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Host Etiquette - Full disclosure?

When you host dinner at your house and invite someone, as a host, do you normally let them know if there are also other people invited? And I don't mean provide each guest with a full guest list and menu - I just mean do you ordinarily let people know if there are going to be more people at dinner than just yourself (the hosts) and them?

As a rather introverted person, if I'm a guest, I like to know what to expect when I go to someone's house for dinner. I need time to mentally prepare myself for a group of people vs. a more intimate setting of us and the hosts. So I try to provide my invited guests with that information if it's more than just them.

I absolutely do appreciate any and all invitations I receive, regardless of the type of event - it's ultimately about spending time with my friends and I'm happy they want me there. And if I am surprised by a roomful of strangers, I can graciously roll with it and have a good time. I just prefer to have time to get in the right mindset, so I try to provide my guests with the same.

What's your general rule of thumb?

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  1. I think of it as a courtesy. I dont usually handle the 'invite' side, but I know mediums like e-vite allow this to be transparent.

    1. "And I don't mean provide each guest with a full guest list and menu - I just mean do you ordinarily let people know if there are going to be more people at dinner than just yourself (the hosts) and them?"

      Special-Introvert circumstances or no, unless it's obvious from context (ie, a "dinner party" or something), absolutely. I can't really imagine someone not saying anything except on purpose, which would be either bizarre or outrageous, depending on their motive.

      Surprise parties are a whole 'nother subject for discussion...

      1. We give an idea of who is going to be here and what the menu is.....I'll say something to the effect of "The Joneses and Smiths are coming and the Taylors are a maybe and we're going to have ribs, BBQ and fixings."

        1. i have a few friends who seem to like to know who else is coming so in the interests of their comfort i divulge my guest list. i wouldn't be having them if i didn't like them so why would i want to do anything to compromise their comfort level?

          me? i love going somewhere and being surprised by the guest list and the menu! makes it fun!

          1 Reply
          1. re: potterstreet

            Same here. When I'm the guest, I don't ask. And, one of my frequesnt hostesses doesn't tell. When I am the host, I do not volunteer it, but there are certain guests (my mother in particular) who wants to hear the run down.

          2. I would indiciate that others are invited as well...its a totally different expectation, I think if you're heading to someone's house for a "dinner party" versus a more intimate (regardless of date or not) dinner/meal. So, though I don't think you need to provide a guest list, menu and itinerary to everyone, letting everyone know that they're not the only ones invited.

            1. I consider it a courtesy. As the host I let people know; as an invitee, I usually ask. It's always a little awkward having to "shift gears" in public, i.e. the host is taking your coat and you are looking around going "oh, this is a lot of people... okaaaay... I can do this... *gulp*"

              Just the other night my S.O. was invited to -- he thought -- a family dinner at some friends' house. Turned out to be a catered affair for the host's clientele (financial services or something). Not exactly the same thing.

              1. I've never thought about this from the perspective of an introverted guests, but yes this information does become clear when I extend the invitation. When I extend an invitation to a party I know that my guests will intuit that there will be other guests. And if we're simply having a few families or couples for dinner, then I usually explain who else will be attending in a general sense. If I'm planning something even smaller I'll tell the guests more about one another in advance so they have a sense of who they'll be meeting - usually I've chosen to invite them together for a reason and will tell them about something they share in common.

                Still your post was very helpful because I had not given any particular thought to this question from a guest's perspective. Thanks for the insight!

                1. In my experience, the reverse is more common: unless the host indicates that it's just you, assume there are other guests.

                  1. I always make it clear when I extend an invitation whether it's being extended to the person "Hey, want to come have dinner with us?" or whether it's to an event "Hey - we're hosting a cook-out - want to come?". If the invitation is accepted, I then ask "Any food allergy/preference issues I should know about?" , so I know to avoid nuts, or make sure there is a vegetarian/vegan option, or what not.

                    Unless it was a surprise party, I would never invite someone over to a get together without making it clear (or at least, what I considered clear) that it was a get together. It is, in my opinion, sort of rude to let someone think they are being invited to an intimate one on one thing when they aren't.

                    1. When I host I always make it clear that the invitation extends to a spouse, and if the guest would like additional people to please ask and I can usually take them based on space and prep time. As far as the menu, I rarely if ever give out my menu in advance, but I always ask for a list of what people do not eat.