Author Topic: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?  (Read 3883 times)

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mbbored

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Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« on: April 25, 2007, 10:41:02 AM »
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

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2007, 10:43:43 AM »
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.
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audrey1962

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2007, 10:44:43 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.

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

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2007, 10:52:47 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.

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

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2007, 10:55:18 AM »
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.

Jaywalker

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2007, 11:26:59 AM »

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.

----

ROTFLMAO

so an uninvited hanger on expects the 'hostess' he has never met to conform to his strict standards for proper dinner parties -- I hope you laughed in his face.  or at least said 'new around here, I see'.  in any case, even if formal engraved invitations had been sent in the first place, it would be crashingly rude to call someone a poor hostess or otherwise critize the hospitality.  but in the case, where you aren't even invited and don't know the lay of the land, it is doubly rude. 

let your friend know that you would appreciate it if he didn't bring 'rudeso the guest' again.

what a doink.

BittyB

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2007, 11:31:04 AM »
Your dinner sounds like the way we have dinners, and your friend probably should have explained to his friend that this is the way the event works in your circle.  ITA that it's completely rude to tell a hostess or host that they are doing it poorly.    If you don't like how an event is hosted, don't go next time.  I also agree with Kena that you might say something to your friend about explaining to his friend that he was rude...


Elfqueen13

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2007, 11:42:15 AM »
He's the one being rude.  The person who brought him should have explained the way things work to him.
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Lisbeth

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2007, 11:45:38 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.

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

By "extend" I meant including him in the invitation to your mutual friend, but yes, he was very rude to criticize you.
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ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2007, 12:06:34 PM »
if this is the way you and your friends operate, and everyone knows it, then you are fine.

I do understand him being miffed as a guest and being put to work, but he never should have said anything. As a first time guest in someone else's house, I wouldnt expect to be put to work, but again, I would never say anything to the hostess, and especially if that seemed to be the case with everyone that was there early.  He had lots of opportunity to speak to his friend about it when they went to the store, or after they left. 

It's a miscommunication issue is all - your friend should have said something to him.
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Hawkwatcher

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2007, 12:09:55 PM »
If he wants to be truly proper, a guest not only does not lecture the host/hostess but he also eats what he is served.  If he does not want to eat or cannot eat what is served, he politely declines the food and does not make special requests.  In this case, he should have been willing to eat the pizza without olives.

BittyB

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2007, 12:10:59 PM »
Also, if the standing rule is that if you show up before 6:30 you are put to work, and many friends gladly show up early and do just that, and this friend showed up at 5:30, I think your friend was planning on helping out.  Unfortunately, it also sounds like he didn't clue in his OOT guest that this was the intention.  If they'd both shown up at 6:30 instead of 5:30 the OOT guest would never have even known that early guests are there to help. So I'm sort of leaning to the miscommunication being more on the part of your friend who brought the extra guest for not being clear, since it sounds like his intention was to help out from the get go.

I wouldn't worry too much about it, but I suppose in the future now you'll know that if someone brings a friend, to hint that they need to be clear about just what kind of party this is so nobody's feelings get hurt.

Bethalize

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2007, 12:31:35 PM »
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?

He's the bad guy. So rude, rude, rude!

If you ever get something like this again retort "This is not dinner, it's supper" and leave them to puzzle out the difference. Works a treat. (The difference is that supper is informal and dinner is formal).

Twik

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2007, 01:04:04 PM »
Quote
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.

Bwahahaha! What a kidder! What a great sense of ... Oh, he was serious?

My rule of thumb is, don't offer anything you wouldn't want to be taken up on, because it is perfectly polite for people to take you at face value. I suspect that he'll end up married, and occasionally offer to "help" his wife with chores, then get annoyed when she accepts that offer, too.

And I'd say if a guest wants a special ingredient not on the menu, s/he can very well supply it her/himself. If Issue-boy had a guest who wanted caviar, would he feel compelled to go out and buy it, or else hiss at his guest "No! You can't have any!"?
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mbbored

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Re: Dinner Party or Just Dinner?
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2007, 01:12:50 PM »
Thanks for all your advice.

Just to clarify:  it was my friend who wanted the olives, not the OOT guest.  It's a fairly normal occurence for somebody to run out and get a special topping or ingredient if they want one.

Next time somebody asks to bring an additional guests, I'll let them know to communicate to their guest what the arrangements are.  Also, in the future I'll be sure to reassure add-on guests that they don't have to help, and are welcome to sit and relax with a cool beverage and laugh at the chaos.