as other people so if I’m paying anyway, I’d rather bring (and thereby pay for) what I’m actually going to eat rather than a cover charge that pays for more than I’m likely to eat.

Reply

NostalgicGal May 31, 2014 at 10:48 pm

I became medical vegan by doctor’s orders. I love my meat. I just can’t have it. I feel better if I don’t (genetic cholesterol that has to be diet controlled). My DH may still eat meat; I don’t mind, I often prepare it for him. I have many allergies and some pretty bad reactions to some of them; most of my club member friends and neighbors have learned that I may very well RSVP then show up and not be able to eat at all. I will still pay for the meal and take it home (DH will eat it); or bring a potluck dish and might bring my own or have to sit it out (recent turn for club, I brought in prime rib roast hat had been smoked, barbequed pulled pork, salads, sides, and dessert. Then I ended up on a ‘fast day’ and got to sit with them and watch them eat.)

If the friends and acquaintances can’t deal with one meal that isn’t meat-centric; I feel sorry for them. I don’t have to bend over backwards; if said friends can’t handle it, I do ‘grill’, buy precooked heatNeat brats and hoagie buns, make some sides, make something I can definitely eat; and it makes everyone happier, and makes it easy on my part. I agree EchoGirl, someone considerate enough to have bought some hockeypucks in the green box is trying…. but that doesn’t mean I like that particular type (or they built it with wheat gluten which I can’t have). You have my sympathies and condolences, EchoGirl, I do understand (just because it says ‘veggie garden burger’ um I’d rather eat the box, that one is rather nasty in my book….) (ymmv)

Reply

danmar7 May 28, 2014 at 9:26 pm

“We have a grill, a patio, and an awesome view of the fireworks. Bring your grill meat of choice and a pot luck side to share.”

At my self-catered wedding reception 20 years ago, part of our buffet included boiled, peeled shrimp as an appetizer. Hand on heart, one guest loaded his plate four times with the shrimp. Everyone was all over the shrimp. Once the shrimp was gone, they all went for the tenderloin.

Yes, we were all under-paid travel industry employees, but modesty in all things when you’re a guest.

Reply

Stacey Frith-Smith May 29, 2014 at 12:32 pm

That is SO hard! This is where an attendant helps. Even a volunteer can dissuade the rude by not surrendering the tongs. Either that or a couple of matriarchs / patriarchs capable of giving “the look” followed by a quiet word if needed. (I know, I know- a quiet word is considered rude. But if it’s my shrimp and tenderloin? A quiet word it may be!) Sigh…stoke the flames.

Reply

NostalgicGal May 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I’ve actually saved clips out of the ehell submissions and comments; about two foods: Shrimp and Salmon (smoked salmon). It seems that these two foods tend to bring out the oink, there always has to be SOMEBODY…

When I could still eat them, breaded shrimp I could eat my weight in, but. Either I made my own; or I went to that one restaurant on ‘steak and all the shrimp you can eat'; DH and I would share in that I gave him my steak, he gave me his shrimp, and I would eat about 3 double orders and grin. At least there I had paid the restaurant for it, they brought me (and DH) more if we wanted it, and I did eat what was brought, no wasting. I wasn’t decimating a buffet either, it was brought to me by portion, so I was not hogging a buffet. There was one place I could order a lovely huge sized portion of ‘ends and bits’ breaded shrimp that was affordable, if I ate there I ordered a double. Again, I paid for what I ate and didn’t stiff off anyone else. IF I was at a situation of buffet or otherwise where others might want some too, I took a reasonable portion and would come back if I knew everyone else had gone by first… just because food is ‘free’ or ‘all you can eat’, one must be civil and consider others!!!!!

Reply

Rebecca May 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I wouldn’t have a problem with this. Sounds like fun. Perhaps the “hosts” have a great home with a large back yard and pool, which would be a great location for a July 4th party. And the steak and lobster sound fantastic, but I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to provide that for an entire party. I’d be happy just to be invited to their home to celebrate.

