Author Topic: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?  (Read 18100 times)

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Free Range Hippy Chick

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #60 on: November 13, 2012, 12:38:01 PM »
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!

Also, if you arrive at my house at or around a mealtime, I must invite you to stay. That's good etiquette where I come from. Equally, you must say no. This time it works slightly differently. If I don't ask again, then that means that it was purely a politeness thing, or we're having something that won't stretch to one more. But if I ask you a second time, then it's a casserole which will go round one more without too much trouble, and it's perfectly polite of you to say either yes or no as you please.

Let's not get started on the older-fashioned of us, for whom the inability to offer you a home made biscuit or scone or cake brought on soul-searing shame... or the fact that offering a shop-bought cake is a carefully honed insult, only to be wiped out in blood... 

Hmmmmm

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #61 on: November 13, 2012, 12:41:28 PM »
Interesting thread.

Even though I grew up in the US, my parents were English Canadian and that is the culture I was raised in. Having people over for dinner implied them spending some time with us after dinner. So I guess I relate more to the UK POV here.Not that I haven't had the dinner invites that meant we dispersed right after dessert, it just wasn't how it was done in my home.
And I recall my mom mentioning that cultural difference.

I think a few of us in the US have said that they do spend time after dinner, it's the length of time in question.  In my case, it's a minimum of 30 minutes from when everyone leaves the table to a couple of hours. 

What is the UK average amount of time to spend after dinner.

Judah

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #62 on: November 13, 2012, 12:48:27 PM »
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!

Also, if you arrive at my house at or around a mealtime, I must invite you to stay. That's good etiquette where I come from. Equally, you must say no. This time it works slightly differently. If I don't ask again, then that means that it was purely a politeness thing, or we're having something that won't stretch to one more. But if I ask you a second time, then it's a casserole which will go round one more without too much trouble, and it's perfectly polite of you to say either yes or no as you please.

Let's not get started on the older-fashioned of us, for whom the inability to offer you a home made biscuit or scone or cake brought on soul-searing shame... or the fact that offering a shop-bought cake is a carefully honed insult, only to be wiped out in blood...

It's this kind of game playing that drives me crazy.  I believe in saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  If you're thirsty, take the drink I offer. If you invite me to dinner, you can't really be surprised when I take you up on your offer.  I realize that these things are culturally ingrained in some people, but they make no sense at all.
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TootsNYC

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #63 on: November 13, 2012, 12:52:03 PM »
Interesting thread.

Even though I grew up in the US, my parents were English Canadian and that is the culture I was raised in. Having people over for dinner implied them spending some time with us after dinner. So I guess I relate more to the UK POV here.
Not that I haven't had the dinner invites that meant we dispersed right after dessert, it just wasn't how it was done in my home.
And I recall my mom mentioning that cultural difference.

there *is* no "UK POV" difference here.

I was raised completely in the U.S. and I married into a NYC/Italian/Yugoslavian family.

in BOTH those subculture, there is an expectation that time will be spent after dinner. Often it morphs into DURING dinner--people sit at the table long after the food has been consumed.

But there is not "eating and running"--and staying until 9:30pm *is* "spending some time."

Heck, if it takes you an hour to eat the meal because you're talking, that's "spending some time."

This is not a "UK/USA" difference.

TootsNYC

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #64 on: November 13, 2012, 12:54:34 PM »
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!


You're supposed to refuse in a specific way. You say, "Oh, I couldn't put you to the trouble." That leaves the idea that you would *like* tea, but you don't want to be bother. A wistful tone is a good idea.

You don't say, "No, thank you" because that implies you don't want one.
If you say, "That's not necessary," you are saying that you realize it was a  pro forma offer, and that they don't need to repeat it; the etiquette niceties have been checked off the list.


TootsNYC

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #65 on: November 13, 2012, 01:09:27 PM »
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

StuffedGrapeLeaves

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #66 on: November 13, 2012, 01:36:30 PM »

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

I also think there are different interpretations of "eat and run."  For some posters here, leaving 30 minutes after dinner would be considered "eat and run," while other posters like me think that's perfectly fine.   I have never been in a situation where a person gets up after dinner and immediately leaves, at least without advance warning. 

Venus193

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #67 on: November 13, 2012, 01:43:31 PM »
Absolutely.  I think that there is too much variation for anyone to make any specific assumption about a dinner invitation that doesn't include the word "party."

When my college buddy lived in my building a long time ago (before he was married) I used to have him up for dinner during the week from time to time.  He'd arrive at 7:30, food would be ready at 8, and he'd leave at 9:30 or 10.  Usually no chips or bread and cheese before the meal. 

