Money Greases The Wheels of Hospitality

by admin on February 2, 2010

I was recently contacted by my husband’s sister (Jackie) to help with a baby shower for her daughter-in-law.  I am not really friends with the mom-to-be (Sandra)  but I do like her husband who is friends with my husband.  I was going to decline when the father-to-be (Keith) asked me to get involved to “make the event nicer”.  I was an event coordinator years ago and love to throw parties. I agreed and spent several hours coming up with a few different themes and ideas and even went to the trouble to make quick idea boards so they could get a nice visual.  Sandra agreed on one without much enthusiasm. I knew she liked Winnie the Pooh so I reworked the ideas to incorporate Classic Winnie the Pooh decorations.  They were much happier with that.  Keith & Sandra designed their own invitations which were so tacky I had to re-do them.  The original invites said “this isn’t your run of the mill baby shower….and DJ, CASH BAR, FOOD, PRIZES, FUN!” and never bothered to list me or Jackie as co-hostess.  Jackie and I have to run everything by Sandra to make sure it’s ok and she likes it!  I don’t know why she doesn’t just throw herself a party. She’s just being so rude!  She doesn’t have very good taste and just waits to hear what I suggest then says, “Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted”.

Now for the real kick in the pants… Keith & Sandra are asking to invite my friends!!!  People they have never bothered to invite over to their house for a BBQ or dinner but all of a sudden they want them to come to the baby shower?!?  I am guessing they just want more bodies and more gifts. I would feel totally weird handing out invites to my friends on their behalf! They asked my opinion but how do you say, “Those people aren’t even your friends and it would be rude to invite people you hardly know to an event they will be expected to bring a gift to”.  I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place here! Or am I just being bitchy??   0805-09

I consider it bizarre that a hostess must get her party plans approved by the guest of honor.  Other than ascertaining the potential guest list and theme the mother would like, a hostess bears no further responsibility to “run things by” the recipient of her kind hospitality.   As has been said many times before on this site, if you cannot trust the person hosting a party in your honor to execute it tastefully, then don’t accept offers to host parties from them.

As for inviting people one hardly knows to a party that has the primary purpose of bestowing gifts on the guest of honor, I’m of the opinion that if you couldn’t be bothered to socialize with these people on the more mundane occasions like a dinner party or backyard BBQ, you have no business inviting them to an event that expects them to be the bearer of gifts.  I find it somewhat amusing when I get invited to showers or merchandising parties by people who previously couldn’t have been bothered to extend any hospitality to me.  It’s as if money or the potential to increase one’s material possessions and assets greases the wheel of hospitality.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

The Voice of Reason February 2, 2010 at 9:12 am

Sounds like you’re being very gracious about the whole thing, however, by pointing out that Sandra has “doesn’t have very good taste” and getting miffed that you weren’t recognized on the invitations.

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Sounds familiar February 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Had something similar happen to me a few years ago. One of my husband’s family members had helped throw us a very nice wedding shower before we got married. So when she was preganant, I was excited about the possibility of helping to throw her one. I asked a couple of times if she had any showers planned or if I could help with one but kept getting non-commital answers so I backed off. Her shower ended up being beautiful, with 13 hostesses but she and her mother did all the planning, decorations, everything – with a professional cake & floral arrangements – all the hostesses contributed was the money & the place. Knowing the participants, I finally figured out she didn’t really want me to help host b/c I would have done the planning myself and would have only asked her for the guest list. I am glad that I didn’t have to contribute to the hosting fees and was happy to give her a gift, I guess I just thought it was a little insulting that she didn’t trust any of her friends or family’s taste.

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Southern Sugar February 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Actually, the hostesses should have been acknowledged on the invitations because they’re the ones throwing the party.

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chilly February 12, 2010 at 4:23 am

I disagree Southern Sugar: if I’m throwing a party for someone else, it’s about them, not me. The only acknowledgement I need is in the RSVP – “Please RSVP to chilly@email.com” or similar.

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jenna February 14, 2010 at 7:09 am

I agree with Chilly. It’s not necessary to run your plans by the guest of honor if you are hosting, but it sure is the gracious thing to do. Wouldn’t you rather throw this person a party you KNOW they’d like rather than one you think they’d like, or one that you’d like?

You can say “oh but if you are close enough to throw her a party, you should be close enough to know her taste” but…no. I have a very good friend for whom I’d happily host a hundred parties. We have very different tastes but that does not get in the way of her friendship. I am fairly sure I am an awful gift giver (she’s to polite to confirm this) because I keep trying to give her a gift to her taste…and I am fairly sure I never get it quite right. I just don’t really KNOW, despite being observant and finding careful ways to ask. It is still not clear to me.

Or, if an aunt or some such is hosting a party (I realize relatives aren’t supposed to do this but it happens) – just because someone is my relative and wants to host a party for me does not mean they know my taste – family is infamous for totally misreading each other when it comes to taste.

So…while it is true that this hostess shouldn’t “have to” run her ideas by the guest of honor, why is it so bad for her to have done so? I think she’s being a little crass by complaining about it (though the rest of the etiquette problems still stand).

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Millie February 27, 2010 at 1:06 am

Not only should the hostess be “acknowledged” on the invitations, the hostess should be *issuing* the invitations. It needs to be clear who is hosting the party, so that guests know whom to contact to ask for directions, gift suggestions, etc.

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missed one March 9, 2010 at 1:22 am

Plus everyone has missed that a close relative of the honoree should not be the one to host a shower (the mother in law and aunt)

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