Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: tiggnduff on March 15, 2013, 11:12:11 PM

Title: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: tiggnduff on March 15, 2013, 11:12:11 PM
My Husband's parents are celebrating 45 yrs of marriage this year. It's been a rough road for them and it's not been all bliss but they are still together.  Father in law called and said he wanted to do a dinner at a restaurant this year and would we help plan it.  We said sure.  The guest list got bigger the grandeur got bigger and then well I have to admit I started to worry. We tried to offer lower cost ways of doing it. We even offered our home and hosting supplying mains, sides and wine & beer

In laws are not well off. Father in law "retired" about 8 years ago. Mother in law worked as long as she could before retiring. I have NEVER pried into their finances but I have a financial/legal background and many times mother in law has come to me for advice / support. They are ok. They are not going to starve or lose their home or anything but they have no extra money to fly around.

Father in law has now planned this huge restaurant dinner with about 40 people min and he says he is picking up the bill. and it's a surprise for mother in law!! oh what a surprise! Here is an awesome dinner with all your family and friends and by the way one month from now you can figure out how to pay the credit card bill!

I know it's not my issue it's their issue believe me I do but I'm really having a hard time being excited about this event. I'm sure this surprise for mother in law is going to be a not a very good surprise in the end. Even hubby is having a hard time with this. There is a lot of history within the family and he is almost so upset he doesn't want to go.  We are a family of six so we know even if we go and order the cheapest stuff and drink water we will have a nice chunk of the bill that we know they can't afford. I'm going to feel so guilty the whole time we are there!

I guess I just suck it up...don't say anything to ruin the surprise and let it go??

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Iris on March 15, 2013, 11:28:09 PM
With regular folk I'd say MYOB, but I know if this were MY parents I'd give my mother a heads up. Not knowing your husband's family dynamics it's hard to make a call, but if he is that stressed about it I think he should mention it to his mother. I will add that in your MIL's position spending beyond our means without consulting me would feel more like DH was insulting me than that he was celebrating our life together.

If your husband doesn't feel right telling his mother my other suggestion would be to keep track of your own expenses and put that in an envelope to give to your MIL later. Then at least you haven't added to her burden.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Amara on March 15, 2013, 11:48:02 PM
In this situation my first instinct would be to talk FIL's ear off about how badly this one evening will leave both of them feeling for months afterward, and is this really what he wants his DW to remember? However, a better approach might be to offer him a substitute such as an evening at your house based on, if I remember correctly, an old television show called "This is Your Life." (Maybe it was something else. I just seem to vaguely recall something under this title.) The premise is that events and people in the honoree's life were talked about and then they appeared on stage, surprising and thrilling the honoree.

Could you and your DH organize something along this line, along with a casual buffet perhaps with their favorite foods? It could involve scrapbooks, home movies (if available), and other things. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Danika on March 16, 2013, 12:16:59 AM
We are a family of six so we know even if we go and order the cheapest stuff and drink water we will have a nice chunk of the bill that we know they can't afford. I'm going to feel so guilty the whole time we are there!

I guess I just suck it up...don't say anything to ruin the surprise and let it go??

At the very least, if you don't want to ruin the surprise, I suggest that if you do go, you insist that your family of six pay your own way completely. Pay for your own food, and for a percentage of the decorations, music, etc. That way, you know you didn't contribute to FIL's gigantic credit card bill.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Pen^2 on March 16, 2013, 02:55:09 AM
In this situation my first instinct would be to talk FIL's ear off about how badly this one evening will leave both of them feeling for months afterward, and is this really what he wants his DW to remember?

I agree here. FIL is really setting things up for his wife to have an awful and emotionally painful memory. I have no idea if he's usually this reckless with money, but celebrating by hurting his wife is terrible. I'd speak to him and make it clear that what he is doing is not going to be seen as celebratory to his wife, but rather, cruel and thoughtless. Then follow up with a few suggestions about what else he is going to do that won't upset her (people pay for their own food, have it at a different venue, etc.)

If it was anyone else, I'd keep mum, but since this is a family thing, it's worth bringing it up.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 16, 2013, 10:06:25 AM
I agree with those who said first talk to your Dad.  Ask him if he realizes just how much this extravaganza is going to cost.  Show him the figures you have so far.  Then ask how he expects to pay for this and discuss with him the horrific impact it could have on their finances waaaay into the future. 

Maybe a nicer surprise would be for him to just take HER out to dinner at a really truly extravagant place and then all the other forty or so people meet at your house for cocktails and snacks after.  Or something like that.

I feel so sorry for your Mom if she's going to be caught unaware of this fiasco.  If you can't get anywhere with Dad, I'd definitely clue Mom in to what's going on.  It may make your Dad furious, but his plan may just destroy that very marriage they're celebrating!
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on March 16, 2013, 10:59:04 AM
POD to all the others.

I think that you and DH need to have a long talk with FIL, and really "stick it" to him.  MIL is going to be appalled if his plans go through.  If he won't budge, then tell MIL. 

I also think that this could finish the marriage if it goes through.  I suspect that this is not the first time that he has shown financial irresponsibility.

I really like gramma dishes idea of having a surprise party at your house after a *romantic* dinner at a fancy restaurant.  He would still get his surprise, and their finances wouldn't be in shreds.

Maybe you could tell him that his party is a nice idea, but that he should **save up** and do it for the 50th, which is more of a milestone anyway.

Edited to add:  I think that MIL is going to be upset with you and DH if this happens, and she knows that you knew in advance and didn't warn her.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Dazi on March 16, 2013, 01:55:22 PM
Your DH really needs to talk to him.

Is it possible he's already saved up for it?  I'm kind of leaning towards he doesn't realise how much it's going to costs...depending on where you live you should figure $15 a head at least, maybe $20 just to be on the safe side, even more if he's planning on paying for alcohol.

If he's insistant that the party is a go, you can either tell your MIL or let the chips fall where they may.  If I went, I would insist on paying for my family.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: secretrebel on March 16, 2013, 02:16:12 PM
It could be $4000. It really could.

depending on how fancy the restaurant is, people could order a starter at $15, main course at $30, dessert at $10, a couple of drinks each could be another $10, that = $65 before anyone's ordered champagne to toast the happy couple. And then there'll be a cover charge for a group that large.

Seriously, he could be paying off the bill for this for some time.

Since you have a financial background perhaps check out the menu from this place, do some sums and ask him if he's realised the cost. I know a lot of people believe etiquette says the host should pick up the bill but it would be so much better for everyone to pay their own way this time.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: jpcher on March 16, 2013, 03:11:20 PM
It could be $4000. It really could.

Agreed. Especially if the guests are offered to choose anything (market price lobster) off of the menu.


For 40 people, I hope that FIL looked into a package deal: private room, select menu with maybe 2 or three options, apps/salad/dessert chosen in advance. Kinda like a small scale wedding reception occasion.

Father in law called and said he wanted to do a dinner at a restaurant this year and would we help plan it.  We said sure.

<snip>

We tried to offer lower cost ways of doing it
. We even offered our home and hosting supplying mains, sides and wine & beer

Gently asking -- did you try calling the restaurant and ask about package deals for a group of 40?

For some reason, I get the feeling that hosting at this particular restaurant is important to your FIL. Maybe MIL's favorite place? Maybe somewhere that FIL and MIL had some sort of romantic, heart-felt memory?

He wants to do something special SURPRISE! for his wife of 45 years. Which I applaud him for, but I understand your concern about money.

Please do not talk to MIL about this.

Does your DH have any other siblings? Maybe you all could possibly split the cost or gift your IL's money to go for the party expense?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 16, 2013, 04:01:32 PM
I just organized a dinner for 25 for my union local.  I called the restaurant ahead of time and got them to give me a limited menu with an appetizer, main, dessert and coffee or tea for $35/head, all in.  Alcoholic beverages were separate, and for our group, they were on their own.

You could provide a couple of bottles of wine per table of 4-8 (so 1-2 glasses each) and call it good.

I think it is worth looking into this possibility so that you at least know the possible costs up front.  40 people X $50/head would be $2000.  And maybe if you set it out in those terms, FIL will see sense.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 16, 2013, 04:58:30 PM
This reminds me of something my father would do, as he is not a planner.

I second jpcher's post and advice. A lovely romantic dinner for the couple followed by a cake and cocktails party would be much more feasible.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on March 16, 2013, 06:03:11 PM
Thank you everyone for your advice. Hubby is going to talk to his dad tomorrow as he is stopping by to do a fix up at their house and mother in law will be out. I never thought about slipping mother in law the money after the fact. Maybe a day or two after would be best?

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: POF on March 16, 2013, 07:27:00 PM
Wow are you my SIL ? Sounds like something my father would do.  The GRAND gesture ... and then the absolute astonishment of what it would cost. I remembered being embarrased as a kid - when we would go on vacation and restaurants etc. costing more than he had planned for and the fights with my mother.....

I remember that my father went once to a very upscale restaurant as part of a class reunion.... so it was a private - I am sure the class had a discount , special member etc.  I remember then my father wanting to take the entire family there.... I resisted and resisted. I told him it was extremely expensive and he kept saying we went there with our class reunion and it wasn't so bad.... I countered with .. you paid $35 of you and Mom.  If it works out to be $35 a person ( and I knew it would be more ) that would be $350 for the 10 us. Are you really willing to pay that much ?

Becase what would happen is that we would get to the restaurant he would declare it's awful "SALTY" ( his word for pricey ) my mother would complain and he wuld be overly extravagant.

Seriously - this is no gift to your MIL - its a sop to your FIL's ego.
   
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: cheyne on March 17, 2013, 07:14:15 PM
Just my .02 cents.  This has nothing to do with MIL.  This is all about FIL and his desire to show off.  I hope your DH was able to convince FIL that a fancy dinner for 40 was out of his means and not something MIL will want.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: EmmaJ. on March 17, 2013, 10:35:46 PM
Hopefully your father's guests are not like some of my relatives:  "Oh, you're picking up the tab? Well, then let's see - i'll have caviar and fois gras and filet mignon and lobster and cover everything with truffles and I want a whole bottle of champagne all to myself..."
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Nora on March 18, 2013, 05:37:27 AM
Hopefully your father's guests are not like some of my relatives:  "Oh, you're picking up the tab? Well, then let's see - i'll have caviar and fois gras and filet mignon and lobster and cover everything with truffles and I want a whole bottle of champagne all to myself..."

This, so much.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 18, 2013, 08:48:21 AM
^  Another reason to arrange a limited menu if FIL is insistent on going ahead with this plan.

With the dinner I organized, we had a choice of 3 or 4 appetizers, 3 or 4 mains with vegetarian available on request, 2 or 3 desserts and tea or coffee.  It didn't matter what items were selected; each meal was a flat rate price.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Venus193 on March 18, 2013, 09:33:33 AM
Egad.  My father did things like this.  My mother had conniptions.

Is there an update?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: DavidH on March 18, 2013, 12:56:28 PM
Everyone here has decided they can't afford this and she'll be horrified, but we don't really know that.  For all we know, he could have been saving for it since they got married.

If it's really anyone else's business how he intends to afford this, then the first step is to say to him, not MIL, I don't mean to pry, but I'm worried about the cost of this dinner, I can see it being $XYZ and hear what he says.  I am not even sure it's okay to say anything more after that since again, it's not anyone business by FIL and MILs.

Under no circumstances should you take it upon yourself to ruin the surprise and tell her what he's planning. 

I'd be pretty insulted if I invited someone to a large function and then they told me they were worried about my finances and here's money to cover their costs. 

If you feel you have to cover your cost give them a generous amount of money as an anniversary gift and call it done.

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 18, 2013, 01:06:16 PM
Personally, I think you should back away and let it go.  You may think you know their finances and thier situation and you may think you know how MIL will react.  But you don't.  FIL is planning this party, he's paying for it, and is just asking for some help to keep the surprise.  If you don't want to help, then don't.  But it's not your place to offer financial advice to someone who has neither asked you for financial help nor advice.

If you truly believe that FIL is not sound enough in mind to make a grown up decision, then that's another matter...and not an etiquette one.  Etiquette-wise, this is his decision, their marriage, their money.  Stay out of it. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Amara on March 18, 2013, 03:08:14 PM
Quotes from the original post:

"In laws are not well off."

"... many times mother in law has come to me for advice / support."

"They are not going to starve or lose their home or anything but they have no extra money to fly around."


It would seem there are financial considerations, wouldn't it? And that the OP's mother-in-law has at least in the past expressed concerns to the OP.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Kaypeep on March 18, 2013, 03:15:26 PM
OP do you think FIL is doing this in hopes that his children will offer to pick up the tab?  Or is he truly clueless?  Did he say why he picked this particular restaurant?  What exactly are you and DH doing to "help" him with this?  How much control in the arrangements do you have?  I POD Outdoor Girl and others who suggest getting a limited menu and pp cost pre-determined from the restaurant.  If he picked this place because of a particular dish they love, try to get that dish for them or whatever, but for the most part, control the menu so that other family members don't go on an ordering frenzy.  And spread the word to family that any extras will be billed to them separately.  Instruct the wait staff to inform people "That item is not included in tonight's party menu, but we can order it for you and bill you separately if you like."
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 18, 2013, 03:49:38 PM
Tough one. I was going along with the posts about how irresponsible FIL was being, and then I saw DavidH's post and now I'm not sure... Sounds like DH is going to talk to FIL about it, so maybe that will provide further clarity (for the OP, if not us).

Honestly if this were my own parents I would know them well enough to know whether I ought to say something to my dad or to my mom, or not at all, and I think my dad would listen to me if I approached it the right way. But with anyone else it would be really, really difficult to know what to do. I would not want to be a party to something that would be hurtful to one half of the couple, but on the other hand, I wouldn't want to make too many assumptions and involve myself in the couple's relationship.

If I chose not to get involved directly, I think I would give them a generous monetary gift as an "anniversary present" and hope MIL didn't earmark it for anything before the credit card bill arrived.

It reminds me a little bit of how my dad likes to swoop in and pay for everything for my mom. But they have joint finances, so the money comes out of the same account no matter who actually handled the credit card, and my mom doesn't have any aversion to handling the transaction herself. Yet my dad gets "credit" in certain circles for being gentlemanly or generous, and my mom is kind of rolling her eyes in the background. You can bet there would be fireworks if my dad tried to pull this with something so costly...
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Danika on March 18, 2013, 05:41:28 PM
And spread the word to family that any extras will be billed to them separately.

^^ This is a good idea.

Instruct the wait staff to inform people "That item is not included in tonight's party menu, but we can order it for you and bill you separately if you like."

^^ DH and I did this when we paid for and planned our rehearsal dinner. But the manager didn't speak to the waitstaff about it and they were allowing guests to order things which were not on our pre-approved menu, giving them separate bills, they didn't pay for them and DH and I got stuck with the extras in the bill.

ETA: We specified to the manager in advance "do not let guests order food or drink that's not on the pre-approved menu." I, personally, printed up menus on my own printer only listing the things guests were allowed to order. Some guests asked for additional drinks which weren't on that menu. The waitstaff should have told them no, but they didn't. They gave them the items and a separate bill. The guests (FIL and MIL) didn't pay the bill.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 18, 2013, 05:57:24 PM
Quotes from the original post:

"In laws are not well off."

"... many times mother in law has come to me for advice / support."

"They are not going to starve or lose their home or anything but they have no extra money to fly around."


