Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Ceallach on September 30, 2012, 01:06:30 AM

Title: Extended family entertaining
Post by: Ceallach on September 30, 2012, 01:06:30 AM
For some reason it seems easier to write this one third party, I hope this makes sense!!   

[background] The Smiths and the Jones live in the same city, but opposite ends - say a 30 minute drive in between.   They don't really know each other well, but have mutual relatives (something like Mrs Smith's brother married Mr Jones' aunt).  Let's call the resulting family the Browns.  The Browns all live in thousands of miles away and have never lived in this particular city.   When members of the Brown family come to or pass through xCity they are welcomed with open arms by either the Smiths or the Jones family, both of whom LOVE to host (and would be very surprised if the Browns stayed in hotels instead of asking for a bed for the night!).   Depending on who it is, their reasons for visiting xCity, or possibly time constraints they may see only the family they're staying with and not visit the other.  Other times they might stay at one but visit the other.  [end background]

Occasionally a rare situation arises where the entire Brown family have reason to visit xCity.   In those situations, there might be some people staying with the Smiths and some with the Jones - note that this is not a coordinated system, and it's really just based on who decides they want to stay where and makes arrangements.   Coming up soon one of the adult children of the Brown family has a graduation ceremony in xCity, and the rest of the family have decided to attend.  Several members of the Brown family, including the patriarch, have arranged to stay with the Smiths who are now "fullhouse".  This leaves the actual graduate and their family the option to stay with the Jones.   There are no formal events arranged around the graduation e.g. dinner, party etc.   The Smiths are apparently intending to entertain the whole Brown family at their home to celebrate the occasion.  However, as this is an occasion that impacts the wider family, it seems odd to have it hosted by one of the households unless there is some kind of arrangement in advance to include the other.  Also, the graduate has some other friends they might like to invite/include also.

Would you:

A) ask the Smiths if they mind the Jones and others being invited to the dinner/party.
B) ask the Jones if they mind hosting the Browns and the Smiths for a dinner/party.
C) arrange a separate, external event, tell everybody where and when and let whomever show up.
D) just wait and see how things work out at the time.

The problem with option A is that it presumes the Smiths are in fact planning on putting on a dinner/party as they have indicated to the patriarch.  There is a precedent set for this (they like staying home, love catering for everybody, and have entertained the Brown family all together in the past).      However, it would seem presumptuous for the graduate to assume the Smiths are planning to essentially throw a small graduation party.   Option B would be convenient for the graduate as it's where they are staying, so they can help with arrangements, provide all of the food etc.   But that could be a slight to the Smiths if they had plans for entertaining (which is entirely possible!).   Option C seems the easiest, except that many of these people are not inclined to want to go out, and would find it odd spending money externally when it's much more cost effective to entertain at home.  For all 3 families it's much more normal to host at home and all are used to catering for large numbers.    The bigger problem here is clearly the communication, but it's basically impossible to get the dozens of people involved together and talking.    :-\    Any thoughts?  Suggestions as to how other families handle this?
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: Morticia on September 30, 2012, 07:22:03 AM
Have the Browns ever reciprocated all this hospitality? If not, I think option c is their opportunity for some balance restored. Even if they have, it is their child graduating, and should be their hosting. I think what I am saying is that option c seems to be the winner.
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: SPuck on September 30, 2012, 10:00:30 AM
Option C is the winner. It is a member of the Browne family who is graduating, and their parents or a sibling who should be hosting at a neutral third place just to avoid stepping on toes. The parents or sibling will actual know all the people the graduate will want to invite, outside of the three families involved.

Now that you have the story written out, could you clarify your own standing in it?
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: NyaChan on September 30, 2012, 10:03:42 AM
My family has been the Browns. We have tried a variety of oF options.  The best results came from having a hosted dinner for everyone at a restaurant. We once hosted a party out of our smith family's home which was also nice, but even though we paid for everything and tried to do all the work during and after the party, the smiths did end up doing more than what a "guest" should simply because it was their house.
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: AmethystAnne on September 30, 2012, 10:04:13 AM
From my personal history(4 self-catered wedding receptions, family reunions and parties) this is what I would do:

Despite it rocking the traditional boat, is there a place that the Brown family could arrange for something in a central location (hotel, restaurant, etc.) and have it catered since they do not live there and have no local home base to entertain from?

