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Bad Hosts: Invites you and, after you accept, asks you to bring dessert for everyone.

Chowhounds, how do you respond when someone invites you to "a cookout" for dinner and, as soon as you say yes and ask, "Can I bring anything?" tells you to bring "the dessert"?

"For the everyone?" you ask. "Sure," he says, adding, "there will be about nineteen of us."

Yikes! "That's a lot of dessert!" you say, hoping he'll tell just to bring a pie or cake, regardless of the number it serves because he or other guests will be providing other desserts. But, no, you are stuck making dessert for the entire party. Hey, If I had wanted to make dessert for nineteen, I would have thrown my own party!

How do you handle this type of potluck by ambush? I'd love to get some ideas for next time it happens to me.

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  1. I have mixed emotions on this one. What is your relationship to the host? Often when someone asks what they bring, the answer depends on who the guest is. We have a lot of friends we often have over and others who only come about once a year. While I cannot see myself only having one dessert for 19 people (and at a cookout unless there are a lot of children my guess is that all 19 won't be having dessert but understand you want enough for everyone). And you opened the door when you asked if you could bring anything (I'm a believer in don't ask me a question if you don't want the answer).

    And as one who is the host 99% of the time, I would happily bring dessert for everyone for the right to be a guest, not a host.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Yep, you opened the door when you asked if you could bring anything. When told to bring dessert for 19, I might have said "I can bring XX, which will be enough for 10, can someone else bring another dessert as well?" Expecting an invited guest to bring enough dessert for a party of 19 is off the mark. What are the other 17 bringing?

      1. re: PattiCakes

        If that is the way you feel about it it would be much less awkward not to offer. I never accept when a guest offers to bring something but if I did I would not expect my agreement (to accept a dish I do not want to begin with) to result in some sort of negotiation about who that guest will feed and who she will not.

        Would you be bothered if the hostess said, "Nevermind I've got it covered"

        1. re: Kater

          Would have LOVED it if the host had said, "Nevermind I've got it covered." That's what most people say.

          Please note that I did not offer to bring a dish. I also did not say or imply that I was dying to bring something! In my circles, "Can I bring anything?" means, "Is there anything you need help with? If not, great! See you Sunday!" And then the guest brings a little gift (not food or drink that he'd have to serve that evening).

          1. re: browniebaker

            if you meant "Is there anything you need help with? If not, great! See you Sunday!", then that is what you ought to have said. what you did ask was "Can I bring anything?", and that was the question answered

            1. re: thew

              That's the way the offer of help is made in my parts. I grew up in Nashville and now live in the D.C. area, and I have never heard of anyone else construing the question as an offer to cater!

      2. re: Janet from Richmond

        Janet, I do not believe the right to be a guest depends on bringing anything. The right certainly does not depend on bringing enough dessert or any dish to serve everyone. I am a guest if I accept an invitation. Period.

        On this and other threads you have often said that you would be grateful to be in the position of which the OP complains if it meant you could be a guest instead of the host that you are 99 % of the time. Why don't you simply host fewer parties? If you hosted less often, maybe you would not yearn so much to be a guest at all costs.

        1. re: browniebaker

          Where did I say the right to be a guest depends on bringing something? You asked if you could bring something.......YOU opened that door. And you regret it. But that don't blame the host or anyone else. She called your bluff.

          And we are hosting fewer parties....down to about one or two a month. But this year will be different as our daughter became engaged last week, so I'm sure there will be many functions...some we'll be hosting and others not. I was simply pointing out that hosting a function is often a tough (and thankless task).

          1. re: Janet from Richmond

            "And as one who is the host 99% of the time, I would happily bring dessert for everyone for the right to be a guest, not a host."

            I'm quoting the part of your earlier post where you referred to "the right to be a guest" as arising out of bringing dessert for everyone. You said it; I didn't. And you seem to say that in other threads as well (e.g. the Entertaining Bad Guests thread).

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              Janet - congrats on your SD's engagement! I'm sure the parties you will be hosting will be wonderful! Make sure you enjoy them as well! :-)

              1. re: LindaWhit

                We definitely will!! We are in the weeds right now trying to find the right place on the right date.

            2. re: browniebaker

              I do not believe the right to be a guest depends on bringing anything. The right certainly does not depend on bringing enough dessert or any dish to serve everyone. I am a guest if I accept an invitation. Period...............................browniebaker

              This idea gives me pause. "Right to be a guest?" A guest, by definition, is invited and is there at the discretion of the host. No "rights" involved.

              That said, I think it is really off-the-mark for a "host" to invite someone without clarifying BEFORE extending the invitation that it is a pot luck. If I arrived with dessert for 19 people only to find I'm the only one who has brought anything, I just might find myself pushed to the edge of rudeness. Maybe to the point of leaving. Maybe even to the point of leaving WITH my dessert. But that would mean I'd really been pushed out of shape by the "host."

              At this point in time, if bringing dessert for 19 people is uncomfortable for whatever reason, you might want to think about calling the host to say that an inescapable obligation elsewhere has come up and you won't be able to make it. Hey, if the host is rude enough to push you for a reason... Well, maybe there's a football game on TV you just can't miss. '-)

              1. re: Caroline1

                This time, I did go through with attending (see down-thread), but I was sorely tempted to call and plead an "inescapable obligation." That kind of plea really needs to be done right away, though, like the next day when one "suddenly" remembers that previous engagement. It's like the right of rescission, typically three days, that is often allowed with contracts of adhesion (sorry, a bit of analogy to contract law).

                In this case, another factor against my not going was that it was a family event. These weren't people I could just blow off. And my children really wanted to go. It all turned out well, I think.

                As I explain down-thread, though, at the party I saw that there was little point to the host's asking for three families to bring, in all, two sides and one dessert when (as it turned out) there was much too much food even without any guests' contributions and all the food that he provided besides the main course (grilled chicken) were bought from Safeway and Sam's Club. I mean, if he was simply buying the stuff, how difficult or expensive would it have been to buy two more sides and one more dessert and not put the burden on his guests?

                1. re: browniebaker

                  If only God had been smart enough to arrange things so that we could choose our friends AND our family! In my book, you've got a bunch of brownie points towards sainthood. '-)

          2. My first thought when I read the title to your post is 'Hey, they know my cousin, Judy!' I too have been hijacked into making dessert, apps, side dishes etc for my cousin. Since your Chowhound name is browniebaker I will assume you are known for your desserts which makes you a target for this type of behavior. If you are willing to bring a dessert but not all the desserts, simply say what you can bring and how many it will feed. I haven't found a way out of bringing something partially because of my love of cooking. Good luck.

            1. I do feel like it's potluck by ambush. With that many people coming, someone else should share dessert duty. But I wonder if it has anything to do with your user-name - are you famous for desserts and brownies? Even so, you shouldn't be punished for it!

              1. The host is my second cousin once removed, and I see him and his wife and daughter socially about twice a year. That I'm a generation above him in my family (his mom and I are second cousins), makes being told to cater the dessert for his party irk particularly.

                I agree that I have got to stop asking, "Can I bring anything?" I am just offering to help out with picking up ice, or drinks, or chips, or anything they might be out off. But desserts for the whole party of nineteen? I think that's a but much.

                Maybe I am known for my baking; people know I love to bake. Brownies are a specialty of mine. But I don't like to bake on demand, and on that scale (unless I am hosting the party). In fact, it's gotten so hot here that I had already shut down the oven for the summer before I got the invitation.

                I have sent an e-mail since, asking him to let me know when he has the final headcount (citing the time someone else -- whom I had known for only six months, and who ambushed me in the same way for what turned out to be a potluck after I accepted -- asked me to make 48 assorted brownies for 33 guests and only 8 people showed up!), so that I'll know how much to make. I also asked whether anyone else had volunteered to make dessert. He wrote back that he had talked to only one other guest and had asked him to bring a side.

                Well, I wouldn't mind bringing a side or anything else, so long as I am not being told to bring enough for the whole party of nineteen.

                Those of you who said I opened the door by asking the question: Believe me, I will never ask that question again.

                12 Replies
                1. re: browniebaker

                  You know what I'd do? Pick up a few supermarket cakes or pies or bring a couple of gallons of ice cream if they have freezer space. I would not go to the trouble of baking, based on the ambush. I think it's sad that you can't make that nice offer to bring or do something without being ambushed! (PS - I would go to trouble for dear friends or family that I'm close to and frequently enjoy meals with...)

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    I'm not figuring how she was ambushed. Was the host presumptuous? Yep. Life lesson learned. Absolutely. But I wouldn't be passive agressive and intentionally bring substandard stuff to get one over on the host.

                    And maybe I'm completely wrong, but are brownies for 19 people a big deal to make? (not being snarky) When you think about it, it's really not different from a Mom being asked to bring brownies for the class or something. I would think (again correct me if I'm wrong) that 36 brownies would get the job done.

                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                      Janet - browniebaker is obviously aggravated about it, and about heating up her kitchen. Everyone loves ice cream, if she can take that. I don't think of it as sub-standard fare. I think of it as getting over it and moving on. If she bakes or does home made dessert this time, they will get her every time. I will gladly bake brownies for my child's class, because she can't do it herself. This is another whole situation that browniebaker obviously resents.

                    2. re: bayoucook

                      I agree. There are lots of solutions to this that don't involve further irking you. If I were in your shoes, I would feel annoyed at myself for asking (which it sounds like you do). I wouldn't further annoy myself for doing something I didn't want to do. In these situations, people aren't expecting much, anyway. I would bring 2 dozen cookes (baked from store-bought refrigerated dough or bought at a bakery if you want) and that's it. I would tell him my plan so he can get ice cream, cakes or anything else he wants to supplement. Don't take on any more than you want to - trust me, it will help you feel better! And in the future, as you said, you know to offer only what you want to bring. Good luck and sorry - families can really be something else, huh?!?!?

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        I agree, grab some stuff at the supermarket. Don't kill yourself here, if your heart is not in it.

                      2. re: browniebaker

                        If you don't want to start up your oven again, take a store-bought baked good and replate it. Don't tell the host what you're bringing, b/c you might be steered in another direction or asked to bring something else; you set yourself up for another "ambush". If it were me, I'd take Costco's bite-size brownies and leave it at that. No fuss, no muss.

                        1. re: browniebaker

                          Browniebaker, I ask that question, too: "Can I bring something?" I have never had anyone say anything more than, "Yes, you could bring a bottle of wine" (which, as a civilized guest, I would do anyway, without having to be TOLD). It is right for you to have offered -- and it would have been equally proper for him to reply, "No, but thank you for offering." It is a social nicety. Janet from Richmond is far off the mark to blame you for having offered. I would be seething, if I were you. If you hadn't already sent the email asking for the headcount, I would say call him and just say, "I'm sorry; it turns out I'm not going to be able to make it that night." But if you feel locked in now, and if you're more magnanimous than I am, and since it's a cookout, just bring a couple of gallons of ice cream. Maybe some cookies from a bakery.

                          1. re: victoriashe

                            You've said in one paragraph exactly how I feel. I have wished (and still wish) I could back out, but I agree it's too late. Plus, my kids really want to go to the cookout. I baked 32 brownies yesterday when it was not too hot outside to use the oven and I have frozen the brownies to keep until Sunday. I am feeling better about this situation because instead of putting myself out to cater dessert, I am doing it on my terms. Two pans of brownies? That's not nearly as elaborate as I could have gotten over dessert if I had wanted to.

                            Much thanks to you, Victoriashe, and to everyone else for supportive words, different perspectives, and practical suggestions. Chowhounds are the best!!!

                            1. re: victoriashe

                              That's exactly now I feel. It's a social nicety to ask if you can help but it's a little awkward to be told to bring a main segment of the meal for the entire party.

