Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Reciprocation of Hospitality

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YoginiSaysYes:
My mother is an incredible hostess, and always throws a party on the 4th of July. The fireworks in my hometown are visible from my parents' balcony, and as I said my mom is the BEST, so it's a well-attended party every year.

Last night my mom and I were chatting on the phone and she is already thinking way ahead to July and her guest list. She's stuck on an issue I thought you could all provide insight on.

There are a number of people (I will give examples below) who come to the party every year, but have never extended a social invitation to my parents at any other time of year. So they have in essence accepted my parents' hospitality 3, 4, even 5 times in a row, but have never reciprocated in any way. (I will say that my mom provides dinner but these guests always bring an appetizer, dessert, or beverage, so they aren't TOTAL moochers.)

These are people my mom doesn't want to invite anymore, but she knows they look forward to the party and she doesn't want to be rude or reactionary. My advice was that if she won't get any positive benefit out of having them at the party, then not to invite them, plain and simple---and she said she would get positive benefit, because she knows they have so much fun. Quintessential hostess!

Example 1: A woman who provides my mom a beauty service every 6 weeks or so, and her husband. I cut this woman a little slack because the service provider/client relationship can be tricky.

Example 2: A couple that my father used to work with, who my parents used to have regular dinner dates with, but haven't in a few years. The last couple of years they haven't RSVP'd and have either just shown up, or never responded at all and never appeared. I think there is NO problem with not inviting them.

Example 3: Our next door neighbor, who has never even invited my parents over for coffee. They haven't seen the inside of her house. But obviously, she'll KNOW if the party happens and she wasn't invited...

Example 4: (The trickiest one.) There is a couple who are good friends of one of my mom's best friends, D. She started inviting them a number of years ago so her friend would know more people at the party. Last year, she sent out the invitations, and D ended up not being able to come---but the couple came anyway. Which is fine, obviously, they were invited! But my parents have literally never seen them outside of their own home. This year I guess it's up in the air whether D will be in town for the holiday, and my mom doesn't want to invite the couple unless D will be there too---but she worries she's being petty.

So my questions, after all that jibberish:

1) Is it rude to repeatedly accept invites to another person's home if you have no intention of reciprocating? (And by reciprocating I really mean something as simple as inviting my parents to meet them for dinner, or a movie, or SOMETHING).

2) Is it rude (or petty) not to invite people to an annual party if they are regulars on the guest list?

3) If my mom does choose not to invite these people, how should she respond if they inquire about the party? (Specifically thinking of Example 1 here, if my mom has an appt with her anytime in June she'll no doubt ask about the party.)

Thoughts?

mime:
Example 1 - The beauty service provider. I don't see a need for the professional relationship to include social invitations. I think your mom can remove her from the invitations and if the woman asks about it, she can just say that she had to start scaling back a bit. If my relationship with a host was through my work, I would already view myself as "B-list" and removing me when cutting back would be normal.

Example 2 - The couple that has been a bit unresponsive and sporatic. It sounds like they're already kind of separating themselves, whether by choice or by other commitments. I say leave them off the invitation list and they may not even notice.

Example 3 - The neighbor. I personally think this is the trickiest one. I'd keep inviting them, but my response is definitely tainted by my history of parties for the 4th being neighborly things just as much as family or other relations events. Are other neighbors invited to your mom's party?

Example 4 - Friend of a friend. I think a decision has to be made that your mom will either invite them or not, and do so without being contingent on D being there. I'd drop them from the list since they have not developed a direct relationship with your mom. Again, her explanation, if needed, is that she had to scale back a bit.

As for the questions:
1 - Is it rude to repeatedly accept invites without reciprocating?

I don't think it is. I think a host should extend an invitation without the expectation of getting something else in return.
It can be a sign that the guest is not interested in cultivating a relationship with the host, though. The natural evolution of that would be that they eventually are downsized off the list.

2 - Is it rude to remove a regular from the guest list?

