Author Topic: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?  (Read 8780 times)

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AllTheThings

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can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« on: July 19, 2013, 12:27:24 AM »
I had a situation that ended up not being a huge problem, but I was wondering whether or not it is wrong according to etiquette for a host to deny certain guests access to specific food, drinks, or other parts of the hospitality that the other guests are getting.

I went to a get together with my mom's extended family. Someone had brought beer, so my sister and I went to get some. Our great-aunt saw us getting the beer and requested that neither of us drink, as we were part of the youngest generation in the family. According to her, our second cousins in their early teens would see some of "the kids" drinking, and decide that they were entitled to have some too. Since it wasn't her beer and we weren't in her house, we felt that we could ignore her attempt to foist responsibility for her grandchildren onto us, and we went about our business. She seemed irritated at us, but there really wasn't anything she could do, so she didn't bring it up again.

My question is, had she been the hostess, would she have had the right to do this, according to etiquette. It does seem morally wrong to deny someone something that everyone else is getting just because you personally believe they should not have it, rather than due to any actual problem (like cutting off someone who is drunk and out of control). On the other hand, as the hostess, it is her house. What do you think? Would a host be rude for restricting what certain guests are allowed to do due to them simply not wanting the guest to have it?


Peregrine

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 12:35:42 AM »
If you were under the age for drinking legally, she would have been entitled to say something.  Otherwise, no-go.

I feel the same way about smoking and any other activity for which there is a legal minimum age.  A host may choose to restrict those items to those of legal age.  Beyond that, etiquettely speaking, I don't think they can restrict certain things to certain guests.

I also believe that a parent of a minor child may also supersede the host or hostess and not allow their children to partake of offerings (i.e. soda or dessert).

lellah

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 01:01:14 AM »
I feel like the title of this post doesn't quite capture what went on or what would go on if the aunt were the host.  I feel like she asked you for a kind of family favor instead of saying "don't do that! my hospitality doesn't extend to you!"  Maybe it was a weird favor.  But it's still a favor that you have the option of complying with as you chose.


AllTheThings

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 01:14:09 AM »
I feel like the title of this post doesn't quite capture what went on or what would go on if the aunt were the host.  I feel like she asked you for a kind of family favor instead of saying "don't do that! my hospitality doesn't extend to you!"  Maybe it was a weird favor.  But it's still a favor that you have the option of complying with as you chose.

The reason why I thought there might have been a problem if my aunt were the host is because her tone, word choice, and body language said to me that she had expected us to go along with it and wanted to argue about it. Had she acknowledged that it was a weird request and an imposition, but explained that there was a real problem and could I please help her out, I probably would have felt differently about the whole thing. She couldn't do anything in this case, but had she been the host, I feel like she would have pressed the issue, putting us in an awkward situation. This particular situation wasn't that bad since she backed off, but I wanted to know what all of you thought in case I'm in a situation like that in the future.

Since she backed off, I wasn't that offended, but I did think it was pretty sad that she apparently thought herself incapable of looking after her own grandchildren.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 01:20:36 AM by AllTheThings »

snowdragon

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 01:18:59 AM »
She could have - but it would not be polite. You can not have A and B list guests and hosting and be thought polite. Unless the guest not being offered something had something to do with being under aged.

So if she lets others guests of legal age drink beer, she has nothing to say about it if you want if you are of age

But if another cousin is under aged she can restrict them.


But she can't restrict you just to make things "fair" for her grandkids.

Raintree

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 02:03:22 AM »
I think that whether it's beer or chocolate cake, it would still be rude to offer it to some guests and not others (assuming said guests are of legal drinking age). Even if it makes the underage crowd want some too, the answer to that is "not until you turn (age at which it becomes legal)."

LifeOnPluto

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 02:09:58 AM »
Yes, it would be rude for a host to deny certain guests food and drink that the rest of the guests are receiving. (Assuming that there are no issues with being underage, or addiction, etc).

I get the notion of "my house, my rules". And if a host ever told me I couldn't drink/eat something (because I was a young adult, or a female, or a left-hander, or whatever) while other guests were, I might comply to avoid making a fuss. But I would never, ever, accept another invitation from them again.

I feel like the title of this post doesn't quite capture what went on or what would go on if the aunt were the host.  I feel like she asked you for a kind of family favor instead of saying "don't do that! my hospitality doesn't extend to you!"  Maybe it was a weird favor.  But it's still a favor that you have the option of complying with as you chose.

The reason why I thought there might have been a problem if my aunt were the host is because her tone, word choice, and body language said to me that she had expected us to go along with it and wanted to argue about it. Had she acknowledged that it was a weird request and an imposition, but explained that there was a real problem and could I please help her out, I probably would have felt differently about the whole thing. She couldn't do anything in this case, but had she been the host, I feel like she would have pressed the issue, putting us in an awkward situation. This particular situation wasn't that bad since she backed off, but I wanted to know what all of you thought in case I'm in a situation like that in the future.