                              When ever we have people over we would never think to say anything more than bring yourself if asked that question. I'm not into pot luck dinner parties yet I have been invited to more than I care to where the host always ask each guest to bring something. When we have people over I don't expect them to bring anything. If they bring wine, that's a nice gesture and I thank them if they bring nothing but their appetite I don't take offense. All I want is for them to enjoy my hospitality and maybe one day reciprocate in kind. That's all. I don't keep score.

                              Janet may be right that browniebaker opened the door but the host should have acted like a host and closed that door.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Almost every time I have asked that question the host has said yes, bring dessert. To some, that's just the polite answer.

                              Why is dessert for 19 such a big problem? If you don't want to make brownies or cookies, buy two angel food cakes, serve with berries and whipped cream.

                              1. re: bibi rose

                                I have to keep harping on this. If we had co-planned the meal, then of course bringing dessert (or anything) for 19 would be fine - would've been agreed on from the get-go. I must be very lucky, because none of my many friends have ever, in over 32 years, done that to me or to anyone else that I know of, nor would I ever dream of dropping that on someone who was letting me know they were coming to the party.
                                When friends or family plan an outing, we plan it TOGETHER and we know what each is going to do in advance. I'm gonna stick with these friends!!

                                1. re: bayoucook

                                  Yeah, you are caught between a rock & a hard place on this one, and you already know it's your own darned fault. Lesson learned. I like the idea of the Costco mini brownies -- plate 'em up nicely & do a little powdered sugar on top. Bring an ice cream (or two) to go with. Another option is those frozen cream-puffs/eclairs from Costco or Sam's. If anyone questions, or if you feel the need, just say "You know, it was just too damned hot to crank up my oven...." The host seems clueless, so don't get your knickers in a knot. Another option would be to call your host back, tell him that your oven is on the fritz & explain that you will be picking something up -- is that OK?

                                  It is my culinary "culture" to always ask if I can bring something. I can't recall every being asked to supply a particular course for the entire party (of more than 10) unless it was with close friends/relatives with whom I have an established pot-luck routine. It could also be that your host has you higher up on his family/familiarity scale than you have him?

                                  Don't let it irk you. It's not worth it. Small annoyance in the grand scheme of things.

                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                      In my culinary culture, it goes like this:

                                      A: Can I bring anything?

                                      B: Just bring yourself.

                                      A then brings a few host/ess gifts (wine, champagne, sweets) which are protested but then accepted. (You shouldn't have. Oh it was nothing, please. etc.)

                                      from what I'm reading here, there are all kinds of culinary cultures.

                                      1. re: Lizard

                                        There are two other couple we regularly have over for dinner....about twice a month on average. Over the years tradition has been that we supply the entree, bread, sides and most of the wine but then they will bring a salad and dessert and more wine. I have NO qualms about letting them do this as we always host.

                                        But if it's someone who comes less frequently I will ask them to just bring themselves or ice if they really want to bring something. Most come with a bottle of wine or beer or something for the party.

                                        1. re: Lizard

                                          I've read about many different culinary cultures here and though our is the best, of course (I share your approach) I can understand most of them.

                                          But asking a hostess what you can bring and then being angry when she tells you is a brand new one.

                                          I'm still trying to work out how you accept a social invite from a second cousin twice removed and wind up shocked that the headcount is greater than fifteen.

                                          1. re: Lizard

                                            That's pretty much mine, too. I keep a shelf full of hostess gifts. Wine or sweets, yes, but also fat candles, really nice cocktail napkins, etc.

                                          2. re: PattiCakes

                                            If you bring ice cream or other frozen treat, it might be best to call the host in advance to see if they have freezer space. I would hate to see someone bring a frozen dessert & see it melt for lack of freezer space....

                                          3. re: bayoucook

                                            I'm with you. It’s certainly a lot more fun to make a generous contribution or offer a favor, than give into an unreasonable demand. (Food for thought if any of us ever wind up being the one desperately needing someone to bring dessert for 19...)

                                            1. re: bayoucook

                                              I agree. Dessert for 19 when the invite isn't advertised as a potluck is co-hosting. Sure, it's not hard to make a few pans of brownies, but it's the stress on the GUEST of making sure they've got all 19 heads covered. It's not the OP's responsibility to wonder if she needs to avoid nuts or take into consideration how the brownies will be plated for NINETEEN freakin' people. Does that seem hospitable?

                                              I know it's about the friendship and the company, but geesh.

                                              1. re: bayoucook

                                                Bayoucook, if this has not happened to you, you've got good friends. Stick with them!

                                                1. re: browniebaker

                                                  For sure. All of us host parties and dinners on a pretty even level, all of us understand how wonderful it is NOT to be required to bring a dish unless, like I said, we all planned to host the event together. All of us bring hostess gifts and happies. I think it's all probably the result of very long friendships of 25-32 years! Lots of talking and being together, lots of respect for each other.
                                                  I am very lucky.

                                          4. It’s never fun to be ambushed, since you wind up getting irked with yourself as much as with the ambusher. My own irksome memory was being invited to a dinner party, then being asked to bring the entrée. I’m still a good sport but now think it’s perfectly acceptable to say right upfront -- and immediately so it doesn’t turn into a big production -- when someone makes a request of you that just seems too much. Bringing dessert for 19, even if it were just a couple of tubs of cheapo ice cream, just seems too much -- especially since you know a chowhound is going to feel compelled to bring something a heck of a lot better than that. You don’t need a big dramatic confrontation, just something like, “Hmm, that seems like a lot to ask of a guest, doesn’t it?” and then suggest something you’re more comfortable with. As long as it’s said with a smile and good intentions you shouldn’t cause too much offense. And frankly if they’ve already offended you, you’ve got a little wiggle room there, don’t you?

                                            1. You asked the hostess what you could bring but were unwilling to bring it for the entire party?

                                              Why did you ask?

                                              I am no fan of the defacto potluck trend, but you're one of the creators/perpetuators yet you seem to have some sort of kooky idea about bringing only enough lemon bars for your immediate family and perhaps the host.

                                              When you offer to bring a dish, be prepared to feed the entire crowd. Nineteen is not too terribly many, btw.

                                              It does sound as if it might be a good idea for you to throw your own party. You would politely decline when people offer to bring something and help your friends, neighbors and family learn that it is really nicest when the hostess provides the food and the guests simply attend (bringing a nice hostess gift, of course!)

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Kater

                                                Kater, I think you are taking this to a different level that the OP intended. It wasn't that she thought there were going to be less people at the event. It wasn't that she minded bringing something (after all, she admits she asked). It was more that the host put the responsibility of providing the entire dessert course on her, and that wasn't what she expected.

                                                Maybe my "culinary culture" is different than yours, but it's been my experience that, with a party of 8/10 or more, the host might ask that I bring "a" dessert rather than "the" dessert. I might then ask what other desserts are coming so that I can decide what/how much to bring - or I might even offer to bring several desserts -- but it's been my experience that I wouldn't be expected to provide the one-and-only dessert unless I countered with an offer to do just that.

                                                As an example, my son in law's's brother graduated from Med School on Sunday. His parent's had a BBQ-type party on Sunday for about 30. I asked what I could bring, & was told to bring a dessert. I asked what other desserts were coming & I determined what to make based on the answer. Others brought "a" salad - someone brought potato salad, someone brought green salad , someone brought a fruit salad. They didn't bring enough of each to feed 30, but together there was more than enough.

                                                1. re: PattiCakes

                                                  I think you don't realize how unusual (read ungracious) that approach would seem to someone outside of your culinary culture. But the central point here is that everyone is different in this and many have tried to point this out subtly to the OP with no success.

                                                  This issue really seems to come down to a simple dislike for the host.

                                                  When someone who gets under my skin is hosting a cookout, I usually find that I am too busy to attend. That way we don't have any brownie drama.

                                                  1. re: Kater

                                                    What's ungracious about PattiCakes experience of a host asking for "a dessert" or "a salad" and then the guest doing just that? It's my experience, too, that once a party gets a little large, the host asks for "a dessert" or "one or two bottles of wine," and even goes out of his/her way to make sure the I (the guest) know I haven't just been asked to cater for 20.

                                                    1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                      Precisely! It's distinctly ungracious to be told I just became a de facto caterer.

                                              2. Since we're sharing about our culinary cultures, I'd like to share that the culture of my friends and family is that it is polite that a guest ask, "Would you like me to bring anything?" Unless the party is a potluck, the polite answer is, "No, just bring yourself." If the guest and host are close and the host needs help, it might be picking up some napkins at the store. Then the guest does not go empty-handed but brings maybe a box of pretty note cards, a good book, a blank journal, candles, etc.

                                                I agree with all of you who have said that there's a difference between a host's asking for "a dessert" and "the dessert" for the entire party if the party is big.

                                                I also like the suggestion some of you have made that I just do whatever I am comfortable with. Either buy from the store or make just a reasonable-size dessert (and tell the host it serves X number of people so he can offer more dessert if he wishes). My cousin and his wife are always serving cardboard-textured, factory-made desserts at their parties, so they will not care whether I make the dessert or not (though my pride as a cook might suffer).

                                                As far as "culture" goes, I don't know what culture my cousin is from. I have to shake my head and wonder sometimes. For example, he and his wife skipped someone's morning wedding ceremony and went only to the dinner reception that night (and the ceremony and reception were both in town, so no issues involving travel). I told him it would be rude to do that, but he couldn't see why and went ahead and did it. That tells me he's probably coming from a whole other planet when it comes to answering the question, "Can I bring something?"

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: browniebaker

                                                  You'll end up doing the right thing - whatever it turns out to be.

                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                    Yes, I'm basically a dutiful person and will do the right thing this time. But I have learned my lesson, and I'll just do things a little differently next time.

                                                    1. re: browniebaker

                                                      Each of us have a sense of values and following them is a reward in itself. I wish I could be there: we'd make four large trays of great brownies.

                                                      1. re: browniebaker

                                                        Given this guy's cluelessness, even if you avoid asking the polite 'what can I bring' question next time, I'll bet he'll just out and out ask you to bring dessert anyhow.

                                                  2. Count your blessings. I know someone who asked if she could bring something (single person aloneinvited to a big extended family Thanksgiving dinner) and was told, "Sure, can you bring the turkey?" and told which brand to buy, how big and given the recipe for it.

                                                    As brownies go, three 9x13 pans shoud be enough and consider it flattering that they thought you 1) baked well enough that they wanted it and 2) thought you were talented enough that it would be a piece of cake (or brownie) for you. You could also do two batches of Texas sheet cake which would be so easy since it's frosted warm. You can make two in an hour.

                                                    16 Replies
                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      Ack! Bring the turkey?! That beats all!

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        The answer to "Can you bring the turkey?" is "No, I'm sorry, I can't. Can I bring a salad or side dish, or dessert perhaps?" If the host is boorish and asks for you to bring the turkey, then be assertive back. Graciously, of course.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          Now that we have Sam and turkeys involved ( no, different critters). I'll volunteer the post I edited away above when this was all ladytalk. I asked the customary "what can I bring?" It was a smallish dinner party of 8-10, maybe 25 years ago when a $ was still worth 75 cents and I was anything but affluent. I was told I could bring two (2) bottles of a specific Santenay, and where I could buy them. They were $35 each! Shockers like that one remembers a long time.

                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            The nerve of the host to dictate that you buy two bottles of such expensive wine! Very bad.

                                                            "Customary." Exactly. "What can I bring?" is a nicety that is not to be taken as an open invitation to take unfair advantage.

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              I sincerely hope that you did not do it.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                I had plenny money that day. And it was a scarlet sunset with puffy clouds and pretty women from Katonah and Pound Ridge and no mosquitos; what else is wine for?

                                                              2. re: Veggo

                                                                A friend of mine broke up with a pretty serious boyfriend in part because he asked her to bring the lox to a bagel breakfast. Of course there were other issues, but she relayed this story as emblematic of their different attitudes toward hosting parties, money, and generosity in general.

