Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: GSNW on August 04, 2012, 12:57:37 PM

Title: What can I bring?
Post by: GSNW on August 04, 2012, 12:57:37 PM
When invited to a party, I will always ask this.  If the answer is "Nothing, we've got it covered," or some variation of such, I take that to mean that I do not need to contribute to the refreshments at the party.  Depending on the type of party we will sometimes bring some wine, but I don't expect it to be served, it's more of a hostess gift.

My husband and I host an annual part which is a backyard BBQ/pool party that involves high-school aged kids and the parents/family of those kids.  It's casual, burgers and dogs, chips, soda.  We don't serve booze for the adults.  Every year, the parents ask what they can bring.  Every year, I reply along the lines of, "Thanks so much but we've got everything we need, unless someone has dietary restrictions... etc..."  most people take this at face value, but I have a few tenacious peeps who just will not take no for an answer! 

"But you are feeding all of us!  I have to bring something!"
"But I refuse to show up empty-handed!"
"Please let me bring something."

None of these people are being intentionally rude, I'm sure, and I feel all have their hearts in the right place.  I have taken to asking people to bring extra beach towels because it can get kind of chaotic around the pool area.  Am I being the rude one here in refusing help?  Admittedly I can be a bit of a control freak so maybe I just need to let it go and start telling them what to bring, but just the thought of that sort of chaos in terms of food mish-mash makes my skin crawl.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: guihong on August 04, 2012, 01:05:35 PM
A lot of people, including me, feel very self-conscious if I don't have a thing.  If it's something casual like your party, I'd bring a couple of 2-liters or a bag of chips.   That seems OK to ask, if someone offers; it doesn't "intrude" on the food.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Hmmmmm on August 04, 2012, 01:17:23 PM
No one is being rude.  But I would understand their desire to contribute especially if they are not part of your normal social group and they feel like they have little opportunity to reciprocate.

 I think suggesting bringing beach towels are great.  If they persist, just say I'd rather you didn't. I've told every once that they shouldn't bring any thing and I don't want to cause hurt feelings.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on August 04, 2012, 01:21:30 PM
What I would do in this situation is suggest they bring a small bag or bottle of an unusual flavour of chips or soda, if you've got the basics covered.

I did learn that from now on, I need to be specific when someone offered to bring ice cream to go with my apple rhubarb crisp and brought some flavoured thing with chocolate chips rather than vanilla.  ::)  I mean, the ice cream was very nice but it just didn't go well with the crisp!
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Zilla on August 04, 2012, 01:29:17 PM
I would let them bring chips or soda. Or if you aren't against serving it, beer or wine.


If you truly don't want them to bring anything, just tell them, "Honestly I have everything under control and would truly just enjoy the pleasure of your company." And bean dip.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Sharnita on August 04, 2012, 01:32:43 PM
bottled water? even if you don't use their supply at the party it replenishes the supply you use up. 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: cicero on August 04, 2012, 03:05:08 PM
When invited to a party, I will always ask this.  If the answer is "Nothing, we've got it covered," or some variation of such, I take that to mean that I do not need to contribute to the refreshments at the party.  Depending on the type of party we will sometimes bring some wine, but I don't expect it to be served, it's more of a hostess gift.

My husband and I host an annual part which is a backyard BBQ/pool party that involves high-school aged kids and the parents/family of those kids.  It's casual, burgers and dogs, chips, soda.  We don't serve booze for the adults.  Every year, the parents ask what they can bring.  Every year, I reply along the lines of, "Thanks so much but we've got everything we need, unless someone has dietary restrictions... etc..."  most people take this at face value, but I have a few tenacious peeps who just will not take no for an answer! 

"But you are feeding all of us!  I have to bring something!"
"But I refuse to show up empty-handed!"
"Please let me bring something."

None of these people are being intentionally rude, I'm sure, and I feel all have their hearts in the right place.  I have taken to asking people to bring extra beach towels because it can get kind of chaotic around the pool area.  Am I being the rude one here in refusing help?  Admittedly I can be a bit of a control freak so maybe I just need to let it go and start telling them what to bring, but just the thought of that sort of chaos in terms of food mish-mash makes my skin crawl.
I don't like when people bring food to my parties - I 'm something of a control freak, and after being "burned" a few times by people bringing inedible food, or forgetting to bring the paper goods they promised, i'd rather just do it on my own.

When people ask and insist - i just repeat "no thank you, i've got it covered; plesae, just come as my guest".

however, if it's the norm in your circle for people to bring stuff, then ask them to bring water, drinks, ice.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Shakira on August 04, 2012, 03:49:07 PM
I also would rather do everything myself. I have a few friends who feel like they HAVE to bring something, and I usually just tell them to bring a bag of ice. If we don't end up needing it then we'll use it the next time.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: WillyNilly on August 07, 2012, 11:14:19 AM
I also would rather do everything myself. I have a few friends who feel like they HAVE to bring something, and I usually just tell them to bring a bag of ice. If we don't end up needing it then we'll use it the next time.