Weekends, however, were the time to invite people who lived further away and we'd start earlier and/or go later.  Bread and cheese, fruit, chips, or canapes served and the meal would be about 45 minutes later.    Meal was usually a salad and an entree, nothing very formal as I don't have a dining room.

Music in background, no TV unless there was some kind of "event TV" thing being led up to.

With Brunhilde's family, there is always coffee and dessert, but that's usually an hour after the main meal.

I once had a disagreement with my mother that I posted about here with regard to the quality and "class" of food that is appropriate to serve to guests.  My only requirement is that an invitation to dinner means that a meal is served and it should be freshly prepared in adequate quantity for the occasion and served within a reasonable time.  To invite people to dinner and not serve a meal -- even if it's Chinese or pizza delivery -- is rude.

Jones

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #68 on: November 13, 2012, 01:44:47 PM »

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

I also think there are different interpretations of "eat and run."  For some posters here, leaving 30 minutes after dinner would be considered "eat and run," while other posters like me think that's perfectly fine.   I have never been in a situation where a person gets up after dinner and immediately leaves, at least without advance warning.
Yes, I can definitely see how leaving while the dishes are still on the table is rude. But after everything is cleared and the conversation comes to a general ending point (20 minutes? 30 minutes? 45 minutes?), and there are no other "plans" for the evening (a game or showing off a gizmo) I don't see any rudeness in taking one's leave so the host can finish cleaning up. Most of the socialization should have happened prior to dinner/during dinner IME.

sparksals

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #69 on: November 13, 2012, 01:45:58 PM »
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run. 

Horace

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #70 on: November 13, 2012, 01:51:16 PM »
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

Several different posters have said that things appear to be done differently in their country.  It has not just been one single person's opinion, so yes I think this is a regional or national difference. 

I'm in the UK, I would never go to someone's house just for a meal and leave shortly afterwards - I expect to be spending the better part of an afternoon or evening with them.  Why does it bother you so much when several people have said that that is how things are done in that part of the world?

Hmmmmm

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #71 on: November 13, 2012, 01:52:52 PM »
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Can you define your idea of eat and run?  To me it implies I put my fork down on my dessert plate, wipe my mouth and say "Thanks for dinner, it was great. See you later." But if you've spent an hour before hand visiting, an hour eating and visiting at the table, and then hang around for another half hour, I just can't see that as eat and runnng. 

Deetee

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #72 on: November 13, 2012, 01:55:40 PM »
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Also Canadian. I have always thought "dinner" meant "evening".

My favorite dinner parties (as both guest and host) start around 7, eat around 9 and end around 2 or 3 am. Those were some fantastic dinners.

In general (pre-kids) I would expect to eat within about an hour of arriving (but there would be snacks and drinks before hand). I did have one friend who would say dinner at 6 and I would arrive at 6:05 to find the food on the table and people serving the food.


Now, I and most my friends have kids and we issue invites for 4:30, eat at 5:30 and have everything good to go by 7 so the kids can get to bed. (Actually that was exactly the dinner I hosted last night)

TootsNYC

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #73 on: November 13, 2012, 01:58:23 PM »
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

Several different posters have said that things appear to be done differently in their country. It has not just been one single person's opinion, so yes I think this is a regional or national difference. 

I'm in the UK, I would never go to someone's house just for a meal and leave shortly afterwards - I expect to be spending the better part of an afternoon or evening with them.  Why does it bother you so much when several people have said that that is how things are done in that part of the world?

But they haven't been to the other country. Or, people from that other country have directly contradicted them.

In fact, the only clear trend seems to be that MOST of us--no matter what country we're from--think you shouldn't "eat and run," and that SOME socializing *should* take place after the last bite.

We may not be able to codify that, and as Hmmmmm says, we may differ on how much it should be, and we may feel that different factors will influence it (small kids in the family; weeknight; suburb/urban; travel distances).

Deetee

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #74 on: November 13, 2012, 02:02:05 PM »
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Can you define your idea of eat and run?  To me it implies I put my fork down on my dessert plate, wipe my mouth and say "Thanks for dinner, it was great. See you later." But if you've spent an hour before hand visiting, an hour eating and visiting at the table, and then hang around for another half hour, I just can't see that as eat and runnng.

To me, a mere half hour after the last food is eaten is "eating and running". I did have friends who did that. I knew she got up very early, so I moved dinner earlier and they still did that. I honestly thought they didn't like me much. This was confusing as we seemed to get along just fine and enjoyed each others company at other times.

Then, I was invited over to their place for dinner with their best friends and all the guests left at that time. It was a bit of a relief honestly to realise that it wasn't me.

edit: At other times I was invited for "dinner and event" like others have mentioned and that would run the entire evening.