It would seem there are financial considerations, wouldn't it? And that the OP's mother-in-law has at least in the past expressed concerns to the OP.

She can offer financial advice when she's asked for it.  MIL coming to her for support in the past, doesn't make her party to all their financial decisions.  She doesn't know if FIL saved up for this, and he definitely didn't ask her opinion on whether or not he can afford this party.  This is a milestone anniversary, so who's to say that they haven't planned for something 'big' to commemorate it?  I have asked family members to give me thier thoughts on finances in the past, but that doesn't give them an open ticket to judge, criticize, or provide input into every finanancial decision I make or everything I purchase. 

The OP has not been given that "in" and unless she is, she needs to stay out of it. 

The only thing I think that comes remotely close to ok is her DH saying something to his father, like "Dad, this party is getting big...and expensive.  How about I help you pay for it...as an anniversary gift and thank you for all that you and mom have done for me."  (and really, that's only if he wants to help pay).  This may or may not open up the door for FIL to discuss the specific finances, but if he doesn't offer info or act as if he wants input, they need to respect it.

Trying to talk him into a different gathering all together, I think is wrong. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 19, 2013, 08:34:30 AM
I am in a similar situation to the OP.

My parents will have their 50th anniversary in a few years. Even though they are financially stable, they are not financially able to afford a lavish party, and I know that is what my DF would want to do. I will leave out the details, but my father loves to get into "projects" that end up costing far more than he ever thought it could. Because of their relationship dynamics, it stresses out my mom (she doesn't feel she can say anything to him about it), but he does what he wants. A lavish party is just what my father would plan, without any thought to the financial burden it would place on them.

Myself and my two sisters are in the beginning stages of planning a golden anniversary dinner dance in their honor. My older sister and I will split the cost.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bopper on March 19, 2013, 09:43:42 AM
How do you and any siblings feel about contributing?

Perhaps you can contribute after the fact?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on March 19, 2013, 12:05:12 PM
Thank you for the varied opinions. Much food for thought.

Hubby spoke with his dad the other day and approached it by using a general line of questions about the menu. Is it going to be set prices? Is it an open menu etc?  His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit  :-[ Oh Boy!

My sister in law is not in a position to contribute in any way and hubby and I could but not to the extent to make a huge dent in the overall cost.

(A bit of further background on our issue with these types of events and hubby's family)
For the inlaws 40th wedding anniversary hubby's sister decided to plan a banquet hall (wedding reception) type event. We were not consulted in any way about the planning of this event, costs etc.  We provided a cheque prior to the event to contribute to the costs in an amount that we could afford. We had been clear once we found out about all this that this type of event was way above our budget and we had not saved for it as we were not involved in ANY of the decisions.

Halfway through the event we were approached by hubby's sister. She had a remaining balance to pay to the hall by the end of the night. She didn't have it and was in a panic. Hubby wrote a cheque to the hall on our line of credit to avoid any scenes during the party. I was absolutely against it but understood why he felt he had to do it.  We never saw a dime of that money back and knew we never would.

We've decided that this year's anniversary dinner is not our issue! Underneath it will be awkward for us but we are going to put a smile on our face and go. We will likely slip mother in law the funds to at least cover our family's bill a few days after the event.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on March 19, 2013, 12:26:03 PM
Wow, just .........wow! 

Are you sure that you won't end up paying a substantial amount for this event?  You did set a precedent.  It does sound like your IL's are not careful with their finances.

How did MIL feel about the 40th banquet?  Will she be thrilled to do the same type of thing again?

I agree with those who say that this is all about FIL.

We are celebrating our 44th this summer, and have comfortable finances.  If my husband spent that kind of $ on a party, without telling me, though,  I would be very upset with him. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 19, 2013, 12:33:04 PM
...   Halfway through the event we were approached by hubby's sister. She had a remaining balance to pay to the hall by the end of the night. She didn't have it and was in a panic. Hubby wrote a cheque to the hall on our line of credit to avoid any scenes during the party. I was absolutely against it but understood why he felt he had to do it.  We never saw a dime of that money back and knew we never would.  ...


Ahhh ... so that family has decided that it can be totally irresponsible with money and no worries!!  The Bank of Tiggnduff will take care of everything!

It's sad that you set a precedent with the other fiasco, but I think you and your husband need to make VERY clear that you are not going to subsidize any parties that you don't plan yourself.  Let FIL go ahead and charge this extravaganza against his credit cards (if he can) and maybe if he has to suffer the consequences he'll learn not to do it again.  But I'm pretty sure he's assuming that 'someone' will bail him out if things get too overboard.  Gee ... I wonder who he might have in mind to do that?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 19, 2013, 01:07:57 PM
...   Halfway through the event we were approached by hubby's sister. She had a remaining balance to pay to the hall by the end of the night. She didn't have it and was in a panic. Hubby wrote a cheque to the hall on our line of credit to avoid any scenes during the party. I was absolutely against it but understood why he felt he had to do it.  We never saw a dime of that money back and knew we never would.  ...


Ahhh ... so that family has decided that it can be totally irresponsible with money and no worries!!  The Bank of Tiggnduff will take care of everything!

It's sad that you set a precedent with the other fiasco, but I think you and your husband need to make VERY clear that you are not going to subsidize any parties that you don't plan yourself.  Let FIL go ahead and charge this extravaganza against his credit cards (if he can) and maybe if he has to suffer the consequences he'll learn not to do it again.  But I'm pretty sure he's assuming that 'someone' will bail him out if things get too overboard.  Gee ... I wonder who he might have in mind to do that?

Is that really fair?  The past example the OP gave was a behavior of the SIL/BIL, not the FIL.  Why would we assume that the FIL is going to pull the same stunt?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 19, 2013, 01:37:49 PM
That's a very good point and maybe you're right.  Perhaps I did jump the gun.

But based on other information she gave us, I got the distinct impression that FIL has always been .. well, let's say "unaware" when it comes to handling money and MIL got stuck ultimately trying to adjust the finances.  With both of them retired now, that may be a lot tougher for her or even the two of them together to pull off.

Even if we assume up front that it is not his intention to have to ask for financial help it may come to that anyway if the credit card companies start rejecting further charges and the plans are already set in concrete.  Or if the credit charges do go through, but then they can't make the monthly payments (and of course the added interest charges for the remainder due).
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on March 19, 2013, 01:44:53 PM
I'm 98% percent positive that FIL will not expect us to bail him out. He will pay for it all I'm pretty sure and hubby and I have discussed this. We will not be paying any more than what we spend and we will give MIL the funds a few days after the event.

It's going to be interesting when the bill is handed out at the end of the night.   :(
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 19, 2013, 01:51:54 PM
I'd leave my checkbook, debit card, credit cards and cash at home that night.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Danika on March 19, 2013, 03:05:20 PM
If I were in your shoes and I did attend, I would make sure to leave my checkbook, cash and credit cards at home the night of the event. Then, if SIL or FIL approached me and said they needed more money to cover the bill, I'd say I didn't have any.

I agree with the PP. I wouldn't have supported DH in giving extra money to the last event.

I know I said above that if I were in your shoes, I'd cover my own expenses. But now with this new info I think that SIL and FIL might actually be trying to get you guys to pony up more money. In good conscience, I don't think I could go along with knowing about this party. In your shoes, I would discourage DH from attending and I would be absent as well. I would take MIL and FIL out to dinner some other time to celebrate, and treat them to a modest meal at a nice, not cheap but not expensive place. I wouldn't want to be involved in this at all.

ETA: just saw LeveeWoman's post after I posted. Wasn't trying to steal her idea. I just agree.  ;)
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: jpcher on March 19, 2013, 03:41:37 PM
I'm 98% percent positive that FIL will not expect us to bail him out. He will pay for it all I'm pretty sure and hubby and I have discussed this. We will not be paying any more than what we spend and we will give MIL the funds a few days after the event.

It's going to be interesting when the bill is handed out at the end of the night.   :(

Thank you for your previous update -- The In-Laws had a huge hoopla on their 40th anniversary.

Now FIL wants to do another huge hoopla only five years later? Then I totally agree that the onus is on FIL and you shouldn't worry a whit about how it's paid for.

I still wouldn't talk to your MIL about this. If there's an argument between them after the fact? Then let them work it out by themselves. Their finances are their business.

Instead of giving MIL the funds a few days later, I think that you should include a check as a gift, with your card, at the time of the party. Just like you would at a wedding reception.

Sending a check later and saying something like "I know you couldn't really afford this, but here is our contribution to the party" is rude in my book.

Give them a monetary gift that you're comfortable with, along with a heart-felt card and congratulatory note, then turn your head at any other conversations concerning the cost of a party that someone else (your FIL) is hosting.

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: kudeebee on March 19, 2013, 03:49:02 PM
Your dh has talked to fil and fil has told him what he plans to do.  So, the two of you need to step back and let fil plan his event as he wants it.  He is an adult and will need to be responsible for his actions/spending of money.  It might make things tight for mil and fil for awhile, but they will survive.

Do not offer any money, even after the fact, to pay for your meals. Let fil handle it.  I am surprised that you two bailed out sil at the event she planned.  You should have let her suffer the consequences of her plans; the business would have worked out something with her. They would not have created a scene but would have dealt with her after the event was over, not in front of the guests.  Maybe she would have learned a lesson about planning what you can afford.  Instead she learned you two will bail her out.

I agree with other posters to leave credit cards, debit cards, checkbook at home and only have a modest (under $100) amount of cash with you.  It is not up to you to bail others out.  Let them take care of themselves.

Also, I agree with not talking to mil about this.  It is not your business to do so and ruin fil's surprise.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on March 19, 2013, 06:04:44 PM
I'm 98% percent positive that FIL will not expect us to bail him out. He will pay for it all I'm pretty sure and hubby and I have discussed this. We will not be paying any more than what we spend and we will give MIL the funds a few days after the event.

It's going to be interesting when the bill is handed out at the end of the night.   :(

Thank you for your previous update -- The In-Laws had a huge hoopla on their 40th anniversary.

Now FIL wants to do another huge hoopla only five years later? Then I totally agree that the onus is on FIL and you shouldn't worry a whit about how it's paid for.

I still wouldn't talk to your MIL about this. If there's an argument between them after the fact? Then let them work it out by themselves. Their finances are their business.

Instead of giving MIL the funds a few days later, I think that you should include a check as a gift, with your card, at the time of the party. Just like you would at a wedding reception.

Sending a check later and saying something like "I know you couldn't really afford this, but here is our contribution to the party" is rude in my book.

Give them a monetary gift that you're comfortable with, along with a heart-felt card and congratulatory note, then turn your head at any other conversations concerning the cost of a party that someone else (your FIL) is hosting.

I really like this idea! I think that is the route we are going to go. Thank you.

Re: ponying up at the earlier event. I did not agree at all and in fact it was quite the disagreement between hubby and I that in fact basically ruined our evening that night and took us a few days to sort out.

We are just going to go with the flow on this one and try and it go. It's really none of our business in the end. If there is any drama after the fact we plan on staying as far far away from it.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 19, 2013, 07:47:48 PM


...   We are just going to go with the flow on this one and try and it go. It's really none of our business in the end. If there is any drama after the fact we plan on staying as far far away from it.

Sounds like you and your husband have discussed it thoroughly and have come to a logical and sane agreement.  Hope it all goes well and drama free.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 19, 2013, 08:11:22 PM
If I were in your shoes and I did attend, I would make sure to leave my checkbook, cash and credit cards at home the night of the event. Then, if SIL or FIL approached me and said they needed more money to cover the bill, I'd say I didn't have any.

I agree with the PP. I wouldn't have supported DH in giving extra money to the last event.

I know I said above that if I were in your shoes, I'd cover my own expenses. But now with this new info I think that SIL and FIL might actually be trying to get you guys to pony up more money. In good conscience, I don't think I could go along with knowing about this party. In your shoes, I would discourage DH from attending and I would be absent as well. I would take MIL and FIL out to dinner some other time to celebrate, and treat them to a modest meal at a nice, not cheap but not expensive place. I wouldn't want to be involved in this at all.

ETA: just saw LeveeWoman's post after I posted. Wasn't trying to steal her idea. I just agree.  ;)

G.M.T.A!
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Scuba_Dog on March 19, 2013, 08:13:46 PM
Not sure if this will work or not but the next time your husband speaks to his father about this, suggest to him that he try to swing the vocabulary toward actual numbers and away from words like "line of credit" and "open menu".

I say this because those are 'romanticized' words and they make it easy for the brain to ignore what they really mean.

If you and your husband have a rough idea of what you think this could cost (and figure on the high end because it usually turns out that way) I would start using that number when speaking to FIL.

Talk numbers.  "FIL-Dad, do you realize that this could end up costing upwards of four thousand dollars?" Sometimes hearing the numbers out loud has a way of bringing people back into reality.

Might work - might not - but I'd try that approach.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Iris on March 20, 2013, 12:58:54 AM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 20, 2013, 09:36:06 AM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

If this were my particular parents, that's what I would do, actually. I would see it as a situation where our relationship trumps etiquette rules. But I hesitate to give that advice to anyone else, because it really depends on the relationship between the two people.

Maybe DH and his father have that kind of relationship, maybe they don't. Sounds like the OP definitely doesn't have that kind of relationship with her FIL. Given that DH gave all that money to his sister at the last anniversary, is there a chance that in talking to his father further, he might be convinced to pay for a large portion of the evening, without the OP agreeing? That would be bad. I don't think it would be rude to just wash my hands of it at this point, try to spend modestly for my portion of the meal, give a monetary gift instead of a thing gift, and then... brace for impact.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 20, 2013, 09:40:09 AM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

Honestly, this is how I feel too.  It isn't clear whether or not FIL may have a separate account of just "his" money from which he intends to pay for this.  If so, I think it's his business and everyone else should probably stay out of it. 

But if she has been the primary contributor to their mutual/joint funds, then I too am very uncomfortable that this whole thing is being planned without her knowledge, much less her consent.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on March 20, 2013, 11:03:05 AM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

I also agree with this.

Frankly, I think that FIL is a fatuous jerk, and that spending this kind of money without MIL's knowledge or consent may just end the marriage that has already had rocky times.  Where is the common sense here? 

I'm extremely concerned also for OP and her DH.  I'm sure that they are going to be hit up for a huge sum to pay for the party.  If they are not expected to pay on the actual night, then I suspect that a few months down the road they are going to hear that the credit card needs to be paid, the gas/power is going to be turned off, or they can't meet the mortgage/taxes and so forth.

Even if they actually stayed home and avoided the party, IMO they will be asked for funds on an emergency basis at some point to pay for this folly. 

I strongly feel that MIL should be told ASAP, before this foolish man actually starts inviting people.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: DavidH on March 20, 2013, 01:17:14 PM
I'm not sure why we have decided that FIL will hit them up for money since he doesn't have the history of doing that.  The fact that BIL and SIL hit them up for money shouldn't implicate FIL in that behavior any more that it would suggest that the OP and her husband are prone to hitting others up for money. 

I get the point that his spending the money without consulting his wife bothers people, but we aren't part of their marrage. It's hard for me to believe that after 45 years of marriage he doesn't have some idea of how she might react.  It seems pretty presumptuous to have another conversation with him about the cost after he has told them how he intends to pay for it.

It's rude to delve into others finances, it's more rude to repeatedly inquire about the same situation after getting an answer. 

