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The perpetual empty handed guest

I entertain a fair amount, several times a week. Not large lavish affairs, but dinners of 4, 6, 8 people. I love cooking so I enjoy having friends over and trying new dishes. Normally, I buy and prepare all the ingrediants, and the guests bring wine or dessert. This works out great for everyone I feel. A friend of mine who lives very close, started to come to dinner often, I would suggest a wine when he asked what to bring. Somehow, over the course of months, I am no longer asked "what can I bring?" and he is now bringing his partner to dinner. They come over, eat the dinner, partake in cocktails and wine. I honestly would be happy with a six pack of beer, and appreciate the gesture and be happy. What do you suggest? Next dinner, even though I am not posed with the question "what can I bring" should I say, "if you are coming, please bring x". What do you think?

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  1. Wow - several dinners each week? You are such a nice friend! If your friend is bringing his friend on a regular basis and not even asking if he can help with ... something ... I would then suggest ... something he Can bring. Anything you can use, actually. Doesn't have to be extraordinary... fresh bread, wine, fruit. Seems like that's the respectful thing to do.

    1. Or maybe "If you're coming, perhaps you and (partner) could pick up x and y. Thanks, I'll be counting on you."

      5 Replies
      1. re: yayadave

        you are right, I need to speak up! I am just not used to requesting items since the guests I normally have just seem to know to bring something. I guess speaking up is better than scowling as he has his third martini and another toast full of pate de campagne. grrr.

        1. re: cassoulady

          Sounds as if you need a break from this guy -- maybe not inform him of your next event?

          1. re: Sarah

            you are right! I guess I am currently accepting applications for the Thursday dinner guests.... haha

            1. re: cassoulady

              Yup. He's wore out his welcome and he just cannot continue being a freeloader. It has to stop.

          2. re: cassoulady

            how is he getting these invitations? Is he just showing up? Does he ask about the plus 1?I would definitely follow the above advice, but if he's still empty handed just start decreasing the amount you invite him until it fades to nothing.

        2. I have struggled with this issue quite a bit - the people you invite, that never return the favor. The people who come empty handed and eat and drink everything in site. The friends you never hear from until your "annual" something or other is about to happen. I have decided several things:

          1) Maybe we are so good at this we intimidate people?
          2) Some people are there because they add to the social occasion by force of personality, whether they bring booze or not....
          3) I don't care anymore...I need to have friends and family at my home , and if the don't bring anything, I'm doing the Zen thing...

          1. I'm going to voice a small contrary opinion. As "guests", they are not traditionally obliged to bring anything. If your dinners are pot-luck affairs, or "I'll make the main, you do the sides", you should make that clear with the invitations. Your friends may just feel that you're a generous host who likes to entertain frequently, which apparently you are. Has this friend ever reciprocated?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Jeri L

              I dont typically expect an invite back. I did at one point, but realize that cooking for a crowd is not something for everyone, so I never assume that I will get a return invite, and that doesnt bother me. Growing up, I was taught a guest shouldnt show up empty handed, a box of chocolates or cookies or something should be brought. I know that traditionally it is insult to the host to bring wine, implying that their wine is not good, though I never feel that way of course, I appreciate the gesture. I entertain the same rotating group of 15 or so people and this is the only one who doesnt bring anything.

              1. re: cassoulady

                It's just fine to bring wine as a hostess gift. Bringing wine implies the host doesn't have good wine as much as bringing cookies implies that the host can't bake, i.e. not in the slightest. A hostess gift is not expected to be used at the gathering. It's a gift, she can do what she wants with it, whether it gets served at the party, stashed for later personal enjoyment, christening a new yacht, et cetera.

                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester


                  FWIW I never expect or care if someone brings something but then I don't entertain as often as the OP. Certainly a gift is appreciated but not expected. When friends ask what to bring we just tell them to bring their appetite.

                2. re: cassoulady

                  Maybe your friend is not good at big group things, but he should still be reciprocating. That doesn't mean he has to fete you in exactly the same way you do him. He doesn't have to have a big party with lots of people just because you do. If he's not into big parties, he could just have you over one night. IF he doesn't cook, he could invite you to a restaurant, or theater tickets, or whatever. If he's poor, the food doesn't need to be expensive - burgers in his backyard are fine. It's the thought that counts, but he should be making the effort.

                  You should ask yourself "do I enjoy this guy's company enough that I don't feel I am being taken advantage of?" If the answer is no, then consider cutting him from your guest list. I think the fact that you are asking here means you already know the answer.

                  1. re: Reefmonkey

                    i agree completely with your fine reply.
                    this is not about the "balance of payments" with regards to food, it is about your relationship with another party.

                    see this vintage thread:

                    >I think the fact that you are asking here means you already
                    >know the answer.
                    it's fascinating how reticent people are to pull the "judgemental trigger" ... almost like conflating judgements -> "you're soooo judgemental" -> "you are intolerant".

                    hence all the "person X spat on me ... maybe it was a neutrino hitting his brain! ... should i cut him some slack? should i check if there was a lot of sunspot acitivty?" type inquries.

              2. I have "friends" like this also. There is a group of us who often gets together at one another's homes. We also invite this other couple more out of obligation than b/c we really enjoy their company (long story). I get so frustrated b/c they have NEVER reciprocated. They accept every invitation that is given to them, but have never had any of us over to their place. We continue to invite them to "keep the peace" but it is growing old and we're all growing weary. I've often shrugged it off & chalked it up to that they don't know how to entertain, but it really gets to me at times.

                I feel your pain, cassoulady. I guess when subtlety fails, a polite but direct approach is best?

                2 Replies
                1. re: lynnlato

                  You and cassoulady might just have run into a couple of people who feel entitled to contribute nothing food wise because every body knows they're on hard times, their places is too small, they can't cook as well as you can, they are so witty and charming that you should be glad they brought their wonderful selves and so forth.

                  1. re: yayadave

                    What can I bring? I have th esame problems with non reciprocating non guest. But I continue on, just bought a whole new set of crystal and china at a country auction! Full place settings for six for forty dollars! Soime people may feel intimidated and not dare to reciprocate, but I make sure I tell them how frugal I am and suggest its not reallly all that grand, anyone can entertain.

                2. If they're coming because you invited them, they're not obliged to bring anything in return - if you're tired of them sponging off you, then just don't invite them so often. But if they're just turning up uninvited at mealtimes, you're under no obligation to feed them. Wait for the knock on the door and open it and say 'oh, we're just on our way out to X'... or you could just start asking them to bring a, b, and c with them, then if they don't want to do it they can always bow out of the dinner invite!

                  1. Strictly speaking, they need not offer anything and you should not expect them to bring anything for the meal, unless you are hosting a potluck. You are the host - you are responsible for the hospitality.

                    That said, they should be at least (1) thanking you after the fact (not just on the way out), and (2) reciprocating according to their means.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Karl S

                      I think most of us understand that no one is "expected" to bring anything. However, when you repeatedly extend yourself and you start to feel taken advantage of or under-appreciated by a frequent guest, well then, that's irritating. How hard is it to say, "Can I bring something?" Most hosts will respond, "No thank you, just yourselves". Simple.

                      I don't want or need anything, but to know that someone took the time to write me a thank you note, well, that means so much to me. Let's face it, it feels good to feel appreciated.

                      Is it obvious, I have some frequent guests like this? :-)

                    2. I know this has been sort of discussed before, but I have a question. I have often been afraid of being this type of guest. Thankfully (or not, depending on how you look at it) we don't get that many invites like this, and when we do, I always ask what I can bring.

                      But we cannot reciprocate. At all. We live in a very tiny apartment and do not entertain at all because we do not even have anywhere for anyone to sit other than ourselves. We cannot afford to take another couple out for dinner somewhere, we rarely go out to eat ourselves and when we do, are careful with what we order so the bill doesn't get too high.

                      What to do? Decline all invitations? Only accept once and awhile?

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        You reciprocate according to your means. If that means going to a pizzeria or Chinese restaurant, that's perfectly acceptable from an etiquette perspective. Or a picnic (which, btw, sounds perfect for your situation) - sandwiches are OK too (you could make a frittata, salad and bread - all very inexpensive to make).

                        The issue is reciprocity, not matching the levels of dining.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          I agree, invite them to meal that you can treat them to, a picnic sounds fun too.

                          1. re: cassoulady

                            It's really tough. I can't remember the last time we had a picnic. Both me and mr. rockandroller work 2 jobs so it's very, very rare that we both have an evening off, and to try to plan a picnic for that one night seems like a lot of organizing. We don't even have a sit-down pizza restaurant, I wouldn't know where to go. we just get pizza takeout from places that don't really have a place to sit. I can't imagine going to a donato's would be a really great place to invite another couple to join us.

                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              Well, 4 jobs is a taxing situation to be sure. But the fact that you both manage to find time to accept some social invitations will mean that people reasonably expect you have some time to reciprocate, too. And if you can manage to bring things to those events, it implies you have enough means to host some modest repast (for example, the picnic menu I suggested would cost less than a modest bottle of wine).

                              1. re: Karl S

                                Thanks. We actually don't get any of these invitations anymore as most of our friends have moved away, we only get invitations from family for holiday gatherings but I do always ask if there's something I can bring. There's no way we could entertain the entire family but if any couples do start inviting us again, we will figure something out.

                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                  I don't think you should worry too much R&R, your friends would likely know of your situation and very well may not expect anything in return aside from your companionship.

                              2. re: rockandroller1

                                I don't think reciprocating is necessary as long as you ask what you can bring. I have 3 jobs, husband has one, plus we have a new baby. While we've hosted before, we almost never host now simply because the house is too messy. We also, like you, rarely eat out and when we do we're very careful what we order because money is tight. All of our friends know the basics of our situation if not the particulars and no one has ever been judgmental or, as far as I know, hurt that we don't invite them for dinner. We do always either bring something (wine, dessert...) if the hostess requests, and if she doesn't, we are the first to volunteer to make a market run if something is short - and something is always short. Ice, vermouth, an extra loaf of bread...we often make a quick run to the store while other guests are arriving.