Reply

kit May 29, 2014 at 1:12 am

Now you got me seriously scared. I’ll be providing place for a party in a week or so, and now I’d like to know what kind of etiquettes I’m breaching.

Background: we attend an art studio of our local culture house. We meet every Saturday and spend 4 hours painting or drawing (what to use is everyone’s own choice), with a coffee break, for which everyone brings something – cookies, homemade pie, baby carrots, cheese, whatever. No tabs are kept on who brings how much and eats what, but our coffee break cupboard tends to overflow rather than to get empty. We chip in for coffee and expenses like buying flowers whenever some other group in the same culture house has a celebration, an euro a month. I should maybe mention that we have to just buy our own materials we use – the teacher’s salary and place are provided by municipality.

Now, there will be a long summer break, and before that, we’ll have one last “session” – “en plein air” we call it, which actually means we go to someone’s house and skip the painting part whatsoever, coffee break only. ;) This year we agreed it will be at my place. I can’t say I’m hosting it because everyone will bring something; but I understand from EHell that it isn’t a potluck, either, as what kind of items everyone will bring will be decided beforehand (fruit, cheese, ice cream, pies, and so on). In earlier years, I have usually brought fruit (and at least $25 worth of different kinds, too), this year, as it is my house, I will suggest I’ll take care of meat. So, what am I? Organizer (but really, it is the teacher who is organizing things like who brings what)? Host? Place-provider?

Reply

bloo May 29, 2014 at 7:30 am

I don’t think you need to give another thought to this. Your situation is an established group. You all take turns organizing and there are set standards that everyone in the group has, presumably, agreed to.

The LW in the OP is talking about friends in her society or those she socializes with. This isn’t a situation where everyone is taking a turn with. It’s just poor hospitality by the OP’s friend.

You have my permission to say host/organizer! :)

We’ve hosted/organized huge fish-frys for anywhere from 120-250 people at our house. We provide the fish*, the frying oil, homemade tartar sauce, malt vinegar, ketchup, a base amount of plates, cups, napkins and plastic utensils and ask everyone else to bring a dish. Now a ‘dish’ could be cups, plates, ice, a bag of French fries, etc. This is organized by categories. In the invitation we state ‘bring a dish if you’re able’ (it really is okay if someone can’t contribute because in our social circle we always end up with too much food) and then I have a couple girlfriends that volunteer as contact information so when someone asks what they can bring, they are told, ‘we have these categories open. What are you able to contribute?’ That info is taken down so we don’t have 20 potato salads, but no forks.

So we are providing a lot, but we are also organizing the generous help of our friends. Instituting a cover charge would have DH pulling out the smelling salts.

*DH catches and cleans all the fish. Our last party we used 70 lbs of filets. We rinse, trim and vacu-seal them. It is a lot of work, especially for DH. It is also a labor of love and it would be very $$$ if we had to purchase the same quality of fish (and no, the frozen bags of Orange Roughy at Sam’s Club are not the same quality). The fish we catch can’t generally be purchased and it is not legal for us to sell it but DH has been told by other fishermen that do sell it illegally that they charge $15/lb for filets.

Reply

KarenK May 29, 2014 at 7:57 am

See, I think in theory the “just bring anything you want” true potluck is romantic and exciting. No one knows what you’ll end up with!

I see nothing wrong with a bit of organizing around potlucks. It ensures that a variety of foods will be available and you don’t get 20 desserts or 20 cheese platters. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

I think an established group of people, like your group, families, or a bunch of co-workers, are allowed to do this. It actually ends up being a tradition. Each person has their special dish that they bring.

Reply

The Elf May 29, 2014 at 8:15 am

I’d say you’re more of a “place-provider” than anything else. All the arrangements for the party are made by the group, which makes it more potluck than anything else (minus the luck!). The “host” provides the place and a main dish instead of a side dish, and rotates yearly. Makes sense to me. I don’t think you’re breaching any etiquette rules, and it sounds like a lot of fun. Plus I love that the group is centered around common interest.