I think the OP's solution of go and give MIL money later is fine.  I'd still present the money as a gift rather than covering their dinner costs, since one says I reject your hospitality and the other says generous gift.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Danika on March 20, 2013, 01:17:31 PM
I strongly feel that MIL should be told ASAP, before this foolish man actually starts inviting people.

I agree, too. And I'm usually a very MYOB kind of person. In OP's DH's shoes, I'd say to my mother "hypothetically, let's say you were going to have a huge anniversary party that cost a lot of money, would you want to know about it if someone were going to surprise you with one using your joint bank account and credit cards?" and I'd go from there. If she said yes, then I'd say "then, you better talk to dad."
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Mikayla on March 20, 2013, 01:51:26 PM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

Since everyone has posted after this agreeing with you, I guess it's me going against the grain by disagreeing  :)

It still boils down to a relationship issue between MIL and FIL.  After 45 years of marriage, I'm sure they've had all sorts of private dynamics and battles, many of which probably related to money.  And any argument that MIL deserves to know can be countered by an argument that FIL deserves to plan. 

I agree with PPs that he sounds a little exuberant about these celebrations, but again, I see this as an issue between him and MIL.

I do like the idea of giving a cash gift enclosed in a card, as long as it's a reasonable amount for an anniversary, and not an attempt to held fund the event.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 20, 2013, 02:38:51 PM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

Since everyone has posted after this agreeing with you, I guess it's me going against the grain by disagreeing  :)

It still boils down to a relationship issue between MIL and FIL.  After 45 years of marriage, I'm sure they've had all sorts of private dynamics and battles, many of which probably related to money.  And any argument that MIL deserves to know can be countered by an argument that FIL deserves to plan. 

I agree with PPs that he sounds a little exuberant about these celebrations, but again, I see this as an issue between him and MIL.

I do like the idea of giving a cash gift enclosed in a card, as long as it's a reasonable amount for an anniversary, and not an attempt to held fund the event.

This is where I sit.  Sure, I might be upset if my DH spent more money than I was comfortable with without consulting me first.  But, I can trust that he won't.  I don't need my family to make sure this doesn't happen.  Even if I didn't trust him, I don't need my family to make sure he owns up to his half of the relationship.  This couple has been married for 45 years. How they spend money, how they communicate their plans to spend money, and how anniverssary surprises go down are their issue to deal with.  Either they've already spent some time in the last 45 years working through these issues, or FIL is outwardly disrespectful and MIL has chosen to deal with it.  Whatever the case is, it's their business.  If he does something that makes her mad, then he does something to make her mad.  That's his choice (smart or not) and her reaction to that choice is hers.  I would be more angry at my children/family/friends deciding they know better than I do how my finances should work, then I ever would at my DH for spending a bit too much trying to throw us an anniversary party. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: LifeOnPluto on March 20, 2013, 09:48:23 PM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

Honestly, this is how I feel too.  It isn't clear whether or not FIL may have a separate account of just "his" money from which he intends to pay for this.  If so, I think it's his business and everyone else should probably stay out of it. 

But if she has been the primary contributor to their mutual/joint funds, then I too am very uncomfortable that this whole thing is being planned without her knowledge, much less her consent.

I agree with this too. If FIL is paying with his own money, fine. If he's using their joint accounts, that's not ok. The MIL will be the one shouldering at least some of the financial burden afterwards.

OP, you and your DH know your MIL best. If you believe she'd be more upset about FIL blowing thousands on the party than she would about the surprise being ruined, I'd definitely tell her.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 21, 2013, 09:50:59 AM
I'm afraid I'm still going against the flow a bit here. If someone was going to spend $4000 of MY money I'd want to know. I don't think that FIL's right to surprise his wife outweighs MIL's right to not have a whole heap of her money spent without her consent or even knowledge.

Failing that FIL should be told very bluntly "I don't think MIL will like this. This is a lot of money. Do you have a plan to pay this off or will you leave it to her? Leave it to her? That's not really a present then is it?"  He's going to have to come down from the clouds anyway. Why not do it before he is taken down by a worried and possibly angry wife?

Honestly, this is how I feel too.  It isn't clear whether or not FIL may have a separate account of just "his" money from which he intends to pay for this.  If so, I think it's his business and everyone else should probably stay out of it. 

But if she has been the primary contributor to their mutual/joint funds, then I too am very uncomfortable that this whole thing is being planned without her knowledge, much less her consent.

I agree with this too. If FIL is paying with his own money, fine. If he's using their joint accounts, that's not ok. The MIL will be the one shouldering at least some of the financial burden afterwards.

OP, you and your DH know your MIL best. If you believe she'd be more upset about FIL blowing thousands on the party than she would about the surprise being ruined, I'd definitely tell her.

Actually, FIL knows MIL best.  And whether they have separate or joint accounts, the one thing that is clear that it's not the OP and DH's money, nor their business.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 21, 2013, 10:19:07 AM

Actually, FIL knows MIL best.  And whether they have separate or joint accounts, the one thing that is clear that it's not the OP and DH's money, nor their business.

True, but things like this often end badly with (in this case) parents possibly having a fight which effectively concludes their marriage or causes extreme financial hardship further down the road causing others to have to get involved whether that was their intention or not.  When the time comes that MIL and/or FIL has to request 'bailout' money, then it does indeed become "their business".

Or MIL might be furious that her children knew about this fiasco and did nothing to stop it.  She may see it as them contributing to the jeopardizing of her financial future when they could have prevented it from happening.  If family members stop speaking to each other and harboring resentments, that also directly affects others besides MIL and FIL and again, when it does, then it becomes "their business".
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 21, 2013, 10:22:36 AM

Actually, FIL knows MIL best.  And whether they have separate or joint accounts, the one thing that is clear that it's not the OP and DH's money, nor their business.

True, but things like this often end badly with (in this case) parents possibly having a fight which effectively concludes their marriage or causes extreme financial hardship further down the road causing others to have to get involved whether that was their intention or not.  When the time comes that MIL and/or FIL has to request 'bailout' money, then it does indeed become "their business".

Or MIL might be furious that her children knew about this fiasco and did nothing to stop it.  She may see it as them contributing to the jeopardizing of her financial future when they could have prevented it from happening.  If family members stop speaking to each other and harboring resentments, that also directly affects others besides MIL and FIL and again, when it does, then it becomes "their business".

And this would not be the first time tignduff and her husband had to pony up money for a party, as she posted about in No. 28.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 21, 2013, 10:31:32 AM
Hmmm ... LeveeWoman's comment made me think of something.   ???

Is there any chance at all that FIL remembers the fancy party the SIL gave for them (that the OP and her husband had to "finish" paying off)?   And maybe - probably even - he doesn't know that the SIL had to have considerable financial "help" to pull that off?   

Is there a possibility that his attitude is "Well, my daughter had this huge party for us just a few years ago and she was able to pay for the whole thing, so if my daughter can do it, I can certainly do it too!  I don't want to be shown up by my daughter!  I'll do what she did but even bigger and better and fancier and more expensive!"
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 21, 2013, 10:36:17 AM
Hmmm ... LeveeWoman's comment made me think of something.   ???

Is there any chance at all that FIL remembers the fancy party the SIL gave for them (that the OP and her husband had to "finish" paying off)?   And maybe - probably even - he doesn't know that the SIL had to have considerable financial "help" to pull that off?   

Is there a possibility that his attitude is "Well, my daughter had this huge party for us just a few years ago and she was able to pay for the whole thing, so if my daughter can do it, I can certainly do it too!  I don't want to be shown up by my daughter!  I'll do what she did but even bigger and better and fancier and more expensive!"

That's one reason I said I'd leave my checkbook, debit card, credit cards and cash at home the night of the shindig.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: POF on March 21, 2013, 11:48:51 AM

Actually, FIL knows MIL best.  And whether they have separate or joint accounts, the one thing that is clear that it's not the OP and DH's money, nor their business.

True, but things like this often end badly with (in this case) parents possibly having a fight which effectively concludes their marriage or causes extreme financial hardship further down the road causing others to have to get involved whether that was their intention or not.  When the time comes that MIL and/or FIL has to request 'bailout' money, then it does indeed become "their business".

Or MIL might be furious that her children knew about this fiasco and did nothing to stop it.  She may see it as them contributing to the jeopardizing of her financial future when they could have prevented it from happening.  If family members stop speaking to each other and harboring resentments, that also directly affects others besides MIL and FIL and again, when it does, then it becomes "their business".

Agreeing with you here.  If yu are most likely going to be hit up for help, if you have to listen to your MIL be concerned about your future... then they are making your business.

Its one thing if the FIL has a reutation for managing money or is he a spendthrift.  Sounds like the latter -  I would tell them .
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: QueenfaninCA on March 21, 2013, 11:51:44 AM
True, but things like this often end badly with (in this case) parents possibly having a fight which effectively concludes their marriage or causes extreme financial hardship further down the road causing others to have to get involved whether that was their intention or not.  When the time comes that MIL and/or FIL has to request 'bailout' money, then it does indeed become "their business".

Or MIL might be furious that her children knew about this fiasco and did nothing to stop it.  She may see it as them contributing to the jeopardizing of her financial future when they could have prevented it from happening.  If family members stop speaking to each other and harboring resentments, that also directly affects others besides MIL and FIL and again, when it does, then it becomes "their business".

POD.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Danika on March 21, 2013, 12:46:47 PM
Is there any chance at all that FIL remembers the fancy party the SIL gave for them (that the OP and her husband had to "finish" paying off)?   And maybe - probably even - he doesn't know that the SIL had to have considerable financial "help" to pull that off?   

Is there a possibility that his attitude is "Well, my daughter had this huge party for us just a few years ago and she was able to pay for the whole thing, so if my daughter can do it, I can certainly do it too!  I don't want to be shown up by my daughter!  I'll do what she did but even bigger and better and fancier and more expensive!"

I was thinking something similar, but I was thinking more like SIL probably told FIL "oh, don't worry about money. Tignduff and brother are willing to contribute. They'll help."

In my father's family, for some reason, people got the impression that my father had a lot of money. He is very frugal and cheap and so he was never drowing in debt like the others, but he was living paycheck to paycheck. But for some reason, there's a misconception that he has money. And this was my grandmother's sentiment "Oh, I can give money I don't have to other grandchildren because my son will pay for my retirement." Which was false, because he had neither the desire nor the money to bail her out and pay for all of her debts. But for some reason, she thought she was entitled.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 21, 2013, 04:58:53 PM

Actually, FIL knows MIL best.  And whether they have separate or joint accounts, the one thing that is clear that it's not the OP and DH's money, nor their business.

True, but things like this often end badly with (in this case) parents possibly having a fight which effectively concludes their marriage or causes extreme financial hardship further down the road causing others to have to get involved whether that was their intention or not.  When the time comes that MIL and/or FIL has to request 'bailout' money, then it does indeed become "their business".

Or MIL might be furious that her children knew about this fiasco and did nothing to stop it.  She may see it as them contributing to the jeopardizing of her financial future when they could have prevented it from happening.  If family members stop speaking to each other and harboring resentments, that also directly affects others besides MIL and FIL and again, when it does, then it becomes "their business".

And this would not be the first time tignduff and her husband had to pony up money for a party, as she posted about in No. 28.

I'm having a very hard time with any justification that there is a reason (outside of safety, maybe a cheating situation, or something that will bankrupt (catastrophic consequences)) that makes it ok for anyone to butt into someone else's financial situation and marriage.  Yes this is an expensive party, per the OPs and maybe even FIL/MIL's standards.  Maybe the party is even getting out of hand.  But to decide that anyone would have a right above FIL to go behind his back and tattle to his wife, effectively ruining any surprise he has for her, because for some reason they know better than him how she will react is beyond me.  This is their marriage.   And it's their finances.  If the OP is really so concerned that he's making a huge mistake, then they can bring it up with him (though I think that's overstepping too).  But if he doesn't want to talk about it, or doesn't want to accept their warnings, then that's on him. 

So, how ironic is it that the OP may justify going behind FIL's back and inserting herself into his business to avoid this impending divorce that a surprise party would may or may not result in, and cause an even bigger rift. Not only the potential to cause MIL and FIL to have an epic fight before they even get to their anniversary, but the even greater liklihood of hurting her and her DH's relationship with one or both of his parents. 

If they are going to fight, let them fight.  If something like a credit card bill is going to push them to divorce after 45 years of dealing with these same issues (who hasn't after even just 2 years?), then they divorce.  It's their relationship.  The OP may not like them to break up, but it's not her job to intercept all these possible fights to protect them against it. She's not "relationship Woman", here to save the day before you even know there's a problem.

 
And, I said this before and I'll say it again.  Just because SIL/BIL asked the OP for money before, doesn't mean that FIL is planning to or going to this time.  By that logic, who's to say that the OP and her DH aren't planning to pull the same stunt themselves?  Afterall, they are all part of the same family and that makes the history relevent, right?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on March 21, 2013, 08:56:55 PM
In laws are not well off. Father in law "retired" about 8 years ago. Mother in law worked as long as she could before retiring.

 I have a financial/legal background and many times mother in law has come to me for advice / support.

 Father in law called and said he wanted to do a dinner at a restaurant this year and would we help plan it.

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit

My sister in law is not in a position to contribute in any way and hubby and I could but not to the extent to make a huge dent in the overall cost.

Re: ponying up at the earlier event. I did not agree at all and in fact it was quite the disagreement between hubby and I that in fact basically ruined our evening that night and took us a few days to sort out.



The green sentences are taken from the OP's different posts.

To my way of thinking, MIL and FIL have already involved tiggnduff and her DH in their business.  MIL has confided to OP about the family finances **many times**, and FIL has asked them to help plan the party.  That could give him justification to ask for financial help in the subsequent fallout from the party. 

OP knows that the IL's are people of modest means, and that a large expenditure will be very hard for them to repay.  OP and her husband don't have a lot of money to bail them out, but I think that her DH will feel obligated to help if their finances are so shredded by this that they can't pay for the necessities.  Paying for the 40th dinner caused stress between OP and DH.

I don't think that the idea of bankruptcy is so far fetched.  Their finances sound rather pinched right now.  Add a large credit card payment to that, and then suppose something unexpected comes up like medical bills, home repairs, car repairs, etc.  I do think that this could turn into a catastrophic financial situation.

I still think that MIL is going to feel betrayed that her children let her husband do this without a warning.  I don't think that a spouse of either gender should spend thousands to "surprise" the other under any circumstances.  A PP had a good point when he/she stated that these are funds that come from both IL's monies. 

Here is another thought - and not a nice one.  Right now I assume that the IL's have two incomes of Social Security coming into the household to pay the bills and the taxes.  If one of them passes away before the charge is paid I suspect the remaining spouse would still be responsible to pay the bill.  The remaining spouse would still have all of the other bills to pay, too, with a greatly reduced income.

If MIL was ecstatic about the 40th party, this might be justified.   Otherwise, I think this will not end well./color]
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: POF on March 22, 2013, 06:29:30 AM
doodlemor - I agree with you absolutely.

The FIL and MIL have shown that they DO invole the OP in their business.  I believe that changes the entire dynamic.  Plus - my parents have been married the same amount of time and these type of passive agressive thing has been used my Dad ... But it was a SURPRISE for YOU !!! he will say to my Mom about an expense that A) she didn't want, B) they could not afford.

That dynamic WILL bleed over to other family members. 