Since she backed off, I wasn't that offended, but I did think it was pretty sad that she apparently thought herself incapable of looking after her own grandchildren.

It sounds to me like your great-aunt thinks that young people need to "obey" their elders? Sadly, it sounds like she doesn't respect the fact that you are now a legal adult, with a mind of your own. She was wrong, and rude, to act all annoyed that you decided not to comply with her request.

Danika

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2013, 02:44:16 AM »
I have two stories that are kind of like this.

Last night, I had some friends over, and I offered liquor/alcohol as well as non-alcoholic drinks. One of my friends is pregnant. I don't know her or her doctor's stance on drinking while pregnant. When I offered the others some beer or schnapps, I wasn't sure what to do about her. I offered them to her too. I probably should have stopped there, but I didn't want her to think that I'd forgotten that she was pregnant, so I added "if you want a sip, that's fine by me" but then I wasn't sure if that was coming across as judgmental or whatnot. She declined.

Years ago, when I was a child, all my cousins around my age were boys. I was an average weight at this time. I had a mean aunt and she was watching us all one day. She went and pulled out a bowl (as in, it wasn't just there on the table, she had to go get it) of chocolates and candy. She offered some to each of the boys. When she got to me and I reached my hand out to grab some, she maliciously pulled the bowl away and barked at me "None for you. You don't need any." So she was deliberately shaming me. But it was her house. It was extremely rude, but again, she lived there. I had no power to go grab the bowl and eat some. Years later, I was talking to a younger cousin. She, too, had been surrounded by boy cousins, but because we were far enough apart in age, we'd never been with this aunt at the same time in the same situation. This, thin female cousin of mine told me the same story. Mean aunt had also purposely told her she couldn't have any candy after she'd offered it to the others.

So, in summation,  ;) I think it's unbelievably rude of a host/hostess to offer one thing to some guests and not offer it to others. Especially in front of the others. I suppose, it is their right to do so because it is their house and a guest shouldn't take things which aren't offered to them. But it's extremely rude.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 02:49:08 AM by Danika »

Sharnita

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2013, 08:06:55 AM »
If a host was really worried that seeing "legal age" relatives drink would "make" underage relativesdrink then it would be better not to serve any alcohol at a ll. Telling one generation they are welcome to partake and the other generation of legal drinkers they can't - no.

Imagine telling the older generation they can't eat pizza because some older people have problems with certain foods and you don't want them getting ideas when they see other people from "their generation" eating pizza.

SuperMartianRobotGirl

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2013, 09:26:56 AM »
If you have alcohol available, it has to be availble for all guests of legal age. "They are of legal age but you aren't" is an easy answer for any younger members of your generation. I wonder if she was uncomfortable with your generation drinking? It seems like an odd way to handle it to me.

LadyL

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2013, 09:36:42 AM »
According to her, our second cousins in their early teens would see some of "the kids" drinking, and decide that they were entitled to have some too.

I assume these young teens were being supervised by their parents. It's the parents call what they want their kids exposed to unless the aunt is their caretaker in this situation. If they are ok with them being around (relatively) young people drinking it's not up to the aunt to supersede that judgement.


MrTango

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2013, 09:39:21 AM »
According to her, our second cousins in their early teens would see some of "the kids" drinking, and decide that they were entitled to have some too.

I assume these young teens were being supervised by their parents. It's the parents call what they want their kids exposed to unless the aunt is their caretaker in this situation. If they are ok with them being around (relatively) young people drinking it's not up to the aunt to supersede that judgement.

I think that even if OP's great aunt was the caretaker for the minors, she was out of line to expect that the OP modify her own otherwise perfectly acceptable behavior.

rose red

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2013, 09:48:44 AM »
If this was the host, I would decline future invitations.  Anyone of legal age are not longer "the kids" and should not be viewed that way from great-aunts or teen cousins. 

Sharnita

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2013, 09:58:17 AM »
They could be 18-20 and still not legal drinking age. Hopefuly they.would be respectful themselves but if not they probably wouldn't listen to tjeir parents. That being said, as a host I would be willing to make it clear that I was unwilling to risk arrest for furnishing a minor with alcohol.

Thipu1

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Re: can a host restrict certain guests from food/drinks?
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2013, 10:16:07 AM »
I can think of only two reasons for restricting food or beverages at a party.  The obvious one is age.  The other is allergies.  If a dish contains gluten, it's only fair to alert someone who has an intolerance for that ingredient. 

Otherwise, everyone at a party should be welcome to consume anything.

When I was a child there were several neighbors who would have back-yard cookouts.  During the course of the evening, certain people were invited into the house.  These 'chosen few' would be served liquor while the rest of us drank beer outside.  My father discovered this when he went inside to use the bathroom. 

Apparently, this was a common practice at the time but my family thought it was awful.