                                OTOH, we do have one notorious friend in the group who NEVER brings anything or volunteers to make a store run, and it's frankly tiring. She doesn't have any place else to go for holidays really, we enjoy her company well enough, and we all know she's not well off, but yes, you begin to feel like a sucker. So the offer to bring something is worth almost more than the actual item.

                                1. re: thursday

                                  3 jobs, wow, I did that one year and it was exhausting keeping my scheduling in order, AND a kid?

                                  I know this is an old thread, but it's an eternal topic and my response is to several concerns upstream. in the 90's and 00's my then partner and had a decent kitchen and serving space but a low budget and would invite friends over (how expensive is a nicely roast chicken or venison stew anyway?) and they of the higher tax bracket would never invite us over except for drinks (later figured out the kitchen was really just a walk-in wet bar and was rarely, if ever used) and then without specifying the structure we'd go out to places waaay beyond our budget and panic, but they'd cover the check when it came. felt funny at first as they were laying out a lot more $$$ on food then we were, but then they didn't really know how to cook in the first place. so we got a bit of glam and they got an occasional home-cooked meal.

                                  it IS the thought, I'd rather eat simple pasta off my knees perched on the couch with good friends than be flattered that you dragged out the Waterford (although that is nice) a well-off friend always had a cattle call Xmas party and we ended up eating that way anyway (even though it was some really damn good food catered by a top restaurant) my rambling and tangential point being she had the money to tent off and heat the patio, but didn't worry about where one might sit, and it all worked out fine.

                                  I like the idea of a picnic, which can even just mean sitting on the hood of the car in a park with a pizza and a six-pack (or two). so yes, from each according to their abilities.

                                  1. re: thursday

                                    Actually, in standard American etiquette, bringing something does *not* relieve you of the obligation of reciprocity. Circumstances may extenuate how and when reciprocity is shown. But being a guest of a host raises the social responsibility to play host to that host in turn, et cet.

                                    1. re: thursday

                                      If friends never invite us (to anything, not necessarily for a meal), we assume they don't really want to see us and eventually stop inviting them except to large group events.

                                      If we kept inviting someone and they said, "I wish we could reciprocate, but it's impossible right now with our four jobs and new baby," that would be totally fine and we'd understand. But if they never mentioned it and seemed to never even think about inviting us to anything, then unless we knew for a fact that they were delighted to accept our invitations, they'd probably fall off our list.

                                      And in response to hill food's comment, that's sort of awful that your friends had good intentions in taking you out to a nice place, but didn't tell you in advance that they'd be paying! I know I'd be biting my nails and ordering the soup as an entree with a side of tap water. It can be a little awkward to tell someone you're treating them, but it's so much better than having them feel anxious the whole time. Or maybe your friends just assumed that you'd know.

                                        1. re: Pia

                                          Pia: I think they assumed, as my SO and were both in college and they were established professionals, and after the second time, I had it figured out and I generally like to make a meal out of just a couple of apps anyway, so it was no big issue, if they hadn't it just meant I'd be eating sandwiches and soup for the next week (what's worse is when a group goes somewhere on "dutch" and when the bill comes those with better incomes say "oh let's just split it evenly, when I had a few things totaling maybe 15 and theirs came out something like 30 if itemized)

                                          and I too like your approach of - just show interest.

                                          1. re: Pia

                                            I work with college kids and sometimes invite some of them out. I don't find it hard to say I'm treating. The whole idea is to give them a break from cafeteria fare and a thanks for extra effort. I'd really hate for a college kid to be ordering soup and water and worrying about the bill when I'm paying. I just say, "I'd like to treat you and you to dinner," or "Thanks for your work on whatever. I'll pick up the tab Tuesday evening at whatever restaurant."

                                          2. re: thursday

                                            You have 3 jobs and a brand new baby?

                                            Of course everyone around you would understand your inability to entertain at this time in your life....
                                            Your child needs your undivided attention.

                                    2. re: rockandroller1

                                      Of course, you can reciprocate. Over the years, there have been alot of times when we've taken dinner to someone else's house. The reasons have been varied: they have small children and it's easier if kids are in their own house with toys, bedtimes, etc.; an elderly friend who loves to have us over, she does hors d'oeuvres, drinks and dessert and we take the main event. It's always an easy to transport meal, i.e., pasta with salad and bread; a pork roast that was done in the slow cooker and we take a can of black beans, a cup of rice, a thing of salsa, etc.; a casserole. People get it that you have a small place. And you'll spend less money than going out for a pizza. You might want to give it a try. A REAL advantage is that THEN you don't have to clean your own place :) Tee hee.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        We have been in similar situations. A couple who are friends of ours and had taken us up on several invitations recently invited us for a barbecue at their place. We knew they were "renovating" and figured that was the reason for no prior entertaining on their part. Well, we got to their house and were amazed that they actually have the whole house stripped down to the studs-- no kitchen at all! They have a microwave plugged in, sitting on the particle board floor, and a grill out back and are currently using the one semi-finished room as a bedroom. Well, as soon as we realized the extent of their gut renovations, we gave them extra credit for the entertaining attempt. Of course, just as we're getting ready to fire up the grill, the skies opened from above. So, we invited them to bring the food over to our place and made sure that they knew we still counted it as THEIR dinner party, even though it ended up getting cooked in our kitchen. Cool.

                                    3. As the host I do not want guests to feel obligated to bring anything, nor do I ask them to bring anything.

                                      If they bring some win, or beer, thats just great. I believe thats part of being a good host.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                        Bingo. You don't ask or expect guests to bring anything when you're the host. That's why it's called "hosting."

                                        Sure, it's nice when people bring something (although how many times have we read complaints on this very board about guests who "insist" on bringing things despite being told not to). But they're not required to do so. If you're sincerely feeling put out, stop inviting this person. Otherwise, smile and enjoy his company. Any other option (aside from saying "hey, it annoys me that you never bring anything") would be bad passive-aggressive behavior on your part!

                                        1. re: Kagey

                                          Passive-aggressive? The devil you say! Say something directly to the person? Heavens, what would that accomplish? Its clearly a far better course of action to get a lot of people to express outrage.

                                      2. Guests are only obliged to bring their company when invited into your home. The whole idea that they should bring you a hostess gift just seems wrong. It's as if the fact that they are your friends isn't enough for you.

                                        When my friends accept my invitations, I expect nothing from them. I think it's enough that they go to the trouble to come to my place (rather than me having to go to them). I generally try to send them home with something (a homemade baked good) to thank them for spending time with me rather than expect them to be giving me things.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Orchid64

                                          What you and others have said is true. But as the OP has outlined this situation, it seems that she and a circle of friends have drifted into a less formal arrangement where she "hosts" and others "bring stuff." It's an understanding that a couple of folks have decided to ignore.

                                          It's like leaving a restaurant. They have a bowl of mints. Take as much as you want. Some people take a few for the drive home and some people take a couple of handfuls to fill their candy dish at home, ignoring civility.

                                          And ain't I just pompous this morning!!

                                        2. I feel as though it is good manners to show up at a dinner party with a small present (as is trying to dress nicely; both show that you appreciate what the host is doing for you). However I have no expectation that my guests bring something other than an appreciation for what I'm trying to accomplish from a culinary aspect and a pleasant interested disposition; both of which are in my control since I choose whom I'm inviting.

                                          1. I've been trying to ignore this post because this is such a sore subject for me. I have a family member who has never, ever once brought anything to my house in the two+ years we have lived near her. We have shared many meals with her. She has never once invited us to her place for a meal. She'll come over invited or not (increasingly uninvited) with absolutely nothing in her hands and with a wave of her hand tell me she'll bring something next time. She'll meet me at my pool and open my cooler and help herself. One time she actually invited herself to camp with us and did not bring the food she promised to contribute. i've never seen her bring anything to her mother's house or anyone else's. It's a combination of cheapness and entitlement and it's extremely unflattering. Don't be like her. When invited somewhere, ask if you can bring something. if the answer is no, get wine, flowers, a carton of ice cream. Anything. To do otherwise is rude and speaks badly of you. I'm OUT!

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: southernitalian

                                              I agree, bring something to the table besides just an appetite! Bring *something*, and by doing so you're likely guaranteeing yourself a return invite. I understand "frequency" seems to be an issue here in this poster's case, but we EAT every day. Food bills come with the territory. Guests need to realize that. Arriving empty handed to dinner is just unacceptable. Bringing a small gift to the table displays at least *some* appreciation to the host.

                                              1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                I realize that may be true in certain social circles, but I just want to underscore that standard American etiquette does not require a guest to bring anything unless it's a potluck, and hosts are forbidden from expecting guests to bring anything. The guest must bring a sociable attitude, express thanks after the event, and reciprocate according to her means within a reasonable amount of time.

                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  I, too, was thinking about etiquette and expectations in regard to this post. We're really talking middle-class and working-class folk when we say "you should bring a hostess gift when invited to dinner," aren't we? What do the country-club set do? Would Nan Kempner have expected Betsy Bloomingdale to bring a marble rye to her dinner party? Just wondering, as I've only read about high society alas.

                                                  Another thought, after rereading the original post, is that perhaps the influence of the friend's partner is at work. The friend used to bring a hostess gift when he came alone; now he brings his partner and no gift. The partner might be the penny-pincher, telling him they don't have to bring something.

                                                  1. re: Angela Roberta

                                                    My husband has a lot of what I guess one would consider "high society" friends, and, I think you're right, people don't bring anything to those parties, though occasionally send flowers before or after. I'm not used to going somewhere empty handed, so it's difficult for me, but apparently it's considered gauche to bring something.

                                                    1. re: Angela Roberta

                                                      Angela I was thinking that too! People do influence other people they are close to and not always in the best way. In the US we pretend to be a classless society but we all know deep down this is not the case. Don't know about the very rich but in my little circle of friends and acquaintances the richer they are the cheaper they are. The poorest person I knew insisted that my friend stay for dinner and would not take no for an answer. From what I have seen, people down on their luck understand hospitality better.