I was just going to say this.

You can never have too much ice at a party (because really even if you do, just dump it in the back or on the driveway and voila, no extra ice anymore).  And really even if you start making ice a week in advance, unless you have a giant empty freezer, you can only make and store so much.

And ice is cheap and easy to get (around here they sell ice at delis, in grocery stores, at gas stations, at beer distributors, many larger drugstores have it, etc).
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 07, 2012, 02:39:27 PM
I frequently have this problem too.  I say 'just yourselves' and sometimes people comply, sometimes they don't.  Then, when I already have the food laid out, I have to find a place for it, serving utensils etc.  Sometimes people bring chips or taco chips.  At one party I had, 8 ppl brought taco chips.  I had bags of them for weeks.  They take up a lot of room and I would prefer that people accept the invitation as I issue it.. please come and enjoy our hospitality where I prefer to host fully and completely.

Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: BC12 on August 07, 2012, 07:11:33 PM
I'd say that if your guests insist, let them bring something. People who do that like to contribute - it makes them feel like they're helping. Or they just want to show thanks for the invitation.

What about asking them to bring a dessert like some cookies or those cookie bar things (Rice Krispies treats, lemon squares, etc.) They won't interfere with the main course you planned, and you can just set them out afterward and not have to bother with serving utensils and extra plates. You can never have too many desserts, right?

Or extra towels. That's a good idea. (Maybe a dumb question - They do take the towels home with them afterward, right?)
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 07, 2012, 09:13:11 PM
Polite guests don't insist on 'contributing' to my party.  I am fully capable of hosting. I don't need anyone's help. I host, I host. 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: BC12 on August 07, 2012, 11:06:17 PM
Polite guests don't insist on 'contributing' to my party.  I am fully capable of hosting. I don't need anyone's help. I host, I host.

Yikes. Okay, then.

But I have to disagree with your first sentence. I don't think it's impolite to offer to contribute, or even to pleasantly insist. It's pretty customary to offer something when invited to these types of casual events.

I guess I just see it akin to someone paying you (general) a genuine compliment. "I love your hair!" You can just accept it graciously with a "Thanks" instead of saying, "Well, I really hate it! And I don't welcome your opinion on it, either!"

The average insistent guest is just trying to do something nice. I think you (again, general) should let them. Give them direction on what to bring (something that works for you, the hostess - like ice, water, towels, etc.) Otherwise, you might end up having people bring something inconvenient, or 8 bags of chips, for example. And even if you end up with 8 bags of chips at your party, it's not the end of the world. You can donate them to a food bank instead of letting them take up room in your house while your resentment of your guests' kindness and generosity grows.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: GSNW on August 07, 2012, 11:47:11 PM
I'm glad I asked people to bring pool towels because we ran out!  A few got left behind but I laundered them with our stack and returned them.  And the dessert request also worked ... I have four extra large ziplock bags of cookies, but DH took them to his summer basketball workouts for the kids (I don't need the temptation in my house!).

I think in the future I'll stick to those staples... Water, ice, cookies, BYO towel.  Thanks everyone :)
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 08, 2012, 12:11:45 AM
Offering to bring something is not rude.  It is actually the polite thing to do.  What is rude is to insist and not take no for an answer. 

When I host, i plan a menu.  I have the platters selected, the food timed, a theme planned and food on the table to fit my table  While they may have good intention to ask to bring something, it is insulting to not take no for an answer bc it implies I cannot adequately provide for my guests.  It also causes me extra work to find a place for food that was not wanted in the first place. When I ask people to my home, I host.  Fully.  Completely.   
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: BC12 on August 08, 2012, 02:23:12 AM
OP, glad things went well. Sounds like a good time!

it is insulting to not take no for an answer bc it implies I cannot adequately provide for my guests.

I think that's taking things a bit too personally, and assuming the worst of your chosen guest's intentions.

But, I suppose I can appreciate your firm stance on nobody bringing anything to your parties. How do you respond when they ask, "What can I bring?" What if they insist? How do you politely decline when they don't take no for an answer?
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Danika on August 08, 2012, 03:39:34 AM
I think the culture and mentality differs depending on where you grew up, or your social circle. Where we live, my husband and I are the only natives who were born in this state. All of our neighbors are from all over the U.S. so some don't even ask "what can I bring" others do but drop the subject if you say "nothing" and we have one neighbor (originally from Indiana, FWIW) who always insists on bringing something because it makes her feel really rude and thankless if she shows up empty handed.

