Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Defining Host / Hostess

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adele:
I was thinking about this carefully due to some threads recently disputing the duties/obligations of hosts and guests. It seems to me that there are several, potentially conflicting, definitions and whether or not a host is being polite depends heavily on the situation and precise role they are taking as host.

The first role is when you invite someone to your home (or space) and provide for all reasonable needs (food and drink, bathroom availability, no offensive speech/behaviour, a bed, appropriate entertainment etc) for the type of occasion, be it a dinner party, afternoon tea or a week long visit.

The second is where you are providing for some needs but not all, ranging from just the organisation of ringing round and finding a time when everyone will be able to attend, to keeping track of who is bring what, to providing a place for the event to occur, to making a booking, to paying something for everyone at the event (entry fee, restaurant food but not alcohol). It covers pot lucks, organising a group outing to the movies, all sorts of occasions where the guests contribute something beyond their presence.

I recall one story on the website where some young people organised a party for their parents but couldn't afford to be the first type of host (due to the number of relatives they had!) so had arranged for the guests to help with food, etc. IE. they were being host type 2. Their uncle then blasted them for this, saying they should have been the first type of host or give up the idea of the party entirely.

So, advise. Is it always rude to be the second type of host? It would seem strange. What would be the important things to remember? I think communication would be the key if you are clear about the situation and what you really are inviting people to do, it isn't rude or tacky to have events where guests pay their own way, bring something or otherwise contribute. Am I wrong?

guihong:
No, I think you're right.

It's all about communication and sometimes the formality of the occasion.  For example, I don't think there's anything wrong with a potluck shower, as long as everyone is on the same page and no one would be put out to bring something.  I've been to many a party where it was "bring something for the grill, and something to share" in which the host provided drinks or a nice dessert.

Maybe your uncle felt your party was too formal for potluck?

gui

Sterling:
I am speaking from the new grad of college stand point.  Many of our friends are still in school and few work full time.  We are the only couple with a house and not an apartment.  our house is not large but sits on several acres and have a deck bigger that the actual house.  We do the second type of hosting.  When I grill I do all sides and desserts but request people to bring thier own meat and drinks.  Of course we are very informal and invites are done through a call or email. 

Last night a friend we don't hand out with called.  It was BF's B-day and we were going out for dinner.  He called as we were leaving so BF asked he wanted to join us and meet t the resturant.  H showed up ordered several drinks and prime rib.  when the waitress came and asked how to divid the bill I said mine and BF's, BF's siter and husband, and then friend.  Friend got really mad because he thought *I* was paying for everyone.  His expectation was I was host 1, when in reality I didn;t even plan on us going out to eat.  I would have had to pay over $300 for the tab with out tip.  He paid and then said he didn't know how he would pay his rent and I was a horrible host.

So quest guys was I rude?  I didn't even invite the guy.  And BF never said I was paying.  He said we were all meeting for dinner at the resturant.  Did that imply that I was the host?

Sterling:
Let me clarify the $300 was for all five of us.  Personally if someone said hey I am going to XXX to eat do you want to meet me there I would never assume they were paying.  Now if my BF had said "Sterling is taking me out for dinner for my B-day do you want to join us."  I could understand the problem. 

BF addmitted to me later than on more than once occation he has called to see if BF wanted to go out to eat while I was in the kitchen and when he told the guy I was cooking the guy asked what time he needed to be there.  He seems to think provide food to random people.  And yet the one time I did invite hit to my house to eat he spoke to BF but not me and in fact acted like I was only a waitress.  He was at my house for 5 hrs one day and the only thing he said to me was he needed more steak sauce.  Then he asked if BF wanted to do do something else and acted irritated when BF asked if I want to join them.

There is a reason *I* don't invite him anywhere.

Virg:
adele wrote:

"So, advise. Is it always rude to be the second type of host? It would seem strange. What would be the important things to remember? I think communication would be the key if you are clear about the situation and what you really are inviting people to do, it isn't rude or tacky to have events where guests pay their own way, bring something or otherwise contribute. Am I wrong?"

The way I see it, it depends on the nature of the invitation.  If I invite a friend out to dinner for some reason, then I expect that I'll be host type 1 and I'll provide by paying.  If I host a party at my house, the same is true.  Inviting kids to my son's birthday party?  Definitely type 1.  In simple terms, if I solicit people to attend an event then I'm reasonably accepting responsibility for being host type 1.

On the other hand, if I agree to organize a club event, then I'm only agreeing to be host type 2.  The same goes if I discuss meeting a friend or colleague somewhere for dinner because we find we'll both be in a certain area.  In cases where it might be grey area as to whether I'm inviting or just agreeing, then I'll do my best to specify ahead of time.  For most of my friends, I'm close enough to ask, "Am I paying for this or are we splitting the cost?"  For any event that I'm asked to help with but that I didn't conceive, like the club party at a restaurant I mentioned, I'll state flat-out that it's pay-to-play.

I think it's reasonable to be host type 2 if you're up front about it, but with the proviso that if you're trying to set up a traditional hosting event you should think twice before doing it.  Many folks have been cast into e-Hell because they invited folks to dinner or a party and asked them to foot the bill or provide all of the food.

Virg

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