                                                      1. re: Angela Roberta

                                                        Bunk. Darien, Greenwich, and the Upper East Side have stores dedicated to nothing but hostess gifts.

                                                      2. re: Karl S

                                                        I'm not American (in the US sense, obviously anyone from Ellesmere Island to Tierra del Fuego is American but that is not what you mean) and etiquette also depends on your social circle, and yes, the buying power of the people involved. Here wine prices are fairly high (and people love wine) so except at the most formal occasions when we visit each other we take a bottle of wine; it is expected. (I'm sure there are exceptions on the Québec board, among some of the true enogastronomes who can afford to buy ten bottles of decent wine).

                                                        I have a friend who was like the f(r)iend in the opening post; fortunately since she married she and husband (perhaps his influence) never show up empty-handed any more. I was getting sick of inviting her; she doesn't cook so there was no question of reciprocating.

                                                  2. If you're inviting people to something, there shouldn't be any obligation on their part unless you state that there is. Now, is it polite for them to not be empty handed, etc? Of course ... but you should be inviting people because you enjoy their company, not because you expect some sort of reciprocation.

                                                    1. cassoulady, if these friends are invited to your home as much as several x's a week, you should feel completely comfortable being honest. I think it is incredibly hard to be a "mind reader" today when it comes to invitations. The only thing that appears to remain formal IS the invitation (date/time) but otherwise I would rely on my host to mention what I may bring to dinner that compliments the meal.

                                                      To the CH randr that mentioned understandable limitations to recip'ing an invitation. A gracious dinner guest can thank the host in many ways ie: helping clear a table, loading a dishwasher, staying after the other guests have left to lend a hand or buying that host a cup of coffee a week later.

                                                      1. Let's see now. You are feeding your friends at several dinners a week, entertaining up to eight people at a time, buying and preparing all the food? Are they reciprocating at the same rate? If not, why are you doing this? What do you want in return? More than a bottle of wine, I would guess.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                          If they want something in return beyond the pleasure of the company, perhaps they should start a business?

                                                          I don't understand why people think that all of these sorts of things should be a quid pro quo. If I invite someone over for dinner, I don't expect *anything* in return except for the company of my friends. Anyone with ulterior motives should be thinking through exactly how good of people *they* are, not their empty handed guests.

                                                        2. Great post! Looks like you really struck a chord with people with so many replys already. My grandfather always said never show up at someone's home with one arm as long as the other. Dinner partys are one of the last bastions of the civilized world. It makes me very angry that he seemed to know better at first and now is just taking advantage of your hospitality. I sure hope that you can resolve this happily and carry on with the hospitality that gives you and others so much happiness.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                            I remember you posting about your grandfather in another post - we could all stand to learn a thing or two about good manners from their generation. And they always have a great delivery!

                                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                                              Entertaining in your home is pretty much optional; if any part of it is annoying you, you can omit that. Don't invite that guest any more and if you are still getting stressed about details maybe take a break or scale back.

                                                            2. I think when you have dinner w/someone a couple of times a week, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you're a guest, if you understand what I mean. So it's easy to let those host-guest niceties slip by. Obviously, a reminder to him (+one) is needed to inject some guest-like behavior -- like, ask him to bring his favorite vodka (gin, whatever) and fixings and guest-bar-tend for cocktail hour... or to bring his favorite caviar...

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Sarah

                                                                yes, my thoughts exactly, sarah. my read of this is that the guest probably thinks he's practically part of the OP's family, now, and that bringing a hostess gift is a formality that one does not have to observe with family. my sister and i were both brought up to bring gifts whenever we are guests at someone's home. when we host one another, we never bring gifts, unless it's a special occasion with a large number of guests when we know that wine or dessert might be a nice addition to the table.

                                                                also, if the OP consistently turned down the guest's offers to bring something, he may have stopped asking, knowing what the response would be.

                                                                or maybe the guest read that chowhound post about guests bringing unwanted gifts... ;)

                                                              2. I don't think it's acceptable for him to turn up regularly empty-handed. We have some friends who, increasingly, turn up with nothing and it has begun to irritate me, especially as they are big drinkers. Next time you invite him, just ask him to bring wine. It's that simple.

                                                                1. I would like to know who this irritates more, men or women?

                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                    Chinon00, slippery slope. How do you stop there...young/old; couples/singles;family/friends. Keep it simple and thoughtful and everyone is happy.

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      I've just observed some tendencies. Men tend to get more irritated if another couple for instance doesn't pick up the occassional check when they all go out.
                                                                      When invited to a bbq or dinner run by a guy I've never been asked to bring anything. As a matter of fact the guys are usually such control freaks that they don't want you to bring anything. However if offered they wouldn't say no. On the other hand some women that I've known will invite you over for dinner and tell you what to bring; and do so whether you've brought things in the past or not. Seems like women enjoy the whole "group effort" thing more than men do.

                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                        Chinon, I'm sure we all have observations that coincide or contradict similar tendencies. Human nature is rarely a one size fits all, right :)
                                                                        I enjoy the "group thing" but I also enjoy the often rare occasion when I have one on one time with some of my dearest friends. Although, a common denominator is usually a great meal with wine. Enjoy your day!

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          To be clear by "group thing" I mean sort of a "pot luck" meal where invited guests are asked to participate by bringing food to the dinner.

                                                                          From the OP:
                                                                          "Normally, I buy and prepare all the ingrediants[sic], and the guests bring wine or dessert. This works out great for everyone I feel."

                                                                          It almost like there is a price that must be paid by the guests for the host's hospitality. No one is asking her to have these dinners therefore it's up to her to be prepared to supply everything or stop having them or let everyone know that these dinners are actually "potluck" and that participation is a requirement.

                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                            Yes I understood your reference to group. I did not take away a "price must be paid" attitude or approach from the OP tho. It sounded like the OP was being thoughtful, trying to understand how communication might have broken down and the best way to improve communication. Sounds reasonable to me.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              "I did not take away a "price must be paid" attitude or approach from the OP tho."

                                                                              That is the point of the entire post and thread isn't it? Because she's invested time and energy she's expecting others to as well. That concept is foreign to me. For me good times at dinner parties aren't spoiled by guests who terminally bring nothing. But for the OP it apparently is.

                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                The OP's question was how to best approach her guests.

                                                                                "For me good times at dinner parties aren't spoiled by guests who terminally bring nothing." Your point could very well be a part of the OP's dilemma or it could be the makings of another topic :)

                                                                                An empty handed guest as the title implies can occur for all sorts of reasons, yes?

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  We've got the opposite problem. We have a relative who we plead with not to bring anything and just come. Instead she shows up with so much "stuff" that we don't even know what to do with it. When asked to bring a bottle of wine, she came with a half case plus flowers that I needed to run around and try to find a vase for, cookies from the grocery store, etc. Yes, I know it sounds like the intentions are good...but there is something really annoying about her always doing this when we specifically ask her not to.

                                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                    DaisyM, you make my small point so beautifully. It's the three bears and Goldilocks...too little, too much...ah just right. I do my share of entertaining, mostly informally and if I have learned anything (and I'm still learning) it's that we (humans) are not mind readers. Communication is the only thing we have over other life forms--so let's use our words :) (she says with a wink) and talk to our guests. Happy dining, peeps.

                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                      ". . . and talk to our guests."

                                                                                      And tell them what exactly?

                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                        Chinon00, I'm referring to host/guest expectation. If I'm inviting friends over for dinner and they ask me if they should bring something I'll say so, not difficult. If guests bring something on their own, I'll say thank you. And, if nothing arrives I'll live. Easy beasy. If I had an issue, for anything more, I'd have to take the responsibility as host.

                                                                                        ...talk to our guests...." means hosts communicate to their guests but don't blame guests if they don't.

                                                                                    2. re: DaisyM

                                                                                      ... when we specifically ask her not to.
                                                                                      And she still brings all this stuff -- probably just to watch you run around getting a vase, trim the flowers, and whatever. I would just tell her to leave her "stuff" in a corner somewhere, saying thanks, you'll deal with it after the dinner.

                                                                                      1. re: Sarah

                                                                                        Sarah, you understand! She even brought our dog a bowl one time along wtih 3 bouquets of flowers. I just stood there with the bowl in my hands and thought..."who brings a dog bowl to a dinner"? Okay....the food really is good at my house!!!

                                                                                        1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                          OK, that is the most unique hostess gift I've ever heard of. :-) I would be happy with a dog bowl but I can just picture you looking at it in amazement. I have to ask - do you have a dog?

                                                                                          1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                                            Seriously, have you ever seen that snack stuff that looks like dog food & you serve it in a new doggie bowl? It's Chex, tossed in a melted mix of peanut butter & chocolate, then tossed in confectioner's sugar. Gaggingly sweet, very addictive, and downright surreal when served doggie style.

                                                                                      2. re: DaisyM

                                                                                        Daisy, reading your post makes me feel for your relative, even though you plead with her not to bring anything. Some social peer groups and families get into the habit of insisting that the guests “just bring themselves” but know deep down that the guests will feel uncomfortable coming empty handed, and a hostess gift or something to add to the meal is still appreciated. If they bring too much, we just forgive them and offer to send some of it home with them (“Here, we’ll put it in your car.” on their way out).

                                                                                        Although I can bring flowers (in season) in from my yard and put them in vases, it always makes me happy when a guest or the delivery person brings me unexpected flowers, and there’s always something around the house to hold them. (I do love improvising and I have a collection of vases, decorative milk bottles and watering cans etc. that can be pressed into service. OK, that‘s just me perhaps.) The rest of the “stuff” can just be placed somewhere and I would just be glad it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. The host or hostess is not obligated to serve anything unsolicited, correct?

                                                                                        Some of the problem for me would be that when I’m running around at the last minute getting everything ready, I sometimes freak out when unanticipated “stuff” arrives with guests because I have to do something with that “stuff” immediately. For some guests, I might briefly suspect a control issue. I have learned how to just place it somewhere out of the way and plan to deal with it later, In the case of flowers, I hand them back to the “bringers” and point them to a vase or other container and put them to work.

