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Do you entertain more than you are invited?

.....And if so, what do you make of this, and how do you deal with it?

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  1. Definitely ... and I just accept it at this point. I do occasionally think that if people didn't want to have us to their home to eat they could reciprocate by inviting us out to a restaurant. But, I enjoy entertaining, I enjoy having people in my home, I enjoy cooking - so I do it anyway.

    1. The answer is, or was, yes, and is the reason why we stopped doing it as it got "real old" putting out the effort without virtually anybody reciprocating. Time to insert your favorite parable about givers and takers!

      1. Yes. And I'll keep doing it. Some of our friends are not in a position to reciprocate, others just weren't raised to feel comfortable entertaining, and some do invite us back although maybe not as often as we invite them, but I don't count or I'd go nuts. It's fun, our friends like it and are very appreciative, and it's one way to make sure we see them often.

        I think, though, that there may be a new generation of people coming up who don't really have any concept of entertaining on a regular basis. What happened? Certainly the younger people I work with don't seem to have people over - they go to restaurants to socialize.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sheiladeedee

          I totally agree re "younger people." I'm in my late thirties, and my younger friends *only* go to restaurants.

          I assume because a) they're more likely to be single (it's easier to entertain with two to split the work, plus singles just generally tend to go out rather than stay in); b) they haven't accrued all the stuff older folks have - like booze collections, onion soup bowls, blenders, steak knives, what-have-you; c) their houses/apartments aren't as big or nice; and d) they aren't as skilled and therefore confident. And it seems to fit generally with a more spontaneous lifestyle - at a restaurant gathering, people can more easily bring friends, come late, leave early, etc.

        2. Yes, but I think that's because I actually enjoy cooking, and sharing the results with my close friends is sometimes helpful too (otherwise too many leftovers!) There are weeks when I'm particularly inspired & want to try a couple of different recipes. I have two good friends who are always ready to accept dinner invitations from me (they say yes even before I finish asking the question!)
          I know that neither one enjoys cooking; and my rewards are:
          1.they're happy & grateful, lots of obvious food enjoyment and compliments!
          2.they always bring wine, & flowers sometimes, I don't expect it, but their appreciation is expressed so it's nice for all
          3. I enjoy their company.
          So I don't mind. Like I said, I only invite them when I'm having a good cooking week! And whatever I make, they love it, so it's totally impossible to go wrong. Anyway, everyone's got their own talents.

          1 Reply
          1. re: morebubbles

            Ditto this sentiment.

            I entertain because I want to and enjoy doing so.

            It's not about tit-for-tat, or keeping score.

          2. Yes.....and I hate it. We always put on quite the spread with good food and good drink and finally we put a stop to it. We were spending about $500/weekend.

            1. I used to get irritated by it, but I've just come to accept it. It's more fun for me to throw a spread on and not worry about people feeling they need to reciprocate. And I've whittled my guestlist down accordingly.

              Actually, I wish people didn't feel obligated to bring some nasty bottle of Chateau Nuit san Wagawaga as a "gift." I'm getting really tired of having to re-gift the stuff. Just show up and have a good time for god's sake.

              1. Yes and I find it very irritating. But I like to cook and DH wants to see his family so I invite everyone at least 3-4 times a year. SIL is the only other family member who hosts the gatherings and the food is generally ghastly.

                Among our friends, absolutely no-one cooks so we get very few invitations and those are usually to pretty awful meals.

                It's not clear to me that I'd enjoy being invited to these occasions more frequently.

                1. Yes. However, since I am young and friends are often either poor, in small apartments, or living at home, it is hard to convince them that I don't care if they can't/don't reciprocate.

                  I want people over so I have an excuse to cook a lavish meal. My friends have good taste in beer or wine and always bring something nice in return.

                  1. we do entertain more often than our friends (with one notable exception) but we don't care. we love having people at our place and do not get upset about the lack of reciprocation. some friends can't do it financially and others are plain not into cooking. they have us from time to time and we're always happy to go.

                    we really enjoy having everyone at our home. our friends are very appreciative and helpful, bring good wine or dessert, give our dog treats and we enjoy their company. i believe that feeding your friends/family is an act of love and it makes me happy. my husband agrees.

                    1. Yes - 2 or 3 large parties (50 or so guests) per year, for which we make a vast array of dishes, plus smaller dinner parties a couple of times a month. We don't mind too much, as we do really enjoy cooking and entertaining, and many of our friends are single and not much inclined to entertain. The expense, and the feeling that people take it for granted, does bother us now and again. Once a friend who doesn't entertain but comes to our house regularly bought us a nice dinner out as a gesture of gratitude and I was almost speechless with pleasure.

                      1. We have only 100 people/year to our house for dinner now, down from 200/year, due to expense and exhaustion. Only two of our friends ever reciprocate, but we don't mind: We only invite people we truly enjoy, and their companionship is reason enough. Out of guilt, some friends insist on bringing potluck, and their offerings (even the "wagawaga" ones - LOL) can provide inspiration.

                        1. Yes. I love throwing bbqs and dinner parties, but reciprocation has become a slight pet peeve of mine. With good friends and family, I don't mind at all. However, because I send out invitations by evite, people invite people I barely know who invite even more people (some of whom I don't know at all, or have not included for a reason). My list of 50 can grow to 80 in a blink of an eye. The worst is when I don't know the person and they start chowing down without even acknowledging me... at least take the 10 seconds to great the hostess! Unfortunately, I may have to scale down the invite list in the future. Such a pity as I hate hurting anyone's feelings.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jamsy

                            We had a huge issue with people bringing uninvited guests because "Bob and Janet won't mind". And what was planned for 12 people suddenly became 20. Or 12 people say they are coming and 4 show up. Or we tell people dinner will be at 7 and they show up at 8:30.

                          2. Yes, and I am very weary of it (especially the older I get).

                            1. We love our friends, we love good food and we decided a long time ago to not keep score.

                              1. We sometimes cook and sometimes order in (there's a local rib and BBQ place that has great food and most often that's what we get).

                                For me, it's not about cooking but the spirit of hosting vs. the spirit of mooching. One couple we have over regularly also hosts get togethers and parties but the rest pretty much mooch.

                                One can host a very nice get together without cooking at all.

                                1. I entertain way more than any of my friends. I think at a 10-1 ratio at least. I just found out recently that it is because my acquaintances are scared they can't live up to my standards. Quite a few said that they don't even entertain anymore because my place is more fun and the food and booze is more interesting. I had to send out a bulk email saying that I don't expect everyone to be as food and spirit crazy as I am and that when it comes to others cooking I usually love everything and anything, especially because I didn't have to make it. At least most of them don't mooch too much, although there are the few who have 0% guest manners. They don't get invited a third time.

                                  Now it's all up to my friends, since my new, temporary place is too small to entertain any more than one person at a time.

                                  1. YUP!! Mostly because I love it and my girlfriends don't find the joy in it that I do. I seriously think being a hostess is 1/2 Natural Instinct and 1/2 Training. My mother is an EXCELLENT hostess and she taught me pretty much everything in terms of planning and MOST importantly etiquitte and how to treat your guests. Just like how kids aren't taught manners anymore, even fewer of them are taught proper entertaining because it encompasses that aspect and SO much more...


                                    1. Quite the opposite. I can't tell you how often I've been "invited" to a dinner party only to find myself in the kitchen because no one else has any idea what to do with a pork roast. Or a whole prime rib. And I'm pretty sure that they were fully aware of their own incompetence when they purchased the raw product.
                                      And two years ago I was invited to Thanksgiving at the GF's mom's spot in rural Pennsy. She (the mom) spent over an hour on the phone, informing her neighbors that she had a NYC chef in her kitchen. Ended up cooking a lot that day, too.

                                      1. Yay! I am ridiculously relieved by this whole thread. Thank you, onefineleo.

                                        I invite *way* more than I'm invited; something I have occasionally fretted about. Having read this thread, I'm happy now to attribute that lopsidedness to my chowhoundish nature - rather than, say, a lack of deodorant or tendency to chew with my mouth open.

                                        I agree with the gist of response here - people are generally happier either as givers or receivers; it's actually a rare person who can be completely graceful in both the host and guest roles. Over time I guess I've made peace with wanting to host, and decided to be grateful my friends don't insist on inflicting bad food on me.

                                        Seriously - I love them, but that doesn't mean I should have to eat their atrocious lasagna ;-)

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: spigot

                                          "Their atrocious lasagna"? See, our friends may fear judgments like, and that fear may be why many of us don't get invited more often for home cooking. People hear or see that I put an effort into my cooking and they actually say to me, "I'm never having you over dinner," as if what they cooked would not meet my standards, and as if that were a compliment when it is not.

                                          1. re: spigot

                                            Really, how bad can lasagna get? I mean even theoretically. ( Okay, theoretically I guess it could get pretty bad. Actually, it might be kinda fun to see how far you could push the envelope on that one. It could be like a happening---- cook the most vile pile of slop imaginable, serve it to your friends and keep score!
                                            Then get new friends, I guess.

                                            1. re: diropstim

                                              Oh, never worry, I'm totally gracious. My friends have no reason to think I fear/loathe their lasagna, the McCain's frozen cake, the hideous meatballs, the bad bad salad.

                                              I love them - I eat it. I would rather not "waste a meal," but when push comes to shove, I do the right thing.

                                          2. I'm actually with spigot on this one. When it comes to some of our friends, leave the cooking up to us or lets go out for dinner. I'd rather have a nice dinner out with them than a plain steak off of the foreman grill and some bagged fries.

                                            I think my wife and I enjoy food and friends too much that we want to spend time with our friends while having good food, not one or the other.

                                            1. This subject hits home, I am in the process of making the my mid renovated house presentable as I am expecting a visit from friends who are are home improvement wizzes. We don't entertain much anymore as our house and crazy dogs are not quite ready company; as a result we try to compensate and treat our friends when going out. We really appreciate the friends who bear the brunt of entertaining. My nose used to get bent out of joint when friends would not reciprocate when were entertained frequently but now I completely understand. If you feel you are not up to snuff in the entertaining department it can be very stressful to attempt to entertain.

                                              1. Yes, because we have a bigger house and dining room than any of our friends or family, and I really enjoy cooking for people. It's not a financial hardship, since I seldom cook anything that'll spring the budget, and I don't really do it that often anyway. Most of our frequent guests are also people who have been brought up, as we were, to fetch along a bottle of wine or something - there've been parties where we've had more booze in the house the next day than we did going in!

                                                The only really expensive meal I do is our family Thanksgiving feast, and Pa-in-law, who used to do it until a few years ago, always helps out with the grocery tab.

                                                1. My husband and I tend to have more dinner parties than others. We love having informal dinners at our house for a number of reasons. The most important is that it is just really easy for us and we love having friends over. We tend to be the hosts most often because we have a number of single friends and quirky hermitty types we love who would generally be disinclined to have a lot of folks over (plus we know and love people from differnt walks of life and like to mix it up). It is also that we have a huge TV (I know, gag), a pool table, an obnoxious home brew station (sigh), lots of room to entertain and enough silver and plates for everyone, etc. Usually we do the bulk of the cooking, but some bring dessert and everyone brings plenty of something good to drink. We have developed a routine where I am relieved of cleaning and doing dishes so that REALLY works for me. We get together for BBQ's, sports games on TV, poker, food from the film (we do potluck for that)... it never occured to me to keep count. It might if I were doing a formal dinner. Those are a lot more work and maybe I would feel more put upon if it were always me doing that sort of work and spending that sort of money.

                                                  Our group tends to be merciless with people who do not contribute in some way. I feel pretty lucky that I have never felt that sort of animosity.

                                                  1. I also host dinner parties 10 times more often than I'm invited, I think, for many of the same reasons posted--

                                                    Many of my younger and single guests can't cook, or their Manhattan apartments are too small to host parties, or they generally prefer going to bars. That said, when holidays roll around they look to me to host "orphan" Thanksgiving dinners, etc, and in return I am more than happy to have company.

                                                    I also find myself lending a hand more often than not, in other people's kitchens. When I visit my elderly in-laws for the weekend, I do the cooking for at least one meal, and make extra portions to freeze for a rainy day-- I am definitely a welcome visitor there and enjoy sharing.

                                                    1. Ah, what a topic! In my moods, I do my share of griping. My husband is a wonderful host and loves to play the role. I love having guests, but sometimes resent the "chained to the stove" feeling. Still, we enjoy our dinners with friends. In our case it is FAMILY that gets on the collective raw nerve. Over the past 20 years, I have always been the go-to for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Easter and birthdays, Fourth of July and Labor Day picnics in my own family. Now my husband's family has jumped on that bandwagon. My reluctance to have to do two holiday dinners has resulted in joint family gatherings that necessitate festive spreads for 25 or more. I'm tired just looking at the calendar and seeing November looming. Not to mention wondering where all the grocery money is going to come from. My sibling and my in-laws all own kitchens and manage to feed themselves on other days of the year. It's unclear to me why I end up on holiday detail, unless it's my own unwillingness to start a row by taking a "vacation" from holiday entertaining. Anyone alse with this woe? I'd welcome strategies to deal with it! By the way - great topic for a vent; I feel better already.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                        Well that does sound annoying. I am far less thrilled to host holidays. I wonder what they would do if you emailed everyone telling them they had to bring something yummy and substantive with them. Big families... turkey and a side at least. My mother in law used to do Thanksgiving, but many were so unhelpful and decidedly unappreciative for her work that she cried and vowed never to be host again. Ah the holidays. When I lived near my husbands family I told grandpas to bring the meat (since their years of expertise - and bragging makes them the king turkeys). I made note of various things I liked that others made and asked them if they might make it for the holiday. The last year we were there, my hubby smoked one of the turkeys, I made about 50 pounds of stuffing and taters and the rest got brought. I was sipping cocktails by the water by noon, directing the men to the kitchen and the youngens to set up tables and chairs and set the table. If the family is not hip to help, don't do it. Life is way too short for that rubbish.

                                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                                          I understand completely. I loathe Thanksgiving with every fiber of my being.

                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                            I was just talking to my sister-in-law last night about our Thanksgiving plans, and she said to me "Well Thanksgiving dinner isn't that much work". I guess I make it look too easy!

                                                            1. re: coll

                                                              I get the "I don't see what a big deal Thanksgiving is" statement from someone ever year. Of course they aren't doing any of the work. I will start 7 am and finish up about 10 pm for a meal I don't even like. 2-3 loads of the dishwasher, the %$#@! roaster, etc.

                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                As for family invites, last year my dh, son and I decided to go "tourist" for Thanksgiving instead of the traditional bring a pasta and enjoy the family tradition we've gone along with since the grandkids began to arrive....truth is, we hated it. The food was fine but the "company" was a room full of strangers...and we realized in spite of our belly aching...we missed family! This year, I was probably the first DIL to ask what pasta should I bring :)

                                                        2. well i just left the comfort of being sous chef in my mom's kitchen about 2 years ago, so i prefer to go over to friends' houses and help them cook before everyone else arrives. i get very nervous cooking for friends on my own, but i'm working on it, one dinner party at a time...

                                                          So at the moment, I'm attending more than I entertain.

                                                          1. Here's another perspective: I love to cook but I do not entertain very often in my home any more because my kitchen/dining area is very small. It becomes very uncomfortable when there isn't adequate space to cook and for guests to sit down and eat.

                                                            I have a close friend who has a very large area for entertaining. She has us over all of the time. Rather than reciprocate by having her over to my house, I bring a couple of very nice bottles of wine or I offer to come over early, bring ingredients and help her cook. I've also brought her gifts - like a cookbook I know she wants or some gourmet item she likes.

                                                            1. Yes, but I enjoy it and will keep doing it. I wouldn't do it if people didn't act appreciative. I guess I need the strokes...and I nurture with food.

                                                              I love thanksgivng..I miss being around my mom and sisters. We'd all cook and talk..and laught lots.

                                                              Doing the cooking alone would be a real drag though. I like the convivity of it all.

                                                              My sis, who lives in S. Jersy, has about 30 people over every year for Thanksgiving. It is like the movie.. Big Night. They have appetizers...then later with the raviloi and gravy, and then the turkey and trimmings, and then dessert. People are there for hours..just laughing, talking, dancing, singing, drinking vino. It was so wonderful the year I was there for it.

                                                              1. I hope I haven't depressed anyone with getting on the Thanksgiving topic. Still, I have learned a few things reading the posts:
                                                                A) I will do it anyhow, because it is tradition;
                                                                B) I will ask those coming to bring a side dish because I (gasp!) have only one oven in which to bake Thanksgiving sides;
                                                                C) I will be thankful that the people in my life choose to come to my house for feasts;
                                                                D) I will ask my Hub to take me out for a romantic dinner before Christmas holiday dinners lurk around the corner.

                                                                I really love "D," and have made peace with A, B and C.

                                                                For now...the phone phone keeps ringing...I may retract everything I have said! Hope you all work out the best situation for your family Thanksgivings.

                                                                1. I've gotten used to it, and while it doesn't irritate me, it does cause me to pause when sending out a guest list.

                                                                  1. since my husband went to chef school people seem weird about having us over- I guess fearing our judgement? It would be nice not to have to do the planning ALL the time. That being said, I love having people in my house (all sprawling 500 ft of it!) and doing things up right. Not everyone has the time/energy for this type of thing and I don't want them to feel obliged to *do it up* in return - but hey, I'd be happy if you had me over and ordered out pizza. I think it is a touchy thing because it starts to feel like if you can't compete with those who love to host than you just shy away from the whole thing.