I don't like to ask people to bring food to something I'm hosting. I feel like I don't want to make my guests have to work in order to attend a fun evening. I also have a lot of food allergies and want to be able to eat everything, not look around the spread and keep reminding myself "those brownies look good, but they have nuts. No mindlessly grabbing a brownie and putting it in my mouth while chatting. I have to avoid the whole table because the chocolate is calling to me and I need to remember that there are nuts in them."

So for the neighbor who always wants to bring something or people like her, I usually say "well, we'll have wine and dark beer, but if you prefer light beer, please, bring it." But this specific neighbor really likes to bring something edible, so I have found that with her, I have to say "I have nut and soy allergies. Could you please tell me which dishes you're considering bringing so that I can let you know if I can eat them or not? I don't like not being able to eat something at my own party."
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: WillyNilly on August 08, 2012, 09:50:15 AM
As a guest, if I ask what I can bring and am told nothing, I bring something as a hostess gift.  A small vase of flowers (always in a vase so my host doesn't have to scramble to find one), a box of chocolates - can be put out for the party or kept for later, a bottle of wine - again can easily be put away for later, a fancy soap or candle, etc.  Basically an under $10 item that can be used immediately or not, re-gifted or kept, small and non-intrusive, etc.

For a pool party, I might add sunblock to that list.  It never hurts to bring sunblock which you are happy to put out and share, and I figure people with a pool will probably find use for it later (for themselves or to offer to guests).
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: lowspark on August 08, 2012, 10:10:22 AM
Offering to bring something is not rude.  It is actually the polite thing to do.  What is rude is to insist and not take no for an answer. 

I agree with this. Sometimes I want people to bring things - sometimes it's a pot luck or it's a large party and a couple extra dishes will be welcome, etc. But sometimes, I want to serve exactly what I want to serve.

I've had people insist before and I've learned to answer "wine" when they do. Then I can open the wine they bring, or not. But at least that allows me to keep my menu to just what I've planned.

In the case of the pool party, I think you're good with ice, towels, etc. In other words, the peripheral stuff that will come in handy if needed, but that no one can be upset about if it ends up not getting used.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 08, 2012, 11:22:33 AM
OP, glad things went well. Sounds like a good time!

it is insulting to not take no for an answer bc it implies I cannot adequately provide for my guests.

I think that's taking things a bit too personally, and assuming the worst of your chosen guest's intentions.

But, I suppose I can appreciate your firm stance on nobody bringing anything to your parties. How do you respond when they ask, "What can I bring?" What if they insist? How do you politely decline when they don't take no for an answer?

Perhaps that is a bit out of context.  I don't take it personally, but it is extremely frustrating when I invite people over, answer 'just yourselves' and the insistence starts.  It puts the hostess in an awkward position.  I don't want anyone's help.  If I wanted help, I would ask for it or have a potluck.   

Just as it is rude to bring an uninvited guest, it is also rude to put the hostess on the spot with desires to help or contribute to a party for which she already has a vision.   To me, it is turning my fully hosted party into a form of potluck and then other guests would be embarrassed they didn't bring something.

If they insist, I say, "really, I have it covered.  If you absolutely must bring something, then a bottle of wine".   Those people who continually insist, won't take no for an answer or worse, bring something when told not to, usually are off my invite list.   It never fails, as people are arriving, I already have my table set just so and then people show up with food that forces me to realign my already done table.   

I am known as a very good cook.  People like coming to our house.   When I entertain, I invite them to provide the food, booze, beverages and entertainment.  They don't need to contribute to my party.  Their presence does.

When I am invited to someone's home, I always ask if I can bring something.  If told no, I don't insist, I respect the hostess and then bring a hostess gift that doesn't infiltrate her party. 

 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 08, 2012, 11:22:57 AM
As a guest, if I ask what I can bring and am told nothing, I bring something as a hostess gift.  A small vase of flowers (always in a vase so my host doesn't have to scramble to find one), a box of chocolates - can be put out for the party or kept for later, a bottle of wine - again can easily be put away for later, a fancy soap or candle, etc.  Basically an under $10 item that can be used immediately or not, re-gifted or kept, small and non-intrusive, etc.

For a pool party, I might add sunblock to that list.  It never hurts to bring sunblock which you are happy to put out and share, and I figure people with a pool will probably find use for it later (for themselves or to offer to guests).

THIS!
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 08, 2012, 11:23:46 AM
Offering to bring something is not rude.  It is actually the polite thing to do.  What is rude is to insist and not take no for an answer. 
I agree with this. Sometimes I want people to bring things - sometimes it's a pot luck or it's a large party and a couple extra dishes will be welcome, etc. But sometimes, I want to serve exactly what I want to serve. I've had people insist before and I've learned to answer "wine" when they do. Then I can open the wine they bring, or not. But at least that allows me to keep my menu to just what I've planned.

In the case of the pool party, I think you're good with ice, towels, etc. In other words, the peripheral stuff that will come in handy if needed, but that no one can be upset about if it ends up not getting used.