                                                                                        I have a little more trouble with the chronically empty-handed dinner guest who does no inviting him/herself. I can overlook one or two visits without offering to bring something. But when it is chronic and they are bringing extra people I would begin to feel used and unappreciated. Sure, a dinner guest is under no obligation to bring something, but a host/hostess is also not obligated to keep inviting the person. So, cassoulady, given the whole situation, I would ask him once if he and his partner can bring something specific unless there’s something else they prefer to bring. No, it’s not the price of admission but an opportunity to behave like others in this group of guests. If his empty-handedness continues after that, I would lose his phone number.

                                                                                        1. re: Betty Boop

                                                                                          Yes, we have two dogs! Please, just take my word for it that this relative really goes completely overboard with bringing stuff to the point that it is very annoying. I won't even go into the phone messages that we get! Everyone has the weird relative...she's ours!

                                                                                          1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                            Of course I’ll take your word for it. It seems that your relative’s bringing too much stuff is not her only source of irritation.

                                                                                            I had a more loveable relative who insisted on bringing too much (sometimes could have substituted her stuff for my dinner) no matter what I said, like “Why did you bring all this?” or “What am I going to do with all this?” “What, there’s more in the car?” “What time is the tourist bus getting here with all the people?” My immediate reaction was always to get rattled because it was during last minute preparation, and I’m no Martha Stewart. But I would immediately forgive and announce that it was all going “right there” in whatever out-of-the-way place I could find. I just had to learn to expect all that stuff and use only what fit in with the meal. She was actually a very good cook. There was seldom an empty-handed guest to make up for the excess, but she believed in being prepared for an extra busload of people. Well, that’s family. I am getting all teary-eyed now thinking about her carrying all that stuff in, because right now I would give almost anything to have her here with us for just one more dinner party.

                                                                                            But before people start thinking that I’m a regular Little Mary Sunshine, let me tell you a little about someone whom I couldn’t forgive so easily, a social acquaintance who did not exactly arrive empty-handed. No, actually worse than empty-handed in my opinion. We had pooled our resources to rent a lovely vacation home and planned a big party. I arrived pretty early and two of us went out to buy everything we needed from the supermarket, working mostly from an agreed-upon list. I paid for all the food, etc. This person came along much later that day and began hauling in bags from her car. In those bags was all kinds of food and other things from her refrigerator at home. WTF?? It was such a long time ago, but I remember things like a half-used bottle of salad dressing. Anyway, a few days after the party, I presented the itemized receipt from my shopping trip, and everyone was preparing to chip in. This person sat at the table and began preparing a list of items brought in from her fridge, and assigning dollar values to them. WTF?? We all paid up, but it took a very long time for me to forgive that episode. Anyway, maybe she’s at Wendy’s tonight with Cassoulady’s former freeloader. It takes all kinds, doesn’t it?

                                                                      2. The OP stated that the convention is that the guests bring something, and even the "offender" has in the past offered, but stopped.

                                                                        Whether it's right or not to expect guests to not arrive empty-handed is not the point- a convention has been created for these get-togethers, and one friend has decided to make it a free ride and stop contributing.

                                                                        So, yes, and cassoulady (great name!) realizes that she's going to have to be more forceful if she wishes to get this person back on board, especially since he is now bringing a guest!

                                                                        I feel for you, as I used to have Sunday dinner for friends, and the convention was the same- bring wine. When one thirsty friend stopped bringing (His explanation "everybody else brings plenty of stuff, and there's always leftover wine"..... ) Yes, true, but that's not your concern, guest.

                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                        1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                                          Was this convention ever directly established to the guests?

                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                            From the OP's postings, it sounds like a casual and accepted arrangement.

                                                                            1. re: yayadave

                                                                              It's vague and that's what's causing the problem. My suggestion is to make it plain to your guests that an invitation requires they bring something.

                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                No. The empty-handed guest understands. He is choosing to take advantage of the situation and ignore the convention for this particular gathering.

                                                                                1. re: yayadave

                                                                                  This is my understanding as well (what yayadave said). Unfortunately, it puts the hostess in an uncomfortable position, which doubly sucks. She's caught between being a gracious hostess and being a demanding one (a role she doesn't want), because this guest chose to take advantage of her generosity.

                                                                                  1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                                                    I don't see why it is so difficult to say to your guests what you require. I had a friend who liked to cook and he made it plan to all of us to bring a bottle a piece to the party as he was not supplying alcohol. Guess what, everyone brought a bottle. Simple

                                                                                    1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                                                      Wow caviar and yayadave I am certainly on the same wavelength as you two and agree completely. Well said to both of you. I know this is the internet and these are forums but the lecturing scolding tone of some of the responses is starting to get to me. I feel the OP has a problem that we can all relate to in some way or we wouldn't be responding. Thanks for posting this cassoulady and I hope you aren't feeling too beat up.

                                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                        The lecturing, scolding tone of some of the responses as opposed to the musings on the class status of those involved, what people who are part of the "country club set" or how those who are "richer" are also "cheaper?"

                                                                                        None of us knows the full picture or everything that has transpired.

                                                                                        You've decided that the person the OP is writing about is knowingly taking advantage of something that the OP continues to invite them to. Chinon00 has proffered that what the OP is communicating and expecting is vague and that being more direct will address the situation in a way that will allow the OP to decide what to do more effectively. I agree with Chinon00...say what you expect of those you're inviting to dinner. If you don't say it, they can't know it and it doesn't have to be because they're cheap or because they're taking advantage (it might be, but you can't really know that). If you say "please bring a bottle of wine to dinner" then you'll know.

                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                          ccbweb I was responding to Angela's post about the customs of very wealthy people, not the people that the OP wrote about. I was just saying what my own experiences have been and on that I am an expert because I was there for them. But you have proved my point that social class is rarely discussed in this country, it does seem to make people offended or uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure I haven't decided anything of the kind. People are raised differently and have different styles of commication. I haven't given the OP any advice because I'm not sure how I would handle it myself. I'm just trying to be supportive and trust that she will find her own way to deal with the situation. Please cassoulady let us know how it works out, we chowhounds do care and want to know.

                                                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                            How did I prove that point? By questioning the broad generalizations put forth?

                                                                                            Angela didn't write about "the very wealthy" she wrote about "the country club set" which is a rather dismissive turn of phrase. You also drew some broad generalizations about people of varying class status whether you base them on your own experience of a few people or not.

                                                                                            I have no problem discussing class and how class plays out across all parts of our society here in the US. Raising class as an issue when discussing expectations and roles in society is certainly valid. Drawing sweeping conclusions about people in general much less about this one incident seems quite a bit less valid to me.

                                                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                              ccweb, just saying I love your input. Thanks! Chinon, I'm in agreement as well.

                                                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                    Agree. This has been what I was thinking all along. She's been entertaining for months. This is a "ritual" and one member is now not participating by the established conventions.

                                                                                    More than anything, speaking for myself and my own experiences (entertaining), you want at least a sign that you are appreciated. I had a friend who I allowed to bring dessert every time he came over. Even if it was crap, he felt like he was contributing and showing his appreciation for the invite.
                                                                                    I might uninvite this friend a time or two and see what happens.

                                                                            2. Communicate your expectations in a straightforward manner. "We're having dinner on Thursday, if you can make it, please bring a bottle of red wine to go with the short-ribs I'm making." Or whatever the particulars might be.

                                                                              1. You may be frustrated by this person for not bringing something, but there are other people who get equally frustrated by guests who show up with an appetizer or even side or main dish they made which they expect to have served along with the food the host prepared.

                                                                                Sometimes I am at a loss of what to say when someone asks what they can bring. Usually I have thought of everything, will have enough food and drink for everyone. I've sometimes resorted to responding "could you pick up a bag of ice on your way over?"

                                                                                That's for big parties, but if I am having a core group of close friends over, we discuss it in advance. I say something like "hey, I was thinking of having everyone over on Saturday, just to hang out and see each other, and everyone can bring a dish of whatever it suits their fancy to make or bring. What do you think?" With close friends you can do stuff like that.

                                                                                So this bottle of wine or six-pack you think your friend should bring over, do you think of this as a contribution to the drinks that will be served there, or as a host(ess) gift for you to enjoy by yourself after the party?

                                                                                I always bring at least a bottle of wine as a gift, not expecting it to be consumed at the party, but perfectly happy if the host chooses to serve it then. I think it is nice to provide such a gift, but not everyone thinks to do so.

                                                                                Now, if you think this person should bring wine or a 6pack so that you have more to serve at the party, you should ask yourself - "am I actually hosting friends, in which case I will take care of all the food and drink, or am I merely facilitating a collective pot-luck get-together?"

                                                                                If it is a matter of you expecting it as a host(ess) gift, ask yourself "am I hosting this party so that I can get free wine and beer from my friends, or because I enjoy entertaining and also enjoy my friends' company?"

                                                                                If you enjoy this person's company, and that of his partner, keep inviting him, and drop the expectations of him giving you something in return at that party. If not, stop inviting him.

                                                                                Does this person reciprocate by inviting you to parties? If not, you may want to consider whether or not to keep inviting him.

                                                                                Ultimately, the reward you should expect from hosting your friends should be the pleasure of their company. Don't expect gifts and you'll stop being disappointed when they don't come, and more delighted when they do come.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Reefmonkey

                                                                                  this may not be the case at all but did he stop bringing things because of something you said? Like it wasn't necessary or maybe seemed uncomfortable with accepting things?I am just saying this because I am sometimes uncomfortable if I feel a guest did too much.

                                                                                  1. re: LaLa

                                                                                    I'm also wondering if it's a matter of frequency as well. Maybe bringing over wine a few times a week is just getting to be too expensive, or he saw that the wine or whatever item he brought wasn't being used at the meal, so he just gave up? I think it's hard to expect reciprocation at this level because most people just aren't equipped/interested in entertaining all that often.

                                                                                    What's the situation with the SO? Did the early events only include singles, or were some SOs included? Although I do get tired of certain people who bring their SOs everywhere, I think either every SO has to be included or no SO has to be included. I think it's harder to expect no SOs when the events are occuring on a more frequent basis than once or twice a month. It just seems like a huge source of conflict if one person is invited over to a specific person's house once or twice a week unless it's some specific activity the other person is not interested in- like poker night, watching baseball, etc.

