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BYOFood…and BYOChair….and, Oh, Btw, Now That You Are Snagged Into Coming, Bring Money, Too

My mother has received an invite to a birthday party for a cousin turning 50. Said cousin and his wife recently had some renovations completed, so the party is to celebrate the birthday and show off the home improvements.    My mother ran into cousin in the weekend and he asked if she was coming – after a short discussion it appears she had missed the emailed invite and of course she’d love to come celebrate his birthday with him.

However, upon opening the email the true nature of the party was revealed.  The invite detailed that the men are to bring “meat or something sweet”, and the women are to bring a salad, or side dish.

Yes that’s right, the husbands are to bring the mains and desserts, and the wives are to bring the appetizers and side dishes to fill out the meal.  At this point I was left wondering what was left for the ‘hosts’ to provide at this party.

However, in a follow-up email shortly after the invite was sent, it was kindly pointed out that as their renovations have only just been completed they don’t have outdoor furniture yet, so if you’d like to sit down, you are invited to bring your own deck chair.   So now the guests are providing the food, and the seating.

Yesterday a third email arrived, from the wife, suggesting that as Mr Almost-50 doesn’t have a BBQ of his own, everyone could donate towards this as their present, and she has provided her bank account details for everyone to directly deposit into!

I think this could (almost) be forgiven if it were students holding a pot-luck flat-warming, but these are grown adults with adult children of their own. 1025-16


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Yasuragi March 2, 2017, 7:59 am

    So…the guests are paying for the privilege to be a captive audience for someone else’s Cool New Stuff?

    My generation, we just post pics on Facebook and hope for Likes. No muss, no fuss.

    • Lerah99 March 2, 2017, 10:52 am

      I wish there was a like button just so I could like your post @Yasuragi!

      • Multi-Facets March 2, 2017, 1:13 pm

        I just do this: [LIKE]

    • Rattus March 2, 2017, 11:36 am

      Have you not heard about some of the showers/weddings being held by various members of your generation? Ascribing greed to one generation or another is just another form of bigotry.

      • Yasuragi March 2, 2017, 6:31 pm

        At least at the weddings we’d be provided seating, artisan kimchi butter cream mini quiches and alcohol.

        My post had an unspoken tagline of “It’s not like we can afford our own house or renovations to show off. *sad trombone*.

        • Serryce March 3, 2017, 7:03 pm


        • Lerah99 March 5, 2017, 12:50 pm

          @Yasuragi I like the cut of your jib!

        • oregonbird March 14, 2017, 11:46 am

          [like] and sorry that you ran into ageism here.

  • kgg March 2, 2017, 8:30 am

    Aaaaaaaand that’s when you send your regrets.

    Sorry, but if you’re hosting a party, then host the party. You can’t beg for food and furniture, and then ask for a contribution to a gift as well! Each of the three e-mails would be bad on their own. But together? My goodness.

    OP, I kind of hope your mother goes to this party (with a bag of Doritos in hand as an “appetizer”) if only to report back the details. I can’t imagine anyone cooking a roast, grabbing some lawn chairs, and then forking over money for a barbecue.

    • Jewel March 2, 2017, 4:04 pm

      Exactly! Plus, what is the meat the guests are bringing supposed to be cooked on if the “hosts” don’t currently have a grill?? Nope, nope, nope!

    • Calli Arcale March 2, 2017, 4:06 pm

      “Each of the three e-mails would be bad on their own.”

      I’d actually be okay with the second one, especially if were a large open-house style gathering. I’ve been to events that were partial pot-luck, and bring-your-own-seating. But the third one is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and would basically never be appropriate, in my opinion. I wonder how many guests at that point suddenly realized they had other engagements……

      • Amanda H. March 2, 2017, 10:33 pm

        This. My extended family has done “bring your own chair” parties before, due to the sheer number of us there are–it would be a bit cumbersome to have to find a place to store 40+ chairs, and some towns my relatives live in don’t have convenient places to rent them.

        “Bring your own food” is rather presumptuous in my opinion for a birthday party this couple is supposedly “hosting.” Maybe if they were covering the main course and drinks and were just asking for sides and desserts, it might be a bit forgivable. But to then say “also chip in for a gift” on top of that? My response would be “sorry, I’m helping provide catering for YOUR party. Gift given right there.”

        • Darshiva March 7, 2017, 5:44 pm

          Bring your own chair, if you know you won’t have enough to go around, is not that big of a thing, to my mind.

          But the others? Yikes!

          The only “Bring your own” consumable I’d ever consider doing for a party I hosted would be “Bring your own alcohol, if you want to drink it, because I am a tea-totaler and don’t have a clue what’s good. Non-alcoholic drinks will be provided.” And that is only because I know there are some people out there who really care a lot about the quality of alcohol at a party. I recall, once, reading right here on this site, some person saying they would rather sit in their car and drink their own wine than drink the stuff provided by the host.

          Of course, I am not likely to invite such people to my party, in the first place, but if I had to, I might, MIGHT, put “bring your own” on the invitation. More likely, though, if I knew it would be an issue, I’d call them and ask for recommendations. Because the host is supposed to actually host.

          • NostalgicGal March 20, 2017, 12:51 pm

            Be careful if you do a call about ‘recommendations’. They usually drink X, which is okay stuff but if someone else is footing it they suddenly only drink Le Top Shelf which is hideously priced. If you’ve been out with them and observed what they drink, then it’s okay, you’d have a clue, if not doing Bring Your Own can be warranted.

  • Cleosia March 2, 2017, 8:37 am

    Uh, no. Just no.

    If you’re not ready to host a party, then don’t throw one. I can’t even begin to to wrap my mind around the wrongness of just about everything your cousin is doing. Personally, I would revoke my acceptance to the invite.

  • JeanLouiseFinch March 2, 2017, 8:49 am

    It sounds like the next step is to have everyone bring a paintbrush and some paint and to then make the guests paint the garage! I would skip the party if I were her. It sounds like a lot more trouble than it’s worth. I’m surprised they didn’t register for gifts and include that on the party information!

    • pennywit March 2, 2017, 9:57 am

      If you do something like this, it’s more like a barn-raising. Nothing wrong with that, mind you. But you should tell people what you’re doing. Actually, I think a “garage-painting party” could be kind of fun if you do it right. Probably something that involves alcohol and possibly guests throwing paint at each other.

