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Do your friends invite you to dinner?

This has been bugging me for a while. I like to cook (obviously), and to talk (lol) and so we entertain quite a bit. I always make an effort when people come over - usually three courses, good wine, aperitifs etc and we always have a nice time.

But... a lot of the time, we don't get invited back. Mr GG says it's because people are intimidated because I'm a good cook, but to be honest I don't care if they serve me beans on toast! I'd just like to be a guest, every once in a while...

So, is he right, or are my friends trying to tell me something!

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  1. You think you have it bad -- I write a food column for the local paper, and we are NEVER invited anywhere. We host dinner parties, and no one reciprocates. Where I come from, this is extremely bad manners! My bottom line is: If someone cooks you a meal, you do the same. You don't have to get pricey or fancy, just expend some energy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Do they think they might become the subjects of your next column or something! Glad to hear I'm not alone...

      The funny thing is that when we do get invited somewhere, it's Mr GG who's the harshest critic (in private, obviously!). He says he's been spoilt by several years of good eating.

      1. re: greedygirl

        Not trying to be mean at all, but you said "Mr GG says it's because people are intimidated because I'm a good cook, but to be honest I don't care if they serve me beans on toast!" and then said "it's Mr GG who's the harshest critic (in private, obviously!)" I'm not an great cook and I don't think I would be comfortable inviting you over for dinner, if I thought you might criticize what I cooked. Even if it's not in front of me.

        1. re: Boychucker

          It's not me doing the criticising though! I'm just happy to be invited. Anyway, it's only natural to discuss a meal when you get home, no? (As well as the conversation and the great time you had).

          1. re: greedygirl

            I know. I think most people discuss the meal and party on their way home. I just think it's possible that some of your friends may be worried that they may not live up to certain standards. I guess I'm just trying to say they may be intimidated. :) I think that's one of the reasons I don't invite people over, but I guess I should get over that. :)

        2. re: greedygirl

          I agree with this.. You should do something in your column about that. Maybe a dinner party etiquette thing? Maybe you have already, but it's a great idea.

      2. I think your husband may be right, they may be intimidated by the idea of preparing the kind of meal you provide. They don't know that you'd be happy with beans on toast. And even if you are comfortable eating this kind of meal, they wouldn't necessarily be comfortable serving you a simple meal knowing that you always provide fancy fare. Also, some people just aren't into entertaining...it's just not their thing. Another possibility is that they don't feel that they have a good space for entertaining, if your home is larger or nicer. I wouldn't take it personally.

        1. Oh, I truly believe that while they are appreciative, they are intimidated. I have managed to do this in my own circle, and now seem only get invited to tailgate parties where the men do the cooking on a grill! Some of the women don't cook frequently, and have admitted that they are intimidated no matter how much I try to encourage them. I don't let it bother me because we get to eat out at restaurants with them instead. You need to realize that cooking is your special talent and that while you are choosing to share it, not everyone is going to be able to reciprocate in the same way. Just enjoy what you can with your friends -- that is the most important thing.

          1. When I was in law school I found out that I lived in the same city as a high school friend who had become an up-and-coming and renowned chef. She invited me to a dinner, which was simple but very fun and impressive. So naturally I reciprocated. When I called, she accepted and laughingly mentioned that I was the first person to invite her to dinner since a very famous goddess of food. Well, that was all I needed to start trying too hard -- for example, I bought more expensive steak for a marinated, grilled starter than the chuck I usually used, so it came out mushy. But most of the dishes were tasty, the wine was good, and she was a gracious and appreciative guest. Now, obviously I don't know what her comments were on the ride home with her boyfriend!

            1. Mr GG might be right but dont let that all bother you. Next time you have a dinner, have a cookout and then talk about maybe how you dropped something or burned something. They might be intimidated that you are a good cook and they have so many problems with just something easy. If they know that you have troubles cooking to then they may mellow out. They dont need to know that you dont have that many troubles. I just got invited to my son & daughter in laws house after a yr of marriage and she made something that is my sons fav and she called me on it to see how it was done and then had me come over. not bad. you might also want to have a cooking party sometime to and have the friends over and just make simple things that the other people might not have trouble making and then maybe that will inspire them to have you over and they may do the same thing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: thecountryrose

                Forgive my ignorance, but what's a cookout?

                1. re: greedygirl

                  At a cook out, you cook on a grill. At least the meat, and sometimes the veggies. It is casual, and wonderful food.

              2. No- I can honestly say that I have cooked for each and every one of my friends more than they have cooked for me. To be fair, I probably cook more often than they do, and my cooking repertoire is most likely broader than theirs. So I don't really expect to be invited to a home-cooked meal, nor am I offended when it doesn't happen. However, to me the principle is not about "cooking" dinner as much as it is about "hosting" it, and it would be nice to be invited even for a casual meal of appetizers, or perhaps a buffet of takeout :)
                FWIW, I recently had this same conversation with my mom, who loves to cook, and hosts the two biggest family dinners of the year (Christmas and Easter) *every year*. There are several relatives of ours who attend holiday after holiday (and seem to have a great time) who have haven't invited her to their home in ten years or more (if ever)! And yes, these people do entertain at their homes.

                With regard to your situation, I bet that at least some of your friends feel that inviting you over for dinner would be less enjoyable for you because (in their opinion) their food might not "measure up". As for what you can do about it... I really don't see how there is much. I suppose you could refrain from inviting them to your house and wait and see if they take the initiative and host a get-together, themselves. But the risks involved in that are fairly predictable, and, arguably, hardly worth a valued friendship.
                In any case, it is improper and inconsiderate to repeatedly receive and accept invitations to dinner without extending yourself in return, and your reaction is totally understandable .

                1. NOBODY has people over for dinner these days it seems, in the last 10 years, we only do a few each year, but I can count on slightly more than one hand the times we've been to others. and that includes cocktail parties with elaborate nibbles. so many people just don't cook. or need help reheating leftovers or just don't have the facilities to even do much more than re-heat.

                  oddly these are the same ones who neglect to invite one for just lunch...

                  don't take it personally or do serve beans on toast next time maybe not straight out of the can.

                  no that would prob. backfire, the die has been cast - you are in the role of hostess. see yourself as a nexus and run with that, going more casual and inviting more people would be your best bet IMHO.

                  still does sorta sting.

                  1. Really, I wouldnt worry about it. Your friends just might feel intimidated that you cook up lovely dinner parties and maybe they cant afford to have the good wine, aperitifs, etc. They may feel that they can not compete with you. They may not realize too that they should be hosting parties and inviting you to them also. Not alot of people do dinner parties that much anymore. It was more thought of back in the 50's *& 60's. Just do what you like to do and keep on serving your good food. Be thankful that you have friends that really like your cooking and keep coming back to your home. That should say alot about you as a person.

                    1. We have people over several times a month. During March Madness, we've had people over several times a week. Last weekend I made a fabulous baked ziti one night and chicken quesadillas the other. Tonight we are picking up a bunch of Chinese take out. Tomorrow night Dh is making ribs, I am making mac and cheese and I'm picking up roasted chicken and beans from a a local Mexican place. Rarely does anyone reciprocate. And it's not about cooking or money (as far as the ability to afford), but it seems we've gotten in the habit of being "host" and it's come to be expected.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                        I think this is the position we're in too. We always have people over at Christmas-time but I've never, ever been invited to someone else's at that time of the year. I do enjoy it, but there was one Christmas when I only had a couple of days off work and was running around like a mad thing and getting quite stressed, and I did think it would have been nice not to be doing the work for a change!

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          I have been hosting every holiday meal since 1986. I would love to go "elsewhere"' for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

                        2. re: Janet from Richmond

                          Janet, what is this March Madness of which you speak? From your description, it sounds like a heavenly marathon of food :-).

                          1. re: grayelf

                            March Madness is the term coined in reference to the NCAA basketball tournament games throughout March :-) This weekend the festivities will be in celebration of The Masters Golf Tournament :-)

                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                              Now the Masters I know about :-). Thanks for the info.

                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                about 20 yrs ago i sort of "invented" my own "holiday" "Mid-Winter Blow Out the Blues Party", in February; invites went out with Christmas cards; tried to establish a cuisine or theme to announce w/the invites... Greek, Mexican, Comfort food,etc. totally buffet; set up kitchen table as bar; when people asked could they bring something i'd tell them the theme and generally what i planned to center the meal around, maybe even shared a recipe with them that was on my list or suggested soft drinks,wine, chips, dessert, or just said bring yourself and your sense of humor...we always had a great time and some "regulars" actually became friends to each other over the yrs; unfortunately,since i had a stroke i have not been able to accomplish this; i miss hosting ...this party survived 2 moves but, sadly, i think that's it...

                                1. re: betsydiver

                                  update! last week 3 of my long-time friends came with food and drink to celebrate the midwinter blow out the blues festval . some brought taco ingredients, one brought soda liters and large jug of sangria. althoough i live in a small apt. we were able to reserve a public "dining room" in the apt building. worked out great although was much smaller than usual and i was not able to cook (my caretaker made a black bean and corn salad recipe of mine to include in the meal. company and conversation was best!

                                  1. re: betsydiver

                                    Fantastic! Great friends you have. Here's to next winter! Salud!

                                    1. re: betsydiver

                                      What good friends to find a way to carry on a cherished tradition! I'm so glad for you.

                                      1. re: betsydiver

                                        That's lovely, betsydiver. I'm really pleased for you.

                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          it really and truly is the thought. I would FAR rather spend 6 hours with 3 friends than 3 hours with 6. ok I've never been good with math but I hope the point is made. quantity vs. quality and all.

                                      2. re: betsydiver

                                        Ha. My family has a similar tradition. August 9th. For absolutely no reason, my Aunt, who is quite eccentric, gave her immediate family all these little gifts and whatnot on August 9th about 5 years ago, had everyone over her house, and cooked this wonderful, gourmet meal, from what I gather. My parents were visiting her at the time and got to partake.

                                        Well, the tradition survived. We live in different parts of the country, but we have been mailing them little gifts and cards on August 9th ever since, and vice versa. This year, my Aunt and her entire immediate family (husband, two children, their SO's and children) are coming to visit my parents a long weekend around August 9th, and we have already discussed a whole itinerary and meals.

                                2. We host a lot of dinners at home, because we enjoy cooking and we have an overly full wine fridge that needs culling. Like others on this thread, we invite more than get invited. I could see how this could bug people. We host people because we like their company, and we want to show we care. We are not bad at hosting, and try to make it a special event for all involved. We don't worry about whether we get invites back, because I firmly believe it all works out in the end. It might not come in the form of an invitation for dinner at the other person's house, but it comes back in many other ways.

                                  I've have had some medical issues in the last year, and it has been harder for us to entertain. We don't have the energy, and we have to be careful about finances. We still don't get invited very often to other's houses, and that is fine, because, we are often a bit too tired for going out a lot. But now people are coming over, we are still hosting, but they are cooking at our place for us, or they are bringing food they've cooked, and if they can't cook, they are bringing us our favorite takeout. And they are cleaning up after, and keeping us company, and making us laugh. When we feel up to it, we are being taken out for food or coffee or whatever works. We feel very lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people. Like I said, it all comes back! That, or we have been very fortunate in choosing our friends.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: moh

                                    Agree with you. It will work out in the end.

                                    1. re: moh

                                      That's really nice moh. I guess generosity really is its own reward!

                                      I hope you feel better soon.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Thanks very much Greedygirl, I'm definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! And I can tell you, I appreciate these special people even more than I did before! Plus I have a lot of time to play on Chowhound :)

                                        1. re: moh

                                          Glad things are getting better. This image must be for you: as I read your entry and as I'm writing this, two beautiful brown doves landed on the balcony wall and are now sitting one against the other, looking down at the city below.

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            And the doves are cooing: "look at that place, I bet they make delicious food...Shall we go?" :)

                                            Thank you for a lovely image Sam!

                                            1. re: moh

                                              This thread from long ago just got bumped, and this conversation between Sam and moh just made me all teary.

                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                yes.

                                                esp. this exchange you've replied to.

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    yeah.... it's beautiful, and heart wrenching. RIP :(

                                        2. re: moh

                                          Treasure those friends! How wonderful that they're taking care of you in so many ways other than having you over for dinner. Sometimes when you are going through hard times (medical, financial, whatever) you find out who your real friends are! The thought of someone bringing you your favorite take-out meal, and then cleaning up afterwards has me smiling for you!

                                          1. re: moh

                                            Oh, moh, bless your heart and may you have a full recovery! And thank you for taking the time to share your great knowledge with us. If you're not giving one way, you're giving another. And it is much appreciated. Thank you!

                                          2. Maybe your friends are just lazy?

                                            1. I think there could be lots of reasons your friends don't invite you. I know it's the same for me, and some friends aren't into entertaining, some have tiny apartments, some don't cook.... But some time ago, I forced myself to stop expecting it, and I'm much happier. I used to get annoyed, but now, I only invite people I truly want to spend time with, and I only spend as much time cooking / prepping as I want to, and it all works out and everyone's happy. If I get an invite back, I just consider it a plus now!

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: jenhen2

                                                In this case, one couple is lazy and cheap (but very wealthy) and have a brand new home. Another couple is lazy but not cheap and have a seven-figure home with an impressive kitchen and they always bring some nice wine, will pick up the tab when we go out, etc. And they are easy to get along with as far as what to serve, how to serve it, etc. There is one couple who always shows up empty handed and are picky eaters and you have to hide the "special" red wine from <g>

                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                  Blimey - that's very rude (the picky, empty-handed ones!). I don't blame you for hiding the nice wine. At least my friends always bring good things to drink, and sometimes I get flowers, too!

                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                    Well, if that's the case, I wouldn't be inviting them back. In my opinion, life's too short to spend another night with "friends" you have to hide your good wone from....

                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                      So why do you keep inviting the lazy, cheap, but wealthy couple? Do you think they mention you in their will? Seriously, you need to ask yourself why you (and apparently others) keep inviting them. You can't answer or act for others, but you can ask yourself whether this couple has some redeeming quality that keeps you asking them back. And please recognize that, "Because everyone else does," is not an acceptable answer! If they have no redeeming qualities that keep YOU asking them back, then I have to assume you are still in charge of who gets invited to your house? It may be time for some changes. And if you do make changes, do it without guilt. absolutely no reason for you to feel guilty.

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        Because they are our friends. I don't have any desire to end the friendship, and there are other aspects in which they are generous in spirit and deed, but entertaining isn't one of them. They aren't bad, evil people....they are just without social graces in some aspects. And yes, I am in charge of my home and do not invite them out of guilt or obligation. I'm not big into guilt in general (which is why my MIL is not longer included in holiday dinners, but that's another thread for another day).

                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                          ....they are just without social graces in some aspects

                                                          exactly!

                                                  2. Now that I think about it, no, we don't get invited out that often. We have a very small house (with toys all over the place), and sometimes, at the end of a long work week, we just order take out and serve wine and beer, so I don't think it's that people feel intimidated about the food, or worried about the adequacy of their living space. I just think they're lazy and/or cheap and/or rude.

                                                    1. Do you know if these people are entertaining others, just not you?

                                                      I've found that many people don't do the dinner party thing much any more. (Not on these boards obviously ; )

                                                      So don't jump to the exclusion conclusion... they may not be having ANYONE over.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Jennalynn

                                                        I think that's probably true. I am obviously a freak living in a seventies time warp! (Actually, I have a book called the Prawn Cocktail Years which has a ton of "retro" recipes - it's fun sometimes to go down the prawn cocktail/boeuf bourgignon/black forest gateau route.)

                                                        1. re: Jennalynn

                                                          In our case, they aren't entertaining anyone else either. There was one couple who years ago we always invited because they were very good friends of another couple and after spending several Saturday nights partying at our house they had a Super Bowl party and did not invite us...I was beyond pissed and promptly took them off the party list.

                                                        2. I had two different friends who loved to cook and invite me to dinner. They thought they were better cooks than I think they were but I didn't care. I enjoyed the company and sitting around eating and chatting with friends. Whenever I reciprocated, I'm sorry to say neither one was very gracious about my cooking. One gave me a look of pity and said it was the thought that counted. Another picked and picked and ate but didn't seem to enjoy it.

                                                          Now, I'm a decent cook of the meat & potatoes/comfort food variety. One time I served fried chicken and another time chili dogs. Neither were fancy enough for these friends and they couldn't get in the spirit of basic food served with good sides and good beer. I even offered to make the "not into chili dogs" friend an omelette or something to which she declined.

                                                          Did I ever invite them over again? Nope. Did I go to their homes for dinner again? I tapered off accepting the invites.

                                                          So, while I'm sure the OP and others here are delighted to be invited out and very gracious guests; it isn't always the case.

                                                          My particular pet peeve is when guests come for dinner and announce they've recently gone vegetarian or aren't eating dairy, don't you know.

                                                          29 Replies
                                                          1. re: three of us

                                                            I love chili dogs. And if I'm lucky enough to be invited somewhere else for dinner or a party, I do my best to be a gracious guest.

                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                              Quite. I have to say, this thread is making me feel loads better about my invitation drought!

                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                And it's making me feel great about my group of friends!

                                                                No friend of mine would ever pick at their dinner or make backhanded remarks. Only relatives do that around here ; )

                                                            2. re: three of us

                                                              That's my peeve too.

                                                              We invited some people over for this weekend and were very specific and clear about the menu. They accepted, and then yesterday emailed us out of the blue to say that the wife is allergic to the main menu item. Grrrrr.

                                                              1. re: foodiemommy

                                                                I once invited someone to dinner who sent me a message on the morning of the day itself with a long list of things he wouldn't/didn't eat. V. annoying.

                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                  The morning of? My goodness. I always ask people ahead of time if they have any dietary constraints, and I guess if it was an awfully long list, I wouldn't mind getting it in writing, but the morning of - I'd be annoyed too!

                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                    That's annoying coming the day of the party. From experience, you can cut off this kind of unpleasant surprise by asking your guests pretty early on (i.e., when they accept the invitation) what their food preferences are, so you can plan accordingly.

                                                                    Whenever someone who I haven't hosted before accepts a dinner invitation, I always ask when they accept what their food preferences and allergies are. We have a lot of dinner parties so I keep a dinner party notebook to prevent repeat dishes and to remind myself of various preferences, dislikes, allergies, etc. Most of the people I cook for have at least one "bugaboo" but I don't let it bother me - I look upon it as a challenge.

                                                                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                                      that's a good idea FD, and if the sad day comes when you can no longer entertain, you'll have a document to spark memories.

                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                        Yes, my mother in law did the same thing - she gave me the idea. She still entertains, albeit not as frequently as she did when she was younger, but she loves to look back on her dinner party notebook!

                                                                      2. re: farmersdaughter

                                                                        Well I kind of expect people to tell me if they're vegetarian or not when they accept the invitation. What I wasn't expecting was the "I don't eat meat/dairy/mushrooms/seafood etc etc" list that I got so late in the day! He ended up with pasta and sauce because I'd already made the main course in advance!

                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                          I do too, especially as, in this case, we outlined the menu in writing and got a reply in writing, not mentioning the issue. Ticked me off because the item in question required a butcher order, and I could have easily gotten something else instead with enough notice.

                                                                          1. re: foodiemommy

                                                                            Then the guest has no excuse. You were kind to disclose the entire menu beforehand, and they should've said something. I think if that happened to me, that person would just have gone without protein on his plate.

                                                                          2. re: greedygirl

                                                                            greedy girl, that guy was a total JERK! i will bet you that he was a total jerk during dinner, too?

                                                                            here's another pet peeve: people who lie about having an "allergy" just because they are gutless to just say they don't like something.

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              I claim to have had a gastric bypass and smile while picking at the delicious food...

                                                                              actually I eat slow and not all that much at any one sitting, so I don't want to offend the host esp. when the food is indeed quite good.

                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                i'm actually talking about when i'm planning the menu, and on inviting the guests ask them if they cannot have certain foods. now i just ask if there is anything the guest doesn't like. i plan around that.....

                                                                      3. re: foodiemommy

                                                                        Food allergies these days are the monkey wrench in so many menus! Just prepare either a different protein/protein substitute or starch substitute in place of what you were going to make. Then, just remind yourself that at least you didn't invite a vegan and celiac to the same party.

                                                                      4. re: three of us

                                                                        three of us: some "friends"! are you still friendly, or have they gone away?

                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                          I'm sure they're out there in the Universe, cooking away. Haven't seen either one for a couple years. Another pet peeve (you must be thinking I'm a real crank!): One of these folks invited me to a summer cookout and asked me to bring a salad nicoise. No problem. When I got to their house, they hadn't started any of the prep, yet. They decided it would be "fun" for their guests to help cook. My take was that I'd already spent time making a dish and just wanted to kick back with a drink. Told them so, too! (Maybe it was after that drink.) I did help out and it was a nice evening, after all. They never did that again, though.

                                                                            1. re: three of us

                                                                              That reminds me of a story . . . but first, directly on this topic. I'm one of those people who never invites other people over for dinner. I can cook decently, but I don't love it - I'm much more of a baker. But mostly I don't host dinner parties because I have a really small house that is not well laid out for entertaining. But whenever I am invited to other people's houses for dinner, I always offer to make something for the meal (usually dessert) and always bring wine. And for the one couple who host dinners for our group of friends the lion's share of the time, I and a few others take them out for a nice dinner periodically to say thank you.

                                                                              The other story now - that same couple are very good cooks but not much into baking. They have three year old twins, and knowing how much I love to bake, especially for Christmas, this past December they asked me if I wanted to come over on a Saturday afternoon and "help" make Christmas cookies with the girls. I arrived at the appointed time, toting my large collection of cookie cutters, food coloring, holiday-themed sprinkles, etc., to find them completely unprepared for cookie baking. No ingredients purchased, nevermind dough prepared. I explained that, even if we could find a recipe for which they had all the ingredients on hand, every type of dough for cut-out cookies requires at least a couple hours of chilling time (plus the eggs and butter have to first sit out for a while), so by the time we we got to the really fun part (icing and decorating) it would be several hours past the girls' bedtime. So I stifled my "when I bake only the best ingredients will do" instincts and ran to the grocery store for a few rolls of Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough. The twins had a fantastic time rolling dough and cutting shapes (and getting covered with flour in the process), watching the cookies bake, and then decorating them with powdered sugar icing and various holiday sprinkles (also liberally distributed on girls and floor). And the cookies even tasted pretty good.

                                                                              1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                That's a lovely story on many levels - thanks for sharing it.

                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                  I liked the story, too. My first reaction was that it went against the grains of what a Chowhound would do, but then I realized in many ways it is exactly what a 'hound should do -- even admitting the cookies tasted ok.

                                                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                                                    Thanks, nosh and MMRuth, for the kind words. One is definitely sticking one's neck out here by admitting to using, and enjoying, prepackaged products (unless it's part of a purposefully contrarian "gross foods that you secretly like" thread). But I think you're right on point, nosh - while the Chowhound manifesto says "you'd grow weak from hunger rather than willingly eat something less than delicious" I think for a lot of people Chowhounding is also about shared food-related experiences that will leave us with happy memories for a long, long time.

                                                                                    1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                      Cookiemonster - I wonder if your hostess was expecting you to bring the cookie dough, along with all your other equipment??

                                                                                      1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                        I'd think that non-bakers jsut wouldn't realize that dough needs to rest and all that. I bake but plenty of my friends dont and have no clue. A buddy of mine was recently surprised to learn that it is possible to make brownies without a mix.

                                                                                        1. re: jes

                                                                                          Exactly. can't tell you how many times I've had that conversation: "You made this?" "Yes." "You mean from a mix?" "No, I mean from scratch." "wow, I didn't know anyone did that." And it's just like people who are cooks but not bakers don't realize the importance of when and how you combine the ingredients in baking - you don't just dump everything in the bowl and mix.

                                                                                          1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                            Yes! One of my friends looked agog at a roasted chicken I made and asked, "What did you put on this?!! It's so good!" I told her, "Salt." She was shocked. It's not rocket science.

                                                                                          2. re: jes

                                                                                            I have a couple of friends who are stunned every time I make English muffins from scratch. And a TON of friends who are amazed I make all of my own salad dressings from scratch. Once I (stupidly) had surgery on both feet at the same time (don't ever do that!), so I needed help. The new housekeeper said she was "a great cook." Okay... What did she like to cook? "Spaghetti!" Not my favorite, but I asked her to go ahead and make some for lunch. First question: Where do I keep the spaghetti sauce? LOL! So I talked her through making a carbonara. She wouldn't have been as thrilled if I'd taught her to fly an airplane!

                                                                                2. re: three of us

                                                                                  I have a friend that does that all the time.That is expecting you to do half of he preparations for the dinner for which you were invited. Sometimes she is just arriving home from shopping as we arrive at the appointed time. This is someone who should know better, and I think is lazy. When she was a guest, she often didn't even offer to help. You will note I said 'was'. I always try to have the table set, and all prep work done before guests arrive, then it is a fun time for all of us.
                                                                                  The only times I am not 'on it' are when my daughter & family come, and she always helps out and brings at least one dish. I so appreciate her. She knows it is hard for me with a bad back & knee.
                                                                                  We do less entertaining at our ages than in the past, but I do try to do it well.

                                                                            2. I entertain fairly often ( 1-2 a week a dinner for four or more). Most of my friends do not like cooking, though like eating so they are less apt to invite me. They will invite me out to a restaurant though and pick up the tab, and they always bring great wine etc. So, I am pleased with that and think it all evens out. I think there are people who love to entertain ( me) and people who get totally stressed about it ( most everyone I know). Your friends might be intimidated bc you are a good cook, or might just hate the idea of entertaining ( they need to tidy their place, cook, clean up etc).

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                I'm sure you're right. I did get some Waterford Crystal champagne flutes for Christmas from one of our friends. I was a bit embarrassed at her generosity, but then she made it clear it was as a thank-you for all the meals they'd enjoyed at our house. So it does even out in the end - I should stop moaning really! After all, I do love to cook and as some Russian once said, there's no such thing as altruism...

                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                  It is disheartening to always be the host and never be the guest. Or rarely. I can count six decades of entertaining, and a grand total of ten dinner invitations through all of those years. And yes, I bear that fatal flaw your husband speaks of. I am an excellent cook. In fact, I had one dinner guest announce at a formal Christmas season dinner that she was having guilt free seconds, and I would *never* be a guest in her home because she couldn't cook like I do. LOL!

                                                                                  Like you, I have always found it an extreme act of generosity and love to be invited to dinner and have someone cook for me, even if it is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But I don't think many people understand the concept. It is the company, and the caring enough to extend an invitation.

                                                                                  About my second decade of entertaining with few invitations from others, I sat myself down and had a talk. Why was I doing all this cooking and inviting? Well, the honest answer was (and still is) because I do love to cook, and I do love to have people appreciate my efforts. Was I cooking specificially to get reciprical invitations from others? No. Not really. So what's the problem! Cook, invite, enjoy!

                                                                                  Once I understood that, things got a lot easier. '-)

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    It's pretty much a joke now among some of my friends that they're invited ten times before they reciprocate. LOL! I think I have made a rod for my own back by turning out "restaurant quality food". (Their words not mine. I think it's better than some of the restaurants I've been to.) ;-)

                                                                                    You're right though - it's a great feeling when you host a successful party. We had a brilliant Boxing Day lunch this year and it was really gratifying to hear everyone say it was the best Boxing Day they'd ever had! (Mind you, they had drunk A LOT by that point!)

                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                      That's pretty much what my mom and I talked about- regardless of whether or not we ever receive invitations to out friends' or relatives homes (we do, but just not the ones we tend to cook for!), we continue to spend days on holiday and special occasion meals (not to mention dinner parties) because we really enjoy the planning and preparing and hosting and because we appreciate the tradition of gathering people together. Caring enough to invite others, and seeing their appreciation of it, is the best part.

                                                                                2. It's happened to me more than I care to count. I'm amazed how many people I know just don't cook. Cooking is a personal and intimate thing I do. I love seeing the faces of people eating my food. It's reward enough if they just say thank you. I don't need any house warming gifts but a bottle of good booze will never be turned down.

                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                    I have hosted Passover, Chanukah and New Years Day not to mention summer BBQ's for 10 years. I have cousins who come to all these events and they even are invited to my BIL's for Christmas every year and come. They have NEVER invited us over or my BIL over for anything. I am not picky, just grill me a hotdog. She can't be bothered and she is not into cleaning or cooking. To me that is plain RUDE. I sent her an email basically saying so and she never answered and didn't come this year for Christmas. No loss.

                                                                                    1. re: doberlady

                                                                                      wait... you're mad because you invited these people for a decade with no invite back?

                                                                                      You didn't have to keep inviting them. That's your choice. Ten years to hold a grudge, yet keep on asking them over is crazy.

                                                                                      1. re: Jennalynn

                                                                                        I am not mad. I think it's rude is all. Yes, for my mom I kept asking them back for holidays. In my email I asked her to pick a holiday that they would like to host this year as we ALL are busy.

                                                                                        1. re: doberlady

                                                                                          I can relate to your story, doberlady, and I understand precisely why you continued to host the holidays and welcome your relatives: tradition. Older relatives, in particular, really appreciate the continuation of family holidays and, as jennalynn pointed out, younger ones often get comfortable and like to expect Passover at Cousin Doberlady's house... And it makes you happy to be able to give them that.
                                                                                          I know that my mother, who also hosts most of the family gatherings, does it mostly for these reasons. FWIW, she hosted Christmas Eve for 18 people while she was in the middle of her chemotherapy course! She's well past that now, but she doesn't really have the stamina that she used to, so she needs a lot more help (which is where I come in :)). You would think that more family and friends might take on more responsibility (or at least extend an invitation to dinner, in or out), but only a very few do, and these tend to be the same people who entertain, as well, and understand what it means.
                                                                                          I applaud your email to your relative asking if she would like to pick a holiday. Some people really need something held right in their face in order to see it. On the other hand, I am kind of attached to the idea of Thanksgiving at my aunt's and Christmas and Easter at my mom's. I wouldn't want it to change, even if I had to take on more work. To quote Caroline, it really is an institution.

                                                                                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                            I am attached to my holiday parties. We don't really want to go there for holiday dinners but she can at least offer or have all of us over in the summer for a BBQ. They have a nice home and a nice patio and yard. They are both educated and have NOOOO social graces. Should I mention that we have a large Chanukah party each year and everyone brings a gift for everyone coming (not expensive gifts) and I am a fostermom and at the time I had a baby that had been here for 3 months. They came with a gift for everyone EXCEPT the baby. I was so hurt for that little baby I cried. Just shows you the type of classless, clueless selfish people they are. That was finally the last straw and that is when I shot off the email.

                                                                                            1. re: doberlady

                                                                                              I hear you, doberlady. You were hurt for your foster child. I don't mind much about others' inconsideration for myself, it's my mother who I feel protective of, and sometimes get annoyed for.
                                                                                              Just think of all the memories you have of loving people in your home :)

                                                                                              1. re: doberlady

                                                                                                I feel your pain, but you've also brought a smile (a wicked smile) to my face... Don't ever confuse education with social graces. The two are not mutually inclusive! '-)

                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                  I was confused for many months - may be 12 - when I started dating my now-husband, because my husband would say to me that so and so was not well educated. This made no sense to me because usually these people had been to college and likely graduate school at that point. Turns out that in Spanish "educado" means well mannered etc., and he was doing an incorrect "direct" translation.

                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                    :) In Italian, we say "maleducato" to mean "ill-mannered", and "educazione" to mean "upbringing". My less-English-fluent friends are always telling me so-and-so is "not educated", and I smile very time. So perhaps in this one ironic instance, there is a correlation between manners and education!

                                                                                                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                      I wonder if it comes from a time when manners and education were correlated - i.e., when education was only for the rich/upperclass and the rich/upperclass also established what manners were.

                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                        My husband and I were discussing exactly the same point. Personally, I am glad education has become much more accessible. But there is no question that upper class manners have not made the transition into common culture. Things change with time.

                                                                                              2. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                blessings to your mom, vv. you are not alone in thoughtless relatives. it is a sad, realistic fact: the very skewed distribution of those who are "other-thinking."

                                                                                          2. re: doberlady

                                                                                            You know, to you and me it may be rude, but through the years there is one thing I've come to realize. It's often not intended to be rude at all. It's just the way that people think about "the holidays at Aunt Martha's." It's not just a tradition, it's an institution. And people don't often think beyond that.

                                                                                            And sometimes, with non-relatives (especially if they're young), they may well not know any better. Sometimes a casual and very non-confrontive conversation can turn things around. I know that looking back on my young married years, I just shake my head in bewilderment. Some things were just "beyond my frame of reference." You can call it stupid, or you can call it being young, but mostly it's just being human.

                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              Caroline, this is a good point. Some people really want to do this entertaining, and would feel slighted if you took it away from them. My mom, now that she lives alone, is OK with traveling to one of my sibling's homes for Christmas, but she would really prefer to stay home and have us all visit her instead.

                                                                                              Every year for the past 10 years I have been a guest at DH's family Thanksgiving dinner in another state. I would dearly love to host this event at my house (the food would be a LOT better and we would not be eating with plastic cutlery off paper plates) but its not going to happen. So this works both ways, you see.

                                                                                              These days I dont think everyone realizes that reciprocation is part of the deal. I know that I enjoy entertaining and try to invite those who have fed me well, but in the greater scheme of things, some people just dont want to be bothered. They'll accept anyone's invitation and never think twice that perhaps they "owe" someone a meal.

                                                                                              When I was growing up, my parents had a circle of neighbors/friends and dinner parties occurred almost every Saturday night. This was how I learned that if someone invites you to dinner, you "owe" them the same courtesy. The score was carefully noted, and I can remember mom saying "well, its Gloria's turn to host, but ...." as she put the finishing touches on HER meal to which Gloria and her husband were (once again) invited. I didn't think it required that much thought, but I think mom was trying to teach my sisters and I a lesson in etiquette.

                                                                                              1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                Yes, a lot of people just aren't aware, or (amazingly) think no one will notice that they never reciprocate. The same kind of poeple who never notice the elephant in your living room. But these ARE real people, and most often they don't really mean to be rude. They just don't think.

                                                                                                My experience is that there's an even bigger gulf when it comes to reciprocating between younger people and older people. It's almost like a parent-child sort of thing. Sometimes (more often than not, in my experience) younger people assume that everything passes from the older generation to them, including entertaining. I know looking back, I was guilty of this when I was young. As a young bride, I assumed that older people who had had time to acrue lovely china and crystal goblets and lovely flatware were set financially. It took experience with life to realize that you can have budget pinches at any age, and a return inviation could be a very warming and welcome thing. Tthis current recession must be scary for many who have kicked forty in the head and moved on... '-)

                                                                                        2. some people just like to entertain & others don't. my husband & i have people way more than we go to their house, but it is because we do it pretty effortlessly (from years of doing it) and we give a good dinner party. we invite those we want & don't worry about being entertained in return. for us, the fun is in everyone having a good time. but i do understand wanting to be the guest once in a while & having someone else to the work!

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: meb903

                                                                                            It seems to be the fate of chowhounds: We love to cook and entertain and therefore we are always having the parties. I am also one who rarely gets invited to friends houses for dinner. But they love to come to my house! But this thread made me realize something. My friend Kim is a chowhound-she doesn't know about this site or how to turn on the computer for that matter-but a true chowhound she is. She has had us over for dinner many times and we have never reciprocated. I feel intimidated to have her and her husband over because she is a better cook than I am. I realize I need to have them over soon! I'm sure she doesn't care what I feed her-it is the company. I have had her over for many of my girl party (Cabi, Silpata etc) things but never her and her husb of who we are all good friends. So I guess what I am saying is-I invite my friends who aren't the best in the kitchen over and the ones who are good cooks have to have their own parties!! Thus the fate of chowhounds! I do realize I need to change my behavior!!

                                                                                            1. re: chocchipcookie

                                                                                              Isn't it great when a thread makes us think and change? Your story about Kim has reminded me that I owe some kind of invitation to a couple we know from playing sports together. We are friends with them, but they were part of the sports team crowd, and we ate with them in context of sports and after sports meals, not in fancy dinner or Chowhound settings. Well in the last 9 months, they have been extremely kind and helpful, and have come over with food and takeout. This despite having a brand new baby! Someone previously stated that you know who are your friends in times of difficulty. Now that I know, I'd better make sure I take care of them too! Thanks for the nice reminder.

                                                                                          2. I can say that everytime I've invited people over for dinner (or dessert/coffee or something), it's always because *I* enjoyed the whole shebang--planning, cooking, even cleaning (while basking in the glow of a successful dinner). I don't care if I get invited to their place or not. Frankly, my guests are the ones giving *me* the gift--I get to plan and cook a meal and share it with wonderful people ('cause life's too short to invite people that irritate me!). That said, I do get invitations to my friends homes, but I never EXPECT them to reciprocate. They usually bring wine (which is fine, though I usually have enough on hand) or, more rarely, they bring a dish (which, I'll admit, does irritate me a bit if it's an unsolicited dish, until I remind myself that it's the thought behind it that's important).

                                                                                            If I start hosting dinner parties out of a sense of obligation, then it's time for me to rethink the idea of entertaining. If I start becoming angry about my invitations NOT being reciprocated, then it's time for me to either stop inviting people or reflect on why I am really inviting people.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                              NFL, I always understood that "hostess gifts" (how's that for a blast from the past, GG?) were intended for the people hosting the party, that is, if you bring a bottle of wine it is expected that it will be tucked away for the future enjoyment of the throwers of the party, not served that night. Bringing a food dish to a dinner party that isn't specified a potluck is a bit iffy IMO but I have applied the same tenet when that occasionally happens to me: "Thanks so much for the _____, we'll really enjoy that for lunch/a snack/dinner tomorrow" and into the fridge it goes (even if it means having to return the dish later).

                                                                                              Re the original post, I think I am the go-to person for dinner parties in our set, although for all I know there are gatherings happening all the time that me and the SO aren't invited to ;-). I used to do the super-fancy recipes that would take several days of prep and involve multiple high-priced ingredients, but I realized that I was getting grumpy about doing all the extra work for the same amount of "wow" from guests as I would get for something simpler, and that the lower ratio of invites might well be partly because of the bar I was setting.

                                                                                              Something else I realized (and this may be obvious) is that not only do people host dinner parties way less now, they don't make themselves nice meals (or any meals) very often. So I modified my approach and now have a stable of great, relatively easy, super delicious meals that I can make for friends that get lots of wows and don't break the time or money bank. The number of reciprocations has also gone up -- coincidence, maybe, but either way I'm happy with my new approach.

                                                                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                Would you mind sharing what some of the menus are for your "great, relatively easy, super delicious meals that I can make for friends that get lots of wows and don't break the time or money bank"? I would love to hear some suggestions along these lines.

                                                                                                1. re: Nicole

                                                                                                  Sorry to interrupt, but we'd ask that such a thread be started on the General Topics board, or perhaps the Home Cooking board, if recipes were to be shared.

                                                                                                  Thanks!

                                                                                            2. I've had a friend or two that would never pick up the tab when we went to dinner. Never, ever. It didn't matter that I had more money than she did, when she would get a bonus or money for Xmas and be spending like a lunatic, she still never offered. It really bugged me and I thought it was horribly selfish and tacky. It was one of the reasons I ended the friendship. I can imagine that the hosting thing would feel the same even though there's no check dropped at the end. When hosting, you're not only spending money but you're spending time. To not have someone interested in reciprocating can be hurtful.
                                                                                              It's okay if someone doesn't host (I used to live in a studio apartment... couldn't have a dinner party if i wanted) but I'd make sure to host them at dinner or even their house if we were that comfortable with each other. I think someone taking to the time to say thank you and show appreciation is all that matters and when you don't get that in return, you feel used and offended.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                                                                                                Of course you're spending money when you host a dinner party and if your friends constantly expect you to host and they never reciprocate, they're free-loaders, plain and simple.

                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                  But if you know that your "friends" EXPECT you to always host and you are irritated or angered by that, why can't you just tell them? If they really are friends, they now have the opportunity to change their behavior. And if they get p*ssed off, well, you've just decluttered your "friends" list.

                                                                                              2. I think it is intimidating even if you would like something simple they assume you want something above their cooking skills.

                                                                                                But I think I am a pretty good cook and invite our friends to dinner and they either invite us to dinner at their house, or invite us out to a restaurant. Even if they are uncomfortable cooking why not invite you out to a restaurant, even just a neighborhood place, we don't ever care what restaurant we are happy they are nice enough to invite us? And we never comment on others food, except compliments of course. Well except the MIL to be, but she is family that is different. We appreciate their trying and that appreciation wards off any temptation to talk about their food even on the drive home. We talk about their great company instead. We all do a lot of collaborative dinners too like cook-outs and things easy for everybody to participate. We are lucky though we have very nice generous friends, and some are pretty good cooks too, and they have fun gadgets like smokers. Just do what you enjoy and maybe someday they will surprise you!

                                                                                                1. Several folks have commented on this thread that people just don't 'do' dinner parties or entertaining anymore....and while I think there is some truth to that, I don't think it is the whole story: I think manners do play a part...

                                                                                                  two examples:

                                                                                                  I have a friend who lives nearby and alone, and we often include her in our family celebrations: she basically has a standing invitation for any holiday where she might otherwise be alone..(and I always call to ask her if she will be in town and would like to come for those celebrations). I also invite her to dinner parties, not that I have dinner parties as often as I'd like, but when I do, she is usually on the guest list.

                                                                                                  Now, she doesn't cook much (though she enjoys food). She has never had us over for a dinner party. She just doesn't do dinner party. However, she DOES reciprocate with invitations to her home: We've pften been for afternoon cocktails (and she pours a pretty mean cocktail, which I am happy to indulge in since she only lives two blocks away and walking home is always an option), with enough store bought munchies, cheese and crackers, etc. that 'drinks' often becomes dinner...She also has us over for brunch now and then. Some of these invites have been for just the two of us, sometimes she invites other friends and neighbors as well, and I've gotten to know some of our other neighbors this way, an added bonus...

                                                                                                  Contrast with another couple we invited to dinner parties perhaps five times: I enjoyed their company, but they never reciprocated in any way. Eventually, I stopped inviting them...I am a good cook, but given that neither one of this couple was the type to be easily intimidated...I don't think that was it. this couple had plenty of money, and we live less than three miles apart in a city with hundreds of good restaurants in all price categories: If it was just a question of not wanting to cook or clean, they could have invited us to dine out....but when more than a year went by and I didn't ever even hear from them unless I was calling to invite them over (in which case they always accepted enthusiastically) I decided that perhaps they weren't that interested or able to put energy into the friendship...so I've stopped inviting them. I keep hoping they will call and say, 'hey, we miss you seeing you, how about getting together', (or even just call and say hi, how are you) but so far no. To me, that isn't a friendship I want to continue to put one way energy into...

                                                                                                  1. I love to cook too, and I am a good cook and baker. I have the holidays and the relatives and friends come over. I have had dinner parties, and people say that it is their turn, but I'm still waiting. As many have said I enjoy having the people over but would love to be invited over their houses, for anything. We're not picky eaters and don't care what they serve.

                                                                                                    One time for the holidays, I put out placecards, and someone came in and just moved them as they wanted to sit with their family. How rude, I was livid, but just kept my mouth shut, my husband wanted to tell them off. These are the same people who come all the time but never invite you over during the year.

                                                                                                    As others said how they tell you what they can and cannot eat, but everytime they come over they are on another weird diet. Then there was the time one would only drink bottled water, and we ran out, so dear hubby took an empty bottle filled it with tap water and said he found another bottle, didn't know the difference.

                                                                                                    Sometimes I invite people over or out to dinner, but we don't get the reciprocation. I don't understand it, they say they love being with us, but they are just sooooooooo
                                                                                                    busy. Bull!

                                                                                                    Maybe we should just all get together.

                                                                                                    1. Oh no! This is me! Duh, thanks for the eye opener. In my case, I live in the suburbs and always assume that my friends that invite me to their homes would rather go out downtown than schlep themselves out to suburbia. But after reading all these posts, I bet they'd be happy every once in a while. Maybe that's why I can never come up with a good answer for the "Go-to dinner party dish" question in the Chow profile. In my defense though, I do throw huge family BBQS and casual get togethers. But I never invite my city friends! Doh!

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: yamalam

                                                                                                        Or if it's easier for them and for you, you could drive to the city to a restaurant, and offer to host your friends for dinner there . . . I have friends who live outside the city, and even if they didn't invite me out to their place, I'd love to be hosted at a good restaurant!

                                                                                                        1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                                                                          By "host" do you mean pick up the check, or something more involved? I definitely pick up the check on occaision, but the OP got me thinking that there is something about inviting people to your home and cooking.

                                                                                                          1. re: yamalam

                                                                                                            I would be very happy if people I had invited to dinner reciprocated by taking me out....that would be all the hosting I would need.

                                                                                                            My husband tends to keep track of this more than I do...I am the type of person who just likes to have guests...so I'll invite people over somewhat randomly and expect nothing in return other than a spoken thank you. OTOH, if we've had someone to our house more than once for a meal, and they haven't invited US over or offered to take us out, my DH doesn't want to have anything to do with them. I guess everyone's tolerance for non-reciprocators is different...

                                                                                                      2. No one ENJOYS criticism. Even the 'constructive' sort. But taken with an open mind, we learn things.

                                                                                                        It seems what's being implied is that if your cooking is criticized, you're not liked. But why else would people (whom you do consider to be friends) invite you for a meal at their place? Because they enjoy your company, which is more meaningful a connection than any food being served (though one can certainly enhance the other).

                                                                                                        If these invitees of yours are fairly close friends, maybe goodnaturedly wheedle for an invitation, or suggest a picnic, or a casual potluck at a location other than their home. Could they be embarrassed about their housekeeping? Everybody has their little eccentricities.

                                                                                                        1. I've been thinking about this one. My parents always entertained--a lot. I followed along the same path over many years while with various wives and relationships. Now that I'm alone or with my four year old daughter, I mostly host more initmate dinner get-together's of 2-6 people. I get a lot of invites, but mostly to do or help with the cooking--a win-win for all.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                            "Various wives and girlfriends?" Your life has obviously been even more interesting that I'd previously imagined, Sam. I hope they all liked good chow.

                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                              As a a hound married three times, I understand where Sam is coming from <gf>

                                                                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                I am lucky in this case. I have many friends, once in week I am invited for a dinner and even I do invite them.
                                                                                                                Felt bad to know about greedygirl. But I also feel that good cooks are happy in making others enjoy their food.

                                                                                                          2. Ok, being on the side of the invited to dinners more often, I'd like to offer my perspective.
                                                                                                            I have a place that is about 300 sq. feet. When I used to live with roommates and had access to a space that fit more than 3 adults (including me) tops, then I used to be much better about reciprocating. I would love to move to a bigger place that allows such hosting, but rent is ridiculous where I live and buying is even more ridiculous, so there you have it. I live in a 300 sq. feet box. My kitchen has a table that seats 3 very snugly. And I have had people over, so it's not like it's undoable. I also have a Japanese style kotatsu, so one time I had 3-4 people over this way-- but that is because they didn't mind sitting on the ground and eating.

                                                                                                            So this isn't an excuse, but here are some reasons why as much as I'd like to have more people over, I haven't.
                                                                                                            1. I've already mentioned the size of my apartment. It fits 2 other people most, which means that if they have 2 or more kids, this becomes infeasible. That's at least 3 of my friends.
                                                                                                            2. Timing. There is one couple that I owe a bizillion meals, but in order for me to cook and prepare 3 courses (or even just one course), and still fit in all of my shopping and weekend chores, it means the earliest I can host (and the only time this works, really is weekends, and then only Saturdays, b/c I like Sundays to be a lazy day) is 7/7:30, but b/c of kids, etc., they insist on eating around 5 or 6, which as much as I'd like to do, is utterly infeasible for me. Also, they say it is easier for 4 of them to stay there (and invite me over) than for them to come over, which I agree. (They also have a dishwasher.)
                                                                                                            3. Temperature-- I'm on top of a garage and with no insulation, so in the winter, it's freezing, and in the summer, it's conversely umbearable, especially when I've cooked something. It's less of a prob in the winter, but I find myself getting inspired to cook far more in the summertime. Problem is, I have a heater to take care of the winter problems, but no AC.
                                                                                                            4. I like having 2 sets of couples or people over, which means to make this feasible, we need to sit on the floor and eat. Only a handful of my friends are at that stage in life where they're willing to do this.
                                                                                                            5. Non overlapping food circles-- Often, I have the situation of, I'd love to invite my friend over (who has many overlapping eating likes/dislikes with me), but since I don't eat meat, this means my eating repertoire is limited, and if this friend is ok w/ seafood and veggies, but her SO doesn't like most veggies, can't eat dairy, and hates seafood, well, this makes it extremely hard for me to invite them over. I'd love to just invite her, but obviously, this is rude.

                                                                                                            How I get around this- that said, although I probably get fed more than my feeding others, I do like to cook, so here are some things I do to get around my space limitations.
                                                                                                            1. I go over their place and either bring food or offer to cook dinner for them. This works especially well for my friends who have kids. I get to try a recipe, w/o having to eat it for 4 days in a row, and they get fed.
                                                                                                            2. In the town that I live, we've had a sort of informal "food coop"-- basically, if we make a batch of soup that feeds 6, and I am one person, I drop off tupperwares to people nearby. My friends do this, too, so this is a nice way to share excess food. Sometimes I'll just bring the pot of excess food, and we'll share a meal, if both of us have time.
                                                                                                            3. If I bake anything (I usu. do a lot of bread-baking, and sometimes make cookies), again, I'll share.
                                                                                                            4. When the weather is nice, I suggest outdoor venues for a picnic and offer to bring food.

                                                                                                            So I do try, but I also do wish I had a bigger place so I could have multiple sets of people over at a time. But I've also been on the always-inviting side as well (particularly with bachelor guys)--where I've invited them like 10 times, and they never invite back, and at times I have thought that it would be nice if this guy either reciprocates or maybe pay for a meal the next time we go out, if he doesn't cook, but well, it evens out in the end somehow.

                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: anzu

                                                                                                              My issue is that people without space still have access to restaurants or 'something'. I personally would not want someone to come and cook in my kitchen as "thanks". You still have to clean the house, be involved, etc. Right now it's something of a sore subject because we do so much entertaining at home and taking of people out (that's my husband's doing as he is a 'check grabber', but that's another subject for another day). It would be so nice to have a dinner where we didn't host, make the reservations or pick up the tab (and I realize I am projecting here). Tonight we are going out with friends...I'm in charge of reservations. Sunday we are having 8 people over for The Masters and dinner.

                                                                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                People without space also tend to not have space because we are relatively poor, so taking people out is not an option I can do often. I barely eat out myself. Also, w/ 1 and 2 year olds, many of my friends don't want to go out, so bringing food is often the only way I get to see them. I guess we're in different stages of life, because none of my friends ever "clean the house" when I call and ask if I can bring over dinner. It never bugs me one bit if their house isn't clean. (In fact, I often don't clean till after I've entertained, since I'll have to clean anyway, especially if kids come.) Also, if I cook at someone's place, I do offer to do all of the cleaning, too.

                                                                                                                So yeah, it doesn't work for everyone, but it's the best I can do right now.

                                                                                                                1. re: anzu

                                                                                                                  Have you thought of inviting your friends on a picnic? Won't work in the wintertime, but kids aren't an issue on a picnic, and it gives you a chance to be creative with great flavored food at really low prices. Nothing wrong with hot dogs, baked beans and watermelon. And have everyone pitch in with beer or wine.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                    Did you see my #4 above under "things I try to do to make up for always being the guest"? I have done that. It works well around here.

                                                                                                                2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                  Reading these two posts, I thought of a certain friend of mine who could be anzu (but probably isn't, unless he posts on chowhound using two names :-)....He just simply cannot reciprocate much when invited to friends' places..for a lot of the reasons anzu mentions: small house, etc. I have invited him many times, and he's one guy I don't expect a reciprocal invitation from. For one thing, he is always a very welcome guest with a good bottle of wine...and sometimes food as well! And he has treated me for lunch a few times as well. I know that his profession doesn't pay nearly as well as mine, and I'm ok with whatever he can do...I just enjoy his company; enjoy the fact that he likes my food; and of course I always enjoy the wine!!

                                                                                                                  OTOH, when I invite people over who have the means and live in nicer places than I do, it always irks me when they never invite me over...or at least invite me to a nice dinner. They are the ones that might not get repeat invitations....

                                                                                                                3. re: anzu

                                                                                                                  I just wanted to applaud your efforts. Sharing baked goods to me would be just as good as cooking me a meal, in fact I will make a meal out of your baked goods :) I think you are doing good and aren't the type of person that irks other people. Generally my friends entertain me enough I don't care if the reciprocate because they make my night better to have them there, if not then I don't invite them, doesn't have too much to do with reciprocation, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy other people cooking for me.

                                                                                                                4. I think while it isnt necessarily to repay in kind ...
                                                                                                                  some people cant cook at all, or dont have the right kind of
                                                                                                                  Home Space to invite people ... to not reciprocate at all is
                                                                                                                  ***incredibly lame***

                                                                                                                  the high standards/intimidation theory might EXPLAIN the behavior
                                                                                                                  of some non-reciprocators but it isnt at all EXCULPATORY.

                                                                                                                  and it isnt a matter of whether you mind or not ... that says something
                                                                                                                  about you ... the non-reciprocating says something about them.

                                                                                                                  see a long thread on this topic at:
                                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350656

                                                                                                                  my earlier elaboration on this exact matter at:
                                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35065...

                                                                                                                  ok tnx.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. If someone doesn't have the means (financially or space) I understand that but it would be soooo nice if just once in a while they would call and say "I made pork chops for dinner, I'm bringing you over a plate for dinner. I would Love that! I have others for dinner alot and never get a invite. If they would just reciprocate in some way at least then I would know that they appreciate me having them for dinner. I always send home the majority of leftovers too, I ask them if they would like to take home a piece of lasagna, etc. and they always say YES my (3 adult) grandkids would love it (there go all the leftovers)! But I'll tell ya, it does get tiresome to clean the house, do the prep work, cook the meal, pay for the groceries, set a nice table, do the clean up and then have nothing left over for lunch.

                                                                                                                    1. I know this is an old thread but something like this just happened to us and I need to vent!

                                                                                                                      So my friend asked if I had a bowl big enough to bake a dome-shaped cake in for her boyfriend's princess (???) cake. I said I did, and to come over anytime to pick it up. She said she didn't have a mixer, and she knows I do so she asked if she could come over and make the cake at our house. I said sure, and she emailed me a list of ingredients she needed! After supplying all of the ingredients, dropping the baked cake off at her boyfriend's house along with the beautiful icing I made, she didn't even invite us over for a slice of cake.

                                                                                                                      These two constantly come over to our place to eat with their hands empty. I have since stopped inviting them because I think they are so incredibly rude. The boyfriend is a picky eater and he meddles in the kitchen while I am trying to work. He plays with leftover food on his plate and makes a mess out of his empty water glass - he'll pour salt, sugar, soy sauce (whatever's left on the table) - in it, and dare someone to drink it. We have been to their place twice in the last year for dinner and for one of the dinners I had to bring half of the meal and we were still hungry afterwards.

                                                                                                                      Another couple we know come over regularly for dinner and since their place is so small they come over to our place (with ALL the ingredients) and cook for us and then help us clean up afterwards. We had them over yesterday and the husband shucked over 100 oysters for us.

                                                                                                                      It's all about give and take with friends. If your friends don't appreciate your cooking, your time, or your effort, don't invite them over.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: ladooShoppe

                                                                                                                        ladoo: hmm, that's a tough choice about whose friendship to actively maintain...

                                                                                                                        I wouldn't care about someone playing with food but the 'dare' is just so boy scout summer camp. I hope your friend finds his behavior 'boyish' and 'cute'. I'd be really tempted to say something about wanting to do this again sometime (yeah right) and claiming an early morning at the food bank. or even better break out the hard liquor and get all Edward Albee weird, calling his juvenile bluff. "oh yeah , the entertainment part's just starting! we're hitting (fill-in-the-blank bad neighborhood) there's this house that backs up to an alley at car height, and we'll find the pure stuff if you know what I mean and really get going. and around the corner there's this great place in a bombed out strip mall that is has the best music." OK I haven't done that in many years but it's good to know if it came to it I could back that up and scare the crap out of his pre-teen sense of the world.

                                                                                                                        jeez I get tired shucking 12-20 oysters. 100 for four? I want to invite myself to your house, I'll bring the extra 25 or so.

                                                                                                                        I'm currently itinerant and don't feel too bad about cooking for others in their homes, but I do bring my own ingredients outside of the basics and try to be good about the clean-up.. I daydream about the day when I truly can reciprocate, prob. incrementally, a handful at a time.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ladooShoppe

                                                                                                                          So the couple just came over to drop off my piping bags and tupperware that I brought over home made cake icing in. The boyfriend had the audacity to tell me that they ran out of icing. He then told me "your gel food coloring left stains all over my kitchen sink". They invited us over for cake on Tuesday - the boyfriend's real birthday - only if my husband (the boyfriend's boss at a small business) will let him off work early. Oh, and in the tupperware container they brought over 1 lobster claw they said was leftover from their lunch at a Chinese restaurant. I nearly choked!

                                                                                                                          1. re: ladooShoppe

                                                                                                                            WHAT a KEEPER! heck she better start pushing for a ring soon before someone else snatches up his happy-ass.

                                                                                                                            "well just bring your sink over and I'll be happy to deal with it one of these days"

                                                                                                                            the extra cost of OT Tuesday would be well worth it, "just bring your 'princess' cake in to work and we'll all share, sorry, but we're just too swamped for time off" god I need to get my passive-aggressive issues in check,

                                                                                                                            but I think the term (more adjective than noun) 'tool' was inspired by such.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                              Thanks hill food, I feel a lot better. Haha. I shouldn't let these kids bother me but sometimes they are just so low class that I need to talk about it. My hubby is really good friends with the guy so I feel bad venting to him. I'll bet any money he asks me to bring "something" for Tuesday night's cake extravaganza. I'll try something with tomatoes in it. Last time I brought over crab stuffed tomatoes to his place he told me how much he hated tomatoes even before I could walk through the front door.

                                                                                                                              Argh!!!

                                                                                                                              How's this for resurrecting an old thread?

                                                                                                                              Thanks again and happy entertaining!

                                                                                                                          2. re: ladooShoppe

                                                                                                                            It's all about give and take with friends. If your friends don't appreciate your cooking, your time, or your effort, don't invite them over.
                                                                                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                            amen, sister. if only we could also selectively exclude certain unappreciative relatives from family gatherings ;)

                                                                                                                          3. We unfortuately rarely get invited out by friends for meals. And even when we do, we are (half jokingly) asked to bring the food! My friends know how passionate I am about cooking. Most have also said they feel intimidated as I am an excellent cook. As I teach cooking classes they also feel that I will "grade" or "rate" them. I insist that I don't always need to have refined gourmet food; rustic family-style is just as wonderful in my opinion. My husband and I travel a lot internationally and have been fortunate to have had wonderful culinary experiences and friends are sadly also intimidated by that.

                                                                                                                            I do nearly all the cooking for my family as well, whether at my home or not. But most of the time I really want to anyway. There are some decent cooks in the family; others, not so much. However, it would be nice once in awhile to break bread with a friend at her house without her being concerned about the food. Simple things such as tea and scones would suffice! Or a piece of fruit!

                                                                                                                            I home cater, too, so some events I am invited to outside of our home I also cook for! Thankfully many of my friends like to entertain, just not around mealtime. Some friends get it. A few who do not care about food have no problem asking us over. Food is not their focus.

                                                                                                                            People need not justify their cooking or meals nor apologize for them. It really does make me feel sad and uncomfortable. I genuinely assert that I come for the company!!

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                              that is sorta sad, cause frankly I would accept anything offered with gratitude. but many DO get intimidated or feel that the choice of others is somehow a comment on their own, as in yeah if I'm making (and buying) I'm gonna use real parmesan and not the freeze dried stuff (unless that makes more sense and it sometimes does) just cause I do things one way doesn't mean I feel everyone else should, but some people get all stressed over it, hell I'll eat Jeno's pizza rolls and tater tots on your living room floor, and I may invite you over for the same. fine by me. (I'd rather offer better but that's beside the point)

                                                                                                                              I thought for a second a teaching walk-through of a dish or 2 might be cool, and then I thought, to myself, 'no that would ramp up the pressure and stress and probably be interpreted as a criticism and a hand slap to your friends'. all you can do is compliment whatever offered as obliquely as possible. "oh I love pigs in blankets! everybody forgot these for so long and I've been missing them!"

                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                Yes, it is sad because the stress it causes people is absurd. In fact, usually when I am actually invited out (as I have said, rarely) people will call me for recipes anyway and panic because they cannot find such and such ingredient. Then that makes me feel worse.

                                                                                                                                I just tell them to cook however they want to cook or usually cook. Or even order in pizza!! All I want to do is visit, catch up and relax. Really. Just because I am so passionate about food certainly does not mean everyone needs to be. I understand that and appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                Love your pigs in a blanket comment! :-D

                                                                                                                                1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                  whoops to late to edit I meant obtusely, not obliquely.

                                                                                                                                  glad I gave you a chuckle. I hate the advice questions (and the panicked crossed-eyes). sometimes there's a sound of terror in the voice and I just want to say (well shout really) just stop it and just put out cold cuts cheese and bread already. that's enough or if it's not, then I'm not a friend. just a fool you sorta know.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                    Absolutely! The panic, flush, beads of sweat, clammy palms, crossed eyes and terror are all too familiar to me, too. Just give me a class of water and toss me a chunk of cheese and I'll be fine. OK, so you don't have any cheese - how 'bout a (fake) crouton?? Anything??!!

                                                                                                                            2. I have to wonder if other professions have the same "social stigma" (for lack of a better term). I never feel like my cars must be in perfect working order before inviting a mechanic friend to the house, nor do I need be in perfect health before inviting a doctor to dinner. A friend, who happens to be an attorney, does not inquire into our legal issues when he is here. I wouldn't dream of protesting my lack of mechanical, medical or legal knowlege to any of the afore-mentioned guests. We have many friends who are accomplished musicians; I can't carry a tune in a bucket and "chopsticks" is the extent of my piano ability, yet they're all happy invited guests. Why is F-O-O-D such a loaded issue?

                                                                                                                              I should note that I am very infrequently invited to dinner and often, the invitation is preceeded with some version of: "oh, well, it won't be what you can/would serve ......." and other excuses. We entertain frequently and the reciprocal rate is abysmal.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                                                Sherri: the alternate is that your Doctor/Lawyer/Mechanic friends are often asked at parties for free advice and put on the spot rather than drumming up business. (pulling up one's shirt - "hey look at this, whaddya think this spot is?" "I've been blowing PINTS of ether into the carb and it still is giving me trouble" "well I'm suing him anyway, do I have any grounds even though it's prob. my fault?" etc.)

                                                                                                                                my guess is since food is an everyday thing and hey, bad meals never come up in probate court after you're dead and most mechanics have plenty of work, (and have other facets beyond adjusting your fanbelts) they've little interest in talking about that. unless you want to talk about billable hours, but that crashes the party and most won't want to discuss that unless in generalities - oh cool you restore airplanes in your spare time? you're tracking the effects of wasting syndrome, really, chemo or HIV? so they sent you to Saskatchewan for 2 months over a liability thing, what's that part of Canada like? .

                                                                                                                                but food? guilt. guilt that they can't boil water without burning it - god love 'em.

                                                                                                                                cooking is something many think they OUGHT to be able to do, but sometimes life just doesn't work that way.

                                                                                                                              2. I wish I had friends to invite for dinner/be invited to dinner parties! I mean I have lots of friends, just none that enjoy food as much as I do or share my interest in food/hospitality. I'd happily throw a dinner party and I'll make you guest of honour!

                                                                                                                                1. This has happened to me and I've had a few friends tell me straight up that they can't cook as well as I do (their perception, but flattering) and would be humiliated to cook for me. But when it comes up, I always point out something that person is great at that I could never in a million years do successfully, and I usually get a laugh. I love to cook and entertain, that's my thing. But some people love hitting a restaurant or bar, or having people over for drinks and sitting around the pool--that's their thing.
                                                                                                                                  I'm just happy to be with my friends.

                                                                                                                                  1. Not sure if this applies to your friends.... But I sometimes am invited to friends' places for dinner and I feel like I am the one who does not reciprocate. But here is the issue, if people are married and settled in a home and have space it is easy to entertain. If you live alone then you have no one to share the work of hosting with, maybe you have less space, maybe you don't even have a dining room table! Possibly your guests just feel uncomfortable. If they are all also married and settled but can't cook they should at least have you over for other things, games, etc.

                                                                                                                                    1. I'm only invited to things if they're grilling and/or pot luck style. That's okay, I've slowed down on the dinner parties. But I have been told I'm intimidating. I'm not sure how to take that, mostly because it's not my intention. I always tell my friends that everyone has a hobby and mine just happens to be cooking. It's pretty simple! People love woodworking, fishing or fixing cars, I don't find that intimidating just because I'm not skilled in those areas. Oh well.

                                                                                                                                      1. Though many year later, YES.

                                                                                                                                        I usually bring the wines, and we get copious invitations.

                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                          bill hunt….you've gotta get "the happy table of eugene walter." it is delightful, and i thought of you as i read…. http://www.amazon.com/The-Happy-Table...

                                                                                                                                          you might also contact the man who wrote the preface, don goodman, to inquire about your ever-elusive fried chicken recipe.

                                                                                                                                        2. i looked up this topic because today my brother said, how many times have you been over to dinner at my house? 50? i no. he said 30? i said no. he said 'think about it'. i said maybe 20. i didn't know i was supposed to keep score. he's only lived back in the area since 2001. before he moved away many years ago, i invited him and his wife to dinner, i made a very nice crab imperial dish. the food was done cooking, and they didn't come and didn't come, and i called, and they had forgotten. they then came, but were 2 hours late, and though they denied it, i sure they had already eaten, as they weren't very hungry. and of course the food was not as good as it would have been if they'd been on time. i've always had anxiety about inviting people and nobody showing up, this didn't help.

                                                                                                                                          in general, entertaining causes me a lot of anxiety. so i don't do it, and also my house is not conducive to it. so i though about how often i've been to dinner at his house since he's been back in the area since summer 2001. i came up with 3 mother's days - 3 of my mother's birthdays, 4 thanksgivings, 1 of his birthday's, 3 new year's days, cause my mom was invited, and 1 time when my mom wan't there when some mutual old time friends were in town and invited to his house. then i threw in another 5 into the count for good measure, though i have no memory or can't associate 5 more dinners with any other occasion. i do take something usually wine, and usually a 12-15 dollar bottle, that's the 'sale' price, not cheap stuff, and 2 home made real pumpkin not the canned stuff pumpkin pies on the 4 thanksgiving occasions. the second pie is always extra just for them. so i asked if he wanted to come to dinner here, he said no. like i said, my home is not conducive to a dinner party.

                                                                                                                                          obviously he wants me to take them out to eat, to repay my debt for having accepting their invitations of hospitality to family affairs over the years. well my brother's household income is at least 5x what mine is if not more. he likes to order wine and extras when he goes out to eat, as did his wife. i don't take myself out to eat because because it's not enjoyable for me to spend my limited income that way.

                                                                                                                                          when he had me to dinner for family affairs, i though it was an invitation of hospitality, not an invitation to an obligation. to invite people and EXPECT tit for tat reciprocity is not gracious. now, i am not only a taker. though i haven't repaid his dinner invitations, i have during this period, taken him to or picked him up from the airport at least a half a dozen times, picked him up from the train station, and took him to or picked him up from a bus station for a long trip 3 times. and when he's gone away for weeks at a time, most recently 3 weeks at the end of the year and 2 weeks in march, i go to his house every three days to water his plants. but i guess that's not a good enough tit for tat.

                                                                                                                                          so he said think about it, and i have. over 11 years i count i owe him 15 dinners, but i'll throw in an extra 5 and make it 20. so i'm going to give him a $300 red lobster gift card, and as far as i'm concerned we'll be even. and the next time i'm invited to dinner at his house for a family affair, i'm going to probably have other plans, because i don't want to rack up another bill i can't afford.

                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: yoduhh

                                                                                                                                            Sorry you two have a relationship that's based upon counting.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: yoduhh

                                                                                                                                              This is one of the saddest posts ever...for both you and your brother. I'll echo Escondido.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                                                                                yup - that's a pissing contest for the record books. (and seriously gals are welcome it just takes longer to spell your name in the snow, it's OK no time limit)

                                                                                                                                                god love a sibling. I love mine yet they drive me nuts. quite glad we don't keep tabs or hold grudges.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: yoduhh

                                                                                                                                                It sounds like you have some seriously hurt feelings. It takes someone we really love to make us hurt as much as you're hurting. I see this is also your first ever post to Chowhound. Is your brother a regular here? I don't think the Red Lobster gift card will help. Maybe just a very informal soup and sandwich with your brother at your house, or bacon and eggs on a weekend morning? I doubt your brother is unaware of the disparity between your incomes. He may just want a little time with you on your home turf. I hope you work things out and the warm loving relationship blooms. Sorry for your pain. The gift card sounds more like a way to close a dooor than to open one.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: yoduhh

                                                                                                                                                  Is it possible to cook an inexpensive (but tasty) meal like lasagna, garlic bread, salad and dessert, or bring a "taco bar" set up or even chili and cornbread; and then have the meal at your brother's house, where clearly he is more comfortable? Or maybe there is a meal from your childhood that you both might remember that would be fun to make for old times sake that you could prepare and take over and then, instead of the conversation being uncomfortable, you could focus on the food and the memories of growing up. I'm just trying to think of a way that could help your situation, not cause further hurt. But it may be that you would prefer to limit your interactions for now, and that is completely your choice. I am sorry this has happened.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: yoduhh

                                                                                                                                                    It is sad that he is like this. First of all, you do not earn the same high income to be taking him out to dinner to expensive places. He should be the one who should be glad to treat you.

                                                                                                                                                    Re friends, I have noticed that if you can't keep up with the Jones and you can't reciprocate the way they expect, they drop you. I don't call that friendship but it seems that this is what the world is all about today, even with family.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I had a weird arrangement that looking back may have been strange.

                                                                                                                                                    We had a few friends that were good and settled in their homes while I was just visiting my boyfriend from another state. Like most singles, he really didn't have much in his kitchen set up and he didn't even own a table. Nonetheless we liked meeting up with folks and sharing a meal.

                                                                                                                                                    So a few times I cooked at his place and then we carried the food across the street to a neighbors house to eat with them.

                                                                                                                                                    Then I was giving free rein in other people's kitchens several times before as well. My boyfriend would buy the ingredients and I would ask the host and hostess ahead of time what they would like. Once an informal menu was created I would get to work in their kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                    Everytime they would clean up and it was a more shared arrangement. One time we did have a dinner party at my boyfriend's place. Since it was sushi it was very informal and we all just sat around his coffee table he finally bought.

                                                                                                                                                    They were strange looking back, but yet still charming to me.

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Crockett67

                                                                                                                                                      Sounds like you may have a future career in catering, ever think about it?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks! That's very kind of you.

                                                                                                                                                        I have worked in restaurants before, but I left that in search of weekends and the occasional Holiday with family. So now I have a cushy office job working product development as a Food Scientist for a retail/restaurant group.

                                                                                                                                                    2. My wife will be over her parents and will call me and say, "We're going out for dinner. You can come along, if you want."

                                                                                                                                                      Is the previous statement an invitation or permission?

                                                                                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: srcrr1

                                                                                                                                                        It sounds like she is giving you the chance to come or not come depending upon what you want to do. Not all spouses are given the option of not coming for dinner with the in laws. I'd say you're a lucky man.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                          can't parse that one with what info is at hand. in one context it would be a chance to offer a handy excuse, involving (sotto voce after plausible reason) popcorn and TV with the dog.

                                                                                                                                                          unless you like them.

                                                                                                                                                          in review it's neither permission or invitation. to ask a direct question (if felt workable) is all that might find the answer "hey! next time, would I really be welcome, or is this blood-family time?"

                                                                                                                                                          may have nothing to do with you. or it might... (moment of introspection)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                            Ok Hill, admittedly I did leave out any context. I did so for a reason, but I'll give you more information. There has been an ongoing discussion as to how she invites me. I always feel like I'm being given permission to join her, yet she feels it's an invitation. Let's try this. I going to add another statement to the first one. Please read both and feel free to comment on their differences.

                                                                                                                                                            We're going out for dinner. You can come along, if you want.

                                                                                                                                                            We're going out for dinner. Wanna come along?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: srcrr1

                                                                                                                                                              The first is permission, the second is an invitation, at least in my book.....

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks K. I'm looking forward to the thoughts of others regarding this.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: srcrr1

                                                                                                                                                                  In a marriage there is always so much back story. I know my husband doesn't like to go out with certain people, so for them I would say the "if you want" invitation. That way he knows I won't be upset if he doesn't come and he doesn't have to feel guilty if he chooses not to. The "wanna come along" would be used when I think he'd like to and just might say yes. Hard to know what your story is...couples have their own language. Have you asked her what she means?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                    Escondido, she would say "We're going wherever. You can come along, if you wish", because she thought I would not want to be with her parents. However it never occurred to her that I just might want to be with her, but because she gave me such a cold invitation, she was the one I really didn't want to be around. For all these years she thought she really knew me and felt that she could speak for me. As she found out, she barely knew me at all.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: srcrr1

                                                                                                                                                                      Sorry you two have such bad communication. My husband has always been grateful for the "if you wish" invitation when it comes to family. Too bad you felt slighted and didn't speak up.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                        Escondido, actually I did speak up....... often. But she was never able to see things from my perspective. After two months of nearly daily arguing about how she treated me, it wasn't until she realized things she was doing to me were things she would never dream of doing to a friend. She would invite a friend in a friendly manner, yet I was told that if I wanted, I could come along. Her way of inviting me was as if I were someone she really didn't care whether I was there or not. The true test will be the next time we go out of town for an overnight visit with her family. I'm hopeful but at the same time, I'm not very confident she won't revert to putting her friends, family, herself and even those she's indifferent about before me.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                                    yeah I'm with KSlink's interpretation. but if I were she and I was feeling indifferent I'd have worded the invite version to include 'it would be nice if you... but I'll understand if you...'

                                                                                                                                                                    the offer is sort of vague as presented to you and all I can really say is: respond as you feel that particular day.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                      Fortunately, she now sees that she was giving me permission instead of inviting me. She always cared for me, and that's what she thought a wife was supposed to do. When she realized she cared about friends, family, herself, and even others more than she cared about me, it was like an awakening. I always loved her, but for a long time, I didn't like her. I have been her best friend for the past twenty years. For far too long, she was not mine, and she sees that now.

                                                                                                                                                                      It feels like a new beginning here. I sure hope it lasts.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: srcrr1

                                                                                                                                                                        go with this, I hope it works (I'm kinda happy-clappy that way)

                                                                                                                                                                        I worked in marketing and communications for years so I can get really grammar nanny and vocabulary vicious. on others. mine is sloppy but small comments add up to a lot more than some realize.

                                                                                                                                                                        best wishes

                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm kind of relieved to read this, and so many of the responses. I'm in the same situation--always doing the inviting, cooking, entertaining...I love to cook and am basically fine with it, but I have wondered if it's because I go way out when I invite and that might be intimidating or if it's just not a part of the culture here in Denmark. One thing is that there nothing much is done even slightly spur of the moment (as in, inviting a couple or 2 for the following weekend). Everything has to be planned months in advance, it seems. And everything has to be perfect before allowing anyone in your home, so if you can't present a fabulously decorated and spotlessly clean house with expensive food and wine, you don't invite. In my previous (US) life, entertaining for friends was a big part of life and it wasn't uncommon to invite people over on the same day, or for a weekend just a day or two out. The atmosphere was a lot more casual also, as no one seemed to care if the house and food wasn't ready for a magazine layout. I miss that.

                                                                                                                                                            Is it really not that common anymore? That's sad.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Transplant_DK

                                                                                                                                                              Many years ago I had the opportunity to spend Christmas day with a German family while I was stationed there. Initially it was very formal, me not knowing them and vice versa. However within only an hour or so, the atmosphere became relaxed and much more casual. On the other hand, when we invite someone to our home, we do try to make a good impression by having a clean house, but not to the point of being spotless. One individual once commented that we did not need to clean up just for them. The truth is we only straightened up, ran the vacuum and did a quick dusting. We try to maintain a presentable appearance because you never know when we may have visitors. As far as the food, since I do most of the cooking, I will do what I can to make the meal not only attractive, but also enjoyable. Whether it's ready for a magazine layout doesn't matter to me. Visitors come to see us, not whether we bend over backwards or not to make the best impression.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I thought about myself when I read this question. Years ago, I entertained a lot. I had the energy and strength and I did not have a hectic job then. Things changed with my job, my place was no longer up to scratch and I reciprocated by taking a few friends out to dinner. I stopped just inviting anyone. So, of course, I did not get open invitations anymore. Actually, at first I stopped because I was too tired and secondly, they were all moving to big houses and I became insecure with my apartment. I always take stuff with me, wine or bake a lovely cake, when invited out and I try to reciprocate by taking the person out to dinner, if this is possible. I am now trying to get my place back from clutter in order to start inviting guests. One person did tell me that I do not invite people to my house, but to be honest, it is not that I don't want to.

                                                                                                                                                              On the other hand what is true friendship all about? I have heard people criticize other people's dinner parties and their homes and I believe this was my downhill trod with entertaining although I am a good cook.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Angela1

                                                                                                                                                                If your friends are criticizing other people's dinner parties, you need to find a new circle of friends. I attend dinners regularly (and have given them regularly throughout my adult life) and not once have I heard such nastiness. And trust me, some of my apartments have been tiny! I tidy up the place, but the dishes don't always match and I sometimes run out of flatware and the timing is off and there are some smudges on the storm door (courtesy of my cat). Nonetheless, no one cares. As long as it's sanitary, it is fine.

                                                                                                                                                                You seem to be too fearful of the opinions of others (as in your efforts not matching expectations). Don't let that intimidate you.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Over the weekend, I had a friend flip this whole your house/my house thing by inviting us over because she wanted to show off a new recipe for chicken piccata she picked up by watching the Rachael Ray show. This girl is a great friend, not a good cook. We accepted, and she then threw out that her kitchen is a mess, can she just bring her stuff over and do it at our place? I was kind of dumbfounded, but accepted, because I was really put on the spot.
                                                                                                                                                                We did end up postponing this thing because she wasn't feeling well yesterday, but it is going down tonight. I'm really kind of weird about people cooking in my kitchen, so this could be interesting :/ The mr. pointed out that I can offer to help with tips along the way if she feels "stuck" at any point, I don't know...

                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                  errrrr, may I suggest that in the ensuing 24 hours [from yesterday to today], she has had time to clean up her messy kitchen. There seems to be more to this than meets the eye.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm thinking not really, she got a nasty headache early last evening, and is working all day today. If there's more to this than meets the eye, it's just that she's a very lazy housekeeper and that place IS a mess. It's still just bugging me a little, but it's probably my lack of ability to say no :p
                                                                                                                                                                    But, if it were me, if I needed to postpone, I'd put it off until I had the time to clean.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                      "But, if it were me, if I needed to postpone, I'd put it off until I had the time to clean."

                                                                                                                                                                      Bingo! alliegator. Either invite someone for dinner or don't invite them but inviting them and changing the dynamic [from my house to your house] does not constitute the same invitation. I'm with you on the postponing the dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                        i'm a "lazy housekeeper" too.
                                                                                                                                                                        that is why i budget the money for a professional housekeeper to come over periodically and keep the mess to a manageable level.
                                                                                                                                                                        some people would rather spend their money on various forms of adult toys (boat, nice cars, nice clothes, etc), i would rather spend my money on housekeeping services

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                          Hey, it's your money--enjoy :) I guess what it all boils down to is clean (or get cleaned), then invite. Not invite, then garble it up. As for tonight, I'll just put my best knives in the bedroom and try to enjoy what the mr. calls "the most awkward non-invitation ever".

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                      That's funny. I've been known to joke when my house cleaning is lacking, that it is time to invite people over. It's the only thing that motivates me to ensure all 3 bathrooms are clean and the hardwood floors are mopped.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                        no no no and no, one simply picks up a little and lights the rooms in a strategic way.

                                                                                                                                                                        the heavy cleaning (by you or a pro is your call) happens after they're gone and the big mess has occurred.

                                                                                                                                                                        this is why the good lord invented dimmer switches, venetian blinds and candles.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, I do have all three ;)

                                                                                                                                                                          And I try to remind myself they are here for a visit, not an inspection. Still I pretend they're inspecting . . . I am somewhat lax in the cleaning area otherwise. Only the kitchen is consistently clean.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. since i don't eat meat nor poultry, most of my protein comes from soy sources.
                                                                                                                                                                      most of my friends won't eat this stuff.
                                                                                                                                                                      to repay them, i usually treat them to a dinner out so that the restaurant can handle the dead animals involved.

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                        HA! I have the opposite problem, I'm still an omnivore, but it seems like most of my friends have gone veggie/vegan. fine by me, I'll cook what'll be eaten but sometimes...and let's be honest, when entertaining out it's hard for a V/V to find interesting choices.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                          My late husband (my second marriage) would never go to a condo-hosted bbq as he was vegan so all our condo neighbours thought he was a snob for never showing up. Consequently it wasn't until after his death that I attended and socialized. I explained how that he couldn't abide the bbq smell. It turned out that a separate bbq was set up for veggies and non-meat cooking. The neighbours were needlessly offended for all those years and so was he...we could have dispelled a lot of bad feelings if only we had asked!

                                                                                                                                                                          As a result I met many good people with whom I was able to share many happy meals, attending a monthly restaurant dinner party with upwards of 20 guests.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Well, this thread has made me feel much, much better. For years I have been depressed that practically no one reciprocated our invitations. I thought it was us, maybe people just didn't like us enough to spend time making a meal to share. However, it seems that there are a lot of fellow Chowhounders in the same boat. I don't feel as bad!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. This happens to me all the time! I feel like our friends are more than happy to come to our house for dinner but then will not make the attempt to invite us back. I think it is plain rude and inconsiderate. They could order a pizza for goodness sakes and that would be fine. Inviting someone into your home and making them a meal takes a lot of time and thought. It also means you care about these friends and want to spend time with them. I just want to feel appreciated and the invite be put out there to me and my family.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. My wife and I are never treated as guests anywhere. We went to Easter at her sisters house and we did most of the cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. When I invite people over it is selfish. I want to cook for them and eat with them,. I don't want anything else.