                                                              3. re: chowser

                                                                That "Bring the turkey" answer is hilarious. Maybe I'll try that move on someone next time I'd like prime rib roast. ("You can pitch in? Okay, go to Sparrow Meat market, get a prime rib roast, go low and slow in the oven, and we'll see you here at 5.")

                                                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                  Really, that's my strategy for my next dinner party.:-)

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    So did she bring the turkey?

                                                                    Didn't see a post saying what happened.

                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                      I don't know. She's not someone I know well, just mentioned it in passing. I'm wondering now, though. I'll have to ask what happened but from the way she was talking about it, it sounded like she was planning on doing it.

                                                                2. re: chowser

                                                                  Not as much detail given on what to bring as in this letter


                                                                  I think I would be banding together with the other family members to NOT follow the instructions given.

                                                                  1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                    FYI - there was a thread a couple of years ago when this URL was all the rage. You may want to search because if jfood remembers correctly there were a lot of great posts

                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        I must have missed that thread, but HAD to look it up. For those who also can't contain their curiosity, here it is:


                                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                                    I was asked to bring the turkey (Her MIL was bringing everything else). No cooking for the hostess.
                                                                    That was family. Last time that we did that.
                                                                    We were invited to a BBQ once and a few days beforehand the hostess called and asked me to bring a couple of chickens. Sure, I will. The next day she called and another family was coming, could I bring 4 chickens? Well, I guess so. The day of she called and could I cook them? Her son was a friend of my kids so I just did it. Never again

                                                                  3. A "cookout" sounds like a potluck to me, or at least an "I'll provide burgers, hotdogs and chicken, you guys bring everything else"...very different from being invited to a "dinner." It sounds like there was probably some miscommunication here...

                                                                    Obviously your post isn't a transcript of the conversation, but from what you wrote, it's possible that he misunderstood your clarification question ("for everyone?") for an offer (his response was "sure" like he was accepting an offer rather than "yes, please" or something to that effect) or that you were asking whether you were bringing dessert for the party vs. for his family (hostess gift-esque). I'm also wondering how old the host is and what his financial situation is - he might be strapped money-wise, skill-wise or otherwise and just counting his blessings that his awesome baker cousin has offered to take responsibility for dessert. Maybe imagining him that way (relieved and thankful) may help you feel better about the situation?

                                                                    I think that the best way to handle it is to be up-front with what you're able/willing to do, and to ask what other people are bringing. If you ask what other people are bringing and you're the only one being pressed into service, he might relent - it would be weird to tell someone that no one else has been asked to bring anything unless he then said something like "but we love your brownies so much we were really hoping you'd be willing to bring them!" Otherwise, you may not realize that other people are in fact bringing desserts and there are just some crossed wires. If I were having a potluck for 20 and someone asked me if they should bring enough X "for everyone", I think I'd say yes, too (or let them know that 1/2 the guests don't eat meat or whatever, as the case may be)...but then I'd assume that they'd know that their dish isn't going to be the only thing there, so probably not everyone will take a "full sized" serving.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: akq

                                                                      wise words, akq, and an interesting take on the conversation. allusions to contract law did not go unappreciated. :)

                                                                    2. I'm usually all about being appalled at others' etiquette, but in this case I think you are making a big deal about nothing. I just don't think the host sees it as as big a deal as you do. Maybe it's a generational thing, who knows. You offered to bring something, and knowing that you are a baker he thought you might like to bring brownies or something. I don't think the host expects you to slave away, he expects you to make one pan of brownies. So go ahead and make a pan of brownies if you feel like it, and if you don't feel like it pick up cookies and icecream at the store. It's not such a big deal. Honestly, I wouldn't have given this a second thought.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Nicole

                                                                        I'm glad that this type of thing is not a big deal to you and others. It's a blessing to be able to let things roll off your back. I'll try to work on caring less about these things. But I sure do apreciate this thread, for giving me ideas for how to handle the situation I am in now, and for giving me different perspectives that will help me handle a similar sittuation better next time.

                                                                        1. re: Nicole

                                                                          Nicole: "I'm usually all about being appalled at others' etiquette...." Hahaha! Me too. I'm stealing that line.

                                                                        2. But you're the browniebaker!!!
                                                                          Ok, so now we know he needs dessert help. It's ok to say no, if that's what you want.

                                                                          How would I handle it? I would bring dessert for 25.

                                                                          1. Update: I have not had a final headcount from my cousin, but this morning was rather cool outside, so I opened the windows and cranked up the oven. I made 2 9-inch square pans of brownies, which will yield 32 brownies. I'm freezing them until this Sunday. These do well in the freezer, so no worries.

                                                                            To answer some of the questions out there:

                                                                            Akq: There was no indication that this was a potluck until after I had said yes and asked the now-regretted question. Most of the cookouts I go to are not potlucks, so no reasonable expectation of a potluck here. Also this is not a regular family get-together where one might have a potluck tradition. I see him just about twice a year.

                                                                            You have a point, Akq, that he could have interpreted my expression of surprise -- "For everyone?" -- as an offer to bring enough for everyone. However he had already said "the" dessert (not "a" dessert) and, furthermore, I did follow up with a shocked, "That's a lot of dessert!" No, I think he's just socially oblivious; he is in fact socially awkward and clueless in most social situations you can think of, bless his heart.

                                                                            Good point, too, Akq, about relative finances, but we can't owe this to his being financially strapped, as he is a radiologist who makes good money, graduated schools like Milton Academy and Johns Hopkins, and comes from a moneyed family.

                                                                            As for any generational difference, I am only nine years older than he even though his mom and I are the same generation (share the same great-grandfather) in our family.

                                                                            Love all your replies. I'm getting great ideas and appreciate the support, even from those who are smacking me in the head! Thanks!!!

                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                            1. re: browniebaker

                                                                              Glad you worked it out, bb. I was going to suggest bringing a whole watermelon, if you did not want to cook. It's reasonably priced and would feed a crowd.

                                                                              I'm curious, if they had said you don't have to bring anything, what would you have brought. I usually bring dessert items when I am invited somewhere or wine (or both). I never bring a gift and have only received a gift once. It was potholders and mitts for a thanksgiving dinner and the guest also brought a pie. I thought it was a lovely gesture, but I never think to do something like that.

                                                                              1. re: Val55

                                                                                Wow, I like that watermelon idea. Very seasonal and it would have been a big hit. Will file that idea away for next time.

                                                                                I had been planning on bringing a little gift for their two-year-old daughter, and I probably still will do so. My two kids love to bring their little cousin something fun.

                                                                                To any dinner party I go to that's not a potluck I bring for the host or hostess a small gift like tea towels, a journal, a good book I think he or she would like, a potted plant, a box of note cards, pretty soaps, sachets, etc. I keep a "treasure closet" of gifts I pick up just for such occasions.

                                                                                1. re: Val55

                                                                                  The watermelon idea reminds me of the 3 years I organized the annual picnic for my son's high school music booster organization (over 300 pp attended each year). One of the guests (OK, one of the music teachers) brought a whole watermelon and just handed it over to me! Luckily I had a large chef's knife and a friend to help, so I put her in a corner to hack at the thing...no cutting board, no running water. What a mess. Nice thought, lousy execution. If you bring watermelon, cut it up first, platter it, and save the host the trouble.

                                                                                  1. re: rednails

                                                                                    Good point about cutting the watermelon. To a host, receiving uncut watermelon is like receiving cut flowers out of water.

                                                                                    1. re: rednails

                                                                                      I zont kno vhat ess zzee pro - blem viss zee vatermelOn. Jes' take zee saber en SZZHH SZZHHSS - all slice - ed Perfectemonte!

                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                            LOL!! I only *wish* I had a saber that day, I could have kept a few people in line!

                                                                                            Seriously tho, the thought of someone bringing food--of any kind--that has to be prepped upon arrival is thoughtless. The teacher was a nice guy but I guess clueless about that kind of thing. I've learned so much thru the years, and especially since reading Chowhound, that I realize that things I have done in the past make me cringe now.

                                                                                      1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                        Sounds like a great solution, bb. It does sound like perhaps your cousin is a bit lacking in the knowledge of some social graces.

                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                          All this talk of brownies is making me CRAVE brownies,. Do you make them with or without nuts? I am glad that you cranked up the oven and made them. I have a feeling that they will be much appreciated and enjoyed. I am not a great baker so I probably would have brought two pies.

                                                                                          1. re: Bite Me

                                                                                            Oh, I love brownies, too! I make them in every flavor and favor-combo; with or without nuts, chips, dried fruit; swirled or not; single-decker or double-decker. For this party I went with no-nuts, not knowing the other people well.

                                                                                            But, pies. Oh, PIES! Pies are my favorite sweet to bake. Pies to me are love. I can bake a pie only for people I love.

                                                                                            1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                              yummmmmm. i think that you have written the most passionate and memorable post i've read on here in a long time.

                                                                                              1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                I don't know browniebaker, I was wondering if you would bake some brownies for me. I'll send you my addy. :-))

                                                                                          2. jfood thinks asking someone who graciously offers to bring something bring dessert for 19 is a bit much. Suppose the answer was could you bring the wine for 19 (what's that like 3 cases), or how about we do not have a hard liquor bar, please bring all the hard liquors for 19.

                                                                                            In hindsight and with most thing that you have time to think about, it would have been interesting if you said, "wow, 19 people. who else is bring dessert so I can coordinate what we are all bringing."

                                                                                            Else, make brownies and bring a few 48oz containers of Edy's or Dreyers depending which coast or in between.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                              I would have asked on the phone who else was bringing dessert, but he had said that I was the first person he was calling on the guest list. The next day, when I e-mailed to ask him for a final head count when he has one, I did ask at that time whether I was still on for bringing the only dessert and whether anyone else had volunteered to bring dessert since he and I talked. (Hint, hint!) He told me that he had since spoken to only one other person and that he had "asked him to bring a side."

                                                                                              I guess "a" side means the side does not have to be 19 servings. I wouldn't have minded being asked to bring "a" dessert.

                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                I have had someone ask me to bring the beer and wine to a large party when I asked if I could bring something. I joked at the time that I'd rather bring a few trays of brownies. But, I realized after she didn't mean to bring enough for the entire party since she has plenty there. I wonder if she thought I just BYOB and that I always drink a couple of little kegs (of Heineken from Costco because it seemed cost effective) and a few bottles of wine.

                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                  You must come to some of our parties....no matter how much wine and or beer is provided by us or brought by guests, we seem to drink it all.

                                                                                                2. re: jfood

                                                                                                  "Suppose the answer was could you bring the wine for 19 (what's that like 3 cases)"
                                                                                                  Zoinks jfood! That's nearly two bottles per person. How are they all going to get home?

                                                                                                3. I agree with you browniebaker, I would have been surprised that they expected me to provide the entire dessert course, and that they overstepped when asking you to bring that much. There's a big difference betweeen "a" dessert and "the" dessert for 19 people. It's possible they were hoping more people would be polite and ask what they could bring, but almost nobody else did, and so you end up being responsible for the whole dessert.

                                                                                                  that being said, it's one meal, and as others have said, don't overthink it or put too much effort into it since you aren't exactly close with these people. Most people are perfectly content with a variety of store-bought cookies and brownies or what have you.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                    I object!

                                                                                                    <It's possible they were hoping more people would be polite and ask what they could bring...>

                                                                                                    No, no, no! If you are hosting a party, you are hosting a party. If it is a potluck, say so, and give out assignments if you think it would make things run more smoothly. Don't "host" a party which is actually a potluck in disguise!

                                                                                                    It might be "polite" (merely as a social nicety) to say, "What can I bring?" (I don't consider that to be true either, but I might be in the minority here.) But the polite answer is "Nothing, but thank you for offering."

                                                                                                    Those guests that accepted their invitation without using that phrase were not being rude. They were being guests.

                                                                                                    (And perhaps they were guests that know the "host" a bit better than the OP, no?)

