Author Topic: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)  (Read 25025 times)

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tiggnduff

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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??

« Last Edit: April 11, 2013, 02:16:47 PM by tiggnduff »

Iris

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 12:28:09 AM »
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.
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Amara

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #2 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? 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

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 01:16:59 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.

Pen^2

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 03:55:09 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.

gramma dishes

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 11:06:25 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!

doodlemor

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2013, 11:59:04 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.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 12:03:54 PM by doodlemor »

Dazi

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 02:55:22 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.
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secretrebel

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2013, 03:16:12 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.

jpcher

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2013, 04:11:20 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?

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2013, 05:01:32 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.
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ladyknight1

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2013, 05:58:30 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.

tiggnduff

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2013, 07:03:11 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?


POF

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2013, 08:27:00 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.
   

cheyne

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2013, 08:14:15 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.