Again, I don't think so. relationships evolve and guest lists follow that development. If my brother hosted an annual party and quit inviting me, I'd be disappointed and wonder what on earth I did to offend him so badly, but if a host removed me from her list after a few years of *only* seeing me at her annual party, it would make perfect sense in my mind, and I wouldn't think it rude.

3 - How to respond to inquiries?

I think I'd just say something to the effect of cutting back on the size. It sounds like the people on the potentially-uninvited list are not very close to your mom, so they really shouldn't be surprised if they are removed. I'd say if they were surprised or even considered your mom rude, given the relationships you described, I'd think they would need to get a little perspective...

Mikayla:
1) Is it rude to repeatedly accept invites to another person's home if you have no intention of reciprocating? (And by reciprocating I really mean something as simple as inviting my parents to meet them for dinner, or a movie, or SOMETHING).    Not necessarily.  I've been both the guest and the hostess in repeated situations where there wasn't much expectation of reciprocation.

2) Is it rude (or petty) not to invite people to an annual party if they are regulars on the guest list?
Not at all rude.  Each event is separate.

3) If my mom does choose not to invite these people, how should she respond if they inquire about the party? (Specifically thinking of Example 1 here, if my mom has an appt with her anytime in June she'll no doubt ask about the party.)  If someone inquires, I wouldn't call it rude, but I think it's pretty clueless because of the potential to put someone in an awkward spot.  I'd just say we're downsizing it and it will only be family and a few closest friends.

JenJay:
I think it's fine to not invite anyone they don't see socially at any other time of the year. If they run into the person later and person says "Didn't you have a 4th of July party this year?" it'll be awkward, but your Mom can come up with a good response that indicates how she feels. Something like "We did, in all honesty I didn't think you'd be interested since we don't see you other than the party." Or "We did but, truthfully, the party was getting too big for us so we trimmed it back to family and close friends we socialize with throughout the year.", etc.

Deetee:
1 - Is it rude to repeatedly accept invites without reciprocating?

Yes, it is. But (and this is important) reciprocity is not expected to be equal. I have issued way more invites and hosted way more parties than most of my friends. A large party is an odd one to reciprocate. If I was invited to a large party, I feel that by bringing myself [and chatting to people who seem on their own-see that tie in to the other thread] and some nice drinks or appetizers, I have made my contribution.

Now, if I also hosted a large party, I would be remiss in not inviting people who have invited me to their large party. But I don't feel that a big party puts the same onus on a guest to reciprocate as a dinner party for example

2 - Is it rude to remove a regular from the guest list?

No, but it is tricky. It is a rejection. It is especially tricky for an annual party like this where people will assume that they have plans for that day well before the invite. (This is not an unreasonable assumption after several years of issued invites) I mention this because after 3-4 years of having a party (same time/same place) I know that if I planned to cancel it, I would feel a  obligation to let people know in advance-maybe not a mass email, but I would mention it.


3 - How to respond to inquiries?


--- Quote ---I think I'd just say something to the effect of cutting back on the size. It sounds like the people on the potentially-uninvited list are not very close to your mom, so they really shouldn't be surprised if they are removed. I'd say if they were surprised or even considered your mom rude, given the relationships you described, I'd think they would need to get a little perspective...
--- End quote ---

I agree with the above


If it was me (which it isn't)

1) I would keep the hairdresser. The party is a bit like a bonus tip. She would know if she wasn't invited and I would want to keep that warm relationship. I wouldn't expect her to reciprocate.

3)I would keep the neighbour. (Unless they were highly social and had parties that I wasn't invited to) I just want good relationships with the neighbours. I want them to like me and know me and keep an eye out for the the property when I'm away and all that good neighbourly stuff.

2) I would drop the old work friends. This is a friendship that is getting more distant. Not only have they not reciprocated, they don't RSVP or treat the invitation with respect.

4) I agree that is the hardest. I would do an A list-B list thing. I would check with the friend if she was planning on coming (before invites go out). If she was, I would add them. If not, I would leave them off.

I think that's pretty much what you advised. But if I were to give advice to your mom I would tell her to throw the party she wants to and invite the people she wants. Which is pretty much what you said. If she wants them there, I wouldn't even start to worry about reciprocity.

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