Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Dinner Party or Just Dinner?

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mbbored:
Most of my friends and I are graduate students, and therefore always pn tight budgets.  I'm the only one who managed to find an apartment with a large kitchen and living room that I can afford without roommates.  Therefore, my place has become the default location for socializing, particularly around food, since we all love to cook.

Every Tuesday, I cook a large dinner and invite everybody: friends and roommates are welcome.  I email the group the day before with the menu and ask for RSVPs.  It's generally something very simple: soups, salads, breads, casseroles or pasta, but it's scratch made with local ingredients, and the apartment is always sparkling and the table is set with candles and flowers.  Dinner is served at 7, with finger foods or appetizers available at 6:30.  If you show up earlier than 6:30, you will be put to work.  If somebody offers to bring a side dish, dessert, flowers or special beverage, I always say yes. 

I usually end up with at least 6 people in my apartment between 5:30 and 6, offering to set the table, chop veggies, and one girl always asks to take my dog for a walk.  Nobody has ever mentioned a problem with these arrangements until last night, when I was making pizza.  One boy showed up at 5:30ish with a friend visiting from out of town who we've met before.  He asked what toppings were going on the pizza, and when I didn't mention olives (his favorite), he offered to run to the store to get some.  Since my policy is if you want to offer it, go for it, I had no problem with it.  When he and his guest returned and were directed to top the pizzas, the visitor became quite angry.

He said I was a terrible hostess to force my guests to buy ingredients and work for their own dinners.  At proper dinner parties, people are supposed to offer to help, but a real hostess always refuses help.

I can see his point, as I would be upset if I was invited to a fancy dinner party, and as soon as I walked in the door, was directed to a cutting board.  However, this is a casual weekly event between friends, and if a person doesn't want to help, they don't have to.  With the nicer party, I would expect a reciprocal invitation from my guests, but this is a joint effort as nobody has the ability to host a fancy party.

What do you say?  Should I be cast into E-Hell for being too casual of a hostess and making/letting my friends work?  Or is he the bad guy here by insulting the way my friends and I choose to spend our time together?

Lisbeth:
I think it's always rude to criticize the hospitality offered by a host/ess, so this visitor was definitely rude.

But it also sounds to me like this person is a newbie at your dinners, and didn't know that your standard procedure is to have guests help out.  Some advance communication would have been helpful at the time you extended the invitation to him.

audrey1962:

--- Quote from: mbbored on April 25, 2007, 10:41:02 AM ---He said I was a terrible hostess to force my guests to buy ingredients and work for their own dinners.  At proper dinner parties, people are supposed to offer to help, but a real hostess always refuses help.

--- End quote ---

It's not polite to tell someone she is a terrible hostess, regardless of whether or not it is true. He was rude.

Your parties sound lovely and your dog is very lucky to have someone offer to walk him once a week.

mbbored:

--- Quote from: KeenReader on April 25, 2007, 10:43:43 AM ---But it also sounds to me like this person is a newbie at your dinners, and didn't know that your standard procedure is to have guests help out.  Some advance communication would have been helpful at the time you extended the invitation to him.

--- End quote ---

Well, I didn't directly extend the invitation to him.  I extended it to his friend, a grad student in my department, who emailed me back and asked if he could bring a friend visiting from out of town.  But you're right, perhaps I should have explained to him that it was a co-operative effort once he arrived

Kena:
I pity the poor poor woman who marries this stilted loser who questioned your hospitality!  

Since he was an "outsider" and ignorant of you and your friends' dinner arrangements he had no right to comment or berate you!  Maybe you could ask the person who brought him over to explain the situation to him and that his words hurt your feelings.

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