                                                                                  2. re: Reefmonkey

                                                                                    It is not a potluck. A potluck is when each guest brings food.

                                                                                    If I had to buy all the wine for meals I shop for, spend hours cooking and serve, I'd never entertain. And it would be the guests' loss, as I'm a very good cook.

                                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                                      >>""And it would be the guests' loss, as I'm a very good cook.""<<

                                                                                      "if i *do* say so myself!"

                                                                                      LOL! lagatta, that just struck me as funny ('though i'm sure you *are* a good cook).

                                                                                  3. Unless the empty-handed guest is giving fabulous dinner parties of his/her own, is spectacularly beautiful/handsome, or is so talented that s/he performs in Vegas every other weekend s/he is a loathsome excuse for a human being.

                                                                                    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

                                                                                    I would be allowed to be "fooled" thrice in this circumstance, then begone freeloader.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: the pontificator

                                                                                      """begone freeloader"""

                                                                                      i'm not sure pontificator is still posting these days, but this made me think of someone who has just sprayed some raid on a roach in the dining room. ;-).

                                                                                    2. Have them cool his forks at his place for a month. Then they might appreciate the invite more.

                                                                                      BTW did you say he could bring a partner or did he do that on his own?

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                        he siad, so my SO can come right? the he and SO come anddrink enough vodka to sink an oceanliner. So this week, the got no phone call inviting them to dinner! All the more for everyone else! thanks for your advice folks.

                                                                                        1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                          Woo hoo! Kick the bum out. It is good that a resolution can be reached that works for everyone.

                                                                                          1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                            I do not mean to be hurtful but you have bared your soul on Chowhound and you see what happens... It has happened to me, too.
                                                                                            Re-reading your comments, I feel like you were getting pretty annoyed and angry with this "friend". Whether there is any agenda you have not shared is unknown, but you said things like, "drink enough vodka to sink an oceanliner". It is unclear whether any of your other dinner guests ever reciprocated with dinner invites. Perhaps you were feeling used from so much giving and a lack of appreciation, in general. The imbalance I perceive (from unmet expectations, for example), can be problematic.

                                                                                        2. jfood has struggled with this one since there are many moving parts:

                                                                                          - the graciousness of you as a hostess is unbelievably over the top. major kudos
                                                                                          - jfood believes that as a guest he always brings something, specific if asked by the host(ess), and by choice if the words, "just bring yourself" is suggested
                                                                                          - the economic situation of the perpetual guest
                                                                                          - the unilateral (seemingly) decision by guest to bring his SO
                                                                                          - the tilting from "what can I bring?" to i'll bring Fred

                                                                                          So what began as a nice dinner gathering has turned into some frustration.

                                                                                          Just as a point of reference:

                                                                                          - do you think what started out as a nice gathering with guest started to cause some friction in his house since the SO was at first not included and the SO has now replaced the bottle of wine?
                                                                                          - Did you know about SO and was there a reason the SO was not part of the original gathering?
                                                                                          - Was the wine ever served that guest brought? Maybe he felt he had brought over so much wine that was never used that he said to himself, heck they do not like my wine, so i will not bring any more.

                                                                                          So the gathering has started down a slippery slope and if you want to upright the ship, it is in your hands. If you would like guest and SO to return (your call obviously) jfood would suggest when extending the invitation state "we would love to have you and Fred over on Thursday and could you please bring x." So jfood agrees with the last clause in your OP.

                                                                                          See if that works, and btw, try to mix up the suggestions and then see how he reacts. Who knows maybe he is just not desireous of the constant dinners. Maybe he just wants some additional quiet time with Fred.

                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                            I like the direct approach suggested 'way back after the OP appeared: tell them what to bring. Another option is to tell them to come early & set the table for you (or give them another "job" that takes the load off you -- "Hey, Phil and Phyllis, would you mind clearing the table this time & stacking the dishes in the sink"?

                                                                                            I will share a re-telling of something I read many many years ago in Ann Lander's column. I get a chuckle out of it every time I remember it.

                                                                                            A woman, Mrs. A., was plagued by a neighbor who managed to show up at her door with increasing frequency, just as dinner was being put on the table. The neighbor would sniff the air, remark how yummy eveything smelled, then insinuate herself into the doorway. Mrs. A., being a good woman and wanting to be a good neighbor, would then feel obligated to invite the neigbor to join them for dinner. Well, the slide down the slippery slope commenced, and the neighbor began to view dinner at Mrs. A.'s house as an entitlement.

                                                                                            Mrs. A thought long and hard about how to discourge this behavior without causing a rift with her neighbor. Then she hit on an idea. The next time the neighbor joined them for dinner, Mrs. A. waited until everyone had finished their main course. Instead of clearing the plates & putting them in the kitchen, she put a few of them on the floor & called the family dog. The dog licked the plates clean. Mrs. A. then made a show of putting those licked plates right back in her cupboard, remarking that because the dog did such an outstanding job, she really didn't have to waste time washing those plates anymore. The rest of the family, who were obviously in on the scheme, nodded and agreed. "That dog is better than a dishwasher!", they said. The neighbor never showed up for dinner again!

                                                                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                              PattiCakes, thank you for the giggle. Humor is such a great equalizer.
                                                                                              To the original OP, good luck. Friends should always find a way to talk.

                                                                                              1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                Awesome Patti! I'll file that one away. He he!

                                                                                                1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                  patticakes, loved that. while we don't have dogs, we have possums and raccoons -- and even foxes -- come through the back yard looking for scraps at night. i'll work that angle. ;-)

                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                    We have always had a dog, and a standard family tag line has always been "yep, why don't you just put that plate right back up in the cupboard...." I don't know what I would have done without a dog when my kids were learning to feed themselves. We also like to tell guests that we save our cat's "presents" in the freezer to make mouserolles or rattatouille. We do have an evil streak.

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        yeah, they serve it over in that litter box kitchen on the other thread! i know EXACTLY what you are referring to.

                                                                                                  2. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                    OH, I hope my guests never find out! My Lucy does a fine job of doing the dishes...
                                                                                                    SO says she will not use a bowl (for her morning cereal), if it's sitting on the counter, even if it looks spotless!

                                                                                                2. FYI folks, dinner happened as usual tonight. Menu: gougeres, veal osso bucco, risotto milanese, homemade tirimasu for dessert and a '72 Barolo to drink. No freeloader, no freeloader SO. he did send a text, "havent seen u in a while, dinner would be great soon" I suggested he try Wendys, not Cassouladys!

                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                    It seems like you've figured out that he's not a friend. It's hard to go there sometimes, isn't it?

                                                                                                    1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                      The fact that he implied about having dinner over a text message shows his level of manners or lack thereof. I would text him back and say "Dinner sounds great. We will be over tomorrow. FYI- I am in the mood for some seafood!"

                                                                                                      1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                        Yeah, I'm sure dinner would be great for HIM. He probably knows that he's been dropped. he's pretty bold about it, isn't he? Good for you for standing your ground, and seriously- how many ungracious positions can he put you in? After feeding him lovely meals, he tries to make you feel like the unwelcoming bitch.

                                                                                                        Dinner sounded great- I love gougeres.

                                                                                                        1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                          he TEXTED you that "dinner would be great soon." ?!?!?

                                                                                                          oh man, what an a$@. you really told him to go to wendy's?

                                                                                                          R O T F L M A O !!!!!!!!

                                                                                                          thanks, you made my (very) early morning!!!!

                                                                                                          (now you can bill yourself as the "gougeres nazi": "NO GOUGERES FOR YOU!")
                                                                                                          (would that be vichy france? hehe)

                                                                                                          1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                            Cassoulady you rock! This thread might end up on Best of Chowhound or something. What a satisfying ending. Almost as satisfying as your dinners must be.

                                                                                                            1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                              Jfood has to admit he was reading this post and said to himself, "she sent HIM and email?" Then he re-read it after readingthe responses and said to himself, "He sent Her that email." OMG

                                                                                                              This guy is a major shnorer.

                                                                                                              You could always have responded, "would love to have dinner with you and Fred. Thank you for offering to take us out as a thank you for all the dinners we hosted. Please let us know the time and place. BTW, we love XXX restaurant."

                                                                                                                1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                  Sounds to me like he's reading this thread and wondering if it is really you writing about HIM and ,if so, if you will stick by your guns. I think you could have responded "Can't wait for an invite. I'll bring a couple of bottles of 2-buck-chuck."

                                                                                                                  1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                    You seriously ROCK for the Wendy's reply! LOL I was hoping you'd follow up and let us know if he contacted you....the cojones on this guy are quite large, aren't they?

                                                                                                                    And man - your dinner sounds like a MAJOR one to have missed! Poor him. ;-)

                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                      no word from the empty handed guest, or his grey goose guzzling SO, at least not as of today.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                        No news is good news. :) Mmmm grey goose vodka.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                        Congrats on de-leeching youself ... and not throwing good Barolo after a
                                                                                                                        bad egg.

                                                                                                                        Just wanted to make one point:
                                                                                                                        as in this thread:

                                                                                                                        i think this is again a case where one can trust their intutition, bayesian
                                                                                                                        reasoning, spider senses ... whatever you want to call it. "innocent until
                                                                                                                        proven guity" based on "zebras in texas" type speculations ... or a "smoking
                                                                                                                        gun" in the form of an SMS ... are not always a reasonable standard.

                                                                                                                        >What do you think?
                                                                                                                        as i said in the other thread, and as that Reefer fellow said above,
                                                                                                                        "in your heart, you already knew ..."

                                                                                                                      2. I'm chiming in on this one late in the game....

                                                                                                                        Oh but we are good at reading minds.....was my first thought on reading the last few posts in response to the text.....I find that people are PARTICULARLY prone to reading the exact opposite of what is intended in an e-mail or text (i'm guilty of it myself).

                                                                                                                        I still don't get how this all worked out, or how the loss of a friend over something like this, is something to be congratulated about.