For this reason - my parents know NOTHING about my finances, not what I make what anythign costs .... Nothing.  In this type of situation, where I have deliberately kept my finances to myself - YES, it would be a problem if they butted in.  Not the case in this situation,.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Dazi on March 22, 2013, 07:08:43 AM
I just asked my DH what he thinks my reaction would be if he did this.

His response "You would be okay with a limited menu at a restaurant priced like Outback, if I saved up for it.  Otherwise you'd have my Donkey's Patoot." 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: MommyPenguin on March 22, 2013, 08:28:19 AM
One consideration might be... is MIL even going to be able to enjoy this celebration?  I mean, she'll walk in, expecting a two-person dinner or whatever the decoy is, everybody will yell, "Happy Anniversary!" and she'll exclaim and sit down and... then she'll start to think, "Wait, this is FIL's thing?  Where's all the money coming from?  Did he save for it or something?  Are *we* going to be paying for it?  Then she'll look around and count everybody, take note of what people are eating, look at the menu, do some quick math, and start to worry.  Even if she isn't the type to try to calculate what they're going to owe, there's a good chance that she'll realize that this is going to be really expensive when they're already close to the line.  Is she really even going to enjoy the night (that she'll be paying for for years) when she realizes that?

It could be the same with, say, a fancy cruise.  You're surprised by being told to pack some clothes and then arriving at the boat in time to go on a fancy cruise... but would you really be able to enjoy it if you're worried that those few days will ruin your finances for years?

I'd talk to the FIL *seriously*, pointing out actual numbers, and that it's not really fair to surprise MIL with something that she'll be paying for and gets no say in, and see what he says.  If he still won't budge, honestly, I'd tell MIL.  As others have said, they've already involved the OP and her DH in their finances.  And this is somebody taking money that MIL has earned from her, forcing her to spend it on what they want, and presenting her with the bill.  If they've been married 45 years then they're probably at least 65 and maybe older, which means they don't have a lot of earning years left, and health problems could pop up that would make recovering from this a big deal.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Margo on March 22, 2013, 08:55:05 AM

OP, you and your DH know your MIL best. If you believe she'd be more upset about FIL blowing thousands on the party than she would about the surprise being ruined, I'd definitely tell her.

Actually, FIL knows MIL best.  And whether they have separate or joint accounts, the one thing that is clear that it's not the OP and DH's money, nor their business.

But by involving OP and her DH in the plans, FiL has made it their business, at least up to a point. They are now part of keeping MiL in the dark. I think that OP's Husband could say to his father -something along the lines of
"Dad, I'm really worried that Mom is not going to like this, because of the financial burden it will put on you both to pay for this. From what you've told me, it sounds like what you're planning is going to cost $4,000 and up. I  don't feel comfortable keeping that secret from Mom, if she's going to end up effectively paying for it." I think he can then lay out what he is, or isn't able to do - e.g. "I'm happy to help you work out a set price menu, so you can fix a budget which you and Mom can afford without struggling, but I feel I at least have to give Mom a head-up and suggest she talks to you about plans for the anniversary, because I'm going to feel like a heel if it turns out that this lands the two of you in debt, and I knew and didn't warn her"

Is there any chance that one of you could, quite separately, talk to his Mom to see what she would like? You don't have to tell her about the party, just test the water as to how she'd like to celebrate the anniversary. If she says "Oh, we're having a party at [expensive restaurant]. FiL thinks I don't know, so don't let on" you're off the hook. If she says "I'm planning to take FiL for a romantic dinner for two - I'm really looking forward to a quiet anniversary" then you can then consider speaking to FiL and telling him that while you haven't told MiL, you happened to be talking to her and the anniversary came up, and she made it clear that she really wants a quiet celebration.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 22, 2013, 10:55:39 AM
I'm honestly flabbergasted by the response on this thread and can't figure out what I'm missing.  The FIL asked them to help plan a party that he's paying for...not them.  He asked them to help keep a surprise, maybe come up with some ideas, help with coordination.  That's their lane.  They are welcome to come up with cheaper ideas, but it's his party so if he doesn't agree, then he doesn't agree.

Is FIL not mentally stable enough to make his own grown up decisions?  In 45 years has this couple never worked through how financial decisions are made?  Is the OP and her DH somehow responsible for the care of FIL and MIL?

MIL may have asked the OP for financial advice in the past.  She may ask again in the future.  That doesn't make it the OPs responsibility or even give her the right to insert herself into every financial decision they make.  It certainly doesn't give her the right to decide that she knows their marriage better than they do.

These are adults.  In an adult and very long term relationship.  They didn't get to a 45 year anniversary by not ever working through conflict.  FIL has made it this far making his own decision with regards to money (no matter how sound anyone thinks they are).

So, if FIL is mentally unfit to make decisions, then the OP should say something...but that's not an etiquette isse.
Etiquette wise, it's completely innappropriate for her to insert herself into the business of other adults.  I know I certainly wouldn't like it if a family member ruined a surprise my DH was planning for me because he asked them to help plan and they felt that gave them some kind of in to make judgements on the cost, my reaction to the cost, and the fragility of our marriage. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on March 22, 2013, 11:25:49 AM
wow this has turned into a very interesting discussion  :).  I can see both side of this and I think that is why DH and I are struggling with this.  We keep swaying back on forth between doing nothing and doing something. 

Further discussion between us and we are firmly in the do nothing camp.  Show up and smile, as they say.

I admit it will likely play out as a previous poster described with MIL's brain starting the calculations once she realizes that FIL is picking up the tab.  They are grown ups they can sort it out. It's their marriage.

DH and I are firm on not bailing anyone out! DH wavered a bit at the beginning when we were discussing the "bail out" possibility but I was way more than firm on my opinion and he admitted I'm right  :D and we are standing strong & together on this point now.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: POF on March 22, 2013, 12:21:18 PM
I'm honestly flabbergasted by the response on this thread and can't figure out what I'm missing.  The FIL asked them to help plan a party that he's paying for...not them.  He asked them to help keep a surprise, maybe come up with some ideas, help with coordination.  That's their lane.  They are welcome to come up with cheaper ideas, but it's his party so if he doesn't agree, then he doesn't agree.

Is FIL not mentally stable enough to make his own grown up decisions?  In 45 years has this couple never worked through how financial decisions are made?  Is the OP and her DH somehow responsible for the care of FIL and MIL?

MIL may have asked the OP for financial advice in the past.  She may ask again in the future.  That doesn't make it the OPs responsibility or even give her the right to insert herself into every financial decision they make.  It certainly doesn't give her the right to decide that she knows their marriage better than they do.

These are adults.  In an adult and very long term relationship.  They didn't get to a 45 year anniversary by not ever working through conflict.  FIL has made it this far making his own decision with regards to money (no matter how sound anyone thinks they are).

So, if FIL is mentally unfit to make decisions, then the OP should say something...but that's not an etiquette isse.
Etiquette wise, it's completely innappropriate for her to insert herself into the business of other adults.  I know I certainly wouldn't like it if a family member ruined a surprise my DH was planning for me because he asked them to help plan and they felt that gave them some kind of in to make judgements on the cost, my reaction to the cost, and the fragility of our marriage.

Bah - I think you are being very literal and black/white about the situation.  I think family dynamics have unseen undertones and are not as defined as you indicate.  Just because someone makes unsoound financial decisions does not make them mentally unfit - that is quite a stretch.

Plus - for most people a $4,000 + party is a huge tremendous expense - My husband and I do well financially and it would never ever occur to me to host an open menu event of this size.  Some of the things the OP mentioned, the growing invitee list, the no expenses spared look like a gesture starting to get away from anyone. It also seems like this event has started to take on a life of its own.  when we planned an event for my MIL, we went at it with a deifned guest list, a budget and reasonable expectations.  I bet if this event were being priced out at $1,000  - there would be much less concern.

Frankly - I am flabberghast at your inability to see both sides.  I understand that many times family / other people finances are not my business.  But give the history here ..... I think it is. 

OP - I alos think the whole - help me keep it a surprise might backfire .... what if MIL gets mad at you and FIL says - well they thought it should be a surprise.....  I know that's a slight possibility, but I've seen it happen before.

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on March 22, 2013, 12:42:59 PM
wow this has turned into a very interesting discussion  :).  I can see both side of this and I think that is why DH and I are struggling with this.  We keep swaying back on forth between doing nothing and doing something. 

Further discussion between us and we are firmly in the do nothing camp.  Show up and smile, as they say.

I admit it will likely play out as a previous poster described with MIL's brain starting the calculations once she realizes that FIL is picking up the tab.  They are grown ups they can sort it out. It's their marriage.

DH and I are firm on not bailing anyone out! DH wavered a bit at the beginning when we were discussing the "bail out" possibility but I was way more than firm on my opinion and he admitted I'm right  :D and we are standing strong & together on this point now.

Best of luck with the situation, tiggnduff.  Let us know how the party goes.  I'm sure that MIL will enjoy seeing her friends.  Maybe some people will give a bit of cash, and that can be used to offset the expenses.

I've been very concerned for you and DH, that you could be asked for $$$$ later this year, when FIL can't pay the charge bill, utilities, taxes, car, etc.  Perhaps you could discuss with DH just what he will say if this happens later on.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Bethalize on March 22, 2013, 12:56:40 PM
Minding your own business and treating your family members as respectable, sensible adults is great in principle but so many family members don't act like respectable, sensible adults.

Delusions of grandeur have led many a person into debt. It's a narcissistic trait and if the father has it and his wife is living with it then I think she'd be grateful for family who watch out for her. The lack of compromise from the father suggests to me that being the big "I am" is part of this experience for him whereas most people would be concerned about giving their guests as good a time as they could afford.

Tiggnduff, if you suspect even one iota that your father in law is being grandiose rather than clueless I'd let your mother in law know. If you think father in law is being clueless then I'd push the issue with him a little more and try and get him to compromise.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 22, 2013, 01:29:27 PM
OP, sounds like you and your DH have come up with a plan, and good for you; that's the important part, so neither of you gets ambushed later and agrees to something without the other.

I'm kind of torn on the issue, personally. If it was my father--as in, my actual father with all our history, personalities, etc.--I would question him about his plan, ask about cost, ask if he thought my mom really wanted him to spend that much money, etc.. Generally trying to lead him away from the expensive idea or at least discuss it with her first. And if all else failed I would mention it to my mom myself. Normally I'm the type to butt out of things but if the $$ was really getting up there I would see it as crossing the line into seriously bad behavior, and I would not want to sit by and let it happen without trying to do something. In my case I wouldn't even worry about them expecting me to bail them out, because I make/have less than my parents; it would be all about how hurt and angry my mom was going to be.

But, that is how my own family dynamic works, and I have reason to believe it would be successful based on our shared history. I can see how someone else might not feel that way about their own, or especially someone else's, family; and I think if there's doubt, doing nothing, while battening down your own financial hatches, is probably the best option.

The other consideration is how often the OP/her DH intrude between this couple. Of course I would find it tiresome if someone was frequently second-guessing my SO's judgment and tattling to me. But stepping in once, out of genuine concern, over what is perceived to be an extreme situation, is much more forgivable, IMO. Which I guess means I do think stepping in is fundamentally rude, but sometimes the situation trumps that consideration.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 22, 2013, 02:09:33 PM
I'm honestly flabbergasted by the response on this thread and can't figure out what I'm missing.  The FIL asked them to help plan a party that he's paying for...not them.  He asked them to help keep a surprise, maybe come up with some ideas, help with coordination.  That's their lane.  They are welcome to come up with cheaper ideas, but it's his party so if he doesn't agree, then he doesn't agree.

Is FIL not mentally stable enough to make his own grown up decisions?  In 45 years has this couple never worked through how financial decisions are made?  Is the OP and her DH somehow responsible for the care of FIL and MIL?

MIL may have asked the OP for financial advice in the past.  She may ask again in the future.  That doesn't make it the OPs responsibility or even give her the right to insert herself into every financial decision they make.  It certainly doesn't give her the right to decide that she knows their marriage better than they do.

These are adults.  In an adult and very long term relationship.  They didn't get to a 45 year anniversary by not ever working through conflict.  FIL has made it this far making his own decision with regards to money (no matter how sound anyone thinks they are).

So, if FIL is mentally unfit to make decisions, then the OP should say something...but that's not an etiquette isse.
Etiquette wise, it's completely innappropriate for her to insert herself into the business of other adults.  I know I certainly wouldn't like it if a family member ruined a surprise my DH was planning for me because he asked them to help plan and they felt that gave them some kind of in to make judgements on the cost, my reaction to the cost, and the fragility of our marriage.

Bah - I think you are being very literal and black/white about the situation.  I think family dynamics have unseen undertones and are not as defined as you indicate. Just because someone makes unsoound financial decisions does not make them mentally unfit - that is quite a stretch. Plus - for most people a $4,000 + party is a huge tremendous expense - My husband and I do well financially and it would never ever occur to me to host an open menu event of this size.  Some of the things the OP mentioned, the growing invitee list, the no expenses spared look like a gesture starting to get away from anyone. It also seems like this event has started to take on a life of its own.  when we planned an event for my MIL, we went at it with a deifned guest list, a budget and reasonable expectations.  I bet if this event were being priced out at $1,000  - there would be much less concern.

Frankly - I am flabberghast at your inability to see both sides.  I understand that many times family / other people finances are not my business.  But give the history here ..... I think it is. 

OP - I alos think the whole - help me keep it a surprise might backfire .... what if MIL gets mad at you and FIL says - well they thought it should be a surprise.....  I know that's a slight possibility, but I've seen it happen before.

That's my point.  Finances and relationships are not open for family fodder.  Just because FIL has made some unwise decisions in the past that MIL has not liked, doesn't mean that he's unable to make financial decisions on a whole.   They can definitely say "Hey, FIL, this is kind of getting big and expensive.  Does it fit in your budget?  Have you thought about what that even may be?"  But, if he says "I got this" then they have to respect that.  They don't know if he's saved up for this or not.  They don't know if he already got permission to charge $4000 on the credit cards and told MIL it was for something else.  To assume that anyone would be so in the know that it makes it appropriate to interfere in their finances and predict the outcome of their marriage as a result...better than FIL is crazy.

Where would you draw the line?  At what dollar amount is FIL allowed to make his own decisions without interference from his children?  How many times do the kids get to approve of his spending habits before they don't question them anymore?  Family dynamics aside, this type of thinking is extremely disrespectful.  He doesn't have a mental inability to make decisions, so really the OP and her DH have no right to go behind his back and "tattle" to MIL, and potentially causing a whole lot of ado about nothing (which they have wisely decided to back away). 

How many of those in the "I think they should interfere" camp would be livid if someone did this to them?  How many would argue "it's different with me because I've considered a, b and c and other family doesn't know that", yet fail to see that argument both ways.

Minding your own business and treating your family members as respectable, sensible adults is great in principle but so many family members don't act like respectable, sensible adults.
I was unaware that etiquette gives an allowance to not respect other adults if you (general) feel they aren't acting sensibly.  That's pretty interesting. 

There is no excuse, outside of being mentally unfit or safety, to insert yourself (general) into another adults finances and marriage when you are neither their financial nor marriage councelor.  Being asked for input at some point in the past does not buy you (again general) the freedom to interfere in all future decisions as you see fit.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on March 22, 2013, 02:58:14 PM
We do know that FIL has not saved up for this:

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 22, 2013, 03:13:05 PM
We do know that FIL has not saved up for this:

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit

He has a plan for payment.  So, we are also to assume that he doesn't also have a plan for paying the credit card?

