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Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)

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tiggnduff:
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??

Iris:
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.

Amara:
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. 

Danika:

--- Quote from: tiggnduff on March 16, 2013, 12:12:11 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??

--- End quote ---

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.

Pen^2:

--- Quote from: Amara on March 16, 2013, 12:48:02 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?

--- End quote ---

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.

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