                                                                                                                        I could perhaps understand this one a bit more if these events had started out as potlucks, or supper club, chip-in type things, something that everyone had spoken about and agreed to, not something that perhaps grew over time into people bringing things. Either way, these are friends right?

                                                                                                                        I do know the feeling somewhat, as we had a guy at my former workplace who despite never bringing anything in for the potlocks, would gorge himself in the kitchen while we weren't looking, and it irritated people, probably because he was in general a fridge theif, potlucks aside.

                                                                                                                        But that guy was not a friend. This person, in the OP's situation, is (or should I say was, at this point).

                                                                                                                        Friend.......not simply a happenstance guest at a dinner party.

                                                                                                                        I, like many others, tend to mostly show up at people's homes with some form of gesture. Usually with people I may not know well, or perhaps am also staying at their homes or something. I can't said i've never shown up without something however.

                                                                                                                        But all things told, i'm hosting a dinner party, not running a business.

                                                                                                                        And if we're talking FRIENDS here, I honestly don't give a sh*t if you can't cook your way out of a paper bag or if you don't have money to buy anything that week, and therefore show up empty handed. I'd rather you show up empty handed, than not at all.

                                                                                                                        This would be one of the last things i'd dump a friend over.

                                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                          I am on your side on this one. I think when a hostess lets a person continue to show up empty-handed with a +1 and the hostess says nothing, it's not really the guest's fault. Maybe he thought that after asking the first few times, the hostess would just tell him what to bring? I don't have the answers, but I'd probably ask the guest to bring a specific item the next time and see what happens. If at that point, he still brings nothing, then I might consider not inviting him over anymore.

                                                                                                                          1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                            >I think when a hostess lets a person continue to show up
                                                                                                                            >empty-handed with a +1 and the hostess says nothing
                                                                                                                            it's the totality of the experience and the fact that various things
                                                                                                                            all point in the direction of the opportunist theory ... once
                                                                                                                            that tacky page came in, truly this is a case where you can say
                                                                                                                            "the past is prologue".

                                                                                                                            i dont think the hostness is "letting" something happen, nor does
                                                                                                                            it necessarily comprehensively say anything about the other party ...
                                                                                                                            maybe he is a good son to his parents and a good father to his
                                                                                                                            kids and an upstanding member of the community, but it sure
                                                                                                                            seems he and cassoulady had a lopsided relationship. in a group
                                                                                                                            of friends, maybe all the bilateral relationships dont have to balance out,
                                                                                                                            e.g. i take A out to dinner, B takes C our to dinner and C takes me out
                                                                                                                            to dinner ... in situations like that it may be harder to be sure somebody
                                                                                                                            is a freerider, but in a bilaeral friendship, you get a sense of where
                                                                                                                            things stand pretty quickly. nobody is looking for exact balance, but
                                                                                                                            some balance.

                                                                                                                          2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                            I think the definition of friend and friendship varies. It could be from a casual acquaintance to someone you would lay down your life for.
                                                                                                                            I was a little dismayed by all the high fives when she didn't invite him and then dissed him with "try Wendys", via email. Seems like there could have been something less hostile for someone you have had in your home, breaking bread with, time after time.
                                                                                                                            As I have said before, there is sometimes a herd mentality where they are chanting 'string 'em up!"

                                                                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                              until you walk a mile in her shoes.......

                                                                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                I'm with Scargod on this one. I thought the Wendy's comment was overly harsh. It sounds like the guy is more clueless than malicious. Sure the text message was ballsy, but I think there are other ways to have deflected him while still subtly conveying the hostess was beginning to feel taken advantage of.

                                                                                                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                  sure it was kinda harsh, sure he might be clueless, but let's not
                                                                                                                                  doubt he's a leech ... his behavior wasnt reasonable and "i was
                                                                                                                                  confused" isnt a blank check ... it just changes the diagnosis from
                                                                                                                                  "opportunist" to "fool"... at some point "he should have known better".

                                                                                                                                  1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                    clueless? r i i i i i i i g h t.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                      Yep, I think he might be clueless. That doesn't mean I disagree that he was being a leech or that his message was out of line. But I still don't think any of that justifies the rude response. Just MHO.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                        if he were truly clueless, then why did he USED to bring stuff?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                          I think he just got comfortable. In the beginning, he was on his best behavior, being the good guest and asking what he could bring. As the invitations got more and more frequent, or perhaps felt more and more casual, he got lax and lazy about it. When I say clueless, I mean he's clueless about the extent of his rudeness in taking advantage of a friend and clueless about how much it is bothering his friend. I do think he probably knows he's not acting like the model guest that his mother would want him to be.

                                                                                                                                          So now that I am done psychoanalyzing someone on the basis of almost NO information, is it cool that I have my opinon, you have yours, and the twain do not meet? ;-)

                                                                                                                                    2. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                      I'm also with Scargod, imnomad, queencru, and charmedgirl here. It looks like something got out of hand, but instead of sitting down with this friend and talking to him (as I would with a friend I would want to keep-- no matter how difficult) this turned into pent up resentment, venting on chowhound, and a harsh text message.

                                                                                                                                      I imagine that the text must have felt good in the moment, particularly given cassoulady's months of suppressed anger and frustration. But does it accomplish the task of sharing feelings, providing a clue, and maintaining a friendship? No.

                                                                                                                                      But then perhaps maintaining friendship was not the interest. Maybe Cassoulady wanted justification to cut this guy loose, and she found it on chowhound. I don't know the full story and never will (this is not my life, I'm just reading the posts) so I can only speculate, but it doesn't sound as if there was any reward coming from elsewhere. (In my life, there are people without money and means who provide me with their ear, their comfort, and other things, even if nothing tangible for the dinner table.I also hope I've been able to do the same for friends when I was without means, living in a bedsit and barely able to host me and my cat for a proper dinner; sure I brought wine, and shared goods when I could, but I have no doubt that many of my relationships were fiscally unbalanced in the lean years.)

                                                                                                                                2. I found the reluctance to simply tell the guest to bring something directly familiar though. The behavior of the host reminds me of my sister who doesn't feel appreciated if she has to TELL someone to do something or bring her something. The act means less to her apparently when she's forced to ask. Maybe it has more to do with the self esteem of the host then?

                                                                                                                                  1. A month ago, there was a post about people bringing gifts/food/wine, etc. to hosts and it was considered bad ettiquette.

                                                                                                                                    Now this month, if you don't bring something, you are a cretin.

                                                                                                                                    And especially don't bring flowers because they require trimming and require the host to find a vase to place them in.

                                                                                                                                    Egads, what is a person to do?!?!?! (g)

                                                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: jlawrence01

                                                                                                                                      lol, jlaw! Mind readers we are not. But, if anyone is seeking answers to "all sides" of a question, chowhound is a treasure trove.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                        LOL... yes, we can beat on it (even if is beyond dead), and we will get answers out of it! And, we can beat it till we hear what we want to hear.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: jlawrence01

                                                                                                                                        Totally concur. I'm starting to get paranoid about going to other people's houses for dinner. I bring nothing -- the host will think I'm being stingy. I bring a bottle of wine -- somebody may take it as an insult if they don't drink wine or think that they didn't provide enough for the dinner or will feel this pressure to put the wine out (even though you don't have to) because they will fear I will be insulted if they don't put it out. I bring flowers -- I'm not being considerate because the host has to find a vase and some water or somebody has allergies. With my luck, I'll bring chocolate and find out that the host is on a diet or has diabetes or something. Maybe I'll try to bring the most innocuous thing in the world like a candle. But then somebody may think I'm hinting that they're ugly and that they would look better in candlelight. What's a gal to do?!?!?!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sarah

                                                                                                                                            ah but how do you know which scent to select? Or if they are sensitive to scents? I had a friend who's husband was a fireman...no candles, wouldn't allow the fireplace to burn real wood, no live Christmas trees...but I digrerss..candles can be iffy too!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                              all of this has me thinking, "how to be the perfect guest-101"

                                                                                                                                              -RSVP by phone, not e-mail, and don't DARE call beforehand to verify....just assume....

                                                                                                                                              -show up OR ELSE...should you be the unhappy recipient of a wound to, say, the femoral artery...ensure that you CALL and apologize profusely for having the nerve to injure yourself on the day of the dinner party, ensuring that your host is solid on the fact that you are not attempting to "steal their thunder".

                                                                                                                                              -during said RSVP process, interrogate your host for possible allergies, their stance on candles, dessert offerings, alcohol or flowers. Perhaps a blood test to screen for any anomalies that could preclude the host's enjoyment of any of the above. Maybe a Psychological test or two, just to be sure.

                                                                                                                                              -if you have been vehemently told "no please, just bring yourself".......hire the psychic du jour to find out what they "really meant".

                                                                                                                                              -"maybe some wine"....ack !! red? white? rose? sparkling????? year? country? price range????...again, refer to psychic du jour. research into whether there are dining-specific tarot decks.

                                                                                                                                              -prepare your budget ahead of time, to ensure you have the funds on hand to cover any errant red wine spills, broken glasses or missing silverware. Better yet, have your lawyer on speed-dial. learn how to run like hell.

                                                                                                                                              -assume all previously un-circulated SO's are unwelcome at said party. A slow desensitization process is in order here, perhaps a "chance" meeting at the grocery store, accompanied by a full debreifing with the SO on what not to say, eat, drink, or show in body language, should they by chance garner an invite. Perhaps just play it safe, and ensure that at no time, do the two of you EVER eat or drink more than one person would alone..........btw...your in-laws, immediate family and pets, are never going to be welcome. Get over it.

                                                                                                                                              -in no way ever act displeased or disappointed in ANYTHING during said dinner party. Perhaps a shot of botox or two, to quell any of those pesky facial expressions.

                                                                                                                                              -book an hour or two with the counsellor to delve into those loathesome panic attacks, sneering and hatred harbouring that seem to be popping up at the mere mention of food lately...

                                                                                                                                              and now we move to the post-party follow through....the thank-you note/flower/reciprocate question....

