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  • April 30, 2017, 12:26:35 PM

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Author Topic: Picky Christmas guests  (Read 10324 times)

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gellchom

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2016, 08:27:59 PM »
I completely see where it could be taken as insulting to have an invited family member suggest that cooking for 10 can be challenging, particularly if a host is really looking forward to doing the cooking.

Much as I enjoy cooking, and so does much of my extended family - I have also experienced discussions which might have contained similar statements to/from any family member with absolutely no insult meant or taken - so, on the off chance that could apply here:

In my extended family, with a fair number of good cooks, over the past few years we have been more frequently doing catered meals for gatherings, or a mix of host-prepared foods and catered for holidays and family celebrations held in one of our homes.  We all have fairly busy lives, and really relish time to visit with each other - so it is not about any difficulty in executing a full host/hostess prepared meal, and is about having a maximum amount of time to all be engaged with each other in the living and dining rooms - with minimal time for anyone in the kitchen (unless a host has something they are especially eager to do).

Just wanted to offer a different perspective that could factor in someone making a suggestion to cater a holiday meal, though noting that regardless of BIL's reasoning, he broached the idea in a less than optimal manner.

I was thinking this, too -- that notwithstanding his wording about it being "challenging," maybe what he really meant was more along the lines of "we feel bad having you do all this work; just relax with us."  And maybe despite his past behavior he was planning on, say, everyone chipping in or even on treating himself.  I know it's hard to give him the benefit of the doubt given past experience, but we're all usually happier when we assume the best, not worst, motives of people.

I agree that "Thanks, but we've got it covered" is a much better response than a "You're offering to pay!  Great!" response, which is really tempting, I know, but kind of PA and sort of stooping to his (presumed) level.

This is the wisest thing in this string, I think:
Personally think it's better not to engage in too much cleverness in your response if you want a pleasanter Christmas.

rigs32

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2016, 10:58:58 AM »
If they push, I wouldn't hesitate to respond that there was no way I could afford those prices. 

rose red

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2016, 04:59:56 PM »
If they push, I wouldn't hesitate to respond that there was no way I could afford those prices.

I don't think that's any of their business and it does not matter if the OP can afford it or not. It's her party and guests don't get to dictate the menu (unless they are the guest of honor or something like that).

The OP can say "No, we won't be ordering from that place. We are cooking. Perhaps *you* can throw a party and have them cater *your* party. We'd love to come." >:D

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2016, 11:10:17 AM »
If they push, I wouldn't hesitate to respond that there was no way I could afford those prices.

I don't think that's any of their business and it does not matter if the OP can afford it or not. It's her party and guests don't get to dictate the menu (unless they are the guest of honor or something like that).

The OP can say "No, we won't be ordering from that place. We are cooking. Perhaps *you* can throw a party and have them cater *your* party. We'd love to come." >:D

for the W I N !

I'm looking forward to an update next week. 

julianna

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2017, 09:41:18 AM »
Just wondering how Christmas went.  Any more pushback from BIL?

Luci

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #35 on: January 03, 2017, 09:43:34 AM »
Just wondering how Christmas went.  Any more pushback from BIL?

Ditto.

livluvlaf

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2017, 08:34:21 PM »
I think I would go with "that is a generous offer, but we offered to host and you do not need to provide the full meal for all!  If you do want to provide [wine, dessert, flowers - anything you would actually welcome] please know your contribution will be welcomed!"

POD!

theNotSoDivineMissM

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2017, 08:54:47 AM »
This is NOT to cast any aspersions on OP's cooking abilities (and I'm also looking forward to reading an update), but I can easily see how this exact scenario could be an almost Ehell-approved attempt at not being rude.

Imagine this scenario: The guests love to see "the host and family" but have over the years talked about how "host"'s cooking is often very fatty (my beloved stepmother, for example, cannot cook a dish that doesn't have a sizable puddle of melted butter or lard on the bottom), or veggy, or carby, or whatever, to the point where they would normally cancel their attendance, if it were any other person but "host" whom they love and adore.
Ehell would debate at length what is and is not permissible depending on type of relationship, closeness, etc. I can easily see somebody saying "why not suggest getting the food catered to avoid the grease/confrontation, and offer to fetch it on the way offer, to sweeten the pot? If you offer to pay, though, it may cause too much commotion, "host" will start asking why which runs the risk of having to provide an explanation. Try to keep it low-key, like an afterthought.".

Again, I don't think that that is the case here but it is another perspective.

lowspark

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #38 on: January 09, 2017, 12:01:22 PM »
This is NOT to cast any aspersions on OP's cooking abilities (and I'm also looking forward to reading an update), but I can easily see how this exact scenario could be an almost Ehell-approved attempt at not being rude.

Imagine this scenario: The guests love to see "the host and family" but have over the years talked about how "host"'s cooking is often very fatty (my beloved stepmother, for example, cannot cook a dish that doesn't have a sizable puddle of melted butter or lard on the bottom), or veggy, or carby, or whatever, to the point where they would normally cancel their attendance, if it were any other person but "host" whom they love and adore.
Ehell would debate at length what is and is not permissible depending on type of relationship, closeness, etc. I can easily see somebody saying "why not suggest getting the food catered to avoid the grease/confrontation, and offer to fetch it on the way offer, to sweeten the pot? If you offer to pay, though, it may cause too much commotion, "host" will start asking why which runs the risk of having to provide an explanation. Try to keep it low-key, like an afterthought.".