                                                                                                  2. BB, I agree you were ambushed but you accepted, didn't you? There is a word in the English language you could have used - No! Even No, thank you. Or state, as many have pointed out, that you would be glad to bring dessert for 10 people, WHO ELSE is bringing?

                                                                                                    Definitely need to have a talk with Junior about your responsibility. Perhaps I am inferring too much information, but it sounds like Junior is used to imposing on you and you always accept. BREAK THIS HABIT! Be prepared you may not get any future invites, but be proud of yourself for asserting your rights.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                      Diane, you make good points, but please see upthread. I had already said yes before I was told to bring dessert for everyone. Too late to un-say yes, in my book. Must go through with it. But I am learning a lesson here for next time.

                                                                                                      You're right that "Junior" (good name for him!) takes a lot for granted. His mom does everything for him, so he doesn't realize that he might be imposing on someone. Good advice to set limits. I have had to do so in the past about gratis babysitting for his daughter, and I see I have to be careful when he calls to invite (this is the first at-home dinner party he has invited me to).

                                                                                                    2. I just thought of something. Call me sexist, but....

                                                                                                      Is it possible that Mr. Host was given the job of calling inviting guests by Mrs. Host. He is a wonderful person, but (like my DH) somewhat clueless about party logistics. When you asked if you could bring something, he said the first thing that popped into his head: dessert. When you asked "for everyone", he answered in his clueless way: "sure", without even consulting Mrs. Host. AT dinner that evening, Mr. Host probably said to Mrs. Host: "Oh, and BB is coming; she's bring the dessert so you don't have to worry about it"?

                                                                                                      We could beat this puppy 'til the cows come home, and we all certainly learned some lessons about how strange our culinary cultures may seem to others.

                                                                                                      My nephew's graduation party is next week. Open house, roughly 100 expected in and out, with both adults and HS/college-age kids. I am not the hostess, and it's not "pot luck", but just for the record, (so you won't think I'm an ungracious cretin) I am providing THE pulled pork (but not the rolls), THE kicked-up coleslaw, AN app and A dessert. If, at the last minute, there are any holes in the menu, I'll be ready & willing to help fill them. I'm also taking the day off to be at my sister's beck & call for whatever she needs. That's my culinary culture.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                        Your scenario is highly probable. My cousin's rather clueless, and his wife often countermands his instructions. Once, he called to order Girl Scout cookies from my daughter. The next day he called with a revised order that his wife had told him to call in after hearing what he had ordered originally.

                                                                                                        Congrats on your nephew's graduation. Sounds like a wonderful party. My kind of food! You're a fantastic aunt and sister.

                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                          So, have you talked to the wife, if she's the one that's more clued in? Wouldn't you feel burned if it turns out she already has a dessert (even if it's a crappy one)?

                                                                                                            1. re: Bite Me

                                                                                                              Well, she didn't have him decrease the order; that would have disappointed a little 8-year-old Brownie, wouldn't it? But she did not increase the order, either. She had him delete a flavor, add another flavor, and change the quantity of two of the flavors. My poor cousin is hen-pecked by his wife and his mother. I wonder whether his two-year-old daughter will grow up to rule him as well.

                                                                                                        2. Though not quite the same, this reminds me of the San Jose rib thread....

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                            :-D I had thought of that as well, OCAnn!

                                                                                                          2. You did offer... for 19 people I'd take cookies or a big cake or something really easy that makes a large volume but doesn't cost a fortune. The time for super-duper elaborate desserts is NOT when you're feeding the hordes!

                                                                                                            Or instead of saying 'what can I bring?' say 'would you like me to bring A cake/pie/whatever your specialty is.' That doesn't put you on the hook for an unlimited contribution!

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                              I understand what you are saying: you think I offered to bring a food. But, as I explained up-thread, among my friends and family (well, except for this one family member, I now find!), the question, "Can I bring anything?" is just a social nicety. Very seldom does anyone accept, and if one does, that person is usually a close friend or relative and the thing I'm to bring is just something they ran out of or could use help getting, like ice or cups.

                                                                                                              Unless it was stated as a potluck in the invitation, I think it's ungracious for a host to expect a guest to bring dessert for 19 people. My not having thought fast enough on my feet to say no right away is irrelevant to the ungraciousness of his actions. On that point no one can convince me of the opposite.

                                                                                                            2. I have a different problem. When people throw large gatherings and I'm invited, I often show up only to find that I'm the cook. I usually have good fun and would probably meddle anyway if someone else were cooking. So I take extra clothes and stuff to take a shower after all is done.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                You must really throw yourself into your cooking if you need to do that.

                                                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                  I find that a slip-offable thumb bandage or an arm sling work wonders for that. Always keep one in your car.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                    Do you carry your own knives? My pet peeve when cooking at someone else's house is if they lack good knives!!

                                                                                                                  2. When I invite people for dinner, I have the menu planned down to a "T" and plan to spend several days cooking (which I love). I do NOT want anyone to bring food or wine to be served that evening -- all of this is covered. If I don't feel like this much effort, I organize a potluck where people can bring whatever they wish. If I am invited for dinner, I NEVER offer to bring something; in my book, this is an insult to the host, implying that they can't put together a dinner on their own.

                                                                                                                    I would make an exception for a big "feast" meal, such as Thanksgiving, where everyone seems to expect at least 20 or so dishes to be offered.

                                                                                                                    1. Update from the OP: I've learned today from another cousin's status update on Facebook that she and her family (four people) will be vacationing in Cancun this weekend, so I can subtract 4 from the guest list, bringing the number of dessert servings to 15 at most.

                                                                                                                      I think the total might end up being a lot fewer than 15 guests, given that my cousin did not start making his phone calls to invite people until seven days before the party, which is this Sunday.

                                                                                                                      I wonder when he is going to let me know that I don't need to bake for 19? If the number's gone down to 15, that a big difference and I would sure like to know!

                                                                                                                      However, it could be that my Cancun-destined cousin has not even R.s.v.p.'ed, so that the host does not know. Given the poor state of manners regarding R.s.v.p.'s, I would not be surprised if no one else has responded to the invitation.

                                                                                                                      He promised me a final headcount, but I have not heard from him yet, and there are only two days left before the party.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                        You agreed (for whatever crazy reason) to provide dessert for 19 people. Just do it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                          No, I was the first person my cousin called to invite, so at the time he knew only that he was *inviting* 19 people, not that 19 people were coming. I sent him an e-mail right after the phone call, and I (1) asked him for a final headcount and (2) asked him to let me know who else volunteers to bring dessert as well. He agreed he would let me know.

                                                                                                                          I think he should reasonably know from my e-mail that (1) I am not making dessert for 19 if fewer are actually coming, and (2) I do not necessarily expect to be the only person bringing dessert.

                                                                                                                      2. Update from the OP: Just received an e-mail from my cousin that contains just one sentence, "What's for dessert this Sunday?"

                                                                                                                        I think it's a bit nervy of him to need to know what I am bringing. If it's a potluck, it's just "luck" what you get. It's not as if I'm a real caterer who owes him a dessert subject to his approval.

                                                                                                                        I e-mailed back only this: "Don't you have a final head-count yet? Also, did you get anyone else to bring a dessert?"

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                          Reply: sorry, can't come after all. Thanks. Going to Cancun for the weekend. BUT, I m sending you the brownies I made for the party with Aunt Minnie. [and, bb, DO send the brownies].

                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                            Somehow, I think Sam's Sunday morning brownies would help me solve the Sunday Sudoku and NYT crossword either in record time, or never at all. I have not a guess.

                                                                                                                          2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                            Obviously there's a little more going on than making the dessert so why don't you just make it, bring it and enjoy having everyone love what you're bringing?
                                                                                                                            Life's too short.

                                                                                                                            1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                              I like Sam's idea. Don't go.
                                                                                                                              End of drama.

                                                                                                                              1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                I'd say, "No, I haven't decided what to make yet...BTW, do you have a headcount?"

                                                                                                                              2. You asked if you could bring something. The host replies, "Sure, there will be about nineteen of us"....and dessert is requested.
                                                                                                                                Now you've created a situation where you either graciously bring the dessert or explain why you aren't bringing it.
                                                                                                                                I would bring the dessert, (3) homemade pies and icecream.
                                                                                                                                This same thing has happened to me and I took it as a compliment that they liked my baking.
                                                                                                                                I would never, under any circumstance, buy store bought desserts.
                                                                                                                                That's just me.

                                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                  Update from the OP: Yes, more drama, as latindancer puts it. Just received an e-mail from my cousin saying the final headcount is 12 and could go as high as 14. He pointedly ignored my question asking who else is bringing dessert.

                                                                                                                                  latindancer, you are right that there is more going on here than just making the dessert. It's, as Diane in Mexley said up-thread, about setting some limits with "Junior," as she called him. I've mentioned that there has been the problem of his making unreasonable or inappropriate requests of me. Since he moved to town two years ago, my two kids and I have babysat their infant daughter at their house twice (and gratis, of course, as a favor) to allow them an evening out. That's fine; glad to do it. However, I was offended when he called five months ago and asked whether I could babysit their now-two-year-old (for free, of course!) at his house every Wednesday afternoon for a semester because his wife was going back to school to get her nursing degree. In our family, I am his mother's generation and more an aunt than a cousin, and this request was simply inappropriate. Furthermore, my being a stay-at-home mom does not mean I have all Wednesday afternoon free to babysit in someone else's house 30 minutes' drive away from mine. I did tell him then that it wasn't appropriate for him to ask me or indeed any adult other than a babysitter for employ to give that kind of regular childcare.

                                                                                                                                  So, you see, this request to cater the dessert for his party is yet another request from him that oversteps the bounds. I will bring a dessert, but I am insisting on a headcount and suggesting that I share the duty with other bringers of dessert.

                                                                                                                                  "(3) homemade pies and icecream." you suggest? No. I absolutely will not make three pies. That's more trouble than I wish to take in this case. I baked two batches of brownies when the weather was cool enough the other day, froze them, and will defrost them by Sunday. With only 12 guests coming, I will take just one batch.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                    "Junior" sounds like a punk who's taking advantage; he needs to find a paid sitter. In most instances, I'd *make* something, but for this unappreciative kid, store-bought is okay in my book. Whatever you decide, don't go out of your way and do what feels right to you.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                      bb, take both batches. When all is said and done, better to have done more than not enough....

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                        I'd have to agree with Sam on this one. I think you should take both batches. I think it would incense you to no end if anyone made a comment about there not being enough dessert or something. Why add to your frustration?

                                                                                                                                        It is clear there is a lot of underlying resentment happening here. I would say for good reason, I sympathize with you for having to deal with your inappropriate relative. But I suspect you are a lot more bothered than he is. After all, he is socially unaware, and he probably has no idea how upset you get about his unreasonable demands. Socially unaware people are like that, they just don't get it.

                                                                                                                                        You are getting worked up about a situation that is unlikely to resolve itself. He has no clue, and is unlikely to ever have a clue. It might be a good idea to step back, do the gracious thing which is provide a dessert as requested, let the head count idea go, and forget about trying to get him to help find other bringers of dessert. I think you will just be setting yourself up for more frustration and resentment. Do the right thing, and then perhaps in the future limit your interactions with this person. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff, and he seems to have a knack for making you sweat the small stuff.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: moh

                                                                                                                                          moh!!! !!! I'm off to sleep, happy that there are people out there like you.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                            Sweet dreams Sam! May you taste deliciousness in your sleep...

                                                                                                                                          2. re: moh

                                                                                                                                            "After all, he is socially unaware, and he probably has no idea how upset you get about his unreasonable demands. Socially unaware people are like that, they just don't get it."
                                                                                                                                            OR....he's fully aware of what he's doing, but feels entitled to do so, for whatever reason. That entitlement factor (the fact that his mother did everything for him) runs strong in him, obviously.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                          Ah yes a perfect example of some in the Generation Me age group. As Jfood has decribed them as the Opera Singer..."Me me me me". Jfood tries like the dickens to keep little jfood from these ideas as well.