                                                                                                                                              ...oh shag it....just stay home..... ;)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                "...oh shag it....just stay home..... ;)"

                                                                                                                                                I've curled into the fetal position as we speak, and am making Cleese-esque sounds. Never leaving again! Interactions with people - too stressful!!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                  sarcasm accepted. Too bad many of those quotes were legitimate posts.Some like to find the worst position possible and exploit it, others want to enjoy. See all the threads you mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                  In jfood's opinion bringing a gift to someone who has opened their home for a meal is the right and gracious thing to do. likewise in receipt of these gifts, be gracious in acceptance. jfood tries to be gracious as a guest and a host. And if he gets near the yellow lines, mrs jfood gives him a little hip check back to the center of the road.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                              Your big hint of what to bring to a dinner is by what your friends/guests bring when they come to you. If a particular guest always brings flowers, I bet they would love to receive flowers as well. Same with chocolates, wine, etc

                                                                                                                                              I love taking flowers and wine to hosts. That's what I enjoy receiving. And I love receiving flowers and wine.

                                                                                                                                              I can see where someone who hates getting flowers for whatever reason will always take wine or chocolates as a host gift, to make a point or not. All it takes is to pay attention though to see what they would appreciate as a gift.

                                                                                                                                              I hate getting candles because unvariably they're scented and I'm fragrance challenged (not with most flowers).

                                                                                                                                              Sometimes I give interesting candleholders as gift but I always include a non-scented candle. Unfortunately, some of my friends have not clued in to the "unscented" part.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jlawrence01

                                                                                                                                                come on, is it really that difficult?
                                                                                                                                                take a look at the intentions behind the actions rather than paying
                                                                                                                                                too much attention to the forms and motions.

                                                                                                                                                bringing a snack in case the hosts's food isnt good enough -> obnoxious.
                                                                                                                                                bringing a bottle of wine, giving it discretely to the host/hostness and making it clear it is "for you to enjoy" ... almost certainly a generous gesture motivated by gratitude.

                                                                                                                                                yes, there might be some hard cases like if somebody brings you something which would be displayed in your home ... and you dont like it or it doesnt worth with your home ... and then on a future occasion the guest is upset not to see it on the mantle, but i think most of these cases arent that hard.

                                                                                                                                                yes it might be hard to see into the hearts of people who are pros at "faking sincerity" ... but again a lot of the cases which come up here are "easy" and the offenders are either hamfisted or dont even bother to be sublte [e.g. the page sent could have been a little more subtle and tried to imply "i've missed our conversations" "i've missed your
                                                                                                                                                pouring and my drinking".

                                                                                                                                                1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                  im nomad you gave me a much needed giggle! My point completely! We are not mind readers, we are guests and hosts. If we take all of this decision-making too seriously the pleasure is GONE. Communication is always the ideal way to convey what (if anything) you need...and if you're inviting family/friends/co-workers then communication "should be" fairly easy...but when all else fails...just relax, enjoy the conversation and don't overthink this stuff.

                                                                                                                                                  Lifes too short for angst.

                                                                                                                                              2. As a guest I always bring a box of handsome notecards for the host or hostess. Can you possibly think of any gift safer than that?

                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                  ACCCKKK! Notecards! Very traumatic experience, gave notecards as a gift once, and the poor hostess got a severe paper cut that resulted in pumping arterial blood, we had to rush her to the hospital, when we got back the roast had burnt to a crisp. Disaster!!!!

                                                                                                                                                  (just joking! Actually, that sounds like a very nice idea for a hostess gift. Thanks for the great idea!)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: moh

                                                                                                                                                    moh, you have quite the sense of humor!

                                                                                                                                                    Actually, I attended a party once where the host rec'd a set of notecards (even some stamps) from a fellow guest. When I called her to thank her for a lovely evening she mentioned the "thoughtful gift" and took it as a slight to her hostess abilities. She intrepreted the "gift" as a need to be reminded to thank people in the future....geez, I remember thinking it was an odd way to accept a harmless gift...but again, it showed me how challenging gifting has become. Somehow, giving became the suggestion of seeming "needy."

                                                                                                                                                    Here's what I think....a phone call (so rare today) to say, " thank you I had a lovely time" is about the only safe measure.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                      So maybe gifting is a superb way to weed out the hypersensitive from among one's friends. Good riddance!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                        I usually just bring by darling husband -- he is gift enough (grin).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                          browniebaker, I disagree. Friends don't have to exchange gifts to be friends. I still maintain that gifting can be a challenge some of the time but I wouldn't let a gift harm a friendship. This thread discussed empty handed guests but even guests with their arms full of gifts can be misread. Communication between friends is much better but more times than not "we" tell someone else and feel out the situation before we talk to our friend/host.

                                                                                                                                                          I would never say good riddance to anyone over a house gift.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                            I doubt that the empty handed guest was an actual friend. It's unimaginable to end a friendship on that basis. Most likely the host enjoys throwing parties but demands that her "friends" read her mind when it comes to gifts or else she'll throw them first under the bus on Chowhound then cheerfully dismiss "friends" via an email? With friends like that . . .

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                          Oh my. I was going to jokingly say that giving notecards gives the impression that a host is remiss in her thank you etiquette.

                                                                                                                                                          Why can't people just see the gift for what it is -- a nice gesture -- instead of reading into subtext? Over the years, I've received tons of things that aren't really appropriate for me. Once, a co-worker of mine visited Romania and picked me up a huge make-up set from the Duty Free shop on the way back. While I really have no use for that make-up set (and it does seem like an odd gift from a co-worker), I was really appreciative that he thought of me instead of me thinking that he was trying to tell me that I needed to wear more make up. Maybe I'm being dense and naive. But I'd rather think that they had the best intentions than to think that they were trying to get a little dig in.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                            MissN, I agree, too bad the best of intentions ARE second guessed.
                                                                                                                                                            Friendship should be far more enjoyable than described here.

                                                                                                                                                    2. An update folks: I am going to the empty-handed-guests house tonight. My annoyance was really based on what I thoght was over indulgance on his part and the SOs part ( I am not looking to "profit" as some have suggested). I am happy to provide everything needed for my guests, but when two people are having four big martinis, it gets awkward ( oops the handle of vodka I bought wont be enough for six people! And it causes stress) etc. I guess I just thought if someone was going to be very thirsty, they would want to pitch in ( I should know, I am often thirsty myslef!). Anyway, I am going to his place, I am bringing some champagne so he can toast if the election goes his way. On second thought, I will bring two bottles, I might be thirsty too.

                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                                                        So then....wait, what was the problem?

                                                                                                                                                        I thought the mooching person had been kicked to the curb?

                                                                                                                                                        Nothing like changing horses mid-race.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                          I havent invited him over to dinner since the OP, but did accept an invite for election result soiree ages ago, and am attending.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                                                            Let us know how it goes cassoulady. What kind of champagne? Just being nosy. :)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                                              More power to you, c'lady! You've taken a lot of abuse through this thread when all you wanted was a little help with a situation that bothered you. Let us know how it turns out, and if you take a few SOs.

                                                                                                                                                      2. watch out....devil's advocate incoming.....!!

                                                                                                                                                        I think the fact that this guy HAD in fact been in the process of reciprocating WHILE you were stating his empty-handedness, would have been a rather important factor in this conversation from the get-go...I should think .

                                                                                                                                                        You had already accepted an invite to your friend's home whilst bashing his poor behaviour as an empty handed guest? What the?

                                                                                                                                                        I say booo.

                                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, don't go gumming up a perfectly good bash fest with details and notions of information being useful. Where's the fun in that?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                            Yea, I second that! Let's bash im_nomad.... nobody needs relevant insight.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                            IIRC, the offer of reciprocation came well after the thread was started. After starting this thread, the OP stopped inviting the guy. Prior to the offer, the fellow had (texted, e-mailed?) kind of hinting for another invite....
                                                                                                                                                            The election night offer came recently....

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                              there you go, meatn3, all clarifyin' things with a timeline of events!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                The election soiree was planned for months, probably since election night 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                                                                  How did it go? It seems like you've been friends with this person for years and if this party went fairly well, I'd give him another chance.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                  My read was that the election night plans had been set for quite a while. The OP mentioned having accepted the invite to the election night party "ages ago." I took it to mean that these plans were in place before the original post on this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                                    Hmm...guess I just wanted a happier timeline. Good to learn some of the limitations of counting on my memory! I was probably influenced my desire to have the guest figure it out and everyone be happy again.

                                                                                                                                                              2. It is time to exclude this person from you A-list. Tell him/her that the event is filled - sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                I would not bother to confront this person on the reason, but you are busy and have other guest options. Use them.


                                                                                                                                                                1. I didn’t know he had invited you to his home before your OP. He might have thought that one invitation is good for two or more “freeloads”, although I would disagree especially when it’s a freeloader and a guest. At any rate, I still would have given him at least one opportunity to bring something specific “unless you were planning to bring something else”, before sending him to Wendy’s. No criticism intended. It must have been no fun watching them drink up a storm when you were already feeling a little disrespected.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Take him off of the guest list.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. If he's a good friend, you enjoy his company and you feel the party you're giving would be missing something without him being there then forget about it.
                                                                                                                                                                      Life's just too short and there are far too many things to be worrying about in this world.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I was always taught to bring some sort of hostess gift to a dinner party. Usually i bring a wine that will go with the food being made, or perhaps a bottle of liquor, something that I know that the host will appreciate. With close friends I don't always think that it's necessary, but yet I usually do.

                                                                                                                                                                        That being said, if the host tells me that I don't need to bring anything, I don't.

                                                                                                                                                                        Hostess gift, or no hostess gift, it's rude IMHO to never reciprocate in some way, shape or form. The host should be appreciated by his guests, and it should be demonstrated in some way.

                                                                                                                                                                        A person I know came to my, and my friends houses all the time, drinking a lot of our booze, eating our food. Not the issue really, but this went on for years. She finally invited us to her house for a house warming party. She said she had it all covered. We had a gimlet. Then our drinks became empty. We sat around, for a bit, and when on of the guests (who was a very good friend of the host) asked if he should refill our glasses. She said "NO, I'm saving the booze for my *other* friends". We were aghast. To this day, we have a joke about coming over to the others house, for "AN" gimlet, or "AN" beer.