Reply

Steve May 29, 2014 at 9:19 am

You’re the owner of the venue. Separately, you’re a guest. That’s all.

So the only thing you get to do differently as the venue owner is decide things that specifically pertain to the use of your house. “Please don’t go upstairs. Here are the chairs to use. The powder room is that way.” That kind of thing. You can also decorate if you want–a few flowers or a nice tablecloth.

But no pretensions of being a host. You wouldn’t get to issue “invitations,” decide the order and course of events at the party, determine the menu, etc. I’d even side-eye you thanking people for coming unless you did it the right way.

BTW it’s fine to have people sign up in advance for specific courses at a potluck as long as it’s part of a group decision-making process. But it is not OK to say, “I’m hosting a potluck! You bring the filet mignon!”

Reply

Kendra May 29, 2014 at 9:25 am

I think you are still having a pot luck. It’s just an organized pot luck. It doesn’t sound like anyone is dictating what someone else should bring, just stating what needs to be brought so people know what to volunteer to bring. I don’t see that you are breaking any etiquette rules.

Reply

Library Diva May 29, 2014 at 9:31 am

I think you are a place-provider, and I think you are fine. Make sure your bathroom is clean and well-stocked with essentials, and you’ve fulfilled your role IMO!

Reply

Tracy W May 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I figure the hosts of a party are the ones who greet people as they arrive, know where people should put their coats, introduce people to others they might like to talk to, rescue wallflowers, do any timing stuff (eg speeches/cake), etc.

Reply

JO May 29, 2014 at 5:51 am

If it were me, I would either go or not. If you choose to attend one part of the evening, you will undoubtedly be pressed to explain yourself for skipping dinner, and this creates a setup for a very awkward situation. If you want to see your friends and have a good time, pony up and go. Otherwise, avoid the whole thing. I hate e-vites myself, but it sounds like they were trying to keep it more informal. And yes, it’s rude to host a party and ask your guests to pay. But I doubt your avoiding this gathering will teach them that lesson.

Reply

Anonymous May 29, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Explain yourself for skipping dinner? Don’t people use “polite fiction” anymore? If people ask why you skipped dinner, then you just say that you had a “prior commitment,” and then change the subject. If they continue to press, then they’re the rude ones, not you.

Reply

JO May 30, 2014 at 5:02 am

I agree with you. But these “hosts” have already proven themselves to be the rude ones, so why wouldn’t they press?

Reply

Ruby May 29, 2014 at 6:15 am

What’s with the separate food for the kids? I know it’s intended as a cost-saving measure, but my kids have always eaten the same food as us. There have never been any “kids” food in our home. If they attended that cook-out, they would salivate over the seafood and steak, and feel cheated with hot dogs and chicken nuggets. And now that they’re teenagers, my son can eat more than most adults. On that basis alone, I would decline the invitation.

Reply

Mary May 29, 2014 at 12:34 pm

My youngest would want a hot dog or nuggets. My oldest would have felt cheated from age two in if she didn’t get seafood or steak.

Reply

Rebecca May 29, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I agree. I don’t even have kids, but I remember being a kid. Maybe for toddlers it would be one thing, but older children can tell the difference. And what exactly is the age cut-off for steak and lobster vs cheap low-quality junk food? This one gets steak because he’s 17, but his 14-year-old brother gets hot dogs?

Reply

NostalgicGal May 29, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I’ve done it as a ‘maybe the kids don’t want the steak’ bit, I know as a small I would rather have the hotdog or burger than a steak, when I hit tweens I got into steak… but. I had enough in case everyone decided on steak or the hotdogs or what have you. Just might have to load a second pass on the grill and take some stuff off that isn’t desired and finish that up at the end.

It’s nice to provide the alternate, but be prepared that everyone picks one thing and have enough of all your offerings. (on my whole corn on cob roasted in husk, I make sure to count two for each person, as they always go over well, and toss a few more on just because. If I make one each I have disappointed guests I have learned, so.)

