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Horrible Host: Invited to a Dinner Party, and then asked to bring DINNER!!!


My hubby and I were recently asked to come to a dinner party. When I asked the host what I could bring, he asked me to bring LASAGNA!!! He even told me the number of people coming so I would have enough! When I told my husband what happened, he was of course pissed and said we should decline the invitation. But being the sucker I am, I made the lasagna and we went. To my suprise, the host only provided the location and the dishes. Another guest brought some bagged salad, and still others brought store-bought desserts and soda. I feel so used! I shouldn't have even gone, but I felt it wrong to accept an invitation and then decline. Has anyone ever had to deal with something like this? I felt so foolish when I saw what the other people had brought. The only thing that made it worthwhile was that my husband was eating it. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has been played by a host like this!

  1. You're a better person than I. I would've told your host what to do with their lasagna...

    As the "gourmet" in my circle, I've for years endured people asking me to bring dishes that are either a lot of work or so elaborate it's hard to keep them attractive/stable. But these dishes were always part of a larger meal, so I'd comply.

    If I *ever* arrived at a "dinner party" only to discover that my "contribution" was, in fact, the *only* dinner available, I'd be livid and speak my mind to the host, leave and never come back.

    1. Wow!

      That's a new one! I never heard of such a thing.

      Did any of the other guests comment on the situation? I mean surely some light-hearted comments that might have gotten the point across to the so called host???
      I can't imagine finding myself in that situation and all of the people involved not bringing it up and joking about it.

      The cheek of some people indeed!!

      5 Replies
      1. re: NellyNel

        The other couple and the then girlfriend of the host did not say a thing. I have not eaten with/out with the other salad bagging couple and I did have a small dinner for the host/gf when they got engaged, but I have not gone to eat with them since it happened. I am cooking food for the gf's bridal shower this saturday, but after that...I"M DONE! I can understand that some people cannot cook, but that is what Wegmans is for! I just have to learn not to associate with greedy gut, ungrateful people.

        1. re: cookieluvntasha

          Maybe, since you are cooking for the shower, they wanted to show off your cooking skills to their other friends and thought you would be insulted to not be bringing the main course...?

          ...that seems to be the only logical reason to ask that you bring the main...

          Since you did host a small engagment party, and offered (or were you asked) (or are you being paid?) to do the shower, aren't you kind of close to one or both of them? Is this an anomaly of behavior for them?

          1. re: Cathy

            No, i offered to do the engagement party. I do often extend myself to others, so maybe that's why they felt so comfortable asking for the main. But the difference is, I extend on my terns, without being asked.

          2. re: cookieluvntasha

            Be prepared to be asked to cook for future bridal/baby showers and parties on Saturday!

            1. re: Sarah

              Thats exactly what happened! The bride to be was really happy though and said thank you for all my hard work. So at least I know she appreciated the days of prep and money paid for her special party. I do these things without thinking of if ppl will appreciate. But when they don't, that's when my feelings are hurt.

        2. You're not the only one; some version (not usually as bad) comes up here regularly. YOU are partly to blame because you allowed it to happen. Please learn from this. Avoid toxic people is one of MY rules.

          2 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            Avoid eating with toxic people--that could be on that thread about Michael Pollan's Rules to eat by thread. Good advice, c.

            1. re: nofunlatte

              Definitely should be an official rule.

          2. Guess you didn't take home a doggie bag.

            1. I have a friend who does this all the time. Rich as sin, too. Never ever ever invites without expecting that half the things will be provided. There are reasons why we're all still friends and go to these parties, but this excentricity annoys me no end.

              1. LOL, I know someone who was invited to Thanksgiving and when she asked what she could bring, she was told the turkey--complete with the brand (apparently a discriminating hostess who only wanted the best for her guests because it was a very expensive bird:-), size and the recipe. Live and learn.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  Why do people actually believe that these loser-users are friends??? It always amazes me. And wasn't "NO" one of the first words we all learned as babies? Why have some people forgotten how to say it? ARGH!

                  1. re: chowser

                    Yes- someone invited us to Thanksgiving and asked me to bring the turkey~ ! Suddenly we became busy. What a nerve.

                  2. Providing dishes, flatware, electricity and toilet facilities while you and your friends feed the "hosts." That is a new one. I'd revise the nomenclature to reflect that you are the host and they are the opportunistic parasites.