                                                                                                                                                                        Needless to say I stopped really inviting this person over, but it was also because she really was extremely self centered

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                          seriously? one gimlet and "i'm saving the booze for other friends?" seriously? <shaking head in wonderment>

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                            Yup. Would you like AN gimlet? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                          2. #1: you seem to enjoy fixing meals for your friends.
                                                                                                                                                                            #2: being the hostess of said party, no guest is 'obligated' to bring anything, unless you ask them to do so.
                                                                                                                                                                            #3: there are differences between various ages' expectations of what to do, or not (I was raised to either take something for the host(ess), or send a Thank you note along with a small arrangement of flowers)
                                                                                                                                                                            #4: there seems to be a general assumption that everyone drinks alcoholic beverages
                                                                                                                                                                            #5: if someone who is invited has a special dietary need, or preference in what they *do* drink, they should supply some for themselves
                                                                                                                                                                            #6: when in doubt, you can easily (and without cost, if you can't afford much) send a cyber bouquet along with an email thanking the hostess for a lovely evening.
                                                                                                                                                                            #7: any hostess who becomes upset with someone suddenly not bringing anything, should by that time, know the person well enough to simply ask them to bring a specific item
                                                                                                                                                                            #8: If you bring flowers, unless you know the hostess has a collection of vases, *please* supply the vase

                                                                                                                                                                            My friends, when invited, are not expected to bring anything, other than themselves. An invite back, in future, is appreciated, but needed. I understand that some of my friends cannot, just at this time, afford anything extra at all. I am happy with their companionship, and know they will offer an invitation to me, when they can.
                                                                                                                                                                            It's common practice in Hawaii for everyone who can, to bring something to add to the meal. Sometimes that's a different, or more, fruit to include in a fruit bowl. Or some homegrown vegetables to add to a salad.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. the question is:
                                                                                                                                                                              is this guy worthy of being retrained?
                                                                                                                                                                              some people simply aren't worth the effort, and it's best to drop them.
                                                                                                                                                                              others, are terrific people with this one failing, and for that group, it's worthwhile to spend the effort to say something and to direct/coax/manipulate them into a better behavior pattern.
                                                                                                                                                                              for those in between, a break in the stream of invitations is in order, and when you invite again specify that they should arrive with bottles (plural) of the brand of hard liquor and wine that they/he drink(s).

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Aunt Julie told her sister Aunt Therese that their mutual friend Sophia had come for yet another visit.
                                                                                                                                                                                Aunt Therese: "What did she bring?
                                                                                                                                                                                Aunt Julie: "Her personality."

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                  Ugh reminds me of a person who I know... What does she offer to bring? TWO friends. Always two. And when you live in a super tiny apartment in Manhattan, two friends to a dinner party is a bit much. She does usually bring a salad, but still.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I have an ex-friend who's since moved who was what I would call a schnoor. We ran in a group of friends who'd hold many dinner parties. He would get invited and to my horror when I first met him, never repaid the friends who'd hold these dinner parties by either bringing the host a toke of thanks (wine, whatever) nor would he ever hold a dinner party himself. What's more, he'd often forget to bring any wine for himself and would drink everyone else's.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sadly, after many embarrassments, I sort of severed the friendship for other reasons, mainly, but this lack of respect on his part towards others was one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The old TV show, Northern Exposure, did an episode on this very topic (not giving the host a little present or not reciprocating by inviting a host over for dinner). The episode was called "Northern Hospitiality," and the protagonist, Joel, gets called to the mat on this. LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: natewrites

                                                                                                                                                                                    """a toke of thanks """

                                                                                                                                                                                    that could possibly (begin to) redeem the miscreant, no?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                      The "toke of thanks" is definitely in the non-wine category ;) Maybe (s)he forgot the entire meal?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                        or simply doesn't recall the details of devouring it all.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                            reminds me of a Xmas party I went to in college (1987?), a Saudi e-pat student dressed as Santa showed with a big bag of various party favors to augment the host's spread...

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. are you asking the person over for their company, or for a gift? if it is the former, roll with it. if it is the latter, just ask people to mail you crap, and you don;t even have to see them ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. cassoulady - what an unfortunate situation to be in. I can see how you could feel as though these folks are taking advantage of your hospitality if they are showing up uninvited and, empty-handed.

                                                                                                                                                                                        As some have suggested, I think the first order of business is to determine whether this is a friendship that you wish to preserve. If you do, then I'd suggest having a conversation, alone and face-to-face, with your friend. Perhaps you could suggest that you have a coffee together. There is a possibility that this individual is simply unaware that he and his partner are over-stepping bounds so I think its worth saying something like:

                                                                                                                                                                                        ""X" thanks for meeting w me today, I really value our friendship and there's something that I've been wanting to talk w you about. Recently you and your partner have been dropping by for dinner when I haven't been expecting you and while its always great to see you, it sometimes leaves me in a bind because I haven't anticipated serving that many folks (give a couple of examples...multi-martinis etc). I know you'd never intend to do this so I wanted to ask that, in future, you could give me a call to let me know if you're thinking of joining us for dinner and I can let you know how that fits with what I've planned that night.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This then leaves you the opportunity to completely decline their next visit or, to say... certainly, I'd love to see you but I'll need you guys to grab "X" on your way over so I'm sure we have enough for everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                          this post is 2 years old - wonder if she ditched the "friend"...

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. An old topic that brings back some memories.

                                                                                                                                                                                          My take is probably different from everyone else, but they way I see it you're inviting people over and as a gracious host you really shouldn't expect people to bring anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                          If you want people to contribute, tell people what you need and what they should bring.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I was in a situation in college where I was invited to weekly dinner, I asked what to bring and was told there was no need to bring anything. However, I would bring a dessert, bread, wine or beer. I thought things were going well, but I heard through the grapevine that the hostess was getting peeved with me. The reason... she thought I wasn't bringing enough. Hmmm.... Peeved with me after telling me not to bring anything??? I thought that was B.S.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Needless to say, I stopped going to the weekly dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Moral of the story - If you're going to feel peeved, you should tell people what you want or don't invite the person over.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                            that is sort of odd. I don't really ever expect anything, but it's always nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                            dave_c: maybe the solution would have been to slip the gift to the host/ess and whisper it's something she can enjoy later after the hoopla is over thereby implying you hadn't intended she share it in the first place, or was it silently expected as a payment? either way kinda passive-aggressive.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dave_c


                                                                                                                                                                                              Most of the time, I don't like it when something is brought. Seems awkward when the meal is already planned out and if it's a parting gift, I prefer to pick things out myself. If you're invited, you're invited for your company, just just don't show up drunk!

                                                                                                                                                                                              The big exception to this is if the guest has something to share. If they found a great/rare item and/or had a food they loved at a restaurant and had to share, then that can only add to the evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, I didn't understand the whole issue the first time I saw this thread. When I invite people over for dinner I don't expect them to bring anything, and if I tell them not to, I mean it. If they insist I'll tell them they can bring a bottle of wine. Then I open that bottle of wine. I don't care what it is. If it's MD 20/20, it's a gift and is appreciated as such. I'll drink some of it no matter what it is. (Honestly nobody has ever brought a bottle of Mad Dog to a post-college event).

                                                                                                                                                                                                If they show up without a bottle, that's fine too. After all *I* am the one serving dinner. (Potlucks and BYOB events are different, but BYOB generally means you're drinking what you brung)

                                                                                                                                                                                                If it's a bakery pie, I take a piece. If it's a home made dessert that I don't care for, I still try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                They are GUESTS and *I* owe *THEM* my hospitality, not the other way around.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Almost 4 yrs later, I'm reading this...and I'm guessing it's still a problem for some.

                                                                                                                                                                                                What I'd do if I had this problem?? I'd announce to all my friends that the next dinner will be a potluck and for everyone to bring "something" -- everyone will understand why..it could be pre-arranged or a surprise and that the main dish will be provided by the host...and this could start a trend...the next dinner, potluck from now on, the guests could pick something else to bring, whatever they want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                This way the friend who never brings anything will be forced either to bring something or not to come at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                My pot-lucks are always like this. I make the main dish and as many guests who attend bring various unplanned things, usually salads or desserts. After all, it's only fair to your friends who do bring things because they are probably aware that this friend sponges...does not share...it's best for all concerned to feel righted about this lop-sidedness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Some edible things people bring: cheese & crackers; veggies & dip; garden-fresh tomatoes; chips; deli-meats; candies; chocolates; ice-cream; fudge; sponge-toffee (home-made); jams & jellies; fresh fruit - grapes, berries, cherries, watermelon, other fruit in season. Make a list of these types of things and post them on your kitchen wall for your guests to see and be inspired for their next dinner at your place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Planning organizing preparing and serving/hosting a decent dinner party is hard work.IF I am going to make that big of an effort then I will only invite people whom I know enjoy my company and my cooking skills. I also want to do things my way by myself. If someone asks "what shall I bring"and I know they have a speciality item that will enhance my meal I ask them to please bring that.One friend does the best whole wheat dinner rolls on planet earth....another friend does a fabulous ambrosia that can always enhance a meal. A bottle of spirits...wine....champagne will always be welcomed to be served to the dinner guests. But I plan every detail when I do those types of dinners and so as far as needing anything I never do because I plan far in advance BUT if a guest wants to bring me a little gift then I think that is a very kind gesture on their part.As far as the OP's problem with "Freddy The Freeloader" I would uninvite someone like that from my "party list"because they are casting a negative vibe. I also like to doll things up a bit when I entertain with small"bags of SWAG"like little gift bags with wine coolers....tiny boxed chocolates....tins of smoked oysters and crackers ....preserves.I try to do miniatures just for fun and so my guests "get it" that life is supposed to be fun:) After a few strong tasty cocktails and a delicious meal under their belts most dinner guests get a good giggle when I whip out my "bags of SWAG"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Drop the freeloader and his freeloader guest.