I'm not saying that he's definitely making a financially wise decision.  I am saying, it's no one's business. 

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Amara on March 22, 2013, 06:12:05 PM
OP, do you happen to know if his "line of credit" will be a credit card or tied to their house?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Danika on March 22, 2013, 10:48:28 PM
I've been very concerned for you and DH, that you could be asked for $$$$ later this year, when FIL can't pay the charge bill, utilities, taxes, car, etc.  Perhaps you could discuss with DH just what he will say if this happens later on.

OP, I'm concerned about this as well. It's fine for you and DH to be on the same page now about how you're not going to give money to FIL for this party. But what about 6 months from now when FIL calls and says "Our fridge just broke. We have to replace it. We have no money because we are paying the line of credit/credit card. Can you help us buy a fridge?" or when poor MIL says "Our furnace went out. We have no heat in the house. Can you buy us a furnace and pay for installation and we'll pay you back later?" Is your DH as convinced that he will then also say "no"?

I think your DH should ask FIL why it's so important that this party be a surprise? If FIL thinks MIL will enjoy it, why isn't he letting her in on the plans? My suspicion is that he knows she wouldn't approve of the expenditure and she would nix it. So he's making it a surprise. But, like others have said, she probably won't enjoy it because she'll be freaking out and worried the whole time about the cost.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: blarg314 on March 23, 2013, 12:34:32 AM

The "none of my business" approach comes with an additional layer, I think.

The OP has been asked to help plan this party.  She knows that her FIL cannot afford it and the cost of the party will put him in debt. She knows that the party is being planned without her MIL's knowledge, and that her MIL will be both very upset, and share in the financial loss caused by this party.

Even if I didn't tell my MIL, I think I'd be very uncomfortable actually helping him do this.  I think I'd go with telling him outright "I'm really not comfortable helping you plan a surprise party that's going to drive you and MIL further into debt and really upset MIL.  It's your money and your relationship, and what you do is up to you, but I can't help you with it."

That's staying out of it. Helping plan the party but not saying anything to the MIL isn't really staying out of it. 

On a more general note - this could be a really difficult issue in the long term because there is a high probability that financial irresponsibility on the part of the OP's in-laws could effect the OP and her husband. They're retired and on a set income. If they spend beyond their means and the credit comes back to bite them, it can lead to choices like "Do we pay for their utilities, or do we let them go without power so they'll learn their lesson." Saying  that it's not your business is one thing. Watching while your elderly parents sink into poverty, or lose their house, or can't buy groceries, or can't afford the care they need -  that's something different.

Of course, if your in-laws do end up coming for money for basic necessities, it gives you leverage. If they want the power turned back on, or the groceries funded, they have to pass control of their finances over to you, for example. That doesn't necessarily make for smooth family dynamics, but it can keep you from suffering financial hardship yourself.

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Deetee on March 23, 2013, 12:47:09 AM
After reading all the comments, I would fall pretty firmly on the say nothing to mom side of things. If it were me and any of my parents or in-laws who all have varying degrees of financial responsibility I can't imagine going to the other spouse.

I can see myself arguing with the person who was coming up up with the plans (or at least running all the numbers for them) but unless I actually thought the planner was incompetant to manage their own affairs, I wouldn't try to interfer.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on March 24, 2013, 08:11:08 AM
OP, do you happen to know if his "line of credit" will be a credit card or tied to their house?

I actually do know that it is a secured line of credit on their property  :(
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on March 24, 2013, 08:19:18 AM
I've been very concerned for you and DH, that you could be asked for $$$$ later this year, when FIL can't pay the charge bill, utilities, taxes, car, etc.  Perhaps you could discuss with DH just what he will say if this happens later on.

OP, I'm concerned about this as well. It's fine for you and DH to be on the same page now about how you're not going to give money to FIL for this party. But what about 6 months from now when FIL calls and says "Our fridge just broke. We have to replace it. We have no money because we are paying the line of credit/credit card. Can you help us buy a fridge?" or when poor MIL says "Our furnace went out. We have no heat in the house. Can you buy us a furnace and pay for installation and we'll pay you back later?" Is your DH as convinced that he will then also say "no"?

I think your DH should ask FIL why it's so important that this party be a surprise? If FIL thinks MIL will enjoy it, why isn't he letting her in on the plans? My suspicion is that he knows she wouldn't approve of the expenditure and she would nix it. So he's making it a surprise. But, like others have said, she probably won't enjoy it because she'll be freaking out and worried the whole time about the cost.

This is an issue we are a bit concerned about as well.  DH and I are not well off by any means. We are the poster people for working stiffs lol and could very easily be paycheque to paycheque people but we plans well and manage to save a bit here and there.  We are by far unfortunately the most financially responsible of the inlaw clan (not tooting our own here it's just a fact) MIL is good with money though but FIL never has been and I know it's due to a lot of planning and taking over of the finances on MIL's part that they are even comfortable at this point. Plus MIL is in must better health than FIL so if you had to peak into your crystal ball it is way more likely that MIL will by far out live FIL. I think MIL realizes that this is likely the future and she will need to be able to support herself.  Her mother is 96  :) and is still not in need of nursing home care.

Plus the inlaws regularly "support" or help out (enable) my SIL but then that's none of my business and another story.

We have our own family to support and I've been firm with DH that extra money that we work hard to save needs to be saved for our family's benefit. The answer in six month's to for help if they come with be NO.  FIL can put the "furnace"on the line of credit? That was what they took it out for before MIL retired and could get approve. It was to be for emergencies and large things that went wrong.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: WillyNilly on March 24, 2013, 02:31:45 PM
Honestly I have to say what puzzles me most about this is that the restaurant is totally ok with a 40 person party and an open menu. Usually restaurant kitchens prefer to stagger dishes - that's why servers don't ticket load (if 3 tables are all sat in their section at the same time they don't take all 3 tables orders at the same time and bring all those tickets into the kitchen at once. They do one table, take in the ticket, then the next table take in the ticket, then the third table - to allow the kitchen time to stagger the preparation). In this case they want 40 meals all to arrive at once - its easier for the kitchen and ultimately going to be better for the customer to have a limited menu the kitchen can prepare for in advance and be ready to bang out in one big go.

I also think a consideration beyond cost is: will MIL enjoy a surprise party? Not everyone does. I adore my DH and was super happy and surprised when he threw me a surprise birthday party... but honestly? He left off a few friends I would have invited if I were involved in the planning (he did ask my BFF to help, but she doesn't know these two friends, and while she knows of them, they slipped her mind), and he didn't have the music I would have preferred, and while I was dressed up because I thought we were going out to dinner, I would have picked a totally different outfit and hair & make-up for a personal party then I did for what I thought was dinner for just the two of us.

So to to me, the financial concerns are valid, and just one more issue is a whole pile of issues.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Amara on March 24, 2013, 02:45:00 PM
OP, do you happen to know if his "line of credit" will be a credit card or tied to their house?

I actually do know that it is a secured line of credit on their property  :(

This frightens me, OP, and I bet it does you too. Knowing this, I know exactly what I would do but I am not in your situation. All I want to do right now is send you and your MIL lots of hugs and well wishes.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: VorFemme on March 24, 2013, 05:59:45 PM
Frankly, going over everything in the last few posts - there is no way that any of the options we've considered is going to end well.

If FIL overspends so that he can be the generous host - MIL may end up asking "why did you let him do that?" to the OP at some point.

If MIL puts a stop to FIL's grandiose plans because they can't afford it, he'll sulk because he didn't get to throw the party of his dreams (never mind that he could only dream of paying for it.....).

If the OP and spouse pay for anything - it is coming out of monies that they really shouldn't have to spend to support two adults.

If the OP and spouse don't pay for anything - the ILs could end up in financial ruin or near ruin down the line.

SIL and her spouse are unlikely in the extreme to do anything helpful - like insist on a smaller event, help pay for the party, or limit their requests for "help" over the next few months or years while the bill for this one time extravaganza is paid off - whether by MIL & FIL scrimping or whatever happens......

Unless FIL is the one who just bought the 338 million dollar lottery ticket in the USA (and I seriously doubt it) - "by the pricking of my thumbs, something bad this way comes".
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 24, 2013, 06:42:36 PM


If the OP and spouse pay for anything - it is coming out of monies that they really shouldn't have to spend to support two adults.



I think the OP and her husband should make VERY clear that this is not going to happen!!  They need to let both FIL and MIL know that they are financially secure only because they plan well, execute their finances well, save well and even then they don't have enough to support another family or even really help out.  MIL and FIL seem to be functioning under the delusion that OP and her husband are rolling in cash.  They need to have that concept squashed thoroughly and permanently.

And I agree with everything else VorFemme says too.  No matter what, this saga is NOT going to have a "happy ending".
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Aeris on March 25, 2013, 12:55:11 PM
We do know that FIL has not saved up for this:

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit

He has a plan for payment.  So, we are also to assume that he doesn't also have a plan for paying the credit card?

I'm not saying that he's definitely making a financially wise decision.  I am saying, it's no one's business.

By completely technical etiquette, I suppose you're right. But immediate family interactions and close friendships are not governed solely by formal and technical etiquette.

You keep bringing up this idea that FIL knows MIL better than the OP and her DH do, and that is just not necessarily true. Heck, it's not even *likely* to be true on the subject of finances, given all the information we have.

My parents have been fighting about money, rather intensely, for some time now. I know my mother better than my father does on a whole variety of subjects. That's just a fact, and one that my mother says often. My parents are nowhere near the tight financial situation the OP's in-laws are in, but if they were I can predict what would happen:

My father would puff out his chest and plan this ridiculousness and feel like he was the benevolent provider. My mother would walk in, immediately be overwhelmed with how much it was costing. She would quickly do mental calculations in her head, run those against their current debt, assets, and income, and within 10 minutes she would be in the bathroom hysterically crying. The party would be over, my mother would feel publicly humiliated and betrayed, my father would be completely confused and feel that no one was properly appreciating his amazingness.

It would be a disaster of epic proportions for which my mother might never forgive my father.

Whatever formal technical etiquette might say, there's no way in hell I'd allow my mother to go through that public humiliation and panic. No way in hell. Because I love her, and she's my mother, and I know her. And if that made my father feel like I was stepping on his toes, so be it.

Because what's more important here? That my father gets to feel like King Kong for all of 5 minutes? Or that my mother not feel publicly humiliated, betrayed, and see her financial stability ruined? That's an easy question for me, and I honestly don't think Miss Manners or Peggy Post gets a say in that.

If I wasn't sure how my mother would respond, I'd keep my nose out of it. And if it was anyone other than my mother, or someone I was similarly **intimately** close with, I'd keep my mouth shut. But for me personally, I know exactly how my mother would feel and react.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Twik on March 25, 2013, 02:51:07 PM


If the OP and spouse pay for anything - it is coming out of monies that they really shouldn't have to spend to support two adults.



I think the OP and her husband should make VERY clear that this is not going to happen!!  They need to let both FIL and MIL know that they are financially secure only because they plan well, execute their finances well, save well and even then they don't have enough to support another family or even really help out.  MIL and FIL seem to be functioning under the delusion that OP and her husband are rolling in cash.  They need to have that concept squashed thoroughly and permanently.

And I agree with everything else VorFemme says too.  No matter what, this saga is NOT going to have a "happy ending".

They can't very well say that, and then let FIL go off and spend money that is partly MIL's. "Oh, we knew your husband was spending hand over fist, and didn't warn you - but you'll need to cope with mess he made, we're not helping," isn't a great solution.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: rigs32 on March 25, 2013, 03:05:53 PM
My ex used to do this all. the. time.  "Grand gestures" that would, ultimately become my responsibility to pay for.  I did not enjoy them.  I got angry and resentful.  I wish some friends or family would have encouraged him to not do this, but I don't think they understood our financial situations.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: VorFemme on March 25, 2013, 04:36:57 PM
Ten years ago, I had a friend (we've moved and we lost touch gradually) whose husband (now ex-) did that.  He couldn't or wouldn't admit to his family that he wasn't rich, so he'd pick up the check at family get-togethers.  Knowing that he was going to do that, his siblings and parents would order expensive things off the menu and pig out (based on what my friend would tell me later). 

He did have a fairly good job - but he kept spending to the limit of what he was earning - apparently not remembering little things like income tax, property tax, savings for their kids' college funds, and the like......so he'd spend money that should have been set aside.  Then complain because SHE wasn't building up the savings accounts......

They divorced about seven years ago......
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 26, 2013, 10:12:52 AM
We do know that FIL has not saved up for this:

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit

He has a plan for payment.  So, we are also to assume that he doesn't also have a plan for paying the credit card?

I'm not saying that he's definitely making a financially wise decision.  I am saying, it's no one's business.

By completely technical etiquette, I suppose you're right. But immediate family interactions and close friendships are not governed solely by formal and technical etiquette.

You keep bringing up this idea that FIL knows MIL better than the OP and her DH do, and that is just not necessarily true. Heck, it's not even *likely* to be true on the subject of finances, given all the information we have.

My parents have been fighting about money, rather intensely, for some time now. I know my mother better than my father does on a whole variety of subjects. That's just a fact, and one that my mother says often. My parents are nowhere near the tight financial situation the OP's in-laws are in, but if they were I can predict what would happen:

My father would puff out his chest and plan this ridiculousness and feel like he was the benevolent provider. My mother would walk in, immediately be overwhelmed with how much it was costing. She would quickly do mental calculations in her head, run those against their current debt, assets, and income, and within 10 minutes she would be in the bathroom hysterically crying. The party would be over, my mother would feel publicly humiliated and betrayed, my father would be completely confused and feel that no one was properly appreciating his amazingness.

It would be a disaster of epic proportions for which my mother might never forgive my father.

Whatever formal technical etiquette might say, there's no way in hell I'd allow my mother to go through that public humiliation and panic. No way in hell. Because I love her, and she's my mother, and I know her. And if that made my father feel like I was stepping on his toes, so be it.

Because what's more important here? That my father gets to feel like King Kong for all of 5 minutes? Or that my mother not feel publicly humiliated, betrayed, and see her financial stability ruined? That's an easy question for me, and I honestly don't think Miss Manners or Peggy Post gets a say in that.

If I wasn't sure how my mother would respond, I'd keep my nose out of it. And if it was anyone other than my mother, or someone I was similarly **intimately** close with, I'd keep my mouth shut. But for me personally, I know exactly how my mother would feel and react.

I think that it all doesn't matter.  We're talking about interference in another couples finances and marriage over an anniversary party.  I'm sorry, but this couple has been married for 45 years.  They are certainly not naive to how they each handle finances, conflict, etc.  Surely if FIL's spending habits have not drastically changed in the last few years, MIL knows how he spends, right?  Surely she's adult enough to make her own decisions about how she handles it.  She's stayed married to this man for almost half a century.  How can anyone say that they know her better than him...or him better than her?  He might be an incensitive selfish clod, but unless he's somehow forcing her to stay married to him, they've been through this before, and survived.  If she has a heart attack over the spending and decides to leave him, then so be it.  If they get into a collosal fight over it, then that's the way that it is.

I think that it's fine for the OP and her DH to express concern to the FIL.  I think it would have been fine when the MIL asked for advice in the past to give her sound advice on how to work out money issues with FIL in the future.  It's inappropriate for anyone (even her family) to go behind FIL's back and 'tattle' to MIL, jump to conclusions about who's really going to pay for it in the long run, and make huge leaps about where their marriage will end up as a result. 

