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No Cupcakes For You!

It’s a cupcakey/macarony day on Ehell and Hell’s Bells today!

Not long ago, I was at 3rd birthday party for a child, held at the family’s house. Most of the guests were children with their parents, along with a few childless friends and relatives of the hosts. There were probably around three dozen guests total.

The birthday cake was one of those “cupcake cakes” where there are a number of cupcakes arranged together and frosted as a cake. The birthday boy blew out the candles and his mother began to hand out cupcakes to the children. After all the children were served cupcakes there were about 4 or 5 left. There were at least 10 adults hovering, hoping to get a cupcake but being polite and not wanting to take one when there were clearly not enough for everyone.

The hostess noticed this, looked around the room and announced, “There are 24 cupcakes. I don’t know how many people are here, but there are 24 cupcakes. That’s all.” Then, she picked one up and started to eat it in front of all her guests who had been served nothing.

I quietly left the room, dumbfounded.

She clearly knew how many people she invited and how many RSVPd (there was an Evite). Furthermore, the cake wasn’t served until two hours into the party, during which time she could have sent her husband three blocks away to the grocery store to get an additional cake when she realized that she under-ordered.  0406-12

Hosts/hostesses should be like the captain of the ship.   When the party food is sinking, she is the last to dive into the refreshments.  She was a poor hostess for eating food in front of her guests that she knew was in limited supply.   Even polite guests are expected to not take the very last morsel of food but even more so for hosts!  Were I a guest, I’d offer to share half a cupcake with another deprived guest.


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  • Annie April 11, 2012, 2:31 pm

    I served cupcakes at a party I hosted. I ordered 100 cupcakes for ~30 guests. I wanted people to feel like they could have as much as they wanted, plus I do not see leftover cupcakes as a problem : )

    MidoriBird, I hear you about people criticizing the large for every mouthful of food. Those people are mannerless trolls.

  • Missy April 11, 2012, 5:30 pm

    One thing I have to point out is that the hostess used evite. I’ve seen that go wrong too many times because you can RSVP “maybe.” Sometimes the maybes can outnumber the “yeses” If you do the math, it looks like there were 20 kids. She could have not known whether that would be 10 or 20.

    That said, she should not have had a whole cupcake in front of her guests. She could have gotten more, and she certainly could have cut up the cupcakes!

    I also believe that if you respond with a “maybe” you should change the response the moment you know the outcome. If you are waiting on someone to set the soccer schedule, or whatnot, let the hostess know as soon as you know yourself. Also, the comments feature is highly valuable. It’s nice to know if it’s “Maybe – we have a soccer tournament at the same time but maybe it will be rained out.” or “Maybe – we plan on being there but if my mildly autistic child has a meltdown I’ll have to keep him home.” I’d probably not count on them in the first scenario and would for the second.

  • Cat Whisperer April 11, 2012, 5:37 pm

    JeanFromBNA, yeah, this “hostess” was apparently thinking of herself, but I’m just amazed that she had the gall to eat a cupcake in front of guests who weren’t getting any. I honest to murgatroyd would think that someone in that position would choke trying to swallow with all those hungry, accusatory guests looking on.

    Cupcakes are good, but I don’t see how any reasonable hostess could enjoy eating one in front of a bunch of guests who are doing without. I know I’d be unable to enjoy a cupcake.

    BTW, to touch on the subject of RSVP’s not corresponding to guests: when we gave birthday parties for our daughter, my husband and I found that a good rule-of-thumb was to expect that RSVP no-shows would be cancelled out by people who failed to RSVP but showed up anyway. It pretty much evened out. We found through experience and also through talking to other parents that if we figured on a head-count of 3/4 of invited guests, and provided food accordingly, we never ran short. Also, I much prefer a sheet cake to cupcakes: in a pinch, you can adjust the size of slices so everyone gets something.

    Also, when we gave birthday parties, we would make darn sure that we had a nice bowl or tray of fresh fruit as well as the cake or cupcake goodies. With so many people watching calories as well as issues with diabetes and other health concerns, it just seemed like a good idea. Adults attending the party would mostly gravitate towards the fruit. I don’t know if this was politeness or just because the fruit looked good.

  • startruck April 12, 2012, 8:24 am

    i dont kow how people do stuff like this and not feel completely embarressed. i would be mortified. if your funds are limited and you can only afford 24 cupcakes, then you dont invite 3 dozen people.

  • The Elf April 12, 2012, 8:26 am

    If there is one etiquette lesson my mother drilled into me is that you should never run out of food at a party and that the host/hostess always is served last. So when I don’t get RSVPs or I get a maybe, I assume a yes and plan accordingly. I’ve had a close call with a potluck no-show, so even when I’m hosting a potluck I make sure that I have the bare minimum to feed everyone no matter what. If I thought we were running out of a dish, I’d take very little for my share. As a result, I usually have the opposite problem of way too many leftovers! But that’s what the work breakroom is for……

  • Gilraen April 14, 2012, 5:45 am

    Awful and rude! I am with the Elf, both my husband and I were drilled with the same message. All maybes are treated as a yes and I never run out.
    I always plan in such a way that I know what I can do with just about all left overs. Left over (cup)cakes go with us to work for an additional treat etc. other types of food are used in the dishes for the next days. Nothing much goes to waste. There is never a need to under cater.

  • sallyann April 21, 2012, 6:33 pm

    I’ve always followed the rule that guests were served first (which gives the hostess a good motive to make sure there is enough!).

    This story reminds me that when I was a kid there was an expression ‘FHB’, which stood for ‘family hold back’. If the host or hostess became aware that due to some oversight there might not be enough food the message would be discretely passed among their own family members to wait until the non-family guests had been served. i.e. your brother would whisper “FHB on the cupcakes, Mom forgot to pick up a second batch”. This was also used more generally by parents to discretely tell the kids not to scour the buffet clean before the adults had a chance.

  • DejahThoris April 27, 2012, 6:49 pm

    For most of my kids’ birthday parties (both under age 6), I had either the amount that RSVP’d or less show up. Then I did my oldest’s 5th birthday at a bouncy house place. Wow. I got what seemed like the average number of RSVPs…but the day of the party I had nearly twice the number of people show up. Tween-aged siblings that my kid had never met. Fathers. Someone even brought a cousin because they were in town. So people who did RSVP “Johnny and I will be there” actually showed up with Mommy, Daddy, Johnny, Luke, Jennifer and cousin Lucy.

    Luckily I get my cakes from Costco so we had enough there (we like the leftovers since we so rarely indulge in treats), but I ran out of chairs and forks. DH and I didn’t eat any cake so there was enough. Everyone was pretty nice about sharing forks with their kids and/or sitting on the floor, but it was a very awkward situation to be in – I was glad that no one seemed to feel like we were cheap, but I was also a smidge upset at the huge disparity.

    YDD has a birthday this month and this time I’ve personally contacted each person to get an accurate count of the number in their party. I really don’t mind whatever number of people show up, but I really need to know in advance if your “2” is really a “6”.

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