                    Just so you don't feel alone, I was invited to a party in the late 80's and responded to the what-can-I-bring request with a beautiful homemade Kentucky Derby pie (jumbo pecan halves, bourbon and shaved dark chocolate on top) for dessert. The response was, "Ooooh, that's lovely! We'll save that for Thanksgiving!" before watching my offering (and Pyrex baking dish) deposited directly into the deep freeze for consumption two months later.

                    I never saw them or my baking dish again. Write one up to experience.


                    P.S. And I wasn't even invited to Thanksgiving.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Chefpaulo

                      WOW. That one was harsh. The pie sounds absolutely amazing though.

                        1. re: Chefpaulo

                          You have got to be kidding me. I would have directly made an early withdrawal from their deposit and taken my pie and dish home.

                          1. re: Firegoat

                            Me too firegoat! I would have immediately said, either serve it, or I take it home.

                            1. re: gryphonskeeper

                              My daughter made a beautiful apple pie, her specialty, for Thanksgiving at my sister's home. Before anyone had tasted it, her adult son (my nephew) took the entire pie and went off to his girlfriend's house with the pie as his offering to her family. Worst of all MY SISTER DEFENDED HIS CRASS BEHAVIOR!!

                              1. re: cookbookchick

                                Holy smokes!
                                Your daughter should have spoken up seriously!

                        2. My 2 dinner stings by good friends, but only the wine one annoyed me:
                          1) A buddy & wife hosted a small dinner party, 6 or 8. What can I bring, I ask. He said two bottles of Santenay, and was very specific about the grower, vintage, and where I could buy it. They were $32 each, in 1989!
                          2) College sweetie, friends for life but we correctly didn't marry, planned a dinner party at her home in Westchester County. She was working tirelessly on an LBO deal in midtown, I lived in New Canaan. I had a series of calls that afternoon about how I could help out by picking up certain items because she was going to be late. Fast forward, I bought everything. Cooked everything, in her house. She never made it. Party broke up about 11, she said the next day she got home about midnight. I did not wash the dishes. Stuff happens.

                          1. just as an aside, why do people ask what they can bring when invited to someone's house? I never ask that question but either bring a hostess gift or a bottle of wine/bunch of flowers. Asking that question is bound to get you into trouble.

                            21 Replies
                            1. re: smartie

                              I agree!

                              I have never asked a host that...
                              And I have one friend who always asks what she can bring.
                              The first time she did it - I was kind of shocked - not in a horrible way but just surprised, and I felt a bit awkard

                              1. re: NellyNel

                                yes because if someone asked me what they could bring I would feel obligated to say 'thanks but just bring yourselves' and then you would get bubkes (nothing). I might say just bring a bottle of wine but then I am put in the awkward situation.

                                The polite way here is for the invitee not to ask if they can bring anything (anyone with manners would always bring something anyway) and for the inviter not to ask the other party to bring anything (unless it's family or really really close friends and then that's a whole different post!).

                                1. re: smartie

                                  As a guest, I always offer, but not without providing a variety of options ("Can we bring anything? Wine? Appetizer? Dessert?").

                                  You never know if the host has a multi-course meal planned out from start to finish and your salad or cake (or whatever) would be an imposition. At least by offering options, you create the possibility of lightening the load, but also provide an out for those who really want to do it all (wine). And no, I don't necessarily expect my bottle of wine to be opened at that meal.

                                  My favorite answer, of course, is "just bring yourselves."

                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                    That's my favourite answer too. The best version of it was from someone new to the country (from France), and still learning English. I was told to "just bring my charming personage." So lovely.

                              2. re: smartie

                                It's like if someone other than family or a close friend asks "how are you?" The answer "Great, thanks for asking." So people ask if they can bring something and the answer should be "your appetite" or some such. But because it doesn't seem to work that way, I for one am going to stop asking. Thanks for the reminder.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I have a standard answer when guests ask what can they bring: Please stop and pick up a bag of ice on your way.
                                  The guest feels that they are contributing something useful. I don't get stuck with items I don't want to serve, or useless host(ess) gifts. And I don't feel I've waste a lot of the gues's money if the bag just happens to melt in the bar sink during the course of the evening.

                                  But many times it's a great thing, some parties use ice faster than my icemaker can produce it.,

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    Excellent suggestion! At my family's parties, ice is always a valuable commodity.

                                2. re: smartie

                                  I think it depends on the group of friends. I have one group of friends where everyone usually brings the same thing to the others' houses- be it salad, appetizers, or dessert. It usually works out well and the item is always eaten. It may be a little bit different in my case since I'm allergic to alcohol and a lot of flower arrangements, so those are out as options for both giving and receiving.