No, family dynamics don't always follow strict etiquette rules; however, as hard as it may be to think of your parents fighting, or possibly divorcing, it is not anyone's place to be the relationship hero, making sure that they interfere to avoid all possible future fights and ensure they stay together.  Not only that, but it's a bit presumptious for children to think that they know how to save a marriage better than a couple who has more than twice the experience.   
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 26, 2013, 10:49:12 AM
I agree with Aeris in that if this were my parents, knowing them as I do and how the evening would likely play out, I would intervene. Not saying it would be polite, but it's what I would do because I think it would be better for everyone in the long run. To me this would be a big enough deal to warrant being rude. But, that is definitely not advice I can dispense to anyone regardless of circumstance. It sounds like the OP and her DH have made their decision, for both the short term and the long term, and good for them. When in doubt staying out of it is definitely the more polite option, IMO.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: TurtleDove on March 26, 2013, 10:52:57 AM
No, family dynamics don't always follow strict etiquette rules; however, as hard as it may be to think of your parents fighting, or possibly divorcing, it is not anyone's place to be the relationship hero, making sure that they interfere to avoid all possible future fights and ensure they stay together.  Not only that, but it's a bit presumptious for children to think that they know how to save a marriage better than a couple who has more than twice the experience.   

POD to bah12, especially the quoted paragraph.  There are dynamics in my parents marriage that really really bother me.  However, they have been married 48 years.  Almost five decades.  When I was younger, I would sometimes get into it with one parent or the other over what I perceived as their relationship problems.  What I learned was that their relationship is their relationship, not mine, and it works for them.  It is not my business.

If I were either the FIL or the MIL in the OP I would be insulted to learn that my DIL thinks she knows what is best for our relationship and thinks either one of us needs protection from the other.  It's comes across, to me, as undermining the relationship and as a statement of "I don't think you two are capable of having a mature relationship."  It seems to me that after 45 years, yes, they are, and if this breaks the camels back, then they should not be together anyway.  The OP cannot and should not be involved, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 26, 2013, 11:08:18 AM
I do get what everyone else is saying, I really do.

But if I were MIL in this situation and my husband pulled a stunt like this that jeopardized our whole financial future and then I found out that my kids knew about it all along and did nothing to stop it and didn't even warn me what was about to happen, I'd be FURIOUS with them!

I have confidence that the decision the OP has made here is best for their situation because they are the only ones who actually know the participants in this story.  But what might be best for one family might be a total disaster for another. 

I agree with Aeris.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: TurtleDove on March 26, 2013, 11:53:51 AM
But if I were MIL in this situation and my husband pulled a stunt like this that jeopardized our whole financial future and then I found out that my kids knew about it all along and did nothing to stop it and didn't even warn me what was about to happen, I'd be FURIOUS with them!

I think there will never be a consensus because of different life experiences and personalities.

If it were me, I either would direct my fury toward my husband or I would have not chosen a husband who would do this.  I certainly would not make it about my children or blame them for the behavior of another grown adult (my husband) I should be able to trust to have my best interests at heart.  To me, the children have nothing to do with it.  I am not a fan of children tattling on their parents.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Amara on March 26, 2013, 01:52:54 PM
What scares me most about this situation is that the money that FIL will be spending is money he got by tapping into their house's line of credit. If anything happens to the payback plans, their home is threatened. And as OP noted earlier, it is likely that MIL will outlive FIL and have to deal with this (again, should it happen). We don't know that it will happen but she has said that their financial comfort depends on good choices. And tapping a line of credit against your house to pay for anything other than absolute necessities is downright dangerous. No one can know the future. The "what if" question looms very large for me. It may not for the OP, and that's her right.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: TurtleDove on March 26, 2013, 02:41:23 PM
What scares me most about this situation is that the money that FIL will be spending is money he got by tapping into their house's line of credit. If anything happens to the payback plans, their home is threatened. And as OP noted earlier, it is likely that MIL will outlive FIL and have to deal with this (again, should it happen). We don't know that it will happen but she has said that their financial comfort depends on good choices. And tapping a line of credit against your house to pay for anything other than absolute necessities is downright dangerous. No one can know the future. The "what if" question looms very large for me. It may not for the OP, and that's her right.

For me, I absolutely see the folly in what the FIL has done.  Like bah12, however, I do not think it is any of the OP's business. I would be offended if I were the FIL or the MIL that the OP does not trust them to act as adults either independently or as a long-married couple.  If the OP really believes that the MIL has reason to not trust her husband, the issues go way beyond an expensive party.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bah12 on March 26, 2013, 02:47:58 PM
What scares me most about this situation is that the money that FIL will be spending is money he got by tapping into their house's line of credit. If anything happens to the payback plans, their home is threatened. And as OP noted earlier, it is likely that MIL will outlive FIL and have to deal with this (again, should it happen). We don't know that it will happen but she has said that their financial comfort depends on good choices. And tapping a line of credit against your house to pay for anything other than absolute necessities is downright dangerous. No one can know the future. The "what if" question looms very large for me. It may not for the OP, and that's her right.

Line of credit can also mean credit card.  Did the OP ever confirm which one?
And I get that $4000 is a lot of money, but I'm having a hard time going all the way to financial ruin.  If they are $4000 away from financial ruin, then they have some huge problems (and probably don't have a credit card with those funds available...or a house credit that large either).  Paring down this party to something that the kids would find acceptable wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface. 

So, it's fair to say that $4000 is a lot and paying off a credit card bill that high may be more difficult than not.  It definitely would take $4000 of contingency for emergencies out of the picture.  But to insinuate that this will put them in bankruptcy is a stretch.  We don't have that kind of insight into their finances...which is why interference is inappropriate. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Scuba_Dog on March 26, 2013, 02:59:01 PM
OP said it was a line of credit on the house.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: TurtleDove on March 26, 2013, 03:03:12 PM
I agree with bah12 that if a $4K party is going to financially ruin a retired couple, there is quite a bit more going on than just the party.  The OP cannot fix financial irresponsiblity in the couple (becuase to get to this point, it is on both of them) and I think she could really damage her relationship with both MIL and FIL if she interferes.  I am glad she and her DH have chosen to stay out of it.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 26, 2013, 03:48:32 PM
I agree with bah12 that if a $4K party is going to financially ruin a retired couple, there is quite a bit more going on than just the party.  The OP cannot fix financial irresponsibility in the couple (because to get to this point, it is on both of them) and I think she could really damage her relationship with both MIL and FIL if she interferes.  I am glad she and her DH have chosen to stay out of it.

Here is where I place my two cents. In some couples, in this case my parents, my mother is unable to work. She lives on retirement benefits and some savings. My father works and spends like the world is ending. They talk, but my mother can not make my father stop spending money, and it is not worth it to her to separate from him over it. My mother ended up getting separate bank accounts, so she can pay the utilities and taxes out of her income, and my father's spending can't affect those accounts.

I would have absolutely nothing to do with a party like this thrown by my father, because I could not in good conscience accept frivolous spending when I know they were nearly penniless last year because of another frivolous purchase by my father.

The above is my opinion. I would not say anything to my mother, but I would not participate at all.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bloo on March 28, 2013, 11:04:36 AM
Here is where I place my two cents. In some couples, in this case my parents, my mother is unable to work. She lives on retirement benefits and some savings. My father works and spends like the world is ending. They talk, but my mother can not make my father stop spending money, and it is not worth it to her to separate from him over it. My mother ended up getting separate bank accounts, so she can pay the utilities and taxes out of her income, and my father's spending can't affect those accounts.

I would have absolutely nothing to do with a party like this thrown by my father, because I could not in good conscience accept frivolous spending when I know they were nearly penniless last year because of another frivolous purchase by my father.

The above is my opinion. I would not say anything to my mother, but I would not participate at all.

I'll add my two cents to ladyknight1's two cents.

While Aeris' profoundly insightful post has moved me to deep sympathy for the MIL and the idea of tipping her off, I would still stay out of it and not participate.

For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, this is MIL's husband and she has to deal with him (or not deal with him). In OP's or OP's DH's shoes, if MIL took her anger out on me, I'd refuse to accept it. I'd simply say, "I'm sorry you're upset. But this was your husband's idea. Deal with him."

In a much smaller and less consequential situation in my own family, my dad would let his blood sugar drop (not managing his diabetes terribly well) and the typical behavior of our family is (family here is: my parents, brother and current GF, my DH, my kids and myself) when we go out to eat is no one will take the lead in picking a place out. We dither until Dad explodes because he's starving. You can set your watch to this most times.

Finally one day when my dad was in a rage I just took my family and left. The next day he came to apologize and I appreciated it but I said, "Look, if we're dithering and you absolutely can't take it anymore, just say so and leave. It's just a meal." He agreed and the next time it occured, he grabbed my mom's hand and said, "Bye guys, I'm going home." My mom and brother were stunned. As my dad pulled away he was smiling at me and I smiled back and waved.

My brother didn't agree with Dad's decision or my idea. He said it wasn't fair to Mom. I told him I thought it was very fair to Mom. SHE picked him and has stayed married to him and this is one of non-perks of being married to him (there were more perks than non-perks). I also mentioned that while it would've been nice to have a meal with them if Dad was in a good mood, we'd still get to have a nice meal with just the 5 of us. And maybe we'll all learn to be better organized in the future. Which we did!

Like, I said this was a very small thing but it change a dynamic in the way we interacted with my FOO.

If I were the OP, knowing what I know from this thread, I'd try to get DH on the same page as myself. And my page is to sit down with FIL and say, "We won't tell your surprise but what we know of MIL and your finances means we don't want any part of this or to particpate in any way. We'll take you both out to dinner (or whatever way OP & DH want to celebrate the IL's anniversary) to celebrate at a time that's convenient for you." Cue possible arguing and threats but if the FIL's own son won't help or participate that may cause him to pause and think.

Even if it doesn't, at least OP & DH can stay out of it. If he goes through with it, MIL will probably be more furious about the debt than why her son and DIL weren't at the party. If MIL tries to direct any rage about keeping secrets at OP & DH, they can refuse to accept it and redirect her to her own husband.

It would take a pretty sick parent to blame a child - even an adult child - for the behavior of his or her own spouse.

ETA: Gramma Dishes I'd just like to add that I'm differentiating anger and blame. I re-read your posts and noticed where you said you'd be furious at your kids if they knew and didn't say anything. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 28, 2013, 11:48:51 AM

...   Like, I said this was a very small thing but it change a dynamic in the way we interacted with my FOO.   ...


Sorry.  Old woman here.  What's a FOO?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Ms_Cellany on March 28, 2013, 11:50:00 AM

...   Like, I said this was a very small thing but it change a dynamic in the way we interacted with my FOO.   ...


Sorry.  Old woman here.  What's a FOO?

Family Of Origin.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: gramma dishes on March 28, 2013, 11:51:10 AM

...   Like, I said this was a very small thing but it change a dynamic in the way we interacted with my FOO.   ...


Sorry.  Old woman here.  What's a FOO?

Family Of Origin.

Oh.  *head slap*  Thanks!   :-[
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: NyaChan on March 28, 2013, 11:56:53 AM
Ten years ago, I had a friend (we've moved and we lost touch gradually) whose husband (now ex-) did that.  He couldn't or wouldn't admit to his family that he wasn't rich, so he'd pick up the check at family get-togethers.  Knowing that he was going to do that, his siblings and parents would order expensive things off the menu and pig out (based on what my friend would tell me later). 

He did have a fairly good job - but he kept spending to the limit of what he was earning - apparently not remembering little things like income tax, property tax, savings for their kids' college funds, and the like......so he'd spend money that should have been set aside.  Then complain because SHE wasn't building up the savings accounts......

They divorced about seven years ago......

My uncle did that until he was drowning in credit card debt, lost his job during layoffs, and lost his house when he could no longer make payment on the mortgage.  It took hitting rock bottom and my dad's advice and help to get him to do a complete 180 on finances.  It takes time to dig yourself out of holes like that though and it still makes me upset when I think of the other relatives who used to egg him on when we all went out and let him pay for their expenses knowing that he had 2 kids and financial trouble.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: bloo on March 28, 2013, 12:05:59 PM
Ten years ago, I had a friend (we've moved and we lost touch gradually) whose husband (now ex-) did that.  He couldn't or wouldn't admit to his family that he wasn't rich, so he'd pick up the check at family get-togethers.  Knowing that he was going to do that, his siblings and parents would order expensive things off the menu and pig out (based on what my friend would tell me later). 

He did have a fairly good job - but he kept spending to the limit of what he was earning - apparently not remembering little things like income tax, property tax, savings for their kids' college funds, and the like......so he'd spend money that should have been set aside.  Then complain because SHE wasn't building up the savings accounts......

They divorced about seven years ago......

My uncle did that until he was drowning in credit card debt, lost his job during layoffs, and lost his house when he could no longer make payment on the mortgage.  It took hitting rock bottom and my dad's advice and help to get him to do a complete 180 on finances.  It takes time to dig yourself out of holes like that though and it still makes me upset when I think of the other relatives who used to egg him on when we all went out and let him pay for their expenses knowing that he had 2 kids and financial trouble.

This couple we're sorta friends with, Tiffany and Jim, have this weird dynamic. Tiffany told me that when they were in a sizable group out for dinner, she'd be sick the whole time with worry that he'd try to pick up the check. I don't know how she could put up with that but she said when they were really broke and couldn't go out to dinner, and could no longer use credit cards it was almost a relief for her.  He still doesn't understand the connection. And it was disgusting - the relatives and friends that benefited from Jim's 'largesse' knowing they were in financial trouble!
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on March 28, 2013, 01:59:59 PM
I really like the idea put forth by ladyknight1 and bloo - just boycott the thing.

I like the idea of OP and her DH meeting with FIL and telling him that in good conscience they can not go along with the expenditure, and that they will not be attending.  FIL still probably won't understand the seriousness of his behavior, but at least their non-attendance changes the dynamic - the family's "business as usual" is no more. 

It still seems likely to me that OP and her DH  will  be called upon to bail the IL's out financially because of this dinner.  It seems possible  to me that DH is going to want to do this, too.   Maybe DH gets satisfaction from bailing out his family, like he did at the 40th party.

WillyNilly had an interesting comment several pages  back about how surprising it was that the restaurant was willing to go along with the plan, and have 40 orders all at once.  That made me wonder whether FIL had actually contacted anyone there to talk about the proposed dinner.  Maybe much of the event is still rattling around in his head, and he hasn't acted on it. 

If that is the case, there were a number of PP who stated that OP and her DH should talk to him about how much the actual charges would add up to be.  He really should be given a clue up front so that he can't plead ignorance when the bill is greater than he can afford.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 28, 2013, 07:36:20 PM
I don't think it would be rude to do as the OP and her DH are currently planning, which is to say no more, attend the dinner, and refuse to bail anyone out in the future; but I'm liking the idea of "changing the dynamic," especially if the OP and her DH aren't going to be able to enjoy the dinner because they'll be worried about what happens when the bill comes.

