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Jun 22, 2008 01:17 PM

Hosting a dinner party with humorless guests..

Hosted a lovely dinner party last night and the champagne and the app's were outstanding, the wine pairing with the meal was sublime...what's the problem you ask?
My guests were humorless idiots..

I had been in social situations with them before and they all seemed like they were worthy of being invited into my, was I wrong!

I am the biggest Goofball known to man and still have the decorum to carry off any social faux pas with grace and elegance with lots of laughter and have fun, whatever life throws at me...obviously, the happy gene seems to be missing from their life..

Needless to say, I drank too much..but vowed never to have non-funny guests in my home again!

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    1. You just get through it and put them on the never again list. There is a couple I know and find rather grim, when I have to invite them I try to make sure the rest of the guests make up for the humorless couple. Safety in numbers I guess. They are very nice people but definitely belong in a more the merrier setting.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        While absolutely not an excuse to be friendly and grateful, I can certainly see how a dinner guest may be intimidated- not simply because of the intricately designed courses and wines (which look lovely by the way) but also because it appears to be expensive. While I love to entertain and cook for friends, I know that serving things like lobster is actually a waste of my money because my friends would actually be more comfortable eating things they know do not cost too much. I think it has to do with the expectation of reciprocity- which while annoying on one hand (I'm assuming the poster had no expectation of being entertained in return), is understandable. My suggestion is to know your guests- if you're very close, they probably won't mind if you "go all out" because they may not feel the pressure to reciprocate to the tee. If however it's people you're not so close with, you have to play it by ear.

        1. re: NicoleFriedman

          Nicole, that reminds me of a situation a long time ago. It was a business associate of my husband. The wife didn't work and loved to cook. I worked and hated to cook. She had made everything herself from the soup to elegant handmade chocolates with the coffee. I was dreading the dinner at our house in return. I decided I couldn't compete, so went the opposite direction. We had BBQ prime cut NYs, green salad with unusual things, and twice baked potatoes. We had fun at both homes. I don't think OP's menu was the reason for the discomfort.

          1. re: Gail

            NicoleFriedman and Gail, what absolutely great, insightful, and experience based answers! Thank you!

      2. whats even worse is having a themed party, and that one couple who decide to show up 'un-themed'... deeming themselves 'too old' to be acting 'so childish' ... those were the exact words i've had a couple say to me! it was a 'who-dunit 50's themed dinner party'. They showed up in casual jeans and tee shirts, while the rest of us were dressed for fun and murder, in dresses and suits! haha! ;) needless to say, they will be added to 'no invite' list this halloween!

        1 Reply
        1. re: CPunches

          If you're not going to participate in the theme, why accept the invitation to the party? Is their larder that bare?

          You can invite us instead.

        2. Some people just have different demeanors. I agree with the suggestion about keeping them in a group, and this is better than considering putting them on the Do Not Invite Again list if you like them at all. If you are reeling from this and just can't stand another minute of them, then put them on the list. If not, mix them with others who might have more in common with them. After all, how do you know what was on their minds? Maybe a parent was sick, maybe they are worried about losing their jobs, who knows. Even fun people can have bad days, and perhaps they felt that while they were interested in being your friend and coming to your dinner party, they just couldn't take on the roll of party starters once there. They may just be socially ackward, and need to be with people who draw them out.

          BTW, and I hate to mention this, but I also agree with the person who wondered what they thought about your dinner party. Not that either of you is "right" here, but perhaps they find people who drink too much and constantly make jokes tedious, so this might not be such a clear cut case of It Was Them. It may just be that you are all different.

          22 Replies
          1. re: RGC1982

            I'm a Goofball by nature but not while I am hosting a 5 course dinner party and I drank too much AFTER they left..
            I understand the dynamics of Psychology and how 'fun' people can have bad days.
            This was not the case.

            1. re: Beach Chick

              I would love to hear about your menu and the wine pairings. What did you serve?

              Sorry things didn't go as well as the food did!

              1. re: fern

                Hi fern..
                I started with a cold cucumber soup.
                Veuve Clicquot Rose.

                Grilled Prawn cocktails with avocado and heirloom tomt's in a tangy cocktail sauce and fresh horseradish shavings.
                Rombauer Chardonnay

                Salad course was a wedge of iceberg with a maytag blue cheese crumbled, Trimbach Pinot Gris.

                mango sorbet

                Seared Diver Scallops with grilled aspargus on a bed of Israeli couscous and done in a shallot citrus beurre blanc..
                Chateauneuf du Pape.
                Had a couple of bottles of Insignia but did not open. : )

                Dessert was a Lemon-Ginger Creme Brulee...also, fresh blueberries in a French Vanilla Bean pudding topped with homemade whipped cream.
                Veuve Clicquot Rose.

                Espresso & French Press Coffee with 20 year old Sandeman Port to finish off the evening.

                It was over 100 degrees so I wanted things light and cool.

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  y'know this has come up before ina different context, but considering how little people actually cook these days, they may have been a little intimidated.

                  I'd go all passive//aggressive on them and get smashed before the meal and "forget" to cook. or even better slip out for a forgotten ingredient and not come back.

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Beach Chick, this is my favorite part of your whole evening...

                    >>>Had a couple of bottles of Insignia but did not open. : )<<<

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      What a lovely menu! Too bad your guests didn't loosen up and have fun with you. How frustrating! I say, lose the dolts and come party with us hillbillies. ;)

                      100+ degrees? Yikes.

                      Truly sorry it didn't go well but you certainly provided a wonderful meal.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        Wow. This menu sounds lovely. Do you suppose the guests were introverts? If I can talk about food with people, I can carry on long conversations, but I find that when I'm at parties or in social settings with people I don't know too well, I usually end up being the quietest one.

                        Like I was at a wedding, and sat next to some really nice gals who spent the bulk of the evening talking about their dogs and TV shows, and since I don't watch TV or own dogs, I listened appreciatively (though to be honest, I was a bit bored), but didn't have much to contribute to that conversation, much as I tried. But I'm really horrible at "ice breaker" and these casual conversations.

                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          Please invite me instead. Sounds wonderful.

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            What a lovely menu...I'm funny, invite me over next time!

                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              To add to what everyone else is saying: it looks delicious.

                              My parents have a mental list of people they can invite to any party or dinner to round out the guestlist, add some humour, etc. for when they're not sure if the guestlist dynamic quite works. The people on the mental list tend to have a wide range of interests, and are charming, relaxed and friendly. And tend to get invited a lot as a result! But it does seem to help, especially when lots of the guests don't know each other.

                              1. re: Gooseberry

                                Gooseberry, my husband and I refer to such invitees as "buffers".

                                1. re: Gail

                                  Buffers are a lifesaver. I am the party pooper in one of my social groups most of the time because they typically veer into what I find to be obtrusive personal questions and I refuse to participate in those discussions. However, if a buffer is around, he or she will easily change the topic.

                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                      Careful, lest we offend our fellow poster, mrsbuffer!

                              2. re: Beach Chick

                                Great menu, Beach Chick! I love the cucumber soup/rose paring . . . sounds perfect for a summer meal. Shrimp and Rombauer is alway heaven. I liked the way you brought it down a notch with the wedge salad . . and I say that in a good, and admiring way. It's always a good idea to put a "comfort course" in the middle of a menu, so that the less sophisticated guests can get their bearings. Diver scallops (so hard to find here, even for a professional) sound like they were perfectly paired with the Chatauneuf (asparagus seems to bring out the best in that wine, I've found.)

                                If they're non-foodies, I can see the sorbet (while perfectly appropriate) as being a bit intimidating for them. A large percentage of the population would have thought that that was the end of the meal. I'm sure that you explained that it was a "palatte cleanser" but still, too many people too intimidated to know what that means.

                                Dessert sounds perfect -- and though I'm not a dessert-eater myself, I would probably have asked for a little of both. Or full portions of both.

                                Whatever went wrong with the evening, you already understand that it wasn't the menu. Would you mind terribly if I stole your ideas for nonprofessional purposes? I've got some friends coming over tomorrow . . .

                                Seriously, BC, some people are just intimidated by the fact that they are getting better-than-fine-dining-restaurant-quality service in some one's home. Others are competitive and realize that they can't reciprocate, not getting the fact that people like you get pleasure from strutting your culinary stuff.

                                My ex-DH put the kibosh on five-course meals for that very reason. I loved doing it, but he felt uncomfortable by the fact that I out-classed our guests with my ability and dedication to perfection. I'm still pissed off at myself for caving in to his directive, but eventually even I had to agree that our guests were more comfortable with the (my words) "dumbed down food." I think some of them thought that they'd be presented with an outrageous bill -- which was never my intent, of course. I was just playing, and glad to have a captive audience.

                                1. re: chefbeth

                                  I think you and BC are both missing something about the point of entertaining.

                                  1. re: jlafler

                                    No kidding! Whatever happened to the term "gracious host" ?

                                    I don't get the sense that the OP tried to make the guests feel comfortable.

                                    1. re: jlbwendt

                                      Neither do I, but I do get the strong sense that (1) the host's self-conception and expectations and (2) some combination of the circumstances or the perceptions of the guests, missed each other. There has been no explanation of how the guests failed in their roles, just a reaction by the host. The fact that many commenters have asked for more information and been met by silence from the OP is what's keeping this thread in a vegetative but not quite dead state...(while it's not up with the the most infamous unresolved thread of them all, which I hope I need not identify, it's partaking of it in some repsects).

                                  2. re: chefbeth

                                    The subtly tricky thing with wanting such an audience is that they don't owe you adoration for doing it. So you have to do it in a way that's detached from any need for that kind of reaction. It's seems much of the reaction to the OP in some way or another has picked up on a possible lack of detachment.

                            2. re: RGC1982

                              I really hate to be put on the defense. I did not mention alcohol or menus at all. I just find that the humorless couple only be invited when there are enough numbers of people to off set the grim-ness of the couple.

                              1. re: RGC1982

                                The demeanor of the "humorless" couple may have had absolutely nothing to do with you or the menu. They may even be fun sometimes. It's possible that they quarreled just before they came. They may have gotten some bad news that they didn't want to talk about. They may have not felt well. They may have been temporarily taken over by aliens. They may have thought someone at the table was a jerk.

                                There are literally dozens of "explanations" that you or I could make up about them. Maybe it would be a good idea to actually talk to them and find out how it went for them. At least you would find out if there was something that you did or said that was a problem -- or, more likely that it had nothing whatsoever to do with you.

                                1. re: chicgail

                                  Indeed. When someone doesn't think you're funny, it's always possible that the reason they thought you weren't funny was weren't funny. Of course, "Hey, I was only joking" is the classic defense for being offensive, but even if that's not the case, most people aren't as funny as they think.

                              2. The original comment has been removed