Again, I don't think that that is the case here but it is another perspective.

I get what you're saying and I think it's fine, as a guest, to offer to bring additional food. Dessert, for example, or maybe your own traditional sweet potato casserole, or some such.

But two things come into play there:
1. You have to accept "no" for an answer. The host has the right to say, "No thanks, I've got it covered."
2. I don't think you can extend this kind of offer if you mean the whole meal. Offer to bring a dish or two, fine. Offer to supply the whole meal, well, not so much.

In other words, if you're not comfortable accepting the host's hospitality, essentially as offered, for whatever reason, be it greasy food or you don't like their dog or their house is too cold or whatever, then don't accept it. Or figure out a way to deal with it, if, like you say, it's someone you really want to see. But once you do accept, I don't think it's polite to try to substantially change what they are offering.

Houston 
Texas 
USA 

gellchom

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #39 on: January 09, 2017, 12:56:24 PM »
This is NOT to cast any aspersions on OP's cooking abilities (and I'm also looking forward to reading an update), but I can easily see how this exact scenario could be an almost Ehell-approved attempt at not being rude.

Imagine this scenario: The guests love to see "the host and family" but have over the years talked about how "host"'s cooking is often very fatty (my beloved stepmother, for example, cannot cook a dish that doesn't have a sizable puddle of melted butter or lard on the bottom), or veggy, or carby, or whatever, to the point where they would normally cancel their attendance, if it were any other person but "host" whom they love and adore.
Ehell would debate at length what is and is not permissible depending on type of relationship, closeness, etc. I can easily see somebody saying "why not suggest getting the food catered to avoid the grease/confrontation, and offer to fetch it on the way offer, to sweeten the pot? If you offer to pay, though, it may cause too much commotion, "host" will start asking why which runs the risk of having to provide an explanation. Try to keep it low-key, like an afterthought.".

Again, I don't think that that is the case here but it is another perspective.

I get what you're saying and I think it's fine, as a guest, to offer to bring additional food. Dessert, for example, or maybe your own traditional sweet potato casserole, or some such.

But two things come into play there:
1. You have to accept "no" for an answer. The host has the right to say, "No thanks, I've got it covered."
2. I don't think you can extend this kind of offer if you mean the whole meal. Offer to bring a dish or two, fine. Offer to supply the whole meal, well, not so much.

In other words, if you're not comfortable accepting the host's hospitality, essentially as offered, for whatever reason, be it greasy food or you don't like their dog or their house is too cold or whatever, then don't accept it. Or figure out a way to deal with it, if, like you say, it's someone you really want to see. But once you do accept, I don't think it's polite to try to substantially change what they are offering.
I agree with everything you say (as usual  :)), but I am not certain it applies in the OP's situation.

I mean, as a general matter, yes, that's all correct.

But (and here comes my usual speech  :)), although it can be very tempting to turn to rules about "hosts" and "guests" and "invitations" to find clear guidance, those rules aren't always very useful, or, in my opinion, always applicable, in every situation.

A family holiday meal is a example.  Sure, you can look at it as one family is the host and everyone else are guests, exactly the same as a dinner party.  And I'm sure that in many families that is exactly how everyone sees it.

But in other families, it's more a matter of a family meal the same as if everyone all still lived in the same house, and this year, or every year, we're having it at Trudy's house because Dale is allergic to Carla's cat/Andrew doesn't have a big table/Lurlene lives way out in East Dorten, but that doesn't turn this into Trudy's private social event to decide everything -- how to set up the tables and which linens to use, sure, but not the "guest list," for example.  (In that hypothetical family; again, I stress not every family looks at it this way, but many do.)

And the menu might well fall in the middle of that continuum. 

If the OP thinks of it the first way, then it's certainly understandable that she'd feel intruded upon by any suggestions of changes, but the BIL may just be suggesting another way of doing it, not because he doesn't trust the OP's skills or to mooch a catered meal, but perhaps because he himself doesn't like cooking and thinks of it as a burdensome chore, so he's suggesting a way to make it easier for the OP. 

I'm not saying that's what is going on -- the OP has told us this guy is annoying and moochy -- my point is just that there is more than one way to look at this and definitely more than one possible motive.  The personalities as well as the context make a big difference.   I wouldn't think a thing of it if my (very nice) BIL made suggestions about a holiday menu, or even suggested catering -- but I would find it truly bizarre if a dinner party guest did.

lowspark

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #40 on: January 09, 2017, 03:14:00 PM »
Oh sure, I agree. There's no hard & fast rule for anything when it comes to how families interact as each family has its own dynamic. But then again, if something is normal or acceptable or expected within a family, then members of that family wouldn't come on Ehell and ask about it.