If I decided not to attend the big dinner, I don't know if I would tell FIL why or not... I might go with "previous/sudden plans" (but in time that he wouldn't have reserved spots for us) and then offer to take him and MIL out to a small dinner later, or whatever. Depends on how comfortable DH feels about talking to him about the financial details again. I can imagine the following outcomes:

1) RSVP no, say nothing about why. Party goes badly but at least the OP doesn't have to witness or be involved in it.
2) RSVP no, say nothing about why. Party goes well, because FIL has actually made a responsible financial decision of some kind that he didn't share previously. OP misses big gathering but can still celebrate with FIL and MIL later.
3) RSVP no, explain why. FIL gets a clue and changes his plans to something more reasonable, is grateful it was brought up. OP ends up going to scaled-down party after all.
4) RSVP no, explain why. FIL is furious and insulted. The fact that the OP turns out to be right makes it all the worse.
5) RSVP no, explain why. FIL is furious and insulted, because he actually made a responsible financial decision of some kind that he didn't share previously. OP misses big gathering and things are AWKWARD.

So really it depends on how likely each outcome seems to the OP, and how much she desires/dreads them.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on March 30, 2013, 09:44:52 AM
One thing you can do is to refuse to help out with the planning.  FIL may not be capable of planning the event without help, or he may quickly encounter problems that bring him back to reality.

You could also tell FIL that you'll be boycotting the event if it's a surprise for MIL, because you're concerned about her reaction to the expenditure.  Restate your offer to host a celebration at your house. 

It sounds to me like FIL wants to look like a big shot in front of his friends and that he doesn't want to tell his wife because he knows she'll veto it. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: EllenS on April 04, 2013, 03:16:54 PM
Just jumping in, to point out that there is a certain personality type, that can be perfectly competent and smart but still have NO CONCEPT of what things cost.  My dad, a former attorney and commercial banker, is like this.  He will often promise to pay for things for us, and then afterwards have huge "sticker shock".  Now we always make him give us a budget, up front.

I agree that FIL and MIL have both put OP in their financial business, but I think OP would be wise to try to get out of that position.  I also agree with PP's who said that, if they or their mothers found out they were enabling the dad to spring a huge expense on them, the mom would be furious at the kids.  People can get all abstract and theoretical about what is or is not your business, but you know these people, and your gut is telling you that FIL is asking you to help him screw up.  Trust your gut.

In your position, I would
1) refuse to help plan anything unless I was given a hard-figure budget to plan by.  FIL states the number, then you adjust the menu, venue, and guest list accordingly. 
2) If the budget number gave me pause about their finances, or I thought it would upset MIL, I would refuse to help or attend unless FIL spoke to MIL about it.  He can talk about wanting to plan a surprise, without telling what the surprise is. 
3) If you are not willing to do 1 or 2, I think giving the cash gift to "cover your plate" is a decent compromise.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: GLaDOS on April 10, 2013, 11:37:16 PM
How far along in the planning has he actually gotten?
If he's asked for your help, maybe he's sort of hoping you'll bring him down to earth a little / act like a professional planner and turn his ballpark dreams into a workable, affordable reality without him having to do the actual work that entails. 

I think if you've agreed to help plan this, you'd be well within your rights to ask for a firm budget to work with, or to seriously discuss your concerns with him.  Maybe his grandiose plans (it'll all just go on the line of credit, it's an open menu) are just him trying to get out of the work planning a smaller menu with a variety that will appeal to forty people; choosing signature cocktails, dividing the budget, maybe paring down the guest list to closer friends and family-- all of the details that would help make the party a  joyful success and not a ball in the pit of their stomachs for however long it takes  to pay off. I'm thinking he's thinking it won't be more than $600-700 or something. Seeing hard (large) numbers might help him scale back and refigure things.

I totally agree with posters that if you were just invited as guests, it's not your place to insert yourself in your parents' finances and marriage, but you were specifically asked to help plan this party, and I think that gives you more leeway. He's free to tell you "hey, no thanks, I don't need your help anymore" at whatever time, remember.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: tiggnduff on April 11, 2013, 01:16:11 PM
Hi everyone. I thought I would provide a non-update / update. ;)

Dh and FIL have not spoken about this at all recently except for FIL mentioning that things were moving along for the planning of the event and that SIL is now involved to help plan.  I gather that DH did not provide FIL with the "help" (ie support and reassurance of what a great idea this is) that FIL need so FIL has moved on to greener pastures so to speak.

Event is still moving along in the planning and we are now out of the loop which suits us just fine.  We really didn't want to be involved after discussing it.

Event is not until June so any major updates likely will not be for sometime but then again with the dynamic in DH"s family both DH and I are not sure if the seas will stay calm until then.

Thank you once again for all the replies. It's wonderful to get so many perspectives and it's helped DH discuss this and cover a lot of different ways of looking at it.

For now we are just going about our business. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: FauxFoodist on April 11, 2013, 02:13:49 PM
My ex used to do this all. the. time.  "Grand gestures" that would, ultimately become my responsibility to pay for.  I did not enjoy them.  I got angry and resentful.  I wish some friends or family would have encouraged him to not do this, but I don't think they understood our financial situations.

When BIL was still single and before DH and I met, he used to do this all the time.  He would do things like pick up the tab for him and others at a bar then not have the cash to pay his rent or his other bills so he would hit up DH for money.  DH (who makes less money than BIL) wouldn't like it but didn't want to leave BIL in a lurch so he'd cover BIL.  When I came along, DH told me these things and, sure enough, when Valentine's Day rolled around and BIL was dating someone, he asked DH if he could borrow some cash so he could take his GF to a nice restaurant.  I think DH did it (and did, in this case, actually get paid back), but I pointed out to DH that the GF gets exactly ONE BF not her BF and my BF and that our relationship wasn't going to suffer because money that would go to us would go to BIL's relationship instead.

I think BIL finally knew he'd gone too far when DH once told him he had no cash to lend (loan?) for BIL to pay a way-overdue bill so BIL asked DH to put it on a credit card, which DH did but with much protest and let BIL know how out of line he was.  BIL paid him back shortly, but, I think, ceased borrowing money after that.  I adore BIL, but this was one of those things that really chapped my hide (I'm not great with my finances either, but I don't expect others to cover me).  BIL has a wife now who's great with finances so, fortunately, he no longer spends like that (and I know without a doubt that he'd be in serious trouble with her if he did something like pick up the bar tab for all his friends).
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: Twik on April 11, 2013, 02:27:48 PM
But if I were MIL in this situation and my husband pulled a stunt like this that jeopardized our whole financial future and then I found out that my kids knew about it all along and did nothing to stop it and didn't even warn me what was about to happen, I'd be FURIOUS with them!

I think there will never be a consensus because of different life experiences and personalities.

If it were me, I either would direct my fury toward my husband or I would have not chosen a husband who would do this.  I certainly would not make it about my children or blame them for the behavior of another grown adult (my husband) I should be able to trust to have my best interests at heart.  To me, the children have nothing to do with it.  I am not a fan of children tattling on their parents.

I'm a fan of people proactively preventing a disaster. This is not "tattling".
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: doodlemor on April 11, 2013, 06:07:58 PM

I'm a fan of people proactively preventing a disaster. This is not "tattling".

Me too.

With your latest update, tiggnduff, it sounds to me like your DH will feel compelled to pay for much of this sooner or later.

I don't generally recommend sneaky behavior, but in this case perhaps it would help the situation.  Maybe you could arrange that MIL accidentally over hears something about the party, or enough to start asking sensible questions. 

If you have a little child of a secret telling age, he/she would be a great accessory.  If the child were told that you had a secret from grandma, at some point he/she would probably tell grandma that you have a secret.  If/When grandma starts asking questions, all you need to do is to tell her to ask FIL.  If she has any common sense she will question him until he tells her the truth.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: KB on April 12, 2013, 12:40:54 AM
Hi everyone. I thought I would provide a non-update / update. ;)

Dh and FIL have not spoken about this at all recently except for FIL mentioning that things were moving along for the planning of the event and that SIL is now involved to help plan.  I gather that DH did not provide FIL with the "help" (ie support and reassurance of what a great idea this is) that FIL need so FIL has moved on to greener pastures so to speak.

This may sound strange, but I actually think this is the best thing that could happen, for one of two reasons. Either SIL will encourage FIL to dream bigger and grander - so big and grand, in fact, that FIL wakes up to the enormity of what he has planned and either tones it right down or abondons everything, or else SIL, while helping him plan, lets slip something about how 'last time, when we had your 40th anniversary party, we did this, and that's all right because OP paid for it and I'm sure there won't be any problem with them doing it again' which could alert FIL to the truth about that party. Either way, it has the potential to wingadingdingy his conscience (assuming he has one).

Of course, the next step will be trying to decide what to do for their 50th anniversary...
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: DavidH on April 12, 2013, 03:10:12 PM
I'm still not a fan of saying anything, but the idea of using a child as a tool to give away the secret seems particularly bad.  If you want to tell, own up to it, and tell MIL, otherwise don't.  To use others to do something you don't want to own up to is just wrong.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: TurtleDove on April 12, 2013, 03:20:11 PM
I'm still not a fan of saying anything, but the idea of using a child as a tool to give away the secret seems particularly bad.  If you want to tell, own up to it, and tell MIL, otherwise don't.  To use others to do something you don't want to own up to is just wrong.

POD. I don't think this is the OP or her husband's business at all, but it certainly is not something a child should be dragged into.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: kudeebee on April 13, 2013, 10:15:44 PM
Hi everyone. I thought I would provide a non-update / update. ;)

Dh and FIL have not spoken about this at all recently except for FIL mentioning that things were moving along for the planning of the event and that SIL is now involved to help plan.  I gather that DH did not provide FIL with the "help" (ie support and reassurance of what a great idea this is) that FIL need so FIL has moved on to greener pastures so to speak.

This may sound strange, but I actually think this is the best thing that could happen, for one of two reasons. Either SIL will encourage FIL to dream bigger and grander - so big and grand, in fact, that FIL wakes up to the enormity of what he has planned and either tones it right down or abondons everything, or else SIL, while helping him plan, lets slip something about how 'last time, when we had your 40th anniversary party, we did this, and that's all right because OP paid for it and I'm sure there won't be any problem with them doing it again' which could alert FIL to the truth about that party. Either way, it has the potential to wingadingdingy his conscience (assuming he has one).

Of course, the next step will be trying to decide what to do for their 50th anniversary...

Per bolded in black, I think that would be nice if it happened.

Unfortunately, I think sil is planning on what i bolded in red, that op and her dh will cough up the money yet again to pay for this party. 

OP, you need to sit down again with dh and make sure you both agree that you will not be paying for any of this party, no matter how much sil cries and begs, no matter how much fil goes into debt and then can't pay his bills.  This is not your responsibility, you have your own immediate family to take care of.  If you need to, move money into a cd or some other type of investment where you cannot get at the money easily so that there is no way you can help them out.

If fil does go into debt, HE will have to make his own decisions about how to get out of it--sell possessions, move to a cheaper place, get a job, cut expenses. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: bah12 on April 16, 2013, 09:31:47 AM
I'm still not a fan of saying anything, but the idea of using a child as a tool to give away the secret seems particularly bad.  If you want to tell, own up to it, and tell MIL, otherwise don't.  To use others to do something you don't want to own up to is just wrong.

POD. I don't think this is the OP or her husband's business at all, but it certainly is not something a child should be dragged into.

I couldn't agree with this more.  I think it's bad enough when adults insert themselves into the business of other adults, but it seems particularly wrong to manipulate a situation by using any third party to do the dirty work for you (general), especially a child.  If you (again general) feel the need to insert yourself into someone else's affairs, the least you can do is be adult enough to face it on your own.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
Post by: snappylt on August 15, 2013, 11:51:53 PM
Hi everyone. I thought I would provide a non-update / update. ;)

Dh and FIL have not spoken about this at all recently except for FIL mentioning that things were moving along for the planning of the event and that SIL is now involved to help plan.  I gather that DH did not provide FIL with the "help" (ie support and reassurance of what a great idea this is) that FIL need so FIL has moved on to greener pastures so to speak.

Event is still moving along in the planning and we are now out of the loop which suits us just fine.  We really didn't want to be involved after discussing it.

Event is not until June so any major updates likely will not be for sometime but then again with the dynamic in DH"s family both DH and I are not sure if the seas will stay calm until then.

Thank you once again for all the replies. It's wonderful to get so many perspectives and it's helped DH discuss this and cover a lot of different ways of looking at it.

For now we are just going about our business.

tiggnduff,

I'm posting hoping for an update.  How did the party go?  What was the aftermath?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent post 120)
Post by: tiggnduff on August 21, 2013, 07:23:44 PM
Sorry for the delayed update ;D Time got away from me.  The party went ahead as planned. It was quite well attended and some people traveled quite a distance. It was nice.

FIL did not end up picking up the bar tab. Despite the info being to all those invited that everything was covered it was a cash "bar". I did get the vibe from some that there were confused by the last minute change (I think it was a change FIL made actually when he arrived at the restaruant). No one complained. I mean how do you complain about something like that?

So that left the food to be covered.  The sit down dinner that was the plan all along apparently the day before turned into a buffet dinner consisting of the following: wings, salad and garlic bread. When items ran out they were not replenished. Apparently only so much food was paid for and then that was that.

From what I gather the magnitude and cost of what he was originally planning hit FIL about a week before the event and hence all the drastic changes to the original plan and I'm thinking verbal and email invitations to everyone.

DH and I almost wished he had asked for money in a way  :(. It was still nice to see everyone but I'm not sure if the level of hosting was up to par with what had been somewhat promised during the initial planning. I'm not even sure if everyone got food  :-\

In fact dh and I ended up ordering some food on our own for the kids and paying for it out of pocket as they are not really fans of wings. Hey our choice.

So there it is.....
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: NyaChan on August 21, 2013, 07:35:58 PM
Thanks for the update!
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: tiggnduff on August 21, 2013, 07:37:26 PM
Just wanted to add that after all it was a nice evening in that it was nice to see so many people we haven't seen in awhile especially all together.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Minmom3 on August 21, 2013, 08:07:32 PM
AND nobody's in the hole for a ton of money already earmarked for other things...  All good, even if the party wasn't as snazzy as planned and touted.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Danika on August 22, 2013, 12:04:08 AM
I know a lot guests were hungry, but actually, it's a very good update. I'm glad that FIL came to his senses and didn't put them in the hole too far. Do you think MIL caught wind of what was going to happen and talked him out of spending all of that?
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: gramma dishes on August 22, 2013, 09:13:43 AM
OP ~~  I suspect that your Dad was really surprised that no one 'volunteered' to "help" host (monetarily).  I think it was a good lesson for your Dad.  I'm sorry that some of the guests probably went home hungry and may have been disappointed to learn they had to pay for their own alcoholic beverages, but apparently everyone had a good time just being together which was really the goal in the first place.

I suspect your Dad won't be making such grand plans again.  Lesson learned.  And yet, a good time was had by all.  Perfect ending.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: YummyMummy66 on August 22, 2013, 10:59:13 AM
But, the question is, "Was your MIL surprised and did she enjoy herself?"
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: tiggnduff on August 22, 2013, 01:09:59 PM
MIL had a wonderful time and was surprised.

Although dh denies it up and down I think there may have been a "discussion" between him and FIL the weekend prior to the event and things finally started to sink in a bit for FIL on the possible costs.  I honestly don't believe that FIL came to the conclusion to adjust things on his own for many reasons (past behaviour and knowing FIL). If it wasn't DH it may have been someone else....
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Danika on August 22, 2013, 02:44:11 PM
MIL had a wonderful time and was surprised.

Although dh denies it up and down I think there may have been a "discussion" between him and FIL the weekend prior to the event and things finally started to sink in a bit for FIL on the possible costs.  I honestly don't believe that FIL came to the conclusion to adjust things on his own for many reasons (past behaviour and knowing FIL). If it wasn't DH it may have been someone else....

Ah. Well, Good and Good, to both paragraphs.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: doodlemor on August 23, 2013, 07:18:02 PM
I'm so relieved for you, tiggnduff.  I was very concerned that you and DH would end up paying for the event.  It sounds like your FIL is willing to learn and change - good for him.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: POF on August 23, 2013, 08:37:35 PM
I'm very happy you are not on a financial hook and that FIL came ot his senses.

 But I keep thinking about the guests who were subjected to a bait and switch.  its one thing to accept an invite to an event where everything is covered and instead have a cash bar and inadequate food.

Frankly - I have no problem with a cash bar of some sort of beverage ( iced tea , lemon aid , wine( maybe ) ) is included.





Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: CakeEater on August 24, 2013, 05:30:34 AM
I'm very happy you are not on a financial hook and that FIL came ot his senses.

 But I keep thinking about the guests who were subjected to a bait and switch.  its one thing to accept an invite to an event where everything is covered and instead have a cash bar and inadequate food.

Frankly - I have no problem with a cash bar of some sort of beverage ( iced tea , lemon aid , wine( maybe ) ) is included.

Yeah, that's unpleasant as a guest. I'm dead against having a party at measl times and being served inadeuqate food. I'd be pretty annoyed to have come from a long distance, only to discover I was being given wings and salad, and possibly nothing.

That being said, I'm glad for the OP, her DH and her MIL that that's what the guests were served in this particular instance.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: TurtleDove on August 24, 2013, 09:34:43 AM
I am glad people enjoyed their time together! I generally find it petty to nitpick the good and drinks provided at parties. I don't go to parties for that. I go be amuse I want to spend time with the people. Granted, most of the people I spend time with throw great well-catered parties....but in my experience if I don't want to be somewhere or with certain people, no amount of champagne and caviar is enough. And if I do want to celebrate with people I am certainly not focused on whether I got free steak or not. I am focused on "hey! Great to see you!"
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Hillia on August 24, 2013, 09:49:06 AM
To me it's not 'what was served?' but 'was there abundance'?  I don't care if the hospitality the hosts can proffer is steak or pb&j or saltine crackers - just let there be enough.  There is nothing more unpleasant as a guest than looking at the food being served and wondering if there's enough for everyone, and being afraid to take what I'd like because then the folks at the end of the line won't have anything. 
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: rain on August 24, 2013, 04:35:08 PM
sound like FIL got "hit" with the real world - 'bout time
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: CakeEater on August 24, 2013, 04:41:09 PM
I am glad people enjoyed their time together! I generally find it petty to nitpick the good and drinks provided at parties. I don't go to parties for that. I go be amuse I want to spend time with the people. Granted, most of the people I spend time with throw great well-catered parties....but in my experience if I don't want to be somewhere or with certain people, no amount of champagne and caviar is enough. And if I do want to celebrate with people I am certainly not focused on whether I got free steak or not. I am focused on "hey! Great to see you!"

Not sure if you're directly replying to my post, but I'll respond anyway!

To me it's not about champagne and caviar, but about a meal at mealtime. I've been to a few parties now where we've been invited at meal time, ie 6pm for a 'party til late' event, and been served crackers and cheese plates only, or spring rolls and party pies. Wings would fall into that category for me - a snack food, rather than a meal.

Then you're wondering if more food is coming, or if that's all you're getting, and then whether it's rude to do what the OP did, and order your own food so you get to eat a proper meal. And then you discover you can't order a meal, or you decide it is rude and then you fill up on cheese, and feel awful.

It's hard to focus on how happy you are to be socialising when you're either hungry, or full of cheese.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on August 24, 2013, 06:09:18 PM
Two good things:

1. It's over, and it wasn't a total disaster. 

2. Even if the hospitality was awful and people went home hungry, it in no way reflects badly on tiggnduff. 

Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Iris on August 24, 2013, 07:03:58 PM
I am glad people enjoyed their time together! I generally find it petty to nitpick the good and drinks provided at parties. I don't go to parties for that. I go be amuse I want to spend time with the people. Granted, most of the people I spend time with throw great well-catered parties....but in my experience if I don't want to be somewhere or with certain people, no amount of champagne and caviar is enough. And if I do want to celebrate with people I am certainly not focused on whether I got free steak or not. I am focused on "hey! Great to see you!"

Not sure if you're directly replying to my post, but I'll respond anyway!

To me it's not about champagne and caviar, but about a meal at mealtime. I've been to a few parties now where we've been invited at meal time, ie 6pm for a 'party til late' event, and been served crackers and cheese plates only, or spring rolls and party pies. Wings would fall into that category for me - a snack food, rather than a meal.

Then you're wondering if more food is coming, or if that's all you're getting, and then whether it's rude to do what the OP did, and order your own food so you get to eat a proper meal. And then you discover you can't order a meal, or you decide it is rude and then you fill up on cheese, and feel awful.

It's hard to focus on how happy you are to be socialising when you're either hungry, or full of cheese.

Also, being hungry seriously affects my mood. Seriously. A well placed meal (or even snack) can take me from "I hate everyone, with their faces..." to "Yay! Party!" I used to think I was odd that way but over the years I've noticed MANY people get cranky when they're hungry, they just haven't made the connection yet. I don't care if I'm fed wings or whatever, as long as there's lots of them, but if you have a party full of hungry people it's just not going to work as well as a party of fed people.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: jedikaiti on August 24, 2013, 08:39:22 PM
I am very definitely one of those who turns into a fire breathing dragon when I get too hungry. Wings will suffice if there's enough of them (and assuming there's no vinegar in the sauce because a lot of those sauces they use are full of it and will guarantee I won't go near the vile things), but really, if it's around a mealtime, I need a real meal, not just a buffet of snacks. Otherwise, I will be getting my own food, and possibly leaving to do so if I am unsatisfied with the restaurant's offerings, just out of sheer crankiness.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: CakeEater on August 24, 2013, 09:24:50 PM

Also, being hungry seriously affects my mood. Seriously. A well placed meal (or even snack) can take me from "I hate everyone, with their faces..." to "Yay! Party!" I used to think I was odd that way but over the years I've noticed MANY people get cranky when they're hungry, they just haven't made the connection yet. I don't care if I'm fed wings or whatever, as long as there's lots of them, but if you have a party full of hungry people it's just not going to work as well as a party of fed people.

Yeah, it's the face part of people that I hate the most when I'm hungry.  ;D
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: CakeEater on August 24, 2013, 09:35:25 PM

Also, being hungry seriously affects my mood. Seriously. A well placed meal (or even snack) can take me from "I hate everyone, with their faces..." to "Yay! Party!" I used to think I was odd that way but over the years I've noticed MANY people get cranky when they're hungry, they just haven't made the connection yet. I don't care if I'm fed wings or whatever, as long as there's lots of them, but if you have a party full of hungry people it's just not going to work as well as a party of fed people.

Yeah, it's the face part of people that I hate the most when I'm hungry.  ;D
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: ladyknight1 on August 24, 2013, 10:28:44 PM
I also feel bad for the people who were invited and told one thing, then arrived to something completely different. That would not incline me to attend another function with that host.

I am noticing more and more events, at a traditional mealtime, with very little food served, even though the invitation states otherwise.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: twiggy on August 24, 2013, 11:41:21 PM
I also feel bad for the people who were invited and told one thing, then arrived to something completely different. That would not incline me to attend another function with that host.

I am noticing more and more events, at a traditional mealtime, with very little food served, even though the invitation states otherwise.

hmm, maybe that explains the weird texts I got today. I hosted a 6pm birthday party tonight and had 3 people ask if it was a cake only party or a dinner and cake. I thought it was self-explanatory, but I maybe there's a trend I was unaware of. FTR we had a fruit tray, cheese/cracker plate and a veggie plate to nibble on while the kids played, then BBQ pulled pork, potato salad, baked beans, green salad, fruit salad, and a black bean/quinoa with veggies vegan dish.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: blarg314 on August 25, 2013, 01:08:10 AM

I find that no matter how nice the company is, if I'm invited for dinner and no dinner is actually served (or what is served is nowhere near a full meal) I tend to get cranky. Part of it is  simply hungry - as a PP noted, missing a meal tends to make a lot of people irritable, or less inclined for socializing. Part of it is the feeling of a bait and switch - "Come for dinner.... Welcome! By the way, by dinner I meant chips and soda!  Suprise!"

In the OP's case, I would say that the guests were definitely shorted on hospitality. They were invited to a completely hosted dinner. They arrived, some of them travelling a fair distance, to find a limited supply of snack food which ran out, and a cash bar.

However, I think, for this case, it was a reasonable outcome. FIL did not put his family in debt and threaten his marriage. No-one else was bullied into paying to make him look like a good host. And FIL will get the consequences of his lack of planning, in damaging his own reputation as a host.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: LifeOnPluto on August 25, 2013, 04:50:36 AM
It's not ideal to let your guests go hungry, and make them pay for their drinks - especially if they've travelled a long way to attend.

That said, I agree that it was the lesser of two evils.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: POF on August 25, 2013, 05:13:01 PM
I am glad people enjoyed their time together! I generally find it petty to nitpick the good and drinks provided at parties. I don't go to parties for that. I go be amuse I want to spend time with the people. Granted, most of the people I spend time with throw great well-catered parties....but in my experience if I don't want to be somewhere or with certain people, no amount of champagne and caviar is enough. And if I do want to celebrate with people I am certainly not focused on whether I got free steak or not. I am focused on "hey! Great to see you!"

Perhaps you were responding to me, again I think there is a big difference between nitpicking adequate food served ( not cool ) and people having to order extra food at a mealtime party. I'd be happy with wings, salad and bread - but if there isn't enough and the party was advertised as a meal, people probably came hungry. Its bad hosting.  If there was enough to everyone to eat a serving of wings, salad and bread - then it would have been fine.

I remember going to an awards luncheon for work - and our table was the last at the buffet and it was empty and they were not bringing out more.  I got 2 small chunks of potato and a spoonful of salad.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Lynn2000 on August 26, 2013, 09:16:28 AM
For the overall event, it wasn't a good outcome, in that it sounds like FIL didn't provide adequate hospitality to all his guests. But, knowing the backstory, I think it's great that the OP was never sucked into paying for it, and that FIL didn't get himself in financial trouble over it, either. Also, it's important that MIL had a good time, since it was in her honor. I feel bad for the guests who went hungry, but at least the error is on FIL, not the OP, and it was presumably not a life-or-death thing.

I just hope it hasn't taught FIL that it's "okay" to host on the cheap like that... OP, next time he invites you to a big party, you might want to stop at McDonald's first, just in case!
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: ladyknight1 on August 26, 2013, 09:55:48 AM
This is why there is always a protein bar in my bag, just in case!
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Danika on August 26, 2013, 01:02:26 PM
I just hope it hasn't taught FIL that it's "okay" to host on the cheap like that... OP, next time he invites you to a big party, you might want to stop at McDonald's first, just in case!

That's what I learned about my father's side of the family. I always ate right before we went to their house for an event because otherwise I knew I'd be hungry at the event. I remember one time my father asked "Why are you eating? We're going to grandma's for dinner." And I replied "Exactly."
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: tiggnduff on August 28, 2013, 06:33:12 PM
Thank you for the interesting discussion everyone! I agree I don't think for fil there was a good way to go on this one. He got in over his head and either route wasn't going to work out well in some way. Get in over your head in debt to provide what you want to or tone it down to what you can afford with the likelyhood of not really hosting properly.

I guess I wish he hadn't been so bull headed about it from the start with visions of grander. We put out the option from the beginning of hosting a large but reasonalble guest list bbq at our home and helping substantially with he costs ie. burgers, chicken, sausages etc but even providing limited beer & wine with the only obligation to fil or sil of side dishes etc. but he wanted a "hosted" even at a restaurant or gill type establishment. The home hosted bbq wasn't the right atmosphere. So I will admit I'm still a bit miffed as I think that would have been the best way to go but I know I've go to let it go  ;)
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: ladyknight1 on August 28, 2013, 06:42:05 PM
That is tough.

My eldest sister and I will be hosting our parents 50th anniversary party and while we will keep it to a scale and scope that we can afford, which means a limited buffet menu and no hard liquor served. I have been invited to a few parties where the invitation and the actual event differed to a large extent. I don't want any hosting I do to be that way.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: Pen^2 on September 05, 2013, 10:47:35 AM
Thank you for the interesting discussion everyone! I agree I don't think for fil there was a good way to go on this one. He got in over his head and either route wasn't going to work out well in some way. Get in over your head in debt to provide what you want to or tone it down to what you can afford with the likelyhood of not really hosting properly.

I guess I wish he hadn't been so bull headed about it from the start with visions of grander. We put out the option from the beginning of hosting a large but reasonalble guest list bbq at our home and helping substantially with he costs ie. burgers, chicken, sausages etc but even providing limited beer & wine with the only obligation to fil or sil of side dishes etc. but he wanted a "hosted" even at a restaurant or gill type establishment. The home hosted bbq wasn't the right atmosphere. So I will admit I'm still a bit miffed as I think that would have been the best way to go but I know I've go to let it go  ;)

Regarding the bolded--I don't think a toned-down event is bad hosting at all. I think it is bad hosting to give people the wrong idea about what will be involved. Letting them think there will be enough food and an open bar and then not providing the stated drinks and having far from enough food is what makes it bad hosting. A toned-down event can be planned for by the people attending--they'll know to bring extra cash to pay for a meal for their child or whatever, or will plan to make something else to eat once they get home. But an event that is lied about cannot be prepared for.

Ah well. I'm glad it didn't go too badly in the end, and that he maybe became aware of financial things a bit more. Hopefully this won't happen again.
Title: Re: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)
Post by: blarg314 on September 05, 2013, 08:42:15 PM
Letting them think there will be enough food and an open bar and then not providing the stated drinks and having far from enough food is what makes it bad hosting. A toned-down event can be planned for by the people attending--they'll know to bring extra cash to pay for a meal for their child or whatever, or will plan to make something else to eat once they get home. But an event that is lied about cannot be prepared for.

There are limits to this, I find.

Having a low key dinner with casual food - ordering in pizza and having soft drinks, or doing a back yard BBQ, say, is fine. Having a dinner at a low end restaurant , or having a restricted menu and drink choices rather than free choice of anything and as much as they want is fine.

Having an event that doesn't cover a meal hour is fine - make it an after dinner coffee and dessert, or mid afternoon tea and snacks.

If you're having a get-together of a group of friends or a family reunion, then you can always talk to others and share the burden of hosting - split the costs, make it a potluck, etc. But then you do have to give others a say in what you do and how much you spend - you can't just send them a bill for what you decide.

But if you're having an event over a meal time, you need to produce quantities of food appropriate to the time of day. If you're having a 5-9 pm party,  and serve chips and pop, thinking that people can always go out to a restaurant after the party or eat dinner at 4pm so they don't get hungry during the party you've crossed a line into poor hospitality even if you warn people that you're not feeding them.

If you're telling people to bring money to buy their own beverages, or to buy their kid's meal, I think you've also crossed a line - you're not actually hosting, you're providing an opportunity for people to pay for themselves without giving them a say in what the event is.