--It's their child that is graduating.
--The Brown's would send out invitations and not have to do the massive effort to get a consensus from everybody. (Isn't that like herding cats? :D )
--The graduate would feel free to invite friends and not feel like he/she is imposing.
-- it would give the Brown's the opportunity to reciprocate hospitality.
--the time spent doing the work of food prep, set-up, and tear down, would be more enjoyably spent socializing with the families.

wow....I'm getting tired from just thinking about all that would go into doing something like this.  :(

Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: bonyk on September 30, 2012, 04:21:39 PM
It's also very odd in my family to go out to celebrate, and I can easily see us as the Smiths in this situation.  Honestly, we would prefer to host than go to a restaurant.

Can you find a way to bring up to the Smiths that you are looking at restaurants to host the celebration in?  If you're met with, "But we were planning to host!," you can say, "Oh, but we need to include the Jones and we don't want to put that on you."  Then the Smiths can either offer extend to invitation, or forget their celebration.
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: SuperMartianRobotGirl on September 30, 2012, 08:07:10 PM
I definitely vote for C. They've been hosted a lot by each family and it would be good for them to host, plus I can't think of any nice way at all to ask someone else to host a graduation party for your child.
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: Ceallach on September 30, 2012, 09:48:47 PM
Thanks for the replies.  To clarify,  the Brown family have hosted the other two families on many occasions also. In fact, there is considerable hosting back and forth between the Smiths and Browns in particular.  Also,on past occasions when the Smiths have hosted (for example, doing Christmas together) the Browns usually supply money or grocery vouchers to cover the cost of the food seeing the Smiths are the ones going to all of the effort. The Smiths do travel around a bit and stay with the Browns. The Jones family less so, simply because they travel less, but I'd say the hosting between them and the Browns is about 50/50.  Note that the Browns have never lived in xCity so it's not as if they go there frequently. It's normally either to actually *see* either the Smiths tor Jones (e.g. family gatherings) or they're passing through on their way somewhere.   

Which is what makes this occasion so complicated, as it's really the first time that it's been a Brown family occasion in xCity as opposed to a specific gathering for one side of the family (or a 1:1 visit between particular relatives).  I think from the perspective of the Smiths it's "Yay, the family are coming!" so they are treating it more like any other family get together.  But it really isn't - there are other people involved or who may wish to be involved.
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: Hmmmmm on October 01, 2012, 04:49:42 PM
I think the Browns should call the Smiths and state they want to do a celebration with all 3 families and that to accommodate that, could the Smiths suggest a restaurant venue.  Then the Smiths can say "oh, let's just do it here" or say "Arabella's is great for large groups.  here's their number."
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: Ceallach on October 01, 2012, 06:17:49 PM
I think the Browns should call the Smiths and state they want to do a celebration with all 3 families and that to accommodate that, could the Smiths suggest a restaurant venue.  Then the Smiths can say "oh, let's just do it here" or say "Arabella's is great for large groups.  here's their number."

That's a good suggestion, thanks.    I spoke with my sister over the weekend and we came to the same conclusion - why not ask the Smiths advice on a location which gives them the chance to jump in and confirm that they do want to host something (which we have heard third hand but don't want to presume).  If not, they'll help point us in the right direction and my sis will arrange something.

For those who asked, I'm a Brown.   I'm actually the graduate.    Which makes it complicated as to be honest I want no part in any arrangements.   Nor do I want a big fuss made over the graduation itself.  (I'm excited that they've all decided to come, but I'm not a big party person).   But I do think it reflects poorly on me if parts of the family are excluded just because we're disorganised.   Plus, we're all travelling a long way and it seems silly not to have any plan in place for what we're actually going to do.   There are 16 members of my immediate family going to be in xCity, plus the other relatives who live there.  That's a lot of people just to "wing it".    I think my Dad sometimes forgets how big his family has grown!   So it's more about getting some confirmation on where we'll be and when, rather than having an actual "party" thrown.    If that makes sense.
Title: Re: Extended family entertaining
Post by: Salvage3 on October 02, 2012, 02:58:03 PM
There are so many possibilities for cheap/free venues that I really think your sister or someone willing to organize it would be best-minded to find someplace other than someone's home.  It can be potluck/catered --whatever fits everyone's budget.  I know that everyone always thinks these events are expensive; but that really is not the case.  We have "rented" the basement of a smaller-neighborhood Masonic Temple; there are other community centers, etc. in our area that are minimal cost.  Ours was actually free, as my dad was a member at that particular site.  It had kitchen facilities, which was perfect for the Thanksgiving dinner --yes, my family was that large.  There have been some great suggestions from other posters, and I hope it works out well for you and your families.