Wow.. you said far more succinctly what I have tried to in several posts! lol
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on August 08, 2012, 11:28:32 AM
It never fails, as people are arriving, I already have my table set just so and then people show up with food that forces me to realign my already done table.

You know, I think I'd take the dish, thank them and put it in the fridge.  'This is great!  With your dish and the leftovers, I won't have to cook tomorrow.'  Is that too PA?  But really, why should you have to change everything for something you never wanted, and told them not to bring, in the first place?
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Figgie on August 08, 2012, 11:50:12 AM
Like sparksals, I prefer to host and not have my guests bring anything to contribute.  I have found that the people who refuse to take no for an answer are often (but not always) :) the same people who never fully host anything.  My guess is that they might see invitations to any kind of social event in someone's home as always being the equivalent of a potluck because that is the kind of hosting they are most familiar with.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: FauxFoodist on August 08, 2012, 01:15:52 PM
A lot of people, including me, feel very self-conscious if I don't have a thing.  If it's something casual like your party, I'd bring a couple of 2-liters or a bag of chips.   That seems OK to ask, if someone offers; it doesn't "intrude" on the food.

I had a dinner guest do this.  He asked if he could bring anything, and I told him no (in fact, I think I did tell him what was on the menu -- which was MyBrandOfAsian food).  Despite that, he showed up about 45-60 minutes late and brought a dish that was his take on a Mexican recipe (meaning it was missing ingredients so it was pretty much one color).  It also didn't go with my menu items AND duplicated one of the sides.  DF and I politely took a little bit, but I noticed that our other guests didn't touch it (it didn't look gross, just unappetizing -- I think it was supposed to be some sort of rice casserole but, with the missing ingredient or two, it was just plain rice with melted mozzarella cheese on top in a glass baking pan).  I would've preferred he showed up on time for once in his life (he's chronically tardy) and brought nothing than showed up way late with a dish that clashed.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: NyaChan on August 08, 2012, 01:23:54 PM
Anyone used to hang around CHOW and remember the ribs story?

Personally, I tell people no and when they insist will try to ask for a periphery item.  Only problem is that I then worry that if they forget, I won't have that periphery item.  Once for example, I gave in and said I could use ice - I don't have an ice maker and would have had to pick up a bag anyways.  But then it occurred to me that if they didn't come on time or forgot, I'd have no ice for the guests who showed up before them.  So I ended up buying ice anyways at the very very last minute (which it turned out I needed as they were a little late).  Then that couple was miffed because they arrived and found that there was ice there already (they also brought some unsolicited soda) and I felt bad for imposing on them.

So now I just do a firm, "I'll be honest with you, I've already planned out and purchased everything and don't need anything more, but I really appreciate the offer!"   
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: anniehawks on August 08, 2012, 03:27:30 PM
I once hosted a dinner party and had various people offer to bring something.  I told everyone that I didn't need anything, please just come and enjoy the evening.  Everyone listened except one guest.  When she showed up, she had made a pineapple upside-down cake.  I thanked her, and said that she shouldn't have gone to so much trouble.  She said, in front of all my other guests, that she could never go to anyone's home without bringing something.  Of course nobody else had brought anything, at my request.  Some of my guests were rather put out with her.  While her cake was delicious, it didn't go with my Italian menu and not many people ate it.   
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 08, 2012, 03:38:26 PM
I have to admit that sometimes I suspect many people who chronically offer and don't take no for an answer may want to show off, just as like pineapple upside down cake lady.   There is nothing wrong with showing up with something.  It is what one shows up with that matters.  Never is it polite to try to show up the hostess by bringing food like this.  It doesn't take into consideration the work and effort the hostess has done for a specific menu... which may very well have a theme.


Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: doodlemor on August 08, 2012, 03:48:52 PM
It never fails, as people are arriving, I already have my table set just so and then people show up with food that forces me to realign my already done table.

You know, I think I'd take the dish, thank them and put it in the fridge.  'This is great!  With your dish and the leftovers, I won't have to cook tomorrow.'  Is that too PA?  But really, why should you have to change everything for something you never wanted, and told them not to bring, in the first place?

This.  Any etiquette books that I've ever read say that one is not required to serve unsolicited items that guests bring with them. 

NyaChan, please tell us the ribs story.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: FauxFoodist on August 08, 2012, 07:30:00 PM
Oddly, I think I might remember that ribs story a little bit (or it was repeated here).  Did a guest invited to a BBQ where the host was supplying ribs decide to bring his version of cooked ribs to the party?
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: NyaChan on August 08, 2012, 07:48:45 PM
Ribs Story:  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/411218 (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/411218)

The first post lays out the story, I'm not sure if it is resolved in the same topic, but as I remember it, the guests ended up showing for the BBQ sans ribs :)

Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: NyaChan on August 08, 2012, 07:54:48 PM
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/444218 (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/444218) 
-Resolution to rib story
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: doodlemor on August 08, 2012, 09:12:05 PM
Thanks, NyaChan.  That's a great story.

In reading the comments on your links I was surprised that so many hosts just went ahead and served unwanted items.

As I posted before, I've read for many years that serving unwanted/unsolicited food is not necessary according to etiquette.  I've always understood that unsolicited items can be considered hostess gifts, and put away for the next day.

Have times changed so much that hosts are now obligated to serve unsolicited food, or are the people who do so trying to be considerate of the guests who have brought the extras?  What are the norms now?
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 08, 2012, 11:39:28 PM
It never fails, as people are arriving, I already have my table set just so and then people show up with food that forces me to realign my already done table.

You know, I think I'd take the dish, thank them and put it in the fridge.  'This is great!  With your dish and the leftovers, I won't have to cook tomorrow.'  Is that too PA?  But really, why should you have to change everything for something you never wanted, and told them not to bring, in the first place?

This.  Any etiquette books that I've ever read say that one is not required to serve unsolicited items that guests bring with them. 

NyaChan, please tell us the ribs story.

The problem is they expect the dish to be served at the party. 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Thipu1 on August 11, 2012, 10:10:25 AM
My Grandmother always said that you never go to have a meal at someone's house with, 'one arm as long as the other'. 

That meant that you brought something.  It didn't mean that you expected what you brought to be served at the party.  She was in he habit of bringing something with a note attached that would read along the lines of, 'We hope you will enjoy this after the party is over'. 

If the hosts wanted to serve the gift, they could.  If the dish didn't appear at the party, Grandma didn't mind. 

We've absorbed this view.  We consider what we bring as Hostess gifts.  Usually, it's a bottle of decent wine.  If we know the taste of the host family, it might be a pound of wild rice.  There may also be a catnip cigar or a dog toy added.  The idea was that a TY gift was given but there was no pressure on the host family.   
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: artk2002 on August 12, 2012, 02:19:50 PM
While they may have good intention to ask to bring something, it is insulting to not take no for an answer bc it implies I cannot adequately provide for my guests.

It doesn't imply that at all. You are inferring that, but it doesn't work the other direction. As others have pointed out, many people are raised in a tradition where they are as uncomfortable in not bringing something as you are in having someone bring something. It's a clash of traditions, not a referendum on your hospitality.

In other words, please don't take it personally.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 12, 2012, 03:01:20 PM
While they may have good intention to ask to bring something, it is insulting to not take no for an answer bc it implies I cannot adequately provide for my guests.

It doesn't imply that at all. You are inferring that, but it doesn't work the other direction. As others have pointed out, many people are raised in a tradition where they are as uncomfortable in not bringing something as you are in having someone bring something. It's a clash of traditions, not a referendum on your hospitality.

In other words, please don't take it personally.

If you read further, I stated I don't take it personally.  I think it is horribly rude to insist when the host has graciously declined the offer.  The not taking no for an answer is a form of control and shows lack of respect for the hostess and her vision for her party.  Sure, people are raised not to go somewhere empty handed, but everyone is raised differently and one can't always inflict their raised values in the home of another.   A polite person respects the hostess' wishes. 

If one must bring something, don't bring something that conflicts with what the hostess is serving... that is what I have a problem with.  Most insist on bringing something to contribute to my meal.  I am perfectly happy if they bring a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers.  It is the insistence on bringing food for the meal that is insulting.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: doodlemor on August 12, 2012, 11:55:39 PM
..........  I think it is horribly rude to insist when the host has graciously declined the offer.  The not taking no for an answer is a form of control and shows lack of respect for the hostess and her vision for her party.  Sure, people are raised not to go somewhere empty handed, but everyone is raised differently and one can't always inflict their raised values in the home of another.   A polite person respects the hostess' wishes. 

If one must bring something, don't bring something that conflicts with what the hostess is serving... that is what I have a problem with.  Most insist on bringing something to contribute to my meal.  I am perfectly happy if they bring a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers.  It is the insistence on bringing food for the meal that is insulting.

I agree with this.  Insisting on bringing part of a meal after being told *no, thanks* is pretty clueless.

Any etiquette mavens that I've ever read state that a host is not obligated to serve any unsolicited food brought to a dinner party.  The same basic information can be found in this wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etiquette_in_North_America







 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: lowspark on August 13, 2012, 10:20:26 AM
There is a difference between insisting on bringing something to contribute to the meal/party and not wanting to show up empty handed.

I always ask if I can bring something (well almost always, sometimes I already know the answer is no so I don't ask anymore). If the answer is no, I take the hostess at her word. However! that does not mean I have to go empty handed. It's ok to bring a hostess gift that is not a dish to be served that night. A bottle of wine, a candle, or whatever. As hostess, I'm always genuinely delighted to receive a hostess gift in that vein.