We do plenty of things within my own family that others might be horrified to observe. And if I came on here and asked about those behaviors, it might be near unanimous that they are rude. But within my family, they are not rude at all.

I think we have to be careful though, about mixing up motives with etiquette. I might have the most altruistic motives for doing or saying something but that doesn't necessarily make it polite. If I don't like to cook and I'm invited to someone's house for dinner, assuming they don't like to cook and saying, "Hey, I'll bring the whole meal!" out of the goodness of my heart to save them from a task that I would not like to do isn't really polite behavior.

I think the "she meant well" excuse is often cited here but unless I'm remembering wrong, that still doesn't really excuse rude behavior.

Acknowledgement: I know we've gone a bit far afield of the OP's situation, but I think it's an interesting discussion!
Houston 
Texas 
USA 

Kiwipinball

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #41 on: January 10, 2017, 12:11:51 AM »
Oh sure, I agree. There's no hard & fast rule for anything when it comes to how families interact as each family has its own dynamic. But then again, if something is normal or acceptable or expected within a family, then members of that family wouldn't come on Ehell and ask about it.

We do plenty of things within my own family that others might be horrified to observe. And if I came on here and asked about those behaviors, it might be near unanimous that they are rude. But within my family, they are not rude at all.

I think we have to be careful though, about mixing up motives with etiquette. I might have the most altruistic motives for doing or saying something but that doesn't necessarily make it polite. If I don't like to cook and I'm invited to someone's house for dinner, assuming they don't like to cook and saying, "Hey, I'll bring the whole meal!" out of the goodness of my heart to save them from a task that I would not like to do isn't really polite behavior.

I think the "she meant well" excuse is often cited here but unless I'm remembering wrong, that still doesn't really excuse rude behavior.

Acknowledgement: I know we've gone a bit far afield of the OP's situation, but I think it's an interesting discussion!

Motives don't excuse rude behavior but they definitely matter and make a difference in how one should respond. There's rude behavior with ill-intent behind it (e.g. insulting someone), with neutral intent (failing to follow a rule such as putting one's napkin in one's lap while eating) and good intent (assuming others hate cooking as much as you and offering to bring the entire meal). It can be easy to confuse these (if I love to cook, I might assume the person in the third example is impugning my cooking skills, when really (s)he just assumed I hate cooking) but they do call for much different responses. A well-intentioned person can be gracefully turned down. A malicious person should be ignored, confronted, whatever is appropriate for the situation/level of rudeness. The problem is when multiple assumptions are in conflict.

theNotSoDivineMissM

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #42 on: January 10, 2017, 07:24:02 AM »
"The problem is when multiple assumptions are in conflict" - This!

That's the problem whenever we're dealing with the interaction between people. There's always an element (sometimes large, sometimes small) of interpretation and assumption. The assumptions that we can away with vary from family to family or even relationship to relationship.

Maybe BIL dislikes cooking and thinks he's being a good familyguest by sparing OP of the onerous chore. Maybe he's a boor. Only time will tell. And the OP. Any news? :)


(And just to be clear, I by no means advocate trying BIL's action as a coping strategy in general, in another situation than this one; a situation where the food/customs/dog are not palatable (heck, I've known my stepmother for 17 years now. I come to their house, I eat the greasy dinner and thank her warmly for having prepared a meal for me; I also hide the fact that her cooking causes some very abrupt stomach issues about 20 minutes after eating). It was really just an example of how the situation could be turned upside down and yet still be plausible)

lakey

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #43 on: January 10, 2017, 05:13:22 PM »
Quote
I can easily see somebody saying "why not suggest getting the food catered to avoid the grease/confrontation, and offer to fetch it on the way offer, to sweeten the pot?

The problem with this is that the person who suggests that a host gets the meal from a caterer, is also suggesting that the host pay a cost that may be substantially more than they would pay to cook the meal themselves. If a guest suggests a caterer, then the guest needs to offer to pay for it themselves. If it opens up a whole can of worms because the host is going to question why the guest wants different food from what the host was prepared to provide, well, that's why a guest shouldn't start expecting a host to change their menu. Whether or not a person is a good cook, or whether their food is too greasy is subjective. A lot of times we don't care for a host's offerings. That's life. You can eat it, push it around on your plate and eat later, whatever.

If guests don't like the hosting relatives cooking, one option is for others to sometimes take on the responsibility of hosting and preparing the big holiday meals for all the relatives. I actually think this is a good idea because it spreads around the cost and the workload, and it also makes for some nice variety, rather than having the same food every holiday.

Raintree

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Re: Picky Christmas guests
« Reply #44 on: February 15, 2017, 02:37:46 AM »
I wonder what happened in the end here - I am late to this thread.

But I find the BIL's suggestion weird, somewhat akin to, "Come over for dinner, I'm cooking X." "Let's get takeout instead!" Or, "Sallyann, Courtney and I are hosting a games night with 8 invited guests. Would you like to come?" "Oh, why don't we go to a movie instead?"

I don't see from the OP's post anything that suggests the BIL expects them to pay for the catered food, but then she knows him and his history better than I do.

How I would handle it is, "Thanks for the offer but we do want to cook the meal."