                                                                                                                                          But please do not take it from the gutter to the sewer. Jfood agrees with Sam. Take both batches and stop and bring some ice cream as well. Make it a spectacular Swan Song from Cousin Brownie. Then you have your cousin's numer and choose your words, and your actions carefully in the future.

                                                                                                                                          Even these peeps are trainable.

                                                                                                                                          Have a great weekend.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                            It really does not make a bit of sense for you to attend this gathering.

                                                                                                                                            You're animosity toward the house is clearly very deep seated and you do not want to bring dessert.

                                                                                                                                            For the sake of everyone involved, just call with an excuse and let him know that you will not be coming.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kater

                                                                                                                                              Life is a series of learning experiences. You learn from addressing them in a mature manner and also in keeping yourself above the fray.

                                                                                                                                              This is another example of the social graces that the Me Generation feels is appropriate. Calling 24 hours before and cancelling is extremely bad form.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                I agree. Do not call to cancel. That teaches this man nothing, and brings you down to his level. Canceling an invitation you have already accepted is Simply Not Done.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                              This would be the last gathering I would be going to with these people, for sure.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                Obviously YOUR momma was a little better at instilling personal responsibility and accountablitiy in you than Junior's mother was in him. You have to figure out a way to deal with this in your head or you will be forever finding situations that offend you with Junior and adding to that mental list of offenses. I speak from experience, and can tend to be the same way if I don't watch myself. The dessert thing would have pissed me off as well, but not nearly as much as the babysitting thing. Let it go, take a deep breath and spend your valuable time on people who you really care about. He's not worth getting your knickers in a knot, and he will never be anything more or less than what he is.

                                                                                                                                            3. I do think the OP was ambushed and those ambushes never give you time for the 'right' answer. Asking if you can bring something is like asking someone how they are, all you really want to hear is I am fine thanks not a rundown of their bunions, corns, heart problems, migraines, diarrhea and skin conditions.

                                                                                                                                              Of course at the time you 'should' have said I will bring one dessert ask someone else to bring something else so we have a variety. But you are put on the spot and the 'right' answers don't often come that fast. You also could have called your cousin back when you had had some time to think about it and say you only have time to make enough for about 8 and could he provide some other desserts or ask someone else to bring things.

                                                                                                                                              But now it's too late, so suck it up and enjoy it.

                                                                                                                                              1. Many discussions about culinary culture, and most of them are not mine, but nevertheless valid and interesting. Browniebaker clearly has issues with Junior that do not center on food, and good luck to you on dealing with them responsibly.

                                                                                                                                                If I am going to a party, I always ask "What can I bring." I'm not looking for the polite "Just bring your sweet self." I really want to know what I can bring that will add to the party. And when people ask me, I try to come up with something for them to bring to make them feel like a contributor. Whether it is a loaf of bread or bottle of wine or a dessert. If I can have someone bring 2 bottles of wine, then when I was underemployed, it would halve the cost of having a dinner party. Dessert typically works because it isn't so important to match the other dishes to the dessert, in the same fashion that it is difficult to match sides or even salad.

                                                                                                                                                I have one friend who comes over every 2 weeks for dinner at my place. She always brings the fish and sometimes the wine. In exchange I provide a kitchen to play in and the rest of the ingredients (veggies, starch, condiments, etc.) We cook together, and I flesh it out into a whole meal. Does this make me tacky in your eyes?

                                                                                                                                                Perhaps it's financial, and my friends would rather spend time together more often than be entertained infrequently.

                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                                  That's the spirit :-) And like you when I ask if I can bring something, it is because I want to...not a bluff. If I'm not in a position to contribute (time issue) or it's a more formal event and the host is not a close friend, I do not ask and simply bring a hostess gift which the host can decide whether to serve to to keep for later.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thinks too much


                                                                                                                                                    I keep reading this thread and not posting because it seems I'm missing the point of asking, "What can I bring" when you want to bring nothing at all. I always ask this question, and I always mean it 100%. If the response is nothing, that's great and I bring myself. If the response is dessert, chips, etc, that's great too and I bring it.

                                                                                                                                                    I kind of feel this whole situation is blown completely out of proportion. I doubt the host of the party has any idea he has made the OP so upset. Knowing that the OP is a good baker and appears to enjoy it he probably honestly thought she would not mind. I doubt he was planning on her making intricately plated deserts for 20 and instead figured she'd make brownies, bars, cake, or something else that is good for a cookout.

                                                                                                                                                    The brownies have been made, now take a few deep breaths, and enjoy the party and company.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                      agreed that the kid probably didn't see dessert for 20 as a big deal, but I'm of the mind that it was a rather big "ask" when there were (at that point) theoretically about 16 other guests who could help, too. isn't it possible that when one offers to help, one can rightly assume that the demand for help will be a reasonable one? I asked my friend the other day if I could babysit (for free) to give her some time to herself. If she had asked me to take the kids for three days straight, I might have found that a bit much. but that doesn't mean that I had no intention of helping in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                      That said, I agree, best to take a few deep breaths so that one can spend the time enjoying the party!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                                                                                                                        Yup, I absolutely agree it would make sense for him to ask someone else to bring a dessert as well. However, brownies or bars for 20 really isn't that big of deal, is it? Whip up a double batch and bake them at the same time. It won't take that much more time. Now, if he expected cheesecake or homemade pie or 20 cupcakes decorated with each person's name in their favorite color I think it would be a different story.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I just read thru this thread thinking, "This sounds like 'Much ado about nothing'."

                                                                                                                                                      First of all, the OP asked (as I would have) "Can I bring anything?" I'm sorry you didn't like the answer. I agree "dessert for everyone' is a bit much, but for the type of event it wasn't a crisis. And "bring" is not the same as "make." Who said it had to be from scratch? I also doubt they would have cared much (if at all) that your offering wasn't home made from scratch. No offense intended, but I'll bet they couldn't tell at all.

                                                                                                                                                      This is a cook out, not a formal dinner party. I would take this to mean it will be outside and very informal. If I wasn't up to baking, I would find a good local bakery and pick up a dozen brownies and a couple of dozen cookies. (They freeze well if all are not consumed.) You indicated your children were keen to go to the event. Kids love watermelon, so I second that idea. Problem solved. It doesn't sound like something to get too excited about.

                                                                                                                                                      Maybe my circle of friends is is different than many of the folks here, but with the exception of the occasional catered event, DW & I always ask, "What can we bring?" and mean it. Our friends do the same. Many hands make light work.

                                                                                                                                                      I am flattered when someone says, "Can you make your..." Similarly, I return the favor when the gathering is at our house, "Can you bring your..." With one of our friends, it's the running joke is,."Don't come if you can't bring..." If it is not convenient for whatever reason, I (or they) reply politely, "No, I can't make that this time." I have never been uninvited after saying that.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Update from the OP: All the postings with different perspectives! Very interesting. They go to show that we all have different cultures when it comes to entertaining.

                                                                                                                                                        Today, after I sent an e-mail last night asking whether I was the only one bringing dessert, I received an e-mail from my cousin stating in toto: "We're going to provide a little of everything. You're not going to be the only one providing dessert. You will just help us provide a variety."

                                                                                                                                                        Sooooo, sounds as if he "gets" it finally! A 12-hour turnaround for him. Maybe he asked his wife what to do , and his wife set him straight. It sounds like him, always asking his mother or his wife when in a pinch. (This guy's 36 years old, but his mother still tells him what make and model car to buy and searches out the best price for him. She looked at houses for him and his wife two years ago and told them which one to buy.)

                                                                                                                                                        I'm very pleased about this outcome. I feel as if I am no longer letting him take advantage of me or take me for granted. I'll be bringing my two batches of brownies and a gift for their little daughter, and I'll have a good time.

                                                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                          or maybe he, his wife or his mother visit Chow.........

                                                                                                                                                          Peace, love and brownies, sistah!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, and the same to you, sistah!

                                                                                                                                                            By the way, the same thought occurred to me! Could he have read --?! But only for a nano-second, for they are philosophically quite the opposite of Chowhounds. A long time ago I mentioned this site to my cousin, and he had no interest at all.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                            Sounds like he's hen-pecked by mom & didn't have a chance to develop certain social skills. After reading these many posts, he sounds clueless and I wouldn't let him irritate me anymore; just tell yourself it's not intentional. *Most* men (present company excluded) don't communicate well or precisely in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the many updates; I'm glad to hear that things have taken a change for the better & that you're pleased w/the outcome. Hopefully, you understand Junior better and that will help you not get irritated by him in the future. =)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                              Agreed, OCAnn - and perhaps in the future, browniebaker can be a bit more direct in her queries to this cousin - when he asks her to bring "the dessert" she can ask, "Am I the only one providing dessert? How many people are going to be attending?"

                                                                                                                                                              And if he doesn't know, she could tell him "OK, when plans are firmed up, please let me know. But I'd appreciate not finding out last minute - please let me know a week ahead so I can plan - shopping, baking, etc.?"

                                                                                                                                                              It's only fair to ask the host cousin to be as complete as possible in his responses. And if he can't respond properly, browniebaker can say "I would be happy to contribute but I really need some advance time, as I've got Mary's recital and Johnny's soccer game. Perhaps another time."

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                              Please tell me you're joking.

                                                                                                                                                              You didnt' really send this poor host an email asking whether you're the only person mixing up some brownies for the cookout, did you?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Kater

                                                                                                                                                                Why shouldn't she? It's a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dty

                                                                                                                                                                  Though it is a legitimate question to clarify the matter, I can see where Kater is coming from; it *can* sound somewhere between whiny, pointed and presumptuous.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                    Was my question"pointed"? Yes, and intentionally so. My cousin had agreed in the beginning to let me know (1) how many guests are coming and (2) how many other people volunteered to bring dessert. Two days before the party, I e-mailed again with both questions, and he answered only the first question, giving me the head-count. He pointedly, I think, avoided answering the second question because he had not gotten anyone else to bring dessert. I then asked "Am I the only one bringing dessert?" to make him give me the information he had agreed to give. So, yes, my question was pointed. The question is pointed also in that I was making a point: that I as guest should not be presumed to be responsible for the one dessert for the entire party.

                                                                                                                                                                    Was my question "presumptious"? No, it was not presumptuous because he gave me the right to know the answer when he asked to me to be responsible for the one dessert for the entire party. I am not presuming any conditions that he did not first impose. If I am a de facto caterer, I need to know how much dessert to cater.

                                                                                                                                                                    Was my question "whiny?" No, given that I have reason, as explained above, to need to know whether anyone else is bringing dessert, my question is not a whine but a request for information that he had agreed to give me.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Kater

                                                                                                                                                                  This is a perfectly reasonable question since it was originally OP wants to make sure there was enough for everyone. It's a heck of a lot better then not showing up as you suggested before.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm going to have to make this my last comment on the Brownie Saga of 2009, but it is not reasonable to carry on this way. The request for was dessert, she had the number of guests. Haranguing the host is not the way to handle this sort of Dessert Storm.

                                                                                                                                                                    I suggested that she opt out because the depth of conflict in this relationship and the scope of this issue clearly goes well beyond a batch of brownies.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kater

                                                                                                                                                                      Sorry, but I think the opportunity to "opt out" is when one is first invited, not after one has accepted, and certainly not just two days before the party.

                                                                                                                                                                      Now, right after I had accepted and the host asked for dessert for the entire party, that's when I should have suddenly remembered a previous engagement that would sadly keep me from attending. However, I did not think fast enough on my feet, never having had this demand made upon me as a guest. So I was left with managing the situation at hand and decided to ask Chowhounds how they would handle it. I appreciate all the help you all have given me (even your smackdowns, Kater!).

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm happy that I am now attending a party whose host now "gets" it and has finally acknowledged that he and his wife as hosts "will be providing a little of everything" (his words) and that my dessert is only to "provide variety" (his words) and will not be the sole dessert for all. That's as it should have been from the first.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kater

                                                                                                                                                                        Not exactly your last comment, kater. You've very nicely segue'd into your very own thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/621263

                                                                                                                                                                3. Well you did ask the question...just like any normal person with any sense of social grace would do. I don't understand these arguments that you shouldn't have asked the question. We all know how the 'game' is played. A normal host would simply say 'no thanks.' You then show up with the preverbal bottle of wine. The exception to this might be if perchance you had a dish that was famous in the family. Then they might ask you to bring your famous dip, cookies, or whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                  But to ask some one who is not a close relative or friend to bring desert for 19 is a bit much and very odd.

                                                                                                                                                                  Just make a big bowl of Jello.

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                    Assuming that "we all know" anything is a good way to get yourself in trouble socially. If you ask a question, some people will take it literally. In a similar vein, some people mean it when they say, "We must have lunch" while for some people it's just a thing to say. You never know when something can cross from a slight difference in rhetoric to a place where someone gets offended. Don't say something, especially to someone you don't know well or (as it turns out in thise instance) you have a problematic relationship with unless it is acceptable to you that they take it literally.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bibi rose

                                                                                                                                                                      They know each other (family) and it is a huge thing to ask someone to 'just bring desert for 19.'

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Not to irk those who have called this too much drama, but I will post after the party tomorrow to let you know what happened. I owe it to those who have given advice and tried to help me. I remember the SanJoseHound "Rude Rib Rube" thread and how glad everyone was to have a final account of the party and have closure.

                                                                                                                                                                    So, until tomorrow! Enjoy the long weekend, everyone!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. I keep peeking at this thread to see whats developed now...better than TV....in fact, knowing what happens tomorrow at the actual event will rank right up there for me along with the results of the Indy 500 as a piece of Memorial Weekend excitement.

                                                                                                                                                                      Seriously, BB, I hope there is some fun to be had at this 'do' after all the angst...please give us a blow-by-blow description of the food et al...(esp. the et al!)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Update from the OP: I didn't think there would be anything to tell you until the party this evening, but I had an amusing phone call from my cousin last night. First, I learned that his mother will be coming from New York state for the party. She so hen-pecks him and she so despises his wife that this should be good. If past be prologue, there will a chill in the air whenever the two women are not throwing flames of thinly veiled criticisms at each other.

                                                                                                                                                                        But the funniest thing happened when I said I would be bringing brownies. I think that's why he had called: to find out what I was bringing. As introduction to this, I have to tell you more about the initial phone call a week ago in which he invited me and asked me to bring the dessert, specifically the part where he told me what to bring. It went like this a week ago:

                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Can I bring anything?
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: You could bring the dessert.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: The dessert? For EVERYONE?
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: Sure. There will be . . . 19 of us.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: 19? That's a LOT of dessert!
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: Yeah, I guess so.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Like what kind of dessert are you thinking? (Meaning what genre: cookies, a cake, a pie, etc.?)
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: Lemon squares.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Oh, you like lemon squares?
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: No, but my wife does.

                                                                                                                                                                        Demanding, isn't he? Fast forward to last night, and I am even more incredulous:

                                                                                                                                                                        Me: So I'm bring brownies tomorrow.
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: Oh . . . (long silence) . . .Have you heard of the Tahitian Blondie?
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: No. What's that?
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: It's this really delicious blondie that's made somehwere in Ohio.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Oh, you mean it's made by a bakery or restaurant?
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: Yeah, it was featured on Bobby Flay Throwdown.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Really? Who won?
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: They did.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Wow, it must be good. What's in it?
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: Yeah. It's got coconut, macadamia, caramel . . . They will ship it, too. But they'll only ship it by overnight air.
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Well, you should have ordered it for your party!
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: No, it'd be way too expensive!
                                                                                                                                                                        Me: Well, I rarely put coconut in my blondies because [my husband] does not like coconut. I'm bringing brownies made from my own recipe that's my family's favorite.
                                                                                                                                                                        Cousin: Oh, I wasn't saying you had to make Tahitian Blondies for the party.

                                                                                                                                                                        Really? He wasn't? Sounded to me as if he was. Maybe he wasn't hinting for Tahitian Blondies but is just socially awkward (as he is indeed).

                                                                                                                                                                        Can't wait for the party tonight!

                                                                                                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                          I think this latest post is most revealing about the host's family dynamics which adds another dimension to the discussion. I don't think you should ever hesitate offering to bring anything when invitied to future affairs, unless it's for this family in which case you now know not to ask. Aside from relationships filled with confilict, your cousin sounds young (and I hate to generalize cause this implies I'm old) and a little ego-centric or socially inexperienced or awkward as you had mentioned (or consider that most of us learn social graces from our families). Add me to the list waiting for the outcome of this event......

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                            Too bad you couldn't grab a blonde wig, wrap up in a sarong & couple of strategically placed coconut shells -- tell your cousin that he asked for a Tahitian Blondie......

                                                                                                                                                                            Sounds like the familiy version of "The Office".

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                              Priceless. This guy has taken the Me-Only Generation to a Whole Nother Level.

                                                                                                                                                                              Have a great BBQ and keep your head down and your spirits up.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                and i was worried about implying the cousin was narcissistic ;-) love it!

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                I clear lack of any sort of social graces. Sounds like you would have been screwed regardless if you had asked or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                I do admire you being able to honor your family obligations. If I saw him on the caller id I would not always be so inclined to pick up. I'd also consider coming down with something the the next time this clown throws an event. I can't imagine his parties are that good to begin with. Although the whole wife mother in law dynamic does sound entertaining.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                  That's hilarous. I sure wish I could go to this party with you. This is a wonderful group to see in action. You've had some great comments on this thread - I support the one about head down, spirits up, and wear a sarong with blonde wig!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                    Sounds what you all need is a good dose of honesty with each other.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Your cousin's and your passive aggressive behavior is just too exhausting....even to read.
                                                                                                                                                                                    How about coming out and telling him how you really feel about the babysitting and the dessert dilemma?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                      As I said upthread, I did flat-out tell him that it was inappropriate of him to request regular, weekly childcare from me or any other friend or family member who was not in the business of childcare. I told him he needed to hire a babysitter. His response was basically, "Oh, okay." I have known this cousin for 19 years, and he never learns from conversations like this. I am sure that whatever I could have said about the Tahitian-Blondies request would have been lost on him. A person does not get to the age of 36 and remain so socially naive without a certain density of skullbone.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I do appreciate your comments, and you have had some constructive things to say, but if this thread is too exhausting for you to read, maybe it would be better for you not to read it. I would miss you, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                        From the looks of it, based on your immediate responses, you're quite caught up in the drama. It takes (2), in this case your cousin and you, to participate and you've asked everyone on the board to participate. I'm participating.
                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd venture to say, outside this board, you also ask others you know to participate.
                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm just being honest and telling you this sort of behavior begins as entertainment but quickly turns to drama which can become exhausting.
                                                                                                                                                                                        I would have bowed out long ago and I'm just wondering why those who participate don't also.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Your cousin is either stupid or enjoys the game.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                          BTW I'm baking 4 berry pies today to take to a celebration. I asked if I could bring something, the host/hostess responded with a 'yes', and I'm thrilled to take them.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know all of the people attending and it's not relevant how they're received.
                                                                                                                                                                                          My opinion is meaningless when it comes to your predicament.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry if I've seemed out of line.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Carry on and enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                            LOL. Baking 4 additional berry pies after all that consternation about turning the oven on in the first place? That's funny!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                                              Beg your pardon?
                                                                                                                                                                                              My position is, always was, to bring the dessert and forget about the rest of the drama hence 'life's too short'.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                LOL...my apologies...I thought I was replying to BrownieBaker!

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. This is going to be a great party! But bb, you'll now have to make brownies for the 100 - 1000 of us now attending as your guest.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My cousin's lemon-square request and Tahitian-Blondie hint are just the two most recent instances of his making inappropriate requests for my baking. He simply has an enormous (in the literal sense) sense of entitlement and no social graces. Lest he sound like a child to anyone who has just joined this thread, let me stress that he is a full-grown, 36-year-old, board-certfied (or is he just "certifiable"?) radiologist with a wife and daughter.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Some of you have suggested that I should feel flattered when a host asks me to bake a dessert, especially if the host requests a dessert that is my specialty. If anyone but my cousin asked me, I would be flattered. But I know from experience not to bake to my cousin's requests, and I'll tell you why. The reason goes back to about seven years ago, when I was hostess and he was guest:

                                                                                                                                                                                        My cousin, then a single 29-year-old fellow in radiology living in another state, phoned and asked whether he could stay at my house for a couple of days because he needed to take his board exams in D.C. He was a pretty good guest: brought a hostess present of a bottle of wine, arranged a couple of meals out with local friends so that he was not underfoot all the time, and e-mailed a thank-you note afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The last evening of his stay, we were about to sit down to a rented movie when I asked whether he'd like a snack and offered to whip up a batch of cookies.

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Which would you like, chocolate-chip or raisin-oatmeal?" I asked.

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Actually," he said, "my favorite cookie is a molasses spice cookie. Could you make that?"

                                                                                                                                                                                        I should not have said yes, but I did. Maybe it was because I was in postpartum depression and not in my right mind. I had never made that particular cookie before. I got out my cookbooks and hunted for the right recipe. My cousin said one particular recipe looked like the right one. I baked the cookies. He took a bite of one.

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Is this the cookie you like?" I asked.

                                                                                                                                                                                        "No, this is not it." he says, adding, "The cookie I like is chewier."

                                                                                                                                                                                        No compliment. No thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I haven't felt the same about baking for him since.

                                                                                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                          Then why are you still baking for him?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                            One word: family. Can choose your friends but not your family. I will try to avoid his parties in the future, but I cannot avoid him totally. This is the first time he has invited me to a dinner he is hosting.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                            Sounds like he is one of those people who say whatever is one their mind, honest to fault perhaps perhaps, given the highway story, a touch of OCD.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                              Seeing as he has the social maturity of a 12 year old boy and now hearing the molasses spice cookie debacle, it mystifies me even more as to why you asked "What can I bring?" Even when it comes to family (or perhaps especially!), I have boundaries as to how much abuse to which I'll expose myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                Isn't radiology a profession where you have little or no direct contact with patients? And are exposed to harmful gamma rays? sorry, couldn't resist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Your issues with this cousin are obviously beyond the bounds of this board. Family therapy might work. In the time you've spent posting on this thread, you could've made enough dessert to feed a small town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for saying what was on my mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pinkprimp

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mine as well...the drama created over this situation is mind-boggling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just feel so badly for the host.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Truth be told, most of us (myself included) spend far too much time posting on Chow. If you paid close attention to the thread, it wasn't really about making a huge dessert -- it was about the presumptuousness of the host. And if you were not attracted to the drama, you wouldn't be on this board either, now would you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well put PattiCakes. It's the drama that brings out the more interesting discussions - at least for me - because I like the threads that talk about human nature, motives, etc. That's why it's called Not About Food. Unfortunately, sometimes, folks on this board can get a little snarky toward people who are trying to work through some complex and interesting issues. I hope that folks do not hesitate to continue to post these types of issues. I think they are important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is definitely a personality clash. I have folks like him in my family and I don't engage them...later to get myself irritated. I don't bring on unnnecessary frustration on myself and am surprised that you let this continue for so long. Like someone said upthread, perhaps you enjoy the drama?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think the San Jose rib thread was a true dilemma; this one is more about airing family issues....

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bite Me: and some of them even start their own threads on the same topic to bring the drama into thier own court (grin). A dessert by any other name is.....just a dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. Hey, you all, your posts are so LOL funny, I 'm actually starting to enjoy the prospect of attending this darn party! I do feel as if I WILL be there with all of you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                        BB, will there be alcohol at this shindig?? Make sure you have a drink because your cousin really sounds like a piece of work! I hope you enjoy yourself and can just get a good laugh out of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. You asked and (s)he replied. Just do it. It wasn't rude, just honest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Forgive me, I have not read all the replies in detail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Apparently everyone knows you love to bake, and therefore you got a different answer from the host than most people would have had they asked the same question. Admittedly the host should have acknowledged the imposition of asking you to provide dessert for everyone - but knowing it is something you have done before on a far more elaborate scale, probably figured this was no big deal for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          All that not withstanding, since the request pushed the bounds of social niceties, I see no reason for you not to reply something along the lines of "Oh, you flatter me, I'm really not up to that much of a project right now, but I'd be glad to provide half the desserts."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Of course it's easier to think that sitting here reading all the other replies after the fact... so "next time......"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I gotta say something...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Those who said you shouldn't have asked are right. But you are right to feel the way you do about being asked to bring the dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you don't want to bring the dessert because it bothers you, I say don't do it. Just as much as they asked you to bring it, you can still say you are unable and suggest something else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is how I would have handled it: After asking if I can bring something and "the" dessert is dropped on me I would first ask questions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1) "Oh!? *with shock and surprise* You didn't tell me it's a potluck and I would have to cook for EVERYONE at this party. What is everyone else bringing?" (Notice I haven't said yes to anything yet?) Add more investigative questioning if necessary like the reason why only a few are being asked to cook.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            2) After learning that very few people are bringing food I would decide how I feel about cooking for this occasion.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            - If I feel like it would be unfair to put it on myself to cook when not everyone is sharing this task, and it's being forced upon me, and I just plain don't feel like it, then that's totally ok. Kindly decline and say, "I can't cook anything this time, I guess I'll just be one of the GUESTS who didn't bring food. But let me know if you need some ice."
                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you're me you'd also say, "If I knew it were a potluck I probably would have said no because I've been too stressed/busy to help throw a party and I don't think it would be polite to come to a potluck without bringing something. Maybe i shouldn't come." Then they'd probably insist you do and that you don't have to bring something or if they don't you just got out of even having to go ;)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            - If I was in a good mood and felt like sharing my tasty goodies then I'd accept and add, "gee, you're so lucky you have such a gracious GUEST who's also a fabulous baker." *with a little chuckle*

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Either way, I'd hope I got it through to them what they just did by taking advantage of what I offered. Ya likey? I hope so. I hope I made sense too :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            BTW, from what you've said you seem like a very kind, polite, and thoughtful person. Don't LET people be rude to you and don't do something if it's going you bring unnecessary stress in your life. This is the real reason why I wanted to add my say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Final Report: The party was last night. It was all right. I brought the brownies as promised. The 12 people in all included the host, the hostess, and 10 guests. Here's a who's-who:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              host (my cousin)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              host's mother
                                                                                                                                                                                                              host's younger brother
                                                                                                                                                                                                              host's uncle and aunt
                                                                                                                                                                                                              host's mother's childhood friend and that friend's husband
                                                                                                                                                                                                              me (host's second cousin once removed), my two children, and my husband

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The menu was quite eclectic:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Asian grilled boneless chicken thighs, from the grill manned by the host
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Curry beef jerky brought by host's mother
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Teriyaki beef jerky brought by host's mother
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chinese pork sausage brought by host's mother
                                                                                                                                                                                                              8 dishes of Chinese takeout brought by host's mother
                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 platters of shrimp cocktail from Sam's Club
                                                                                                                                                                                                              platter of three cubed cheeses from Sam's Club and Ritz Honey Butter crackers
                                                                                                                                                                                                              platter of cut vegetables and ranch-style dip from Sam's Club
                                                                                                                                                                                                              platter of strawberries, pineapple, and grapes from Sam's Club
                                                                                                                                                                                                              three-potato salad (about two cups) from Safeway
                                                                                                                                                                                                              potato salad (about six cups) brought by host's uncle and aunt
                                                                                                                                                                                                              pickled cucumbers (about two quarts) brought by host's mother's friend and her husband
                                                                                                                                                                                                              32 brownies brought by me
                                                                                                                                                                                                              container of 24 cookies in three different flavors from Sam's Club
                                                                                                                                                                                                              apple pie from Sam's Club, served with vanilla ice cream
                                                                                                                                                                                                              soft drinks

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Asian grilled chicken was good. There was much too much food for the 12 people, so there were leftovers of everything at the end of the party. If there was going to be that much food and, especially, that much Chinese takeout, I as a host would not have asked any guests to bring any food. I am guessing that my cousin, the host, had not planned on all the Chinese foods being there. Probably the host's mother didn't like how little food would be there, even with the expected contributions from guests, and went out and bought the takeout . The host didn't know what restaurant the takeout was from, so his mother must have handled the entire order.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Host's uncle was a frightful double-dipper! Picture a bitten celery stick with fibers sticking out, stuck back into the ranch-style dip. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Everything was served on the kitchen island and the kitchen table. Guests were asked to take their food into the dining room and eat at table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              After dinner the hostess left to go to the playground with her toddler, for about an hour. I think she was happy to leave the hosting to the host and his mother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Later, I was speaking with the host's mother and her friend about thermal cookers. Those two women (both in their late fifties) dearly love their thermal cookers. Host's mother complained that she had given a thermal cooker to her daughter-in-law (host's wife) and that her daughter-in-law never uses it. The host walked by and affirmed that he and his wife "hardly ever" use the thermal cooker because they do not know any recipes for use with the cooker. Hearing this, the host's mother headed into the dining room, with us in tow, and started to root throught the china cabinet for the cooker. She was muttering about how the locations of things had been changed (it's not her house after all). Next she headed into the kitchen and swung open the pantry door to search in there. You should have seen the look on the hostess's face as she saw the violation of her pantry! "Why are you looking in my pantry?" she asked as she rushed right over. Then ensued a cooking lecture that sounded a lot like a TV infomercial, with the two older ladies' declaring that they could not live without their thermal cookers. The hostess listened with a glassy stare in her eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The party ended with each family being packed off with a large Ziploc container into which the Chinese takeout, jerky, and sausage had all been mixed together. (My children are happily dining on that mixture this morning.) The hostess handed me my dish all washed and dried -- a very nice thing to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Probably the strangest thing at the party (even stranger than the menu) was the news to me that the whereabouts of one of my second cousins once removed is unknown to anyone but his parents, who refuse to tell. With no one from that branch of the family present at the party, the speculaton was that he is in prison for some felony relating to the bar he owned until recently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: browniebaker


                                                                                                                                                                                                                The number of comments that we could add are so many, it is better just to say...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                "you are a better man than me charlie brown."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Glad you went and reported back. See if you can get tickets for the play "Osage - Orange County". It will be deja vu all over again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                BTW - how were the brownies?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now I'll have to take a look at "Osage - Orange County"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The brownies were delicious. I could tell it was well-received because many people had two (or more?) brownies. I did eat two myself. Some people who weren't allowing themselves the indugence kept slicing off one-eighths of the squares, just for another taste. The Sam's Club cookies were popular with the kids (my son claims that he ate nine), but the Sam's Club apple pie ended up with 5/8 remaining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  bb, glad you got out of there alive. Here is what I learned from your account.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. It was a potluck after all
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Host can cook after all.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Host is generous, even if clueless
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. Hostess probably has it the toughest - but has learned to adapt (off to the playground)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5. Host's mother just sounds like an old Jewish / eastern European / Asian mother.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6. I want a thermal cooker (had to google it)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  7. Host has to stand up for / by hostess: I'd a poured us a couple big Jim Beams
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  8. You and your family made up a third of the gathering (and weren't there 13 counting the toddler?), so the brownies turned out to be just the thing - since it was, in the end, a potluck.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  9. Finally, the first and last victim may be the host! He cooks up Asian grilled boneless chicken thighs - that you say were good - and then his mother brings the tons of Chinese takeout! Would the chicken and rest of the stuff provided by the host plus the chicen salad and your brownies have been enough for all? Sounds like it. I wouldn't have wanted my chicken to be shoved over by a bunch of take out. I'd have radiated Mom! Poor guy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  10. Which is harder being host and hostess or being in the pen?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Funny summary, Sam. Gonna go google thermal cooker.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I want one, too. They range in price from 44.00 to over 200.00 - which one will you get?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bayoucook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't know, but I'm going to look for one next month when I'm back in DC. Sounds both energy efficient and healthy! So how is it that the old ladies are way ahead of us on this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Agree that the real victim was the host, whose mother deemed his menu inadequate. I do feel sorry for him and his wife whenever she visits and rules their household. She wasn't supposed to be at the party but simply announced her visit Thursday night; she had to come to town to oversee some rental real estate she owns. She's staying over at their place even now as all the other guests are safely back in their homes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I say there were 12 in the party because even the host didn't count his own toddler in the total. The toddler ate only a cut-up slice of pizza that wasn't served to the guests (thank goodness).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow. I'm thinking it might be a really good thing that you're only getting together with this part of your family not more than twice a year! LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The possibilities for a TV series are huge. I can't imagine walking out on my guests to take my child to the playground (although with that MIL, I might take the kid on a trip to another state). I can imagine even less walking in on my MIL & her sister rooting through my pantry -- my relatives would have been more likely to clean up while I had been gone (if I had been gone). My outsider's read on the situation is that the host decided to have a gathering for his side of the family, basically disenfranchising the wife. MIL brought take-out because: (1) she knew the wife wasn't going to bust a gut preparing a lot of food for HIS party; (2) she just needs to be in control; and (3) she wanted to show up the wife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Someone in a previous post wanted to know why we like to get caught up in all of this drama. Well, I tell ya -- it's because it makes my own little problems/family dramas seem so insignificant. Makes me appreciate what I've got. And it gives me a secret thrill to know that, when goofy familial stuff does happen, I'm not alone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now I've got to go look up Thermal Cooker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So funny and true, your comment about the hostess's refusal "to bust a gut" cooking for her husband's family. During MIL's lecture on how to use the thermal cooker, the hostess boasted a bit about a great Thai dish that she made for a lunch with her friend and that the friend said was delicious. She meant to protest that she is a good cook, really. Her boast was rather ironic, given that she did not cook a single thing for this party and indeed has never cooked anything for MIL in the four years that she has been married.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The thought occurs to me that, if I were hosting a party where the sides and desserts that I was providing were going to be bought from Sam's Club and Safeway ('though I'd rather not buy my party food at those places), I would never ask guests to bring sides and desserts. Why? Because (1) if my guests went to the trouble to cook for me and I as host didn't go to the trouble to cook for them, I'd be feel more than a little shame (and no, the grilled chicken thighs alone would not be enough to offset all the Sam's Club and Safeway on the table), and (2) in this case, with just three guests contributing two sides and one dessert, it would be nothing for me to, instead, pick up an additional two sides and one dessert at Sam's Club, a small price to pay to be a generous host.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. browniebaker, no matter what kind of goofballs these folks are, you did the right thing and that's always easiest to live with. Wow, that MIL! She's a fright.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was thinking that even though your cousin is a clod, that doesn't mean he's actually a jerk. Maybe he has good intentions but is a little socially out of it. (Imagine the damage that mother did.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Anyway, everyone loved your brownies and that is great! By the way, I had a second cousin go to prison during the savings and loan scandal years ago. Family is more interesting than fiction, that's for sure. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Have any brownie recipes to share?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fern

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hmmm, watch out for second cousins, huh?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here's my family's favorite brownie recipe. Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3/4 cup unsalted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1-3/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 large eggs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1-1/4 cups bread flour (using dip-and-sweep method of measuring)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1/4 teaspoon baking soda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1/4 teaspoon salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-inch, square, light-color, aluminum cheesecake-pan. Microwave chocolate and butter until melted, stirring periodically to distribute heat. Stir in sugar until no lumps remain. Cool to room temperature. Stir in eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry mixture into wet mixture. Spread evenly into pan. Wrap soaking-wet Magi-Cake strips around walls of pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (30 to 35 minutes if not using wet strips), until center has risen and fallen and is firm to the touch and wooden tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven. Using spatula while cake is still hot, press edges down, level with center of cake. Cool in pan to room temperature. Remove from pan. Using plastic knife, cut into 16 squares. Let sit for 24 hours before serving. Makes 16 brownies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To bake in 9-inch, square, glass, baking pan for super-crusty, super-chewy brownies, do not use Magi-Cake strips. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until center has risen and fallen and is firm to the touch and wooden tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cut into 16 squares before removing from pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks very much, browniebaker! Will use your recipe next time I bake brownies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. WOW...worth every posting! What a tale! You are a very good person to remain a cooking part of such an 'interesting' extended family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had two reactions (beyond the need to Google 'Thermal Cooker')...first, that I don't think in all the many times she visited my MIL EVER dared look in any of my cupboards, unless specifically requested to do so...I would have been shocked beyond belief if I had caught her...I don't think my own Mum would have and I would not dream of rummaging through my daughters...this henpecking thing must be catching if she didn't immediately make it plain that wasn't on!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Second: that cousin's whereabouts...witness protection programme? sex change? alien abduction? its really better to tell the truth...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LJS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Alien abduction? My family ARE aliens! Seriously, I think it is probably prison for tax evasion, maybe also witness protection. If it were only witness protection program, his parents would have told family members that they could not reveal his whereabouts for reason of his safety. He was rumored to be selling contraband and probably got involved with organized crime.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              About MIL's rifling through the hostess's cabinets and pantry: She co-owns the house with her son and daughter-in-law, having paid $700K for it. I know this for a fact. She paid for the cars, too, and probably is on the titles. She OWNS her son and daughter-in-law so she feels entitled to look through their cabinets and pantry. I wonder how her daughter-in-law can stand that arrangement, but she's getting a lot of things for free. Yet, this calls to mind the saying: if you marry for money, you earn every penny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. The OP in describing her cousin has inadvertently described my clueless SIL. She too is also professional(as she likes to point out) albeit the non-practicing kind. (she fails to mention this). An intelligent woman with no concept of how the world works. And when she throws a party she somehow has no problem roping in other members of the family to make the even happen. She does nothing but takes the credit and talks about how difficult is was to organize. Last time, using her daughter as 'bait' she made her parents shorten their vacation so they spend eight hours cook the food for her event. Another time she called up her seven months pregnant sister and expected her to take to days off work so she could clean up her house and set it up for the party. And is insulted when her command is politely declined.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I agree, it's not really an ambush if you offered.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'd say bring ice cream. You could even say you're bringing ice cream so that it will go well with any desserts any one else decides to bring.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In the summer, of course, watermelon is the perfect finish for a grill party. It's about as much "work" as ice cream.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Enjoy the company!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. When invited, our first question is, "what can we provide?" At that point, we discuss our "assignment." Usually, it's a dish, or perhaps some wine for specified dishes. On a few occasions, it's been 1er Cru Bdx. for 20, but that is not all that often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When we ask, we expect to have an assignment, and if it's for 6 people, cool. If it's for 30, then that's what we shoot for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Never a big deal for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now, we often host very large groups, and will have the entire event catered, so we most often say, "you are only responsible for getting yourselves here, at about.... "


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BTW - for the 1er Cru Bdx., I brought a nice 5th growth Bdx., from my wife's family's vineyard, so I was down the "chart" a bit. Still, great wine, and if they reclassified Bdx today, it's be at least a "super second."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I've been invited and then told to bring something, which really bugs me! I feel that if you are inviting, you just need to make it clear if it's pot luck or just really invite someone, period without expecting anything.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My husband and I were working on the house one afternoon and a friend invited us to dinner that evening. So we accepted, and as we were busy we didn't offer to make anything. We always take wine anyway, which is accepted among our friends. But then she asked us to bring a green vegetable. I had not planned on stopping work early so that I could go shopping, come home and prepare food. So needless to say I was po'd. This same hostess has a habit of asking all the quests to bring things and then only making a miniscule main course. And if the guests bring side dishes that are too small we all go hungry. As a precaution we offer to make a huge side dish of potatoes or rice!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But as for your dessert, I don't think a host should expect dessert for that many people, just ask three or four people to bring dessert and let them know they are splitting it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But I think it was unfair to ask for something like desert for 19 people! I agree with Patticakes that I'd say I can make enough for a certain number of people, and can anyone else make some? As long as you give the hostess enough notice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: globalnomad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you're asked to bring something without offering, even if you've already accepted the invitation I think it would be perfectly fine to say, "Sorry, I won't have time to cook tonight. If you'd rather have a potluck, let's plan that for another night instead."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: globalnomad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As you know that habits of the hostess you should really not have been too surprised.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think a polite 'I'm sorry we just don't have the time thank you for the invitation.' would have been out of line. Would have been interesting to see if the invitation would have been rescinded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I just have to say that this is one of my favorite threads......and I immediately thought of it when a recent situation came up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A colleague of mine (who I occasionally see socially, but would not consider a close friend) is having a 40th birthday party in a few weeks, and and had me check my calendar to see if I was free that weekend. When I said that I didn't see any prior engagement written in, he said- "Oh good- because I was hoping you would be able to bring a "curry dish" to the party!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Taken a bit aback, I asked how many people were coming ("Oh, maybe 15 or 20"....and from my understanding, people who are not mutual friends).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also asked if this was a potluck ("No, but it would be a great birthday present to have you cook!")....is "flattery" supposed to make this more socially acceptable?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The truth is, I probably would have asked if I could bring anything at some point....and I learned from this thread that asking the question means that I should be prepared for whatever answer comes my way (even if it requires a little polite negotiating).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This was about 2 weeks ago. I hadn't said anything since, but he just sent an e-mail reminding me of the party in about 2 weeks and said that this birthday meant a lot to him and "making the curry is a big deal to [him]".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At this point, I think that:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'll decline attending.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I'll bring a small dish to work as a "birthday gift", mainly because this person is a colleague.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. I'll politely recommend some local restaurants (he lives about 45 minutes away) who might be able to fill in as caterers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think your 1., 2., and 3. decisions are all good ones, 4Snisl. :-) However, the time to let him know is NOW, so he can snooker someone else into feeding the crowd of 15 or 20 if he doesn't want to pay a restaurant to make it for him. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for reminding me what a great word "snooker" is. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Making the curry for 15-20 people would constitute quite a significant gift. Wonder how much a caterer would charge? It looks suspiciously like he invited you for the sole purpose of making that curry, and not because he's a real friend. Making the curry is a big deal to him because it probably gets him off the hook for a huge part of his very own birthday bash. Do you think you would have been invited if you were a bad cook? Do you think he asked another colleague who bakes well to make a birthday cake to feed his guests "as a gift"? Soryy, but I'm having a cynical day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, the time to have declined was up front, but if you are doing to duck out, do it NOW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think it's cynical- just accurate. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I didn't realize what I was getting into when I checked my calendar.....quite frankly, I'm unsure if he was being crafty, or if he just has different social norms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My first thought was do you even cook curry dishes or was this some random request?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In you shoes i'd suddenly have a 'forgotten' function that day which I had already committed to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Withnail- that made me laugh aloud!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not totally random, since my ethnic background might lead him to believe that I can make Indian food well. I'm somewhat proficient,but it's actually not my strong suit. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So he's never actually had your "curry dish"?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps you could describe it in detail to him and see if he's still interested... make it sound very spicy and full of organ meats and okra :) It'd of course be your family/ region's great speciality and you couldn't possibly prepare anything less than the best for his party!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yum! The first dish that made me realize I like "offbeat meats" was a samosa stuffed with cubes of beef liver. Okra- +1 on yum. Spice- bring it on......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So truly, I could bring him a dish that I would adore and see what his taste buds are made of. Who knows- it could backfire on me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    He knows that I have made 'non-intimidating' Indian food for others in the past. Recently, I made dinner for a fellow colleague (and her family) while she was going through chemo. He asked what I made the next day, and I mentioned that the main dish was tandoori chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The next day, he stopped by my place to pick up something for work. Since he came in, I offered him something to drink, knowing he had a 45 minute drive home, and he opened my fridge and said, 'Oh, I was wondering if you had any of that tandoori chicken leftover....'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Since I cooked dinner at my colleague's place.....no. The leftovers are with her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Awkward pause. 'Oh, I guess some water would be good.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe a good scan of my fridge as well? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ok maybe this guy (in addition to being presumptious) is a chowhound who is just dying to try your cooking! It's very nice of you to bring something to work for him :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ummmm, I'd be very careful about how much you encourage this "friendship". This guy seems like a mooch of the 1st order, and your agreeing to bring curry for 15 to his party opens the door to more requests. No, I'm not going where some of think I'm going -- I'm talking strictly food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A colleague opened your fridge?!? Grrr!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The next day, he stopped by my place to pick up something for work. Since he came in, I offered him something to drink, knowing he had a 45 minute drive home, and he opened my fridge and said, 'Oh, I was wondering if you had any of that tandoori chicken leftover....'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This guy is President of the Mooch Club. Oh wait - that belongs to JanetFromRichmond's Mooch and Hooch - they're co-Presidents. OK, this guy can be Vice President in Charge of Showing Others How to Be Rude. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd go with something between 1 & 2. Decline attending (telling him in advance), but offer to bring the curry dish (enough for a family of four or so--but not 20!) to work a day or two before his bday. And make sure it's in a disposable container (clueless clods such as this fellow, might "forget" to return a nice container).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I appreciate your feedback- I was on the fence about #3, but at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if he asked me to still make food for the party (as a birthday gift) even though I was not attending the party. Recommending caterers means that I am not taking up that responsibility for his function.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was careful with the wording, though, and said that if he wanted, there are some trusted sources I've used in the past for Indian-themed parties and I'd be happy to pass their names along.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Good - you've told him that you're unavailable to attend/cook for him? Will be interested to hear about his response, if you're willing to share. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, I think the chapter is closed without too much damage. Sent colleague an e-mail politely declining attendance (citing another commitment that had slipped my mind......and making a mental note of my commitment to cooking for occasions that really matter :). I'd added that I'd be happy to pass along trusted caterers who can handle small events if he didn't have another source.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Colleague came into my office today with a pouty face on and asked if I was REALLY sure I couldn't make it. Right now, only 4 people have said they are able to come....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep. No desire to even make up an excuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OK, well, maybe I could let him know if I was free some other week......or weekend.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (I mentally filled in the blanks here with other food-related favors.) I said that the next few months looked pretty busy, and I'd let him know if I ended up with some free time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess the best case scenario is that a person enjoys your cooking, and enjoys it enough to request it (even if it is in a socially awkward way).Worst case scenario is a person is simply trying to take advantage of you....in which case, you learn the fine art of removing yourself from sticky situations. At the very least, my personal situation was not with a family member or a person I'm forced to socialize with on a regular basis! And it helps me recognize that one of my weak points is feeling flattered when people like the food that I make....to the point where I might get snookered if I'm not careful. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for your input and helping me to stay even-headed in this situation. Honestly, I'm considering changing number 2 (bringing in a dish of food) to simply wrapping up an easy-to-use spice blend with a little recipe card that the birthday boy can use at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The guy is 40...& I'm guessing single; and I'm not surprised why.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You did well 4Snisl; thank you for keeping us posted on how it ended. =)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like your change of #2 and giving him a spice blend he could use himself. Although I think what this guy really wants is for YOU (or someone else) to cook for him, otherwise, he would have asked for a recipe or tips on how to make a good curry dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But glad it was resolved.