Author Topic: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?  (Read 18881 times)

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Horace

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #75 on: November 13, 2012, 02:04:18 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).

Not everyone in the same country behaves the same.  If person A eats and dashes out of the door but persons B, C and D stay for an afternoon or an evening then the trend for that country is the behaviour of persons B, C and D and not A.  How do you know that the posters here haven't had dinner with person A instead of person B, C or D. 

From personal experience whenever I go to someone's house for a meal I always arrive around an hour before food is served, eat with them and stay for at least another hour, maybe two.  If I'm going there for lunch I may also be invited to stay for dinner. 

If someone said "come over for dinner" I would expect to arrive before dinner, eat there and then spend the rest of my evening with them.  If we ate at 7 I would not be planning on doing anything else that evening as I would intend to be there between 6pm and 10pm, or later on a weekend night and I know of no-one in my family or circle of friends who would do any different.

Deetee

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #76 on: November 13, 2012, 02:09:21 PM »
One more note from the dinner=evening camp

I have issued and recieved invitations for dinner as just dinner, but those are issued differently. For a guest who was around when dinner is about to be served "Did you want to stay and eat with us? We have plenty" or to a guest who has an event nearby "Oh why don't you swing by and eat dinner with us before the play?"

There is an emphasis on eating and an understanding that it is a partial invite "Come, eat, leave-we are all busy"

Hmmmmm

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #77 on: November 13, 2012, 02:13:50 PM »
One more note from the dinner=evening camp

I have issued and recieved invitations for dinner as just dinner, but those are issued differently. For a guest who was around when dinner is about to be served "Did you want to stay and eat with us? We have plenty" or to a guest who has an event nearby "Oh why don't you swing by and eat dinner with us before the play?"

There is an emphasis on eating and an understanding that it is a partial invite "Come, eat, leave-we are all busy"

I think what is also throwing me is being at someone's home from 7 to 10pm is being there for the evening.  I get the impression your idea of how long the "evening" is is different from mine. 

Deetee

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #78 on: November 13, 2012, 02:20:29 PM »
One more note from the dinner=evening camp

I have issued and recieved invitations for dinner as just dinner, but those are issued differently. For a guest who was around when dinner is about to be served "Did you want to stay and eat with us? We have plenty" or to a guest who has an event nearby "Oh why don't you swing by and eat dinner with us before the play?"

There is an emphasis on eating and an understanding that it is a partial invite "Come, eat, leave-we are all busy"

I think what is also throwing me is being at someone's home from 7 to 10pm is being there for the evening.  I get the impression your idea of how long the "evening" is is different from mine.

Nope, 7-10 is a reasonable period of time to me (maybe on the shortish end, but not short).

The epic dinner parties are not the norm. I just mention them as what I consider within the possibility of a dinner party.

I think that, as a rule of thumb,  I would expect to spend more time at a dinner party than at a North American  restaurant. So at a  standard restaurant, you are usually in and out in an hour or so and I would expect dinner to at a friends house to be longer than that.

 

Dandelion

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #79 on: November 13, 2012, 02:26:13 PM »
I am also a Canadian, born and raised in Southern Ontario, and living on the west coast with my husband for the last twenty years.

To me, "come over for dinner" means come over, short socialising session with a drink while dinner is made ready for presentation, a fairly leisurely time spent eating, followed by another socialising time, usually an hour or two. It's a specific invitation for a fairly formal home-cooked dinner. Tablecloths and wine are involved.

There are variations, of course. Once, after having done the "come over for dinner" thing the day before, for example, I found myself left with more food than I could possibly eat before it went bad. I had another friend who was interested in the particular style of cooking, so I asked him to come over the next day, to help me eat the leftovers. He did the thing that people are calling 'eat and run,' but I don't think - as he is a young bachelor - that he gets invited to non-family dinner meals very often. I was more amused than anything, and feeding him certainly did put a large dent in the leftovers!

 I sew with a close friend on a particular weekday evening, and she knows that she is welcome to share dinner with me that evening if she wishes. It is extremely informal - she gets whatever I'm having that evening for myself, which might be nothing more than a can of tinned soup with buttered bread. Since we normally eat at completely different times (dinner to me is early - 5-6pm, while she eats at 9pm or later!) there are days when she doesn't share my dinner at all as she had eaten a late lunch, or will be planning dinner later at home. (My husband doesn't generally figure into normal meals, as he and I eat completely different foods, and he makes his own dinner. It sounds strange, I know, but it works for us.)

We have no ceremony when we do this, and she is welcome to wander around my kitchen to find what she needs if she decides she wants something later. So while it's an invitation for dinner, it's more like having a family member at home than a guest.

Margo

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #80 on: November 13, 2012, 02:55:18 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...

This made me smile. And then think about how I (as one of the English!) would interpret it.

I would usually offer tea (or coffee) to anyone, pretty much as soon as they arrive, but if they said no, I'd accept it as no. If they said "I don't want to bother you" then I would not take it as a final refusal, and would reassure them that it was no bother.

I wouldn't feel that I *had* to invite someone to stay for a meal so if I were invited I would assume that the invitation was 'real', and that you were happy to feed me if I said yes, so (unless I was determined to refuse) I wouldn't say "no", although I would be doing the 'I don't want to be a bother / I wouldn't want to put you to the trouble' and would only accept if there was a further assurance that yes, you really have a lot and it's no bother! I do have friends who will automatically invite you to stay if you're there near a meal time - they are not Irish, they are all long-established farming families..