Reply

ddwwylm May 29, 2014 at 3:27 pm

My 7 year old would cry if there was lobster and she was served a hot dog. She would be the one trying to get more than her share of lobster. That said though, neither of my kids would eat steak. I’ve hosted dinners before I had children when I didn’t have a kid option and it was obvious that the kids did not like or eat much of the dinner, and I felt bad, so I can see wanting to make sure there is enough to satisfy little tastebuds as well.

Reply

kingsrings May 31, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Exactly! With this kind of set-up, there are just too many rules and “what if” situations and variables to make this the fun, social event that it’s supposed to be. The price tag on this event that everyone has to pay invites all these difficulties that it entails. Who gets what, age cut-offs, the condition of the food (can I send what I paid $25 back if I don’t like it and demand something different?), etc. So not worth it.

Reply

AnnaMontana May 29, 2014 at 8:07 am

I think this is rude and obnoxious. Even if they have been asked to hostess a party like this, if you can’t afford it, then do it cheaper. Invite less people (seriously, a MASS e-mail as invites to a posh surf n turf dinner parts, WTF?) or buy cheaper food. However, having said this, my parents have a party once a year which has been organized in a specific way, as they are OLD friends. Essentially 4 couples, including my parents arrange New Year’s Eve so that each year we have starter at one house, main at another and dessert/fireworks and games at the last. Whomever is hosting the final part is not asked to host the next year and they rotate the couples around, so everyone subsumes the cost together. This is established and no one pays anything, other than the hosting couples. Myself, DH and the rest of the ‘kids’ provide alcohol/drinks for the entire event and we have done that since I and the other eldest children have been old enough to work and pay for drinks.
On another note, I have been invited to a friends’ 4th of July party. He thought it would be a nice, fun thing to do before I have to disappear a bit, as I am expecting our baby in a few months’ time. I am planning on attending, but will be leaving early as I am so tired, as well as bringing a few bottles of my favourite non-alcoholic wine as a gift for him. He is not expecting any guests to provide anything. That to me is the way of having a party without breaking your bank or imposing on your guests. They will feel more comfortable not feeling forced to pay for your party.
In conclusion: how rude!

Reply

Margo May 29, 2014 at 8:13 am

I think that the main point in favour here is that the hosts are quite clear about what they are inviting you to. There is no bait nad switch.
I’d read the charge as being not a set amount for the food you will eat, more a case of ‘based on who we’ve invited, this will allow us to get in the extra goodies without breaking the bank – I would assume that it is allowing them to provide lobster, steak,sides and drinks, not that you are ‘buying’ a lobster or a steak. Yes, if they are asking a single person to contribute the same amount as a family of 5 then that isn’t fair,but it is at least clear, and you can accept or decline based on your views about it.

I think it would be very rude to go to the pool part and not the meal part of the event. You were not invited to a pool party or pool party + dinner. You were invited to a dinner followed by a pool party. You accept the whole thing, or you decline the whole thing. (unless of course the hosts specifically tell you that it is OK to come just for the pool party)

Reply

Anonymous May 31, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I don’t think it’s rude to ASK if you can attend just the pool party, or just the dinner. I mean, some people have other things they have to do, and therefore can’t attend the whole event. Some people (like me) love to swim, but don’t eat meat, and therefore wouldn’t be able to partake in surf and turf. Other people eat meat, but can’t swim. Still others can’t afford $25 per couple for a meal at a friend’s house. Maybe it doesn’t follow the exact rules of etiquette to accept only part of an invitation, but presumably, if your friends like you, they’ll want to see you for whatever part of the event you can attend, right? I mean, it’d be rude to just show up for part of the event, but if you tell them beforehand why you can only do part of it, and ask if this is okay, then that’s not rudeness; that’s communicating between friends.

Reply

JD May 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

Two comments:
I will never charge my guests to anything I host.

Kids forced to watch adults eat steak and seafood while “satisfying” themselves with hot dogs and nuggets will possibly set the hosts’ house on fire with fireworks later.

Reply

Margaret May 29, 2014 at 11:13 am

Regarding chairs — where I live, it is the norm to ask people to bring their own lawn chairs to an outdoor event (exception being the ceremony of outdoor weddings). In fact, I generally carry lawn chairs for the whole family in the back of my vehicle all summer — handy for soccer and ball games (especially soccer as there is almost never spectator seating), going to the beach, bonfires, etc.

Reply

Molly May 29, 2014 at 11:39 am

Either pay and go or don’t go but don’t waste your time being outraged. I would probably pay up and go and figure that since I didn’t have to organize anything, clean anything, buy anything and I get to spend a fun day with my friends it would be $25 well spent. People just do things differently and perhaps they did have a group that requested this type of party with higher class foods and maybe they liked you and just wanted to give you the opportunity to join in.

Would you have been similarly outraged if you found out there was a fun event (complete with swimming and bonfire) and you weren’t even asked if you’d be interested?

Reply

Shalamar May 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Seems that we’ve all got our Greedy Pig stories – here’s one of mine.

When my husband and I had our first daughter, we invited our friends (husband and wife) over to see the baby. Being exhausted new parents, we didn’t feel like cooking, so we told our friends that we’d order in some fried chicken from KFC. Our friends arrived shortly after the food did, and this happened:

Husband Friend: Oh, you ordered dinner? We didn’t know you were going to do that. We already ate.
Me: Uh, we told you we were going to do that …
Husband Friend: Oh, yeah, now I remember. I guess I could eat some chicken.
Me: Okay. (Thinking “Cool – we’ll have some leftovers for tomorrow night’s dinner.”)

Well, he proceeded to stuff himself with more chicken than anybody. Forget leftovers – my husband and I were lucky to get any at all. I couldn’t help but wonder how much Husband Friend would’ve eaten if he HAD been hungry!

Reply

Anonymous June 1, 2014 at 10:48 am

Hmm……I’m not a doctor, so I’m not diagnosing anything, but I’ve had some food issues in the past (long story), and this looks like it might be indicative of an eating disorder of some kind. Maybe the husband said he’d eaten beforehand in order to discourage the ordering of the chicken, so he wouldn’t be confronted with his demon (food) in front of other people. Maybe he knew he couldn’t control himself in that situation, and then maybe he binged on the chicken because he, well, couldn’t control himself. Maybe he threw it up when he got home. So, yes, his behaviour was rude on the face of it, but when I read that story, I saw a bit of “sick” mixed in with the “rude.”

Reply

LonelyHound May 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm

See this just rubs me the wrong way no matter how you slice it. Guests are being asked to foot the bill, and charging a flat rate does not seem right. Like someone pointed out it is $25 for 1 person and $25 for a 6 person family. Also, if anyone has small kids this could be hard. There have been times we have RSVPed to an event to have to beg out the day of because of a sick kid. I would want my $25 back since I would not be attending if I had to pre-pay.
I have been to plenty of parties (and hosted one of my own) where the hosts had limited means. My wedding reception was a BBQ the day before my wedding (my wedding was a weekday and to allow people to get back home to go to work the day after our wedding we held festivities the night before). We reanted chairs, had a bonfire, spelled out what would be cooked in the invite, bought veggie burgers for the veggies in attendance, and supplied microbrewed beer and soda. We bought everything. A friend had a 4th of July party where the family pitched in and paid for their friends to come hang out. They rented a hot dog cart, had sno-cones, popcorn, beer, cotton candy, sodas and sides. We asked the hosts if there was anything we could do or bring, and were told no. I have never been charged to go to a party and most of the potlucks I have been to the person organizing them has provided the majority of the spread just in case someone forgets to bring something.

Seems odd to me to charge for a party you cannot afford to host anyways.

Reply

Ellex May 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm

I’d go, drop thirty bucks in the bucket, and have a ball. It sounds like a lot of fun to me. Life’s too short to get wrapped around the axel about a block party.