      • Amanda H. March 2, 2017, 10:34 pm

        If the cousin in question tried that, though, I’d probably be the one trying to coordinate each guest bringing a different color of paint.

        • NostalgicGal March 4, 2017, 9:36 am

          Which when all poured together will turn out a sort of beige. Most of the time. So they get a beige garage. How 1950-ish. Retro. hehehe, bet that would go over well.

          • Amanda H. March 5, 2017, 1:23 pm

            I was thinking more like “Skittles factory threw up” aesthetics.

          • NostalgicGal March 6, 2017, 1:48 pm

            That is the other option. Either a totally righteous patchwork, or pour it all together for ‘blah’ …

          • Darshiva March 7, 2017, 5:46 pm

            Naaah. You pour 2/3 of the paint together for the beige look, and then, once that base coat is dry, everyone breaks out the last 1/3 of their colors of paint, and has a paint-fight, to get that colorful “modern art” look.

            Sounds fun to me.

    • Dee March 2, 2017, 11:01 am

      There’s no reason to not expect the “host” to do exactly that, JeanLouiseFinch. The “guests” are already paying for and cooking the whole meal, so why not have them finish the reno, too? There’ll probably be clean-up detail as well, with a sign-up sheet when you walk in the door.

      OP’s mom needs to send her regrets. If asked, she can be honest – she thought she was being invited out to a party but, upon learning she is expected to at least partially host it, she found she does not have the ability to meet those expectations and must therefore respectfully decline.

      I wonder if the birthday boy’s bank account info will circulate the web with that awful gimme email, in the spirit of Marnie’s Thanksgiving letter? What a birthday surprise to discover that not only did that account not swell with birthday wishes but actually shrank from theft. Karma can be a gift, too.

  • Victoria March 2, 2017, 9:04 am

    “I’m afraid something has come up and I will not be able to attend.” End of conversation.

    • Darshiva March 7, 2017, 5:47 pm

      “something has come up.”

      Yeah. My lunch.

  • Aleko March 2, 2017, 9:13 am

    I’d be very tempted to reply by commiserating with them that the money for their home improvements had obviously run out before it came to installing a kitchen…

    OP doesn’t say how large a gathering this is. If this is a tribe of dozens, actually I could easily forgive the request for food and also seating: it may be they fully intend to provide as much as they can (all the drink, evidently, and depending on the family that might be quite a cost) but know they can’t feed and seat everybody they’d like to see there. Had there been only two emails, I’d assume that that they just forgot to put the request to bring own chairs in the first one, or that the need for it had only occurred to them later.

    But the third email is inexcusable. I hope the entire family simply ignores it and brings Mr Almost-50 either just a card, or whatever trifling little gift they would otherwise have thought of bringing him, leaving her to check her bank balance daily wondering when contributions will start to plop into it.

    • lakey March 2, 2017, 2:44 pm

      [i]OP doesn’t say how large a gathering this is. If this is a tribe of dozens, actually I could easily forgive the request for food and also seating: it may be they fully intend to provide as much as they can (all the drink, evidently, and depending on the family that might be quite a cost) but know they can’t feed and seat everybody they’d like to see there. [/i]

      I don’t think the size of the crowd changes the bad manners of this. If you can’t afford to feed dozens of people, then you cut the list down to what you can afford. This is especially true when the hosts of the party clearly expect gifts.

      • lakey March 2, 2017, 2:45 pm

        Oops. Sorry for the Italics problem. I used a method that works on other sites.

        • Ulla March 3, 2017, 6:23 am

          I think that depends on the family culture. In some families it might be considered more rude to left some people out in “family gathering” situations than to arrange potluck. Such situations are of course known only to the members of the family and rudeness or not should be judged just within that setting. After all, etiquette is just commonly agreed rules of good conduct. Subgroups are always entitled to formulate their own etiquette to used within that subgroup.

    • Amanda H. March 2, 2017, 10:38 pm

      I come from a tribe of dozens. When we’ve done large parties like this before, the hosts usually ask around among the family to see who can provide chairs, and also ask people to pitch in on sides (when the party is particularly large), but the main course (in plentiful supply) and drinks are still covered by the hosts, along with what sides they can manage beyond that. And they never ask for people to pitch in on a gift on top of all of this.

      The “hosts” in this story don’t seem to be providing anything except party space and *maybe* drinks, as someone else pointed out that drinks weren’t mentioned in the invites. Which, to me, is the cheap way out because if you really want to go low-budget, everyone ends up drinking tap water.

  • Michelle March 2, 2017, 9:21 am

    Wow. Just when I think I have heard it all. Would it be unforgivably rude for the OP’s mom to remember a previous engagement and send a birthday card instead?

  • UKHelen March 2, 2017, 9:30 am

    Where’s the fourth email, asking guests to bring a couple of bottles?

    • o_gal March 2, 2017, 10:23 am

      And ice. Someone needs to bring the ice.

      Oh, and someone needs to bring the toilet paper.

      I’m sure that other people can also chime in with handy things that the host is going to request.

    • NostalgicGal March 2, 2017, 10:47 am


    • INeedANap March 2, 2017, 11:41 am

      Everyone with last names that start with the letters A-M have to bring a keg. Last names starting with N-Z have to bring a pitcher of sangria.

      • pennywit March 2, 2017, 2:21 pm

        Quick note:

        I’m a teetotaler, so I don’t keep a lot of alcohol in the house. If I host a small group, I purchase some of their favorite alcohol. If it’s a large group, I say, “I will have Bud Light and Milwaukee’s Best. If you have another drink you like, feel free to bring it.”

      • UKHelen March 2, 2017, 2:26 pm

        Gosh, she’s well-organised, isn’t she, good old Mrs Almost-50.

    • Ultrapongo March 2, 2017, 3:47 pm

      Yes, bottles of whiskey. And then there will be dancing, both tango and foxtrot. That should sum up a reasonable reply. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!
      Pardon my french.

  • Melissa March 2, 2017, 9:43 am

    Wow! When my mom turned 50, I planned a surprise party for her. I was almost 30 and even though I was a grownup, I really didn’t know much about etiquette. However, I still knew enough to provide all the food! I never would have dreamed of asking the guests to bring food even though when my friends and I had parties back then we pretty much always all contributed to food and drinks, so that was the normal for me.

    That being said, when my husband and I had a big party last year at our new home, we did let people know to bring a chair if they wanted to, it was mostly an outside party and we had a bunch of chairs but we weren’t sure if it would be enough. I did provide all the food and drinks though, plus a bouncy house and lots of games so I hope I was okay etiquette wise on the chairs 🙂

  • SmarterPrimate March 2, 2017, 9:55 am

    Holy monkey. I almost could have written this post. Several years ago we were invited to my cousin’s “engagement party” by his future in-laws. The computer printed and photocopied invite was for a pot-luck, bring your own chair type of event. But the clincher? In the center of the page, in all caps and followed by about 20 exclamation marks, was this line:


    Needless to say, I managed to have other plans to attend to that day!

    What is with people??

    • Queen of Putrescence March 2, 2017, 12:57 pm

      I would have passed on that invite! Then made sure to give them something other than cash as a wedding gift.

    • AppleEye March 2, 2017, 2:12 pm

      What?! Who on Earth would ever think that was acceptable? Smh…

    • Goldie March 3, 2017, 9:56 am

      Of all the possible ways to introduce themselves to their new family, this is what the future in-laws chose to go with. Fascinating. But kind of perfect that they revealed themselves at this early stage, so now the family knows what they’re dealing with!

    • Shoegal March 3, 2017, 4:33 pm

      Gifts!!!! For an Engagement Party? And cash no less. My nephew hosted an engagement party and I was all put out by it. I don’t believe in gifts for this event at all. I believe if you want to go ahead and have an engagement party – write specifically on the invite not to bring any gifts. We just want to celebrate our love with the people who mean the most. Weddings are full of parties where you are supposed to spend money – that’s all I need is another one. RSVP NO!!!!

      • LadyV March 6, 2017, 10:32 am

        Actually, ANY reference to gifts – even if it’s to tell people not to bring them – is considered bad etiquette. That being said – the best way to hold an engagement party is to just invite people to a PARTY without specifying the purpose – then announce the engagement at the party. This used to be the way it was done. Of course, back then it would have been only family and very close friends who were invited, not everyone in a 20 mile radius….

  • PWH March 2, 2017, 10:08 am

    I think this is the chance for your Mother to decline. It sounds like the hosts will only be supplying dishes and flatware, unless they send a follow up later asking people to bring disposable versions of those as well.
    I’ve hosted two surprise birthday parties for my Mother for milestone birthdays in the past. Both times I took care of all food and drink. I had several guests who offered to bring something – salad, chips, etc. which was a very lovely gesture. Both times there was more than enough food to go around and more than enough seating 🙂 As a side note my Mother’s birthday is in the Winter, so we had everyone inside.

  • Outdoor Girl March 2, 2017, 10:21 am

    I don’t personally have a problem with BYOC – no one I know would have enough outdoor seating for anything more than a small party. And unless it is a big, fancy, occasion, it seems ridiculous to rent chairs.

    But having the guests bring all the food and contribute to a gift for the birthday boy? Yeah, no. At most, they can ask for desserts and sides but should be providing the main(s) – and only one dish per couple, not per person but if they’re doing that? No gift for the birthday boy. The party is the gift.

  • AppleEye March 2, 2017, 10:48 am

    I have only one word for this:


  • NostalgicGal March 2, 2017, 10:51 am

    I’m afraid something pressing would come up, politely decline, send a nice card with good wishes and nothing enclosed but signatures.

    My 50th I threw a catered party and everyone left with a ‘doorprize’. All you had to do was RSVP (which was a nightmare unto it’s own, I outflanked it though) and show. The everyone that shows has to bring food (aka men, meat; women, side; so a couple has to contribute twice) would have had me declining at that point. I can understand needing chairs… THEN after bringing food, contribute to the gift. No. My more pressing event might be flossing my toes, but in the meantime I’d decline with regrets.

    • Goldie March 2, 2017, 12:36 pm

      Re a couple contributing twice, I once got an invite, from a group of friends mind you, to a large annual, potluck, event. The email said that each family had to bring two dishes. There was a sign-up sheet with the list of families. Most were families of three or four. The organizer was a (extended) family of seven. I was a family of one. We were each on the list to sign up for our two dishes. I just stared at that list for a few minutes with my mouth hanging open. I enjoyed this group of people and didn’t want to bow out of the party, so I brought one real dish and a box of crackers that served as my second dish.

  • stacey March 2, 2017, 11:01 am

    I think that when there is a bait-and-switch, as in this case, it’s permissible to find that one cannot, after all, manage to attend. Send regrets, save stress, call it a lesson learned. People who try to assume the title of “hosts” while providing nothing more than an address at which others may gather whether it be their own home or a restaurant they reserve are social cheats. If you issue the invitation, you are responsible for providing for your guests. Other arrangements are possible but don’t usually call the initiators hosts. Instead they are the organizers or co-hosts or merely the point of contact for information. Hosts undertake to provide for the needs of their guests according to their own talents, tastes and means. Guests have historically been loath to usurp that privilege for fear of giving offense. Now we have hosts who don’t feed or seat those they invite, (and couples who have weddings AFTER already having been married, and birthday honorees who arrange their own parties and expectant moms/ grandmas/ couples and extended families who have showers with complicated expectations for food, drink, venue and registries and prom attendees who require limos/ hotel rooms and over the top flourishes and people who stop traffic on major highways to propose/ fiancees who don’t feel that a proposal should be accepted if it isn’t sufficiently theatrical/ amazing/ unique/ documented on social media and people (like OP’s sister from yesterday) attempting to sign family and friends up to serve as labor post-partum or at weddings without reference to availability, age or season of life…. as long as society keeps allowing/ excusing/ dismissing these assaults upon basic civility, they will continue to escalate. And we will suffer the annoyance of being overrun by people with their sensibilities outraged because the rules of etiquette magically should not apply to them but should certainly (also magically) apply to others to make them comply with all demands lest the social extortionist be offended.

  • PJ March 2, 2017, 11:05 am

    I have no problem with a potluck party. I even think it is fine to ask guests at a barbecue to bring outdoor chairs. Most of us have a few that are easy enough to carry along. Not many hosts have enough to seat over a dozen guests.

    The condition on all of that is that the invitation should be upfront about it. Make sure guests know that they’re invited to a potluck event. Mention upfront that it would help if they brought their own chair.

    My biggest problem is the expectation of a gift. I think hosting a potluck *and* expecting a gift is asking too much. I think a 50-year old expecting a gift at all is too much. IMO, there comes a time when that tradition should stop outside of close family… maybe somewhere in the tween years.

    • Jxb March 5, 2017, 3:23 pm

      1 100% agree. An informal potluck with friends and family is FINE. If it had been presented that way and host was providing some of the food, that would have been great. And asking guests to bring extra chairs is also common. We all have them sitting in our trunk (in our crowd). But the execution of this was horrible. And the request for gift not acceptable.

  • livvy17 March 2, 2017, 11:06 am

    Wow. Let’s count the etiquette fails here: 1) host a party in honor of yourself 2) ask guest to bring ALL the food 3)ask guests to bring seating 4) ask for a gift 5)Dictate the form of the gift

    I’m with UKHelen….next email will be asking for drinks. And maybe a “venue fee”.

    • stacey March 3, 2017, 8:25 am

      I think that the “housewarming” is exempted from the “don’t host it yourself” category. It normally allows the hosts to gather those they intend to regularly entertain as a kind of social “kick-off” in a new venue. They aren’t really considered the honorees in this case and gifts are not required (although small ones are the norm).

      • livvy17 March 3, 2017, 4:59 pm

        Sure, but this is being billed as a birthday party. That’s why they’re asking for gifts on top of food and chairs.

      • Darshiva March 7, 2017, 5:54 pm

        True, but the traditional gift for a housewarming is bread and salt, not meat, side-dishes and a grill.

  • Yarnspinner March 2, 2017, 11:12 am

    …BTW, we plan to paint the garage but don’t have enough of Expensive Hue #34, so if everyone brings one quart and a paintbrush, we can also have a fun time finishing not only the garage, but the deck as well.

    I’d be tempted to put one dollar to the bank deposit (that’s one trusting woman, handing out her bank details to people).

    • NostalgicGal March 2, 2017, 8:06 pm

      I wouldn’t put a cent because there are others that if they see things have been contributed to, will then feel obligated to contribute.

      Don’t contribute… or better, contribute in their name to a worthwhile cause and bring the notice or thank you for doing so.

  • Cat March 2, 2017, 11:15 am

    The summation is that, “You are giving us a party at our house. We have decided that you will provide the food, the seating, and you will be giving us the grill we have chosen.”
    This sounds like the perfect time to have a forgotten previous commitment or to be out of town on business.

  • INeedANap March 2, 2017, 11:40 am

    Is that normal to separate what you’re supposed to bring by gender? I feel like in both my family and friend groups, the large number of single people and gay people would mean we would not be guaranteed to end up with an even number of dishes. And does this mean each couple/household has to provide two things?

    Aside from that confusion, being asked to essentially party-plan someone else’s shindig is a great way to get me to “have something suddenly come up.”

    • Goldie March 2, 2017, 12:42 pm

      Good point, there’s an assumption that the women can cook and the men cannot. And I have never ever ever seen a request to “bring meat”. The host provides the main dish. Unless it’s a cookout on neutral territory where there is no guest of honor, in that case yes I’ve seen everybody bring something to throw on the grill.

      Which reminds me. They do not have a grill! What are they going to do with all that meat?

      • NostalgicGal March 2, 2017, 8:14 pm

        How about bringing them one of those little aluminum pan disposable hibachi’s? I’m not sure if the meat is to be cooked or not before being brought… and. It may be that the grill is already being purchased and will be the star gift, but the Mrs. is expecting everyone to chip in to pay for/subsidize the purchase.

        • SS March 3, 2017, 9:04 am

          If the grill is the star gift, no one will be eating that night because it will need to be set up, and the instructions read for how to start/use it before anything can be cooked on it. (I’m assuming that if they need help paying for it, then it is more elaborate than a pour-charcoal-in-it-and-light-it-up).

    • Ernie March 2, 2017, 4:26 pm

      What you said here was probably my biggest issue with this. My Fiance and I will bring a side dish to something if we are asked, or we will bring meat to grill if it is that sort of party, but when it gets to the point of a main and a side? Well now we’re bringing a meal.

      • Ange March 2, 2017, 10:36 pm

        I dated a guy many years ago whose family did this. They’d decide on a gathering, pick the house and then everyone would bring their own meals (entirely), eat and then disperse like an hour later. Because each branch had their own food they all had to sit with their own immediate family so there would be this large group of people huddled in little clusters not interacting. It was so strange and inhospitable.

        • Ange March 2, 2017, 10:37 pm

          I should note I don’t have issues with pot luck style among people who are close, my own family did this but all these people did was supply a BBQ at the most. I’m pretty sure they also had to bring their own seats!

  • Ashley March 2, 2017, 11:44 am

    You know, I honestly I have no problem with the idea of pot luck parties for stuff like this. It’s how all family and friend related things I do are handled and we all like to cook and are just used to it.

    But having to haul my own chair and contribute towards a BBQ? No thanks. If you want to invite people to see your new stuff, and you can’t even give me a place to sit, that’s poor planning on your part, not mine, and you can pay for your own fancy grill.

    • Devin March 2, 2017, 3:33 pm

      I see bringing a chair the least of the offenses for this submission, unless they want everyone to leave their chair at the end so they have patio furniture. Almost no one i know has more than seating for 4-6 on their patios even if they have an expansive yard, and everyone i know has one or two light beach chairs that are easy enough to grab and go.
      I agree if you want to invite people over for a low key pot luck, thats great if you let them know that is the style of party from the get go. Its great for a quick and inexpensive get together amongst close friends/family. You are SO right , pot luck plus buy us a grill is just over the top!!

  • Roslyn March 2, 2017, 11:58 am

    Wow! I can easily see the people who do arrive and follow the instructions, since “meat or sweet” and “sides and salads” can easily go by the way of a poorly planned potluck where there is nothing to eat but purchased cakes from the discount table at the local supermarket bakery and quarts of deli potato salad.

    What about plates/cups, forks/spoons and drinks!!

    • Teapot March 2, 2017, 1:04 pm

      I’m actually picturing every man showing up with a package of hot dogs. No buns, no mustard, just cold, raw wieners. And hopefully the hostess is planning on buying the BBQ grill in advance of all of the cash donations she thinks will be rolling in or those bunless wieners are going to stay cold.

      I’m surprised that each guest hasn’t been told a specific dollar amount for the grill. But that will probably come with email #4, along with the request for freezer bags so they can scoop up all of the leftovers for themselves.

      • Amanda H. March 2, 2017, 11:09 pm

        I suspect that was the point of giving out the bank info. “Deposit your gift in advance so we can buy the grill in time.”

        To which I sincerely hope most of the relatives decline, so that the account doesn’t have nearly the necessary amount in it.

      • stacey March 3, 2017, 8:27 am

        Wow! Great catch! How do you have a BBQ without the grill? Good gravy….

  • Cora March 2, 2017, 12:08 pm

    Okay, anyone who thinks that it’s perfectly acceptable to put their BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER for deposits on a party invitation is just a lost cause. Oy.

    • NostalgicGal March 2, 2017, 8:16 pm

      Unless they set up a special account for this, it’s just ASKING to have someone hack them. Have someone screenshot and post the invite and the web will find it.

      • Ulla March 3, 2017, 6:35 am

        o.O What kind of systems you have if bank account number can be used for hacking?

        • Ulla March 3, 2017, 6:37 am

          I mean sure, it’s techically possible if you have fake id’s and cullible banking person. But on the other hand, at that point you probably don’t need the account number anymore.

          • Dee March 3, 2017, 1:58 pm

            Account number plus password. Half the info now having been provided …

          • LadyV March 6, 2017, 10:35 am

            Sometimes they don’t even need that much info. My account was hacked by someone who stole my debit card information – nothing else needed.

        • NostalgicGal March 4, 2017, 4:43 am

          I had someone lift my credit card info, and I am careful with that… and ran $3 to a foreign based hookup site. The card worked. They then tried in rapid order to pay that site $399 three times. My CC caught it at that point and none of that went through, and it took six weeks but the site did refund my $3 as well. I think they did catch them…

          If someone has your bank account and a password, name… you can be looked up on the net. For like $8 a month or $1 a shot, I can subscribe to a site that can look up a LOT about a person if I can get their real name and an idea of where they live.

          If you lose your identity, not just have your bank account hacked, you have 15 minutes before you are thoroughly sunk and it can take more than a year to clean up the mess.

          Now a few banks will let you set up special event accounts, they are short term and for the sake of accepting donations. Unless Mr. Almost 50 or Mrs. Almost 50 set one of these up they could hurt really bad if the wrong person gets ahold of the account information.

          • Amanda H. March 5, 2017, 1:26 pm

            Some people are just too trusting, and unfortunately it can bite them. Sometimes hard. This is why the university I attended (in a very trusting city) had to keep issuing PSAs to the students about not leaving their backpacks/laptops/etc. unattended on campus or leaving their dorm rooms/offices/lockers/cars/bikes unlocked, because those things could and WOULD disappear. The city was very trusting. Thieves knew that and frequently came to said city to take advantage of it.

            And yes, the university paper’s police blotter was constantly full of reports of people ignoring the PSAs and losing their stuff.

          • Ulla March 6, 2017, 1:18 am

            We do not use the bank account number to log into anything. We have separate username, password and key card for all bank online services, which cannot be determined from the bank account number.

  • Mustard March 2, 2017, 12:14 pm

    I’d be interested to know what happens to all this meat if no-one contributes to the BBQ fund!

    • LEMon March 2, 2017, 2:32 pm

      That was my thought: how were they planning to cook the meat if they don’t have a grill?

      She is going to have to buy it before the party. I bet she is going to be grumpy and talk at the party about the amount others need to contribute.

      Chairs I can understand. Telling (not suggesting) folks to bring food is rude. Getting the guests to provide the grill too is beyond that.

      • NostalgicGal March 2, 2017, 8:17 pm

        If she prebuys it then doesn’t get any donations towards subsidizing it, I wonder if she will go around strongarming everyone to donate at the event? I bet she does….

    • David March 2, 2017, 3:38 pm

      Why, it’s going to go in their new freezer and the guests are going to get 1 boiled hot dog apiece from the brand new kitchen

  • JD March 2, 2017, 12:42 pm

    I don’t remember ever having such a good time reading responses. Together, the E-hellions here have me laughing myself silly. Such good responses!
    I agree, agree, agree with you all! This is an over-the-top example of greed and rudeness. I hope the OP’s mom doesn’t go, but I also hope we get to hear how this “party” went.

  • Amara March 2, 2017, 1:30 pm

    Would it be rude of me to bring a head of uncut iceberg lettuce? And to contribute for the gift a (small) bag of bamboo skewers?

  • Shoegal March 2, 2017, 2:21 pm

    I am also OK with a potluck party especially if everyone is just delighted to celebrate with birthday boy and really want to bring something. A lot of guests always ask if they can bring something anyway. So –ok – bring something – a bag of chips – a side dish, an appetizer. Asking for one half of the couple to provide dessert and the main course – and the other half a side dish – that’s everything!!! This is asking way too much – you just asked for each and every guest to provide everything for everyone. I am also of the mindset that ok – come celebrate this 50 year old – with food and good cheer – he doesn’t get a gift too! He’s 50 – he’ll live. If I went – I’d bring one dish and maybe a chair but that’s it. I host a bonfire every year – It is a standing around the fire party – I do have chairs but many people bring their own.

  • pennywit March 2, 2017, 2:26 pm

    This reminds me of a barbecue I held last year. Mrs. Pennywit thought I was crazy for doing so, but I went out to the store to buy some extra (mismatched, honestly) folding chairs for the back yard, enough to seat most of the people at one time. Interestingly, we ended up with folks migrating between the walkout basement and the back hard as the mood struck them.

  • Julie March 2, 2017, 3:29 pm

    While I don’t agree with the hostess for telling guests to bring their own food and chairs, I give her a little credit for being equal opportunistic with both genders. I’ve been invited to a lot of mixed and women-only events where the implicit expectation is for the woman to cook something. Male-only events don’t seem to have this problem. I’d like to tell these hosts/planners, it’s very different to cook for a group vs. cooking for one-self. Even if I enjoy cooking, I don’t necessarily enjoy the additional planning, storing, transporting, re-heating, serving, and dealing with spills/leftovers. And the worst when more than one guest brings the same thing and everyone’s dish barely gets picked at. Not a fan of potlucks…

    • Ange March 2, 2017, 10:40 pm

      If it’s a man as part of a family though the wife is probably still going to be stuck with it, let’s be honest.

      • Amanda H. March 3, 2017, 5:00 pm

        Depends on the couple. I generally take great joy in pointing out at potlucks that my husband made whatever it was we brought, because nine times out of ten he’s the chef. Especially if it’s baked goods. I just don’t like cooking as much, and have a pretty limited suite of recipes I take the helm for.

        • NostalgicGal March 4, 2017, 4:50 am

          My dad could really cook. My mom couldn’t, bless her anyways. She got to do the cooking though. Then I got old enough to cook and the last 6 years I was home I made the food. I left for college and within a month my dad begin cooking again, as he couldn’t stand it. He did about once a year when I was home, and I said it was unfair, but. So for a period of time if my family was invited and we had to bring food, you were eating MY cooking. Even the holiday meal rotation. Yes, 30 people are about to sit down to a meal prepared by a 12 year old who has been cooking for 3 months (and makes the best piecrust you will ever meet)…. so you can never guess who the cook is in the couple or family!

          • Angie March 4, 2017, 12:58 pm

            NostalgicGal, you sound like me. My father could cook but he died when I was 8. My mother hated to cook, she could but wasn’t the best. When I was 10, I got her to teach me to make my father’s signature dessert, lemon pie with graham cracker crust. And how to make my then favorite and still a favorite meal, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and I wanted rolls.

            She wouldn’t “waste” money buying brown and serve rolls at the small town grocery since it was a few cents more than the big grocery in the city. So, I found a very easy, no knead, yeast roll recipe in her cookbook that I still use to this day. We all loved it so very few brown and serve rolls were bought after that, we preferred the homemade.

            I cooked more and more and did a lot of the cooking and by the time I left home at 17 to go to school, I was a darn good cook for a kid. Especially good baker. Oh and I make a darn good pie crust too!

            Back to the subject. Since this is a birthday party, you WOULD expect to be served cake and punch and since it is apparently to be outdoors, at least hot dogs and hamburgers. I think it is perfectly reasonable to ask people to bring their own chairs because most people don’t have a lot of extra outdoor furniture. Maybe an extra half dozen chairs at the most and this appears to be a bigger party than that. But to have to bring all the food and dessert too AND send money to buy the grill to cook it on. What ARE the “hosts” providing? A back yard?

            The other thing, I have hosted a few birthday parties for adults, husband, brother-in-law, sister. But we didn’t expect OR get birthday gifts for the adults, the gifts were having the fun get together with friends. Not buying a grill for the “host”.

          • NostalgicGal March 5, 2017, 1:39 pm

            Angie, I enlisted my paternal grandmother. She taught me how to make real piecrust, not my mom’s shoe leather (it was actually forbidden to make pies because ‘it was a waste of crisco’ (vegetable shortening) and that stuff wasn’t cheap). So I came back from the grandparents, offered to make supper (roast with veggies put in with it) and made a blueberry lattice pie. Hid it in the breadkeeper and and hid the bread. Dad came home and peeked here and there, he could SMELL that pie. We ate. I brought out the pie. Rigormortis look from mom and the growl of ‘making pies was forbidden’ then I served up flaky delicious pie. Dad thoroughly enjoyed that pie, knew he was dipped, and forking the end off second of three pieces, he said “I hate to say this but this is really good.” He went to die in pain on the couch from overeating and I got to do dishes. Two weeks later school started and I came home to a hot dish recipe taped to the fridge. I cooked from then until I left for college and she complained for years after I left about losing her cook (maid, dishwasher and laundress too).

            On topic, this BBQ birthday part is such a train wreck… I can understand BYOC. That’s not unreasonable. Bringing all the food (sounds like it) AND contribute to the BBQ (which I assume has to be prebought and assembled before the event) is too much. I do expect another one to come out to bring your own beverages (adult) as well.

            McDonalds used to have a deal where they would loan a 5 gallon insulated dispensing cooler full of orange drink, for free. I don’t think they do it anymore or I could really expect one of those showing up at this event…

      • Cat March 4, 2017, 8:15 pm

        My father was shocked to learn that he did not know how to turn on an electric oven. Mother had died a few days before and I came home to find him trying to use the oven. He did not know that he had to turn it to preheat and then set the temperature. He was sixty years old.

        • NostalgicGal March 5, 2017, 1:45 pm

          My condolences.

          My spouse is older than that, I just wish he wouldn’t leave crumb trails everywhere he goes, especially through the kitchen. (polite way to say there is a mess, you know where he’s been).

  • Tanz March 2, 2017, 4:33 pm

    I know this is going against popular opinion, but I don’t really see a problem with this for a family event, although my view may be coloured by my culture and cultural norms.

    My MIL recently celebrated a milestone birthday. The party was arranged by my SIL and held at my inlaws new house. As they hadn’t properly moved in yet, those of us who had spare outdoor/camper chairs (everyone, of course) brought them, and we all contributed to the food because it’s polite to offer to do so/do so. In terms pf presents MILs children and their spouses all contributed to a gift for her and other people either brought cards or a gift. It doesn’t work this way for every celebration – MIL and FIL paid for a restaurant meal for all attendees at FIL’s latest milestone birthday – but it’s still a perfectly acceptable option where I live, and I don’t really see why it wouldn’t be?

    • LEMon March 2, 2017, 9:10 pm

      I think it is the telling folks to bring things that is the issue. You bring food because you want to, not because you were told to. Just like I do.

      When I host a potluck, I have all the bases covered – meat, main dish, drinks. And because it is our way, everyone brings a dish. But I have it set up so that if no one brought anything we would have plenty. I have never told people that they need to bring things. I might give them direction if they ask but that’s it.
      That isn’t how this invite feels.

    • Ange March 2, 2017, 10:41 pm

      My family would kind of do it too although the host would always make the bulk of things. However there and in your example it was lovingly offered, not demanded.

    • Anonymous March 9, 2017, 10:09 pm

      The problem here is, the “hosts” pulled a bait and switch by beginning with an invitation to a party, and then adding in the fact that it was a potluck, bring your own chair, and chip in money to buy a barbecue, type gathering. I agree; potlucks are fine, and offering to bring food is fine, if your social circle does things that way, but announcing one kind of gathering, and then changing it mid-stream, isn’t fair to the people you’ve invited, because they make plans for one thing, and then they have to change their plans, or back out. I mean, from an invitee’s point of view, they might have been invited for dinner, on a day when they had a full day of……well, anything–work, school, rehearsal, travelling home from a vacation, whatever. So, they get a dinner invitation, and think, “Awesome, I’ll get to see Host, AND I won’t have to cook that night,” but then Host announces that it’s a potluck. So, okay, yes, it’s possible to swing by the store on the way to the dinner, and pick up pop, chips, ice, napkins, or even a ready meal from a grocery store, but if everyone did that, then it’d make for a pretty boring, “pre-fab” potluck. Technically, the host could request homemade contributions, but that’d be even ruder than the original faux-pas of the bait-and-switch potluck invitation. The same applies to asking for money for a barbecue grill (because maybe some of the invitees can’t afford to contribute), or asking people to bring their own chairs (transportation issues, not owning a folding chair and having to buy one, which might be a stretch). Basically, an invitation shouldn’t cause people hardship. Now, obviously, not every invitation can accommodate everyone (for example, you wouldn’t invite a friend in a wheelchair to go on a hike in the mountains), but it’s polite to spell everything out beforehand, so people have all the information they need in order to accept and make plans to participate, or not.

  • Pamela Love March 2, 2017, 4:45 pm

    That’s a good point, Mustard. I wonder if the “meats” are supposed to be cooked?

    It sounds like a potluck. My parents once went to a church picnic where every family was supposed to bring a side dish. Every single side side turned out to be baked beans. And that’s why, years later, when signing up to attend a picnic, each family had to say what they were bringing.

    • NostalgicGal March 2, 2017, 8:23 pm

      Family gatherings, my dad’s youngest brother’s wife would bring one quart of potato salad, for five. Always. No meat, no dessert, no drinks, no snacks. One quart of potato salad. We did cure her of ungodly late (so she’d arrive with fanfare as we had to wait for her to show to eat) at least at one event…

    • Devin March 2, 2017, 9:32 pm

      That would have made Veruca Salt very happy after all she did want a bean feast!!

      • Amanda H. March 3, 2017, 5:06 pm

        Wrong kind of bean-feast.

    • Amanda H. March 2, 2017, 11:18 pm

      When my husband was in grad school, we had regular summer Sunday afternoon barbecues in the apartment complex courtyard (where there was a grill). Someone would volunteer to show up early to start the coals (usually whoever spearheaded arranging this at the time, which was us for the better part of two summers). Everyone would bring a main dish for their family and then a side to share potluck-style. One Sunday afternoon, when the weather was just a bit inclement and people were traveling due to a term transition with the school, only two families showed up: us and one other couple. Both of us had brought deviled eggs to share. Luckily due to lacking the usual mix-in ingredients for mine, I had substituted some other things instead (ranch, sautéed onion, and dill weed instead of miracle whip, relish, and paprika), so we managed to still have variety.

    • JD March 3, 2017, 10:04 am

      We had something of the opposite problem, Pamela, at a church potluck dinner we attended. There was a sign up sheet, but no one had signed up for baked beans. My husband and I signed up for them, hoping someone else would, as there were 100 people expected. No one else did, so my heroic husband bought huge cans of beans, big cheap pans and all the fixings, and proceeded to bake beans for 100 people. When we arrived at the church, 3 other people had also decided to make baked beans — without ever calling us to let us know, or signing the sheet! There were enough baked beans for an army. Naturally, we ended up bringing home 3/4’s of our beans. I pulled out my pressure canner and canned the darn things and we ate them for the rest of the year.

      • Julie March 6, 2017, 2:33 pm

        Another reason why I don’t like potlucks, bringing redundant food and getting stuck with leftovers. Don’t folks understand that the biggest insult to a cook is having tons and tons of leftovers? Compliments to the chef should be in the form of empty plates and pans…

  • BagLady March 2, 2017, 10:27 pm

    I’m OK with potlucks. In my circle they are the default setting for entertaining — so much so that when someone hosts a party that isn’t potluck, they need to proclaim, in big, huge letters, THIS IS NOT A POTLUCK YOU DON’T NEED TO BRING ANYTHING.

    I’m OK with BYO meat for a cookout, although that doesn’t happen often with my friends — hosts tend to provide the meat. I’m OK with BYO drinks (for yourself or to share) and BYO chairs — I own exactly two lawn chairs, and I only host parties in the summer. The BYO chairs request is so common in my circle for summer parties that nobody blinks twice at it.

    I’m even OK with the invitation to chip in for a group gift, as long as it is an invitation and not a demand.

    It’s the three separate emails (the bait and switch, as a PP put it) and the demanding tone that have my back up. Here’s how I would have worded it — in *one* email:

    Hi, folks. Please join us on (date) for a potluck party in our yard to celebrate Dave’s 50th birthday!

    Dave and Mrs. Dave will provide burgers, hot dogs, beer, soda, plates, cups and utensils. Contributions of side dishes and desserts are welcome. If you would like to bring your own meat for the grill, and/or drinks for yourself or to share, please do so.

    We have a limited supply of lawn chairs, so we encourage you to bring your own — and extras if you have them.

    We are borrowing Ned Neighbor’s grill for the party, but we would really like to get Dave his very own grill as a birthday gift. If you would like to contribute to this group gift (which is totally optional), you can do so here (bank or personal contact details here).

    Looking forward to seeing you on (date)!

    • Lady Catford March 3, 2017, 2:52 pm

      Thank you BagLady

      This is how we do it in my circles. Pot luck dinner, I supply meat, buns, condiments, beverages, and sundries. Including the BBQ
      A few extra chairs will be needed so SIL will bring a bunch, and her Caesar salad,there is never any left over. Auntie S will bring Potato salad (one party she didn’t, there were tears.) LOL Every one else brings something if they want. Most people bring some kind of side or whatever.

      DH’s Surprise Birthday every year has no gifts, just cards, and a cake. The Littles gather around for the card opening, candle blowing, and cake serving. They also get their cake first.

      And I keep thinking that this qualifies me for Ehell.

      • NostalgicGal March 4, 2017, 4:52 am

        I don’t think you even deserve the tuffet just inside the door. You’re doing fine.

    • Lerah99 March 5, 2017, 1:06 pm

      Yes!!! This time 1,000.

      You can host this sort of party so long as you make it clear from the beginning that’s what’s happening.

      The rudeness is the 3 follow emails that make the hospitality seem less and less.

  • OP March 3, 2017, 1:01 am

    OP here;

    Unfortunately my mother’s backbone is the equivalent of a wet noodle; she did attend the party, and she did ‘donate’ to the BBQ present. The one small win I did get was talking her out of going to a lot of effort to make a side dish, and instead she took some store-bought salad.

    She didn’t have a chair to take with her, nor the means to buy a new one, so she attended sans-seating, and true to their promise, she had nowhere to sit. A 56 year old woman was made to sit on the floor, for several hours.

    Now, to be fair, they did have SOME seating available… but it was taken up by several children/teens on their phones. At no point were the children/teens told to stop being so rude and give up their seats for the older members of the guests.

    We have since learned that Mr-Now-50 and his (younger) wife are now expecting their first child! I can’t wait to see what they come up with for a baby shower.

    • TaterTot March 3, 2017, 3:18 pm

      Thanks for the followup! I always love it when OPs do this.

      I just wonder what Mr. & Mrs. 50 will expect for their baby shower (hint, hint).

    • livvy17 March 3, 2017, 5:03 pm

      Perhaps your mother will decline the next one, at least I hope she will for her own sake! Or, if she gets invited to another one, suggest she buy a folding chair, bring it along to sit in, then, pop a bow on it and leave it as her present. I think they sell collapseable ones at Sam’s Club for about $10. 🙂

    • Lin March 3, 2017, 8:01 pm

      Thank you for the update, OP! I’m unsurprised to hear that it all turned out as expected, and I’m sorry that your mother had to sit on the floor. I would say that maybe she ought to have asked one of the children to vacate, but being that you said she has a weak spine, I think that would be a redundant question…

      P.S. Please keep us posted on the baby shower. 😉

      • kingsrings March 6, 2017, 11:45 pm

        My guesses about the baby shower: Every guest will be asked to bring a box of diapers and a book for the baby’s library. This in addition to their gift, of course.

        • Amanda H. March 8, 2017, 1:45 pm

          Don’t forget every guest being asked to bring a chair to sit on (not enough seats in the living room, don’t you know?), plus a dessert-type snack to eat so the hosts don’t have to do refreshments. With a few select guests being assigned either cupcakes or drinks.

  • TakohamoOlsen2 March 3, 2017, 2:29 am

    ‘Unable to attend due to prior engagement’ is what I would send to them.

  • Anne March 3, 2017, 7:16 am

    Geesh, it’s clear… the wife is going to supply the CAKE, isn’t that enough for you Grumpy Gus’s? Everyone knows picking up the cake is the most tiresome part, that and sending out those e-vites. I don’t know how she is handling it so well, poor overworked thing.

  • ketchup March 3, 2017, 3:23 pm

    Hahahahahaha. No.

    It’d just make me want to send a picture of grumpy cat with ‘no’ on it.
    Who does that? I didn’t even think of doing this when I was a student.

  • LadyV March 4, 2017, 6:53 pm

    I would immediately decline an invitation like this. If you’re not financially prepared to host your own party, don’t have one!

  • Nicolek March 4, 2017, 8:16 pm

    I know I am in the minority but I enjoy potlucks and this sounds like fun.

    • Lerah99 March 5, 2017, 1:00 pm

      Potlucks are fine.
      I also like Potlucks.

      What’s not ok is to have a party where you expect presents and your guests to cater it all at the same time.

      Frankly, I’ve been invited to rent parties that were more gracious in their invitations. Because at least they were up front about what they were.

      This is kind of a bait and switch. Like getting invited to birthday party and then finding out it’s actually a Papered Chef sales party.

      • livvy17 March 6, 2017, 3:54 pm

        What’s a rent party?

        • Lerah99 March 8, 2017, 12:40 pm

          It’s a party thrown to raise money so you can pay your rent that month.

          Usually there’s a suggested donation to attend.

          The host provides food, non-alcoholic drinks (some might have alcoholic drinks for an additional suggested donation price per drink), music, and entertainment. In exchange their friends all show up and drop money in the bucket to help the host pay his/her rent that month.

          It’s basically a way to throw a party in exchange for passing the hat to your friends for help paying your bills that month.

          Etiquette wise, it’s still not kosher.
          But I feel, like sales parties, so long as they are properly advertised and no one gets surprised by the purpose, it can still be a fun time.

  • Joshua March 5, 2017, 2:50 pm

    People who want to host a party but don’t own a lot of chairs should know that there are businesses that rent folding chairs, as well as tables and other things they might need.

    However, that might not have helped Mr. Almost 50 and his wife, because it seems unlikely that they would have been willing to pay for the chair rental.

    • livvy17 March 6, 2017, 4:01 pm

      Good reminder! You can rent anything (and even have it delivered, set up, picked up, etc.). Or, the host could have called family and friends and asked if they could borrow chairs IN ADVANCE of the party. (as long as they were also prepared to pickup, take care of, clean & return said chairs). If they belonged to a church, they might have been able to borrow them from there.

      • NostalgicGal March 7, 2017, 1:22 am

        I am in a really rural place so renting (rent a whatever) isn’t a real option, but. There are always church auxillaries and friends that you can network with to get more of what you need. I am not in any church group but I have three professional large roasters (18-22 qt rectangular crock pots) and other large pans and plates, to put on a major event; and am a friend if you are in need. (one club always borrowed my large platters and cookie plates every spring for the flower show, and I have a huge rose bowl that works so well for the drawing…)

  • kingsrings March 6, 2017, 11:52 pm

    A few years ago a friend of mine was turning 50 and threw her own birthday party for it. She made it a potluck and instructed guests exactly what to bring for food and drinks!
    If you’re throwing your own party, you don’t turn it into a potluck. You’re the host, cater it yourself
    I’ve heard of guests being asked to potluck for funerals and memorials. And once at a Mormon baptism I attended – I and the other guests were asked by the planner to bring a plate of treats for all.

    • Amanda H. March 8, 2017, 1:48 pm

      I’m facepalming here. I’m Mormon and have been to several baptisms (and done one myself, for my oldest, and will be doing another this year for my next-oldest). Baptisms don’t NEED snacks, as they’re so short. Even if you do snacks, you don’t ask others to bring them, you do them yourself. My goodness.

    • NostalgicGal March 20, 2017, 1:03 pm

      I hosted my own 50th, rented a building (it was a blatant donation to the county fair board to cover some of their overhead on the buildings), and had it catered. I had an issue with the RSVP but managed, and all you had to do was show and have fun. I had games and doorprizes, and because of a mixup the caterer showed without the server, so I served. So I handed out the prizes so everyone left with a gift. THAT is vastly different. Potluck for birthday, someone else organizes, not YOU the birthday person.