I feel slightly guilty if I don't have home made cake or biscuits to offer, but only slightly. And mostly if I invited you.



jmarvellous

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #81 on: November 13, 2012, 03:03:29 PM »
In my informal, mostly childless crowd, it's typical for a dinner invitation to include hanging out while dinner is made or finished, drinking and maybe snacking, then to socialize and slowly eat, then maybe dessert and almost certainly more socializing. I'd say 7-10 on a weeknight or 7:30-12 in a weekend, give or take a half hour, an hour at most.

Thinking about it, I don't know people with a table that seats more than six -- we have just a bar that seats two -- so "formal dinner parties" are pretty much nonexistent.

Hmmmmm

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #82 on: November 13, 2012, 03:14:25 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...

I think I grew up as your neighbor.  A drink is offered as soon as someone arrives and a "Oh, I don't wont to bother you" means "yes, I'd love one" but a "no thanks, I just finished a cup" means I really don't want anything.  And the proper reply to "I don't want to bother you" is "it's no trouble, I was just about to make one for me."

Dinner is always offered and always refused and if you really wanted them you said "Oh, I'm making fried chicken and have enough for an army and it would really help me out if you stayed."  at which time you are then obligated to stay unless you really do have a pressing engagement.

And I do remember when store bought bakery goods were a no-no.  But I can now happily serve "speciality" baked goods to a guest, but never anything pre-packaged without feeling like I'm letting my dear GM down. 

Barney girl

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #83 on: November 13, 2012, 06:27:53 PM »
The variation I sometimes have at work is - "we'll, only if you're having one"

blarg314

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #84 on: November 13, 2012, 07:58:33 PM »

In my experience, 'coming over for dinner' usually implies that dinner will be served at a culturally normal time for the meal. In North America, that tends to be somewhere between about 5:30 and 7 when kids are involved or on a weeknight, sometimes later for weekend special meals.

So an invitation to come over at about 4 would imply that we'd socialize for a while, and then eat later. An invitation to come over at 6:30 would imply that dinner would follow fairly soon afterwards.

An invitation to dinner would also include pre-dinner socialization, and post dinner chatting, probably with coffee and tea. How long to stay would depend on the people, but if I didn't know, I wouldn't stay past about 9:30 or 10 without some urging on the part of the hosts.  Events with small children would probably wind down by 8:30 or 9, because people have to get the kids home, bathed and in bed at a reasonable hour.

The postings I've seen where people had problems and left early were something like "Dinner invitation to come over at 3.  By 9 pm, no food has appeared, the host is still prepping ingredients, the guest hasn't eaten since lunch and is ready to chew their own leg off, the kids have already eating the emergency snack, and are getting cranky and tired. The guest has to choose between staying an arbitrary amount of time, with increasingly shrill children, in hopes that food will eventually appear, or making their good-byes and stopping at a take-out on the way home."

Allyson

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #85 on: November 13, 2012, 10:26:33 PM »
I think everyone's experiences vary so wildly that I would never call someone 'rude' for leaving half an hour after they ate. It is far more likely that in their experience, that's what they feel is appropriate than that they thought 'I don't really like Bertie and Matilda, but free food! and we can bolt as soon as we're done so as not to have to socialise!'

In my experience, 'come over for dinner at 6:30' would mean being served a meal at 7 or so, and an hour or so to eat. Then likely there'd be some conversation, and maybe an offer of 'want to put a movie on?' and either 'that sounds great!' or 'actually, I'm pretty wiped and should take off soon' are equally acceptable answers.

Social codes like this make me nervous of accidentally offending (when two people could have opposite ideas and be offended by the other), so I would usually give the benefit of the doubt here. Same with guests who stay too long.

O'Dell

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #86 on: November 13, 2012, 10:38:20 PM »
I'm in the dinner = evening camp as well. But I have no problem with it not being an evening if I know up front. Say the person says they'd like to accept my invitation but they have to eat early because of the kids or something they have going on later that night or early next morning, etc. If they tell me that, then we hash it out. Maybe we put a dinner/evening off until a better time or make it a lunch or maybe they even come over for an early dinner and they dash out the door after the last bite. With close friends or family it's all good in my opinion.
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MrsJWine

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #87 on: November 13, 2012, 10:39:12 PM »
I think everyone's experiences vary so wildly that I would never call someone 'rude' for leaving half an hour after they ate. It is far more likely that in their experience, that's what they feel is appropriate than that they thought 'I don't really like Bertie and Matilda, but free food! and we can bolt as soon as we're done so as not to have to socialise!'

My thoughts exactly. I've often left someone's house only because I was afraid of overstaying my welcome, not because I actually wanted to go. Some people's experience may tell them that half an hour after dinner is about where you start overstaying your welcome. Without more substantial evidence, I think it's a bit paranoid and mean-spirited to automatically assume the worst.


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sparksals

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #88 on: November 14, 2012, 03:15:37 AM »
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.

Like the OP , it seems some people expect dinner to be on the table when they arrive.   I NEVER have dinner ready to eat when guests arrive.  We have appetizers, beverages, chit chat.. maybe an hour or two after arrival,we eat.  Then we sit at the table, have dessert, liqueurs, and chat some more.  When I invite people over for dinner, it is for the evening.  Leaving 30 minutes after eating is eating and running to me.     The point of the evening is to eat, drink, be merry and socialize.

sparksals

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #89 on: November 14, 2012, 03:18:40 AM »
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)

One time my ex and I were in Winnipeg and invited to his aunt and uncle's house for dinner. We were to arrive at 6 PM.  We arrived on time and immediately sat down to dinner.  It was the weirdest experience for me.  We weren't even offered a beverage before sitting down.   It almost felt like THEY expected us to eat and run. 

Besides that one time, I have never gone to anyone's house for dinner to sit down immediately.  That is foreign to me.