It's not rude to show up with something, it is rude to insist on bringing something which is meant to be served that night after the hostess has declined your offer to do so.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on August 13, 2012, 10:32:01 AM
There is a difference between insisting on bringing something to contribute to the meal/party and not wanting to show up empty handed.

I always ask if I can bring something (well almost always, sometimes I already know the answer is no so I don't ask anymore). If the answer is no, I take the hostess at her word. However! that does not mean I have to go empty handed. It's ok to bring a hostess gift that is not a dish to be served that night. A bottle of wine, a candle, or whatever. As hostess, I'm always genuinely delighted to receive a hostess gift in that vein.

It's not rude to show up with something, it is rude to insist on bringing something which is meant to be served that night after the hostess has declined your offer to do so.

Exactly! 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: anniehawks on August 13, 2012, 12:07:32 PM
There is a difference between insisting on bringing something to contribute to the meal/party and not wanting to show up empty handed.

I always ask if I can bring something (well almost always, sometimes I already know the answer is no so I don't ask anymore). If the answer is no, I take the hostess at her word. However! that does not mean I have to go empty handed. It's ok to bring a hostess gift that is not a dish to be served that night. A bottle of wine, a candle, or whatever. As hostess, I'm always genuinely delighted to receive a hostess gift in that vein.

It's not rude to show up with something, it is rude to insist on bringing something which is meant to be served that night after the hostess has declined your offer to do so.

This was my problem with the pineapple upside down cake lady.  She definitely wanted her cake served at dinner. 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: blarg314 on August 13, 2012, 09:20:53 PM

I do think that a lot of people have gotten the hostess gift concept and the potluck concept mixed up.

A hostess gift is a small gift taken along to express thanks for the hospitality, and is something that is *not* expected to be used at the meal. It can be a bottle of wine, chocolates, flowers - I might take a jar of home-made preserves, or something like that.

A potluck is when guests bring food items that are intended to be eaten as part of the meal. A hostess gift is not required for potlucks, because it's a form of shared hospitality.

It also doesn't make sense from a basic logic perspective. You're holding a dinner party for six people. Each of the six brings a different dish, with the intention of eating it at that meal. You've got close to a full meal right there, excluding the full meal the host has prepared. It just doesn't make sense.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: doodlemor on August 13, 2012, 10:36:03 PM
It also doesn't make sense from a basic logic perspective. You're holding a dinner party for six people. Each of the six brings a different dish, with the intention of eating it at that meal. You've got close to a full meal right there, excluding the full meal the host has prepared. It just doesn't make sense.

I really like the way that you have expressed this, blarg314.  It puts the whole thing down to logic and common sense.  I think that this would be great logic to use if faced with an unsolicited dish, and an insistent guest.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: baglady on August 14, 2012, 05:43:12 PM
In my circle, we do a lot of potlucks and what I call semi-potlucks -- which is where the hosts provide enough to make up an adequate meal (appetizer(s), entree, side(s) and drinks) but welcome contributions of munchies, extra sides, desserts from guests. I hosted one of those just this weekend.

In the 20 years I've been hanging with these folks, I can count on my fingers the number of actual dinner parties (no guest contributions desired) that I've been to. Because they are so rare, it sort of takes willpower to *not* show up with a dish! But I respect the hosts' wishes and either bring "just myself" or a hostess gift that is not a contribution to the meal.

A guest bringing his own version of the entree? That's just weird.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Danika on August 15, 2012, 12:13:27 AM
This was my problem with the pineapple upside down cake lady.  She definitely wanted her cake served at dinner.

That was very annoying of her. I imagine you were frustrated. I think if I had an informal meal and dessert, I might have presented her cake alongside whatever I had planned for dessert, but I would have felt like she were slightly rude and I would have considered not inviting her over again. But if, for some reason, I felt really strongly about my dessert being the only dessert, I would have stood my ground and told her "I have all the courses planned out. Thanks for your cake. It doesn't go with the theme of tonight's menu. I will leave it in the fridge and hope to enjoy it tomorrow night with my family." And then if she got really rude and wanted to bring her cake back home with her that evening, I'd have let her.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: anniehawks on August 15, 2012, 08:32:58 AM
This was my problem with the pineapple upside down cake lady.  She definitely wanted her cake served at dinner.

That was very annoying of her. I imagine you were frustrated. I think if I had an informal meal and dessert, I might have presented her cake alongside whatever I had planned for dessert, but I would have felt like she were slightly rude and I would have considered not inviting her over again. But if, for some reason, I felt really strongly about my dessert being the only dessert, I would have stood my ground and told her "I have all the courses planned out. Thanks for your cake. It doesn't go with the theme of tonight's menu. I will leave it in the fridge and hope to enjoy it tomorrow night with my family." And then if she got really rude and wanted to bring her cake back home with her that evening, I'd have let her.

I didn't really make an issue of it.  When it was time for dessert, she came to the kitchen with me and got her cake.  We just put both desserts out.  I just let people decide which one the wanted.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Mikayla on August 15, 2012, 10:20:58 AM
There is a difference between insisting on bringing something to contribute to the meal/party and not wanting to show up empty handed.

I always ask if I can bring something (well almost always, sometimes I already know the answer is no so I don't ask anymore). If the answer is no, I take the hostess at her word. However! that does not mean I have to go empty handed. It's ok to bring a hostess gift that is not a dish to be served that night. A bottle of wine, a candle, or whatever. As hostess, I'm always genuinely delighted to receive a hostess gift in that vein.

It's not rude to show up with something, it is rude to insist on bringing something which is meant to be served that night after the hostess has declined your offer to do so.

Exactly!

I agree with both of you.   The fact that someone is well intended doesn't always erase rudeness.  When I ask if I can bring something, and I'm told no, I accept it and move on. 

Obviously, it's not rude to bring flowers or a box of candy, but if everyone simply accepted that "no means no", hostesses wouldn't have that upside down pineapple cake conundrum!  Sure, it's fine to set it aside, but for many people, it creates awkwardness in trying to explain why the cake won't be served. 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: doodlemor on August 15, 2012, 01:22:11 PM
This was my problem with the pineapple upside down cake lady.  She definitely wanted her cake served at dinner.

That was very annoying of her. I imagine you were frustrated. I think if I had an informal meal and dessert, I might have presented her cake alongside whatever I had planned for dessert, but I would have felt like she were slightly rude and I would have considered not inviting her over again. But if, for some reason, I felt really strongly about my dessert being the only dessert, I would have stood my ground and told her "I have all the courses planned out. Thanks for your cake. It doesn't go with the theme of tonight's menu. I will leave it in the fridge and hope to enjoy it tomorrow night with my family." And then if she got really rude and wanted to bring her cake back home with her that evening, I'd have let her.

I didn't really make an issue of it. When it was time for dessert, she came to the kitchen with me and got her cake.  We just put both desserts out.  I just let people decide which one the wanted.

This story gets worse the more that you tell.  I would be so-ooooo livid if someone intruded in my kitchen like that. 

If I had worked as hard as you did on a lovely Italian dinner I would have told her that the pineapple thing wasn't going to be served, especially after hearing her PA comment to the other guests.

Your way worked out well, though.  It must have been a bit of a comeuppance for her that her dessert wasn't appreciated.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: anniehawks on August 15, 2012, 01:28:42 PM
The pineapple upside down cake lady is just one of those people who is always judging other people.  In return, she thinks everyone is judging her the same way.  She always tries to out do everyone else.  When I do have to socialize with her, I just try to ignore her and not let her know she is getting to me.  It wasn't really the cake itself that bothered me, it was the way she made a big deal out of bringing something when nobody else had.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: doodlemor on August 15, 2012, 01:50:27 PM
The pineapple upside down cake lady is just one of those people who is always judging other people.  In return, she thinks everyone is judging her the same way.  She always tries to out do everyone else.  When I do have to socialize with her, I just try to ignore her and not let her know she is getting to me.  It wasn't really the cake itself that bothered me, it was the way she made a big deal out of bringing something when nobody else had.

I'm sorry that you can't completely rid your life of this boor.

I agree about the remark.  That's what changes the scenario from clueless to malicious.

Somewhere recently on ehell I read that a good technique for dealing with some instances of nasty/PA remarks is to politely keep asking the unpleasant person to explain, explain, explain what they mean until the person or the listeners get the true picture.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: White Lotus on August 31, 2012, 11:08:19 AM
Offering to bring something is not rude.  It is actually the polite thing to do.  What is rude is to insist and not take no for an answer. 

When I host, i plan a menu.  I have the platters selected, the food timed, a theme planned and food on the table to fit my table  While they may have good intention to ask to bring something, it is insulting to not take no for an answer bc it implies I cannot adequately provide for my guests.  It also causes me extra work to find a place for food that was not wanted in the first place. When I ask people to my home, I host.  Fully.  Completely.

POD.

  I usually plan unsrewuppable things like drinks, chips, green salad (pointing out I have dressing), bread (I do specify), paper plates, napkins and the like for those who will not be discouraged from bringing.  Sometimes desserts.  What I HATE (being veg) is that after I have planned a complete and coordinated meal and cooked my little heart out, assigning things to those who insist, is somebody who did not ask to do so showing up with a hunk of meat and announcing LOUDLY and raucously that they "BROUGHT DINNER."  And it needs some preparation, which I will not do, so they must, blowing my timing and often the meal I have prepared.  My not doing it has no effect on the time it takes.  Happens all the time. Different people.  Told not to.  Do it anyway (and no longer invited unless no choice.) Please don't do this.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on September 11, 2012, 08:42:59 AM
Offering to bring something is not rude.  It is actually the polite thing to do.  What is rude is to insist and not take no for an answer. 