                                  1. re: queencru

                                    I think queen is right, it depends on the group of friends and when you participate in a different group things seems weird. My family are dessert givers, and i have to remember when I am hosting friends to have a dessert ready because there will not be ten desserts brought. I have also learned at chowhound that it is not necessarily harmless or safe to bring dessert.

                                    The first time one of my nephews asked me over and when I asked what I could bring, he said nothing, that we would order in when everyone arrived, I was aghast. I brought heroes, coldcuts for everyone the first few times (these are afternoon gatherings). Finally, I accepted that this is what they "do". I don't know where they picked it up, and I still bring something, dessert or an appetizer(the "host" usually has chips and soda).

                                    I always ask what I can bring. Usually my invites come from close friends , so it is not an issue. I'm happy to help in any way I can.

                                    All that said, I would also be shocked if I were asked to bring the main course to a dinner party.

                                    1. re: Val55

                                      I'm dessert giver, too, and it's the main reason I entertain--so I can made desserts. I had a birthday party for a friend and someone enthusiastically asked me if she could bring the cake. Hey, that's my thing! But I told her sure, to her boxed cake and canned frosting. That's when I learned, if I ask if I can bring anything or help, don't offer a suggestion of what dish because the host/hostess may enjoy doing that. As extra dessert goes, it can be too much. I had a family Thanksgiving where I made four desserts and people, on their own, brought two pumpkin pies, pumpkin roulade and pumpkin bread. There is such a thing as too much dessert.:-)

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        You said:
                                        There is such a thing as too much dessert.:-)

                                        I think this is like the geostrophic wind or zero ° Kelvin: a theoretical ideal rarely encountered in nature. :)

                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                          Is the corollary that you can't be too thin?;-)

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            At our Thanksgivings, there are usually about a pie and a half per person! I still don't see it as so much af a problem because at that point you start insisting that guests bring something home.

                                            In general, homemade trumps store bought, so when asked about bringing a cake, you could have said you were planning to bake a favorite dessert of the birthday person.

                                            This reminds me of when I hosted a small shower for a niece of mine. Another niece offered to bring the cake, which was great. In the emails prior to the shower, I mentioned that I had bought a diaper cake from ebay. Well my niece doesn't bring a cake at all because she thought the diaper cake was a real cake, not one made of diapers! Fortunately, I had made a rasberry tiramisu in keeping with the pink theme.

                                            1. re: Val55

                                              That's funny--and I would've thought the diaper cake was a real cake too (something made with a special Wilton pan). So, exactly what is a diaper cake then?

                                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                                Diaper Cakes are a newer craze for showers. You roll up a bunch of diapers and make it look like a layer cake. They are cute. Please see the attached picture and link for a better explanation.


                                                1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                  O. My. God. I am nearly speechless.

                                              2. re: Val55

                                                If you told me you ordered a diaper cake on Ebay I'd go looking for it on Cake Wrecks.


                                                1. re: Val55

                                                  Your tiramisusounds good, would share the recipe? Thank you

                                                  1. re: paprkutr

                                                    It's Giada's raspberry tiramisu on the food network site. Just remember it uses soft ladyfingers, not the hard you use for traditional tiramisu.

                                        2. re: queencru

                                          You are absolutely right, it does depend on the group. One group of our friends, we always bring something, and another, we don't. And if someone asks what they can bring, my answer is the same as many others: DESSERT!

                                        3. re: smartie

                                          I think this is something that can be very local in nature. In my circles, you kind of get a feel for when you are expected to ask whether or not you should bring something and when you shouldn't (and just bring a host/hostess gift.) I'm not saying I'm crazy about it - and I would never let someone sucker me into providing the main course for a dinner party - but sometimes, when in Rome, you must do as the Romans do.

                                        4. I've never heard of this, or had it happen to me (thankfully).

                                          Naturally, you write a thank you note for the dishes and the facilities, and politely ask for the addresses of the others who brought the items that complemented the main course so well. I suspect you are not going to get one from your "host".

                                          Or if you have the gumption, invite them to your place, and say that you learned a lot from the way they hosted the last party, so could they please bring.....

                                          (I imagine these things in my head, but don't think I could pull it off in real life! Most likely, I might just alter the ways/venues for socializing with this person. And build my ability to say no.)

                                          1. You're far more giving than I. NO WAY would I be cooking for the bridal shower. I'd be done when done is done. Like now!

                                            But, just so you know "using" is not new. Way way long time ago, my first husband and I were invited to dinner by a couple who had newly joined our circle of friends. Back then, I designed and made all of my own clothes and had a reputation for style. Hey, I was young and had a 21 inch waist. Now I'm no longer young and don't. So anyway, we went to dinner. It was so so, but the hostess had tried. After dinner, she whipped out a sketch pad and a couple of pencils and with a smile, placed them in front of me and said, "Dinner isn't free. Design me a dress for a ball in two weeks. I do have a dressmaker and all she needs is a really great sketch for an original design." My first impulse was to push the sketch pad aside, drop some cash on the table to cover dinner and leave. But then an evil get-even idea struck. So I designed a dress for her with a lot of bias cutting and that required stiffeners, boning and underpinnings that I knew were absolutely not availabe on such short notice. She didn't know that. She was thrilled with the design. But she never got the gown. Her dressmaker laughed at her! Sometimes there are ways to "pay back in kind." Too bad the food for the shower will be served to everyone or you could use about a quart of Sriracha in it. '-)

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              Thanks for the chuckle! Great response!

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                I loved your story Caroline, how clever!

                                                As for the OP, I have to say you'll so much better than me too. Upon discovering the truth of the matter I would have turned around, grabbed my lasagna and my husband and left leaving everyone without dinner.

                                                I simply have no tolerance for people who take advantage of others, how utterly rude and manipulative.

                                                1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                  See, if voting which we're not of course, you'd get mine for being the better person. Refusing to be a victim is a GOOD thing. Enabling bad behavior just makes it go on and on and on.

                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                  Great story! very quick thinking on your part.

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    Oh wow, Caroline!! i'm just a beginning sewer, and just -cringe- reading about your design!! I bet it looked great, but impossible to make in a quick time. Very, very nefarious and a fitting return for your insensitive host. Kudos to you!!

                                                  2. I'm not really sure if I'd be pissed or spend the whole night laughing at such rudeness. Of course, I guess it's a case where sometimes you're so mad at something/one you just have to laugh. AT THEM!!!

                                                    First of all, you need to have your radar up a bit better. You can always accept the invitation and when told to do so, just politely tell them you wouldn't have time to do it that day. Accept no other offers at that point.


                                                    1. If I'm hosting, I tell guests not to bring anything. If I'm a guest, I never offer to bring anything. To me, "guest" and "host" have clearly defined meanings. Potlucks are, of course, different.

                                                      1. Wow. That's not a "dinner party"...it's a "Potluck"...and you got the shaft!!!!!
                                                        No, this has never happened to me. I have been asked to make really expensive or time intensive things to bring to Potlucks before, but not often.
                                                        These people are either "etiquette challenged", too poor to feed themselves, or they think you are a big sucker. I would definitely ditch them ASAP.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                          Sounds more like a Stick Up than a Pot Luck. People who 'host' potlucks usually at least have the decency to contribute the main course!


                                                          And what pains me most about this behavior is that we enjoy such vast relative wealth in this nation but people of very modest means overseas would never DREAM of treating a guest this way even if hosting in full means that their family sacrifices for weeks beforehand.

                                                        2. I had to check the date on this thread because there was an simmilar situation posted here not too long ago. Take home message be careful what you ask for. Sorry when I'm invited to a dinner party I expect the host to provide the meal unless it is a pot luck dinner. When I host a dinner party and some asks what can I bring I say just come hungry.

                                                          1. "thanks for the invitation. What are you serving? I'd be happy to bring (wine, dessert, side dish)"

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: coney with everything

                                                              I am going to use this for the future. Thank you.

                                                            2. I'm strongly on the side of "Don't tell, don't ask!" When someone invites me to dinner, I sinply say, "Love to!" or "Bummer! I have plans for that night that can't be changed." If someone calls and says they're having a pot-luck, that's a whole other thing, but when an invitation for dinner is offered, that's what I expect. After all, when I get a wedding invition, I don't write back and ask what part of the wedding I can take care of.

                                                              If the invitation is proffered as a dinner invitation and once I've committed the caller tosses in a request to bring food, I agree hesitantly, then call back the next day with regrets. I don't object to pot-luck invitations, though I seldom accept because of multiple food allergies. However I greatly object to "entrapment invitations"; invitations presented as one thing, then switch-and-baited to another. That's a BIG no no!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                I get into a slight disagreement with my wife on this. She thinks it's rude not to ask, can she bring something. I think it's rude to accept her invitation to bring something. We have some friends that would never take her up on the offer and others that say sure, how about a salad, side dish or dessert. Never got stuck with the main course though.

                                                                I don't want my guess to bring part of the meal. If they bring a bottle of wine, I'm cool with that. Some nice after dinner drink, cigars...all of those things I'm fine with. I don't ask for anything but if brought it's appreciated.

                                                                There are some get togethers that are a shared experience. Not so much potluck but where everyone chips in to the dinner in some way. That's okay but the premise is up front.

                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                  I've shared this on various threads over the years, but my go-to item that guests can bring (assuming it's not a planned casual dinner where I am making the entree and some side and friends may bring a salad or dessert) when I really don't want them to bring anything is ice. Ice is cheap, you can't have too much and is easily disposed of at the end of the night.

                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                    You can't have too much ice? I guess there is a shortage, globally.

                                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                      For our parties, nope. Between icing down beer, making mixed drinks, etc. more ice is always welcomed.

                                                              2. OK sh%t happens. It has happened to probably everyone who loves to cook. Has it happened to jfood? yup. Jfood was part of a Gourmet group in town and the first time he was assigned entree, for 12 people. OK jfood thought he paid his dues. Next time, jfood assigned entree, hos response, "what are others bringing?" They agreed on a 50% share of the entree with someone else. OK jfood bring tangine chicken and the other bring frozen entree from grocer. Third time? the asigned jfood the entree AGAIN. "Thank you very much for this but we are busy."

                                                                As far as the question what can we bring? Jfood always responds with "wine or dessert, if you would like." Jfood has never seen a at-home dinner that had too many of either.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  If I get asked my first question is generally "Do you have a specialty??" To me, if you make awesome pies (or whatever) and want to show off, who am I to stop you?? I'd never expect a large portion of the meal to be brought by someone else. I don't expect anything else to be brought. I consider anything else a bonus.
                                                                  Unless there was a pact in place ahead of time. Like one time we hosted a pot luck appetizer party. Everyone brought their favourite appetizer. It was a group of close friends who most of the time ended up at one house. We offered a different venue.


                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                    Oh that is a dangerous question. What if you are preparing a foie gras torchon, followed by a beautiful roast crown of lamb and the response is "Everyone LOVES my 8 layer dip! You just supply the cool ranch Doritos for dipping."? Or not as drastic, you are making lasagna and the response is "My specialty is tuna tartare." It just doesn't go with your menu.

                                                                    1. re: chow_gal

                                                                      Exactly. I am a good cook and thoroughly enjoy planning a meal, soup to nuts so to speak. I do NOT want someone bringing something that's going to mess up the balance. Same goes for holidays. If the meal is at my house, don't bring food! And anyone who shows up for Thanksgiving with a green bean casserole will be tarred and feathered, along with the casserole! '-)

                                                                      1. re: chow_gal

                                                                        If those are the extreme cases, jfood would work around both of them. Make sure there were margaritas for the dip (would tell them that the blue corn chips were all jfood could find though) and then switch gears and palce a little sauterne next to the foie gras and off to the races.

                                                                        And tuna tartare as an app followed by lasagne sounds like a very balanced meal as well. That's what jfood loves about entertaining friends, you never know what is going to happen.

                                                                  2. I would have reciprocated by inviting the host to a private junkpunching party, complete with all-you-can-punch buffet. I would then have given them a bill with an automatic 20% gratuity included.

                                                                    1. You could have said 'no, I can't do that' and not gone if the idea of bringing lasagna was offensive to you... I don't think the person who invited you to a BYO dinner party was holding a gun to your head at the time, were they? And you weren't the only one who brought food - everyone else brought stuff to, so you weren't any more put upon than the other guests.

                                                                      You have the power to say no thank you when you're invited to something... and if someone makes a request you think is too extreme a polite 'no, I couldn't manage that' or 'How about bring/do X?' can avert unreasonable demands.

                                                                      1. Question for the OP: Are the "hosts" for this so-called "dinner party" Americans, or are they from another culture? Just wondering -- maybe in some other culture(s) this behavior is considered acceptable.

                                                                        To me, this is beyond the pale. If it were expressly stated to be a BYO party, that would be one thing, but to first get invited to dinner and then be asked to bring the sole entree, well, I'm gobsmacked. Sheesh!

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Steve Green

                                                                          I'm trying to think if there's any culture where it would be acceptable to invite friends to dinner and then expect them to bring it. I can't, stone soup, aside.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            Excellent book stone soup. I still remember that story from childhood....

                                                                            I am making some Pho...by the way, would you be so kind as to bring some marrow bones over, and some noodles, maybe some sliced beef, and star anise... