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Jun 2, 2008 02:00 PM

What to do about bad hosts?

She invited us to a backyard BBQ and asked all guests to tell her in advance how many burgers/hotdogs they will eat and asked all guests bring some alcoholic beverage. Then sends a list of side dishes that you can sign up for to make sure no guests bring duplicates. The party ended early due to the wife not allowing "too many" guests in the house after the night chill made everyone freeze outside.

Just a few weeks ago, she emails an invite because her husband is throwing her a Welcome Home party for her return from a 3 month business trip. They'll provide the meat and guests can each bring a dish to share. All but one person declined the invite and there was no party.

As a host, I supply generous portions, variety, and enough for seconds. We're not poor college students anymore but it still feels like I'm going to a frat party. I'm sure some people think these invites/food requests are fine, but I'm really turned off to going to any more of her "parties" and know for certain she will be offended if we continue to turn her down.

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  1. Wow.
    She really is a bad host.
    But hosting is part learned skill and part natural good people skills... and for people who never learned past that "frat party stage" they really may mean well and simply be clueless. If she is so thick that a few low turn out parties don't make her think twice hopefully a close friend of hers will politely explain to her (when she is complaining about low party turn out) that their are certain responsibilities of hosting.

    5 Replies
    1. re: quovadis

      Agreed. Sometimes people don't realize what a good host means. Have been invited to past events similar and declined. Outcome is that we stopped being invited which was fine. Sometimes however people are just being cheep. We have hosted many events where lobster, steak, fixings and drinks are in plentiful supply. We do it because we enjoy it. Only thing I have noted is that some folks don't return the invite but that is fine too - we invite folks who's company we enjoy. It is about the event.

      1. re: juliewong

        Serving less expensive food doesn't make you a bad host, just like serving caviar doesn't make you a good host. It's about the spirit of the thing (generosity, ideally) and the company.

        I have no problem with potluck gatherings, as long as everyone's in agreement that that's what it is. I also think you shouldn't invite people over if you don't want them in your house!

        1. re: Kagey

          I am faced with this situation several times a year due to my daughter's involvement with her sports team. The parents and families get really close because we spend every weekend with each other. The differences can be startling.

          At my home, I cook (usually) several entrees and sides, or cater, and usually provide desserts, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, do the entire set up in steam trays, and the clean up, unless some volunteer stays to help. I draw the line at beer, because the beer drinkers seem to each have personal favorites, and we don't drink it, so the leftovers are hard to get rid of. That is what I might suggest people bring, or perhaps a dessert, if they insist on bringing something. I insist that they bring home their leftover beer or cake, which is the custom in this region.

          At other's homes, the worst example was the pseudo-lunch invitation, in which a sign up list was circulated for people to bring lunch meats, rolls, side dishes, paper products, and, believe it or not, ketchup/mustard/mayo. Would you believe that the "hosts" signed themselves up for ketchup/mustard/mayo? Not even the paper products. With hosts like these, you are better off trying to eat at the nearest fast food drive through.

          BTW, money does not appear to be an issue.

          1. re: RGC1982

            It goes far to sometimes just say *@#($ the money and host a generous party, even if it's pasta and meatballs. People remember genourosity (sp...) and often return it!

            1. re: RGC1982

              LOL you sound a lot like me. We don't drink beer in our house (except for the Peroni my husband loves and few others do) and I have a rule about keeping sweets in the house because of health/dietary reasons. I love hosting and having people over for dinner or gatherings, and typically tell people who ask not to worry about bringing anything, unless they want to bring dessert or beer since neither is my area of interest. And I try to pack them off with the leftovers of each because they will just go to waste in our home.

              When I was a poor college student it was another matter entirely, and yeah I did throw pot-lucks back then or ask people to contribute to the "party pot o'cash" if I'd laid out for all of the drinks ahead of time...but that's a lot different an environment than an adult dinner party.

              (When I threw my housewarming last December I spent about a week preparing food and drink for it because I insisted I would not put out anyone to cook any dishes in advance for me, family or friends-wise...and we ended up with so many bottles of good wine and spirits as house warming gifts it ended up way more than making up the difference for what I spent!)

      2. Continue to turn her down. She didn't care if she offended anyone -- so why are you worried about "offending" her because you don't wish to be at one of her not-so-fun parties?

        If she asks why you repeatedly turn down her invitations, explain why to her TRUTHFULLY. The truth is sometimes no fun, but unless someone is kind enough to tell her and you all keep showing up -- you'll be encouraging her behavior.

        Reinforce positive behavior, ignore negative behavior. Turning her down = ignore.

        1. I would not feel obligated to spend my precious free time with someone so rude and controlling! I don't think she'll be offended if you continue to decline - if she cared what people think she would be a better hostess in the first place. I think she may feel hurt that no one wants to come over anymore and I doubt she'll single you guys out - as you said, everyone but one said NO.

          1. I don't really think that she meant to be rude in any way. I think she is just a bit clueless about hosting parties. I have to ask: are all the people HER friends, or her husband's? My theory is this: perhaps she has not hosted/been to many parties, either in college or later in life. She could be someone with lower-than-usual self-esteem who lacked confidence when she was young and as such lacks social graces many learned by experiences from being exposed to various social situations.

            I mean, think about it: how did YOUR first party go? Perfectly? Mine certainly didn't! Then again, maybe she's just a selfish ...

            1. It's interesting to read about people's expectations regarding the so-called "good host". Isn't she just having a "pot luck"? Are Pot Lucks considered gauche these days? Are they a thing of the, say, 70's, or 80's only? I'm asking in earnst because it's a word and custom i learned when i first came to the US in the mid 70's, and i had/have no idea that it would be considered bad hosting now a days. It was just as interesting to hear in another thread a host complaining about guests who insist on bring a dish, and considering it rude. Maybe there just are mis-matched hosts/guests out there as far as expectations go?

              Now the part about no allowing certain amount of people inside the house and thus freezing some guests seem like it could be bad hosting, but not knowing the details it's difficult to say.

              5 Replies
              1. re: HLing

                If I was freezing and not allowed in the house I WOULD consider her rude and a bad hostess. As to the potluck - she invited people and then told them to bring their own drink, a side dish and asked them to say AHEAD OF TIME how many hot dogs or burgers they would consume - that is not a potluck! The potlucks I have been to (and not lately thank you very much) were when everyone brings a dish period! They may or may not bring their own drink but it is usually defined as a potluck not as a "regular" party. We used to have monthly parties with our golf group that consisted of playing golf and then going to a different persons house every month. The host/hostess provided the main course and all the drink. We brought apps, dessert and maybe a salad. Of course most of us brought a bottle of wine for the host/hostess (not necessarily to be consumed during the party) as a gift. I was NEVER asked how much I was going to eat. Sometimes the person would theme the evening as in Italian, etc. but that was it!

                1. re: Linda VH

                  If I am freezing and it is an outdoor party , I go home.

                  1. re: LaLa

                    Agreed! And I would always have extras at a bbq. The main focus of the event is eating!

                  2. re: Linda VH

                    I don't mind potlucks under certain circumstances. For broke students it's pretty much standard. It's also pretty standard for get-togethers of a particular group - gaming, or sports teams, or meetings, or clubs, where it's basically a shared event with one person providing the venue. It's also common when only a few people in the group have the facilities to host a party, or for family get togethers, so that one person isn't stuck with all the preparation and expense.

                    In this case, it sounds like BYO parties are not standard in this social group, and people are rather taken aback at being expected to sign up for a side dish and bring their own alcohol. When you combine this with poor hospitality in other areas (like not letting the guests into your home when they are cold) and the request to pre-order how many hotdogs you want, then going to another party becomes not very enticing.

                    If you have to maintain good relations with these people, I'd suggest going to some, but not all of the parties, or scaling back on how you participate - bring the absolutely minimum required for the shared dish (like a couple of bags of potato chips or cookies) and one beer, stay an hour, and then have to leave.

                    As an aside, you can throw a generous party without spending a lot of money. Put the hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, buy some bags of chips and salsa, make a big batch of coleslaw, some lemonade and iced tea and a pitcher or two of sangria, and cut up a watermelon for dessert.

                  3. re: HLing

                    There are many facets as people have been discussing. I will not be addressing allowing your guests to be uncomfortably cold or asking how many burgers people will eat... though I will point out that the economy is affecting people in many ways.

                    I have worked at a museum with very social people who worked for little more than minimum wage. The party ethic there was bring "Something to grill, something to drink and something to share." It meant that you could throw a party for 30 bucks and spend $10 to go to a party 2-3 times a week. Poverty didn't preclude a very active social life.

                    That said, there are a few (There are ALWAYS a few) whose idea of something to share was a bag of Doritos. If this woman has been burned to many times earlier stuck with 6 bags of chips as the "something to share" perhaps she has swung too far to compensate.