When I host, i plan a menu.  I have the platters selected, the food timed, a theme planned and food on the table to fit my table  While they may have good intention to ask to bring something, it is insulting to not take no for an answer bc it implies I cannot adequately provide for my guests.  It also causes me extra work to find a place for food that was not wanted in the first place. When I ask people to my home, I host.  Fully.  Completely.

POD.

  I usually plan unsrewuppable things like drinks, chips, green salad (pointing out I have dressing), bread (I do specify), paper plates, napkins and the like for those who will not be discouraged from bringing.  Sometimes desserts.  What I HATE (being veg) is that after I have planned a complete and coordinated meal and cooked my little heart out, assigning things to those who insist, is somebody who did not ask to do so showing up with a hunk of meat and announcing LOUDLY and raucously that they "BROUGHT DINNER."  And it needs some preparation, which I will not do, so they must, blowing my timing and often the meal I have prepared.  My not doing it has no effect on the time it takes.  Happens all the time. Different people.  Told not to.  Do it anyway (and no longer invited unless no choice.) Please don't do this.

 :o

My mother in law has been known to do similar, but I let her because I am the only vegetarian in the family.  But it really bothers me.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: mlkind1789 on September 13, 2012, 01:37:08 PM
We have a group of friends we host for a game night every few months and I always have a specific menu planned - the last time was "Cinco de Derby" this year and the menu was tacos with all the trimmings.

I know how you feel about not wanting anything to clash, so I usually just tell the people who ask "if you would like to bring something to drink that would be great".  That way they feel like they are helping and I don't have to worry about things clashing with my menu.

Although a couple of the people really like to bake, so they are always welcome to bring sweet goodies with them.  ;D
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on September 14, 2012, 04:18:57 PM
This is what I don't understand.  Why do people feel the need to 'help'?  If I wanted help, I would ask for it.  If I invite them over for a hosted evening, I want to be the one to host.  When they invite me to their house, I let them host and bring a gift that has nothing to do with the meal.

Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: CakeEater on September 15, 2012, 02:24:17 AM
I suspect that in some cases, it's that they find providing a whole meal, including drinks, to be too expensive/too much work/too much stress, and they can't imagine anyone finding that process enjoyable, so they want to help you out. My MIL is like this.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: NyaChan on September 15, 2012, 09:37:05 AM
In some cases it is ego and the attention.  Others may fear taking the hostess at her word and showing up to find everyone else brought things.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: mbbored on September 15, 2012, 10:51:40 AM
This is what I don't understand.  Why do people feel the need to 'help'?  If I wanted help, I would ask for it.  If I invite them over for a hosted evening, I want to be the one to host.  When they invite me to their house, I let them host and bring a gift that has nothing to do with the meal.

As grad students, my circle is only now moving beyond making everything potluck. For us, it's reflexive and pretty normal. I'd say about half the time, I get asked to pick up a bottle of wine, or a loaf of bread, or to bring a salad. I've done it myself when I realize I forgot something or somebody asks if they can bring their very hungry boyfriend along, though generally I say I've got it covered.
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: sparksals on September 15, 2012, 11:30:13 PM
This is what I don't understand.  Why do people feel the need to 'help'?  If I wanted help, I would ask for it.  If I invite them over for a hosted evening, I want to be the one to host.  When they invite me to their house, I let them host and bring a gift that has nothing to do with the meal.

As grad students, my circle is only now moving beyond making everything potluck. For us, it's reflexive and pretty normal. I'd say about half the time, I get asked to pick up a bottle of wine, or a loaf of bread, or to bring a salad. I've done it myself when I realize I forgot something or somebody asks if they can bring their very hungry boyfriend along, though generally I say I've got it covered.

I think there is a difference between grad students and people who host dinner parties .   We are in our mid 40's, so our hosting and parties are different than college students. 
Title: Re: What can I bring?
Post by: mbbored on September 16, 2012, 06:40:35 PM
This is what I don't understand.  Why do people feel the need to 'help'?  If I wanted help, I would ask for it.  If I invite them over for a hosted evening, I want to be the one to host.  When they invite me to their house, I let them host and bring a gift that has nothing to do with the meal.

As grad students, my circle is only now moving beyond making everything potluck. For us, it's reflexive and pretty normal. I'd say about half the time, I get asked to pick up a bottle of wine, or a loaf of bread, or to bring a salad. I've done it myself when I realize I forgot something or somebody asks if they can bring their very hungry boyfriend along, though generally I say I've got it covered.

I think there is a difference between grad students and people who host dinner parties .   We are in our mid 40's, so our hosting and parties are different than college students.

This is very true, but not everybody manages to move beyond this mentality.