Reply

Pixi May 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I remember when my then boyfriend and I moved out of his mother’s house into an apartment we were sharing with three other men. We wanted to host a combination housewarming/Halloween party. I put so much effort into providing veggie trays, fruit trays, cheese trays, bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, assorted deli meats, you name it. I think we asked for a financial contribution from our housemates because they were also inviting their friends to the event, but the hubby and I footed the majority of the bill.

The night of the party one of our housemates put out a contribution bucket and I was appalled. You don’t ask guests to pay! I objected most vocally, but he insisted and said, “well, then it’s for my guests.”

To this day almost ten years later it still bugs me. As for potlucks, those can be fun. But I always phrase invites with “we will of course provide x,y, and z if you wish to bring something please do, but don’t feel obligated. “

Reply

Daphne May 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Wow! What a jerk! I hope you were at least able to tell your guests the bucket was all his idea, and that you didn’t want/need their contributions. And I totally understand, it would probably bug me for years too!

Reply

Pixi June 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

If I remember correctly I managed to move the bucket into a discrete corner and by the next morning (one of my few parties that actually had people there until the next day!) it had managed to accumulate maybe fifty cents.

The housemate in question had a very old fashioned, old world, Greek mentality as to what the proper role for a woman, and would often disregard me.

Reply

Jackie May 31, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Add me to the “not rude” contingent. Reading between the lines, the picture I get is that the couple issuing the invitation have a nice property (clearly a swimming pool, maybe a fire pit?) that lends itself to a BBQ/pool party. A smaller group of friends probably came up with the idea of the July 4th event, thinking it would be nice to up the food quality a bit by everyone pitching in to help cover the cost. And it was thought to extend the idea to the couple’s (or group’s) larger circle of friends.

While I agree that the invitation itself could probably have been worded better, in the absence of any previous indication that the couple have sub-par social skills/etiquette, I tend to believe the best of people that I consider friends, or even friendly acquaintances. If DH and I received this type of invitation from someone in our social circle that we haven’t seen much of lately, I would interpret it as “big party, we like you guys, we haven’t seen you for a while, come celebrate the holiday with us and a bunch of other people you know. We’re all pitching in to have an extra-special meal”.

Bottom line, IMHO it is different from a standard pot luck in the details, but not the intent. And the details are spelled out, it’s not a bait and switch. A number of posters have raised concerns about people eating more than their share, other people not getting their money’s worth (so to speak), children feeling excluded, etc. While these are not invalid concerns, I would also trust the people issuing the invitation to “know their audience”. The original letter writer stated that it was an E-vite, but that doesn’t translate to “mass gathering of random strangers”.

Yes, the couple used the word “host”. And the invitation doesn’t fall under the strict “we are hosting and thereby providing everything”. But, honestly? I don’t think most people hear “host” and interpret it that narrowly. The couple are offering their property, their swimming pool, their cooking and clean-up time, drinks, sides, other foods, presumably dishes, and everything else that goes along with hosting. But in order for the group to have the special meal, the expensive items are a joint purchase. It might not be how it’s usually done, but in the circumstances I personally don’t think it’s a terrible etiquette breach.

Reply

Erin June 4, 2014 at 10:13 pm

While I KNOW this scenario breaks all sorts of etiquette rules on hosting, I don’t think I can be too upset by it. Where I live you can’t even get a cocktail for $12 at a restaurant, so $25 per family for steak, lobster, sides, cocktails, dessert sounds like a steal. It’s not like he’s making a profit and I wouldn’t mind helping to defray the costs. But my group of friends are all struggling grad school students or young professionals used to paying their own way or doing pot lucks or we wouldn’t be able to have parties/celebrations at all…

Reply

Amy June 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

I agree- $25 is a lot if it’s just for the meat/lobster, but if it includes cocktails and your kids’ food, think of it this way: the low-end of surf & turf at a restaurant would be somewhere in the mid $20s, plus wine or a cocktail, another $7 minimum. Day pass at a pool, say $10 per person. You’re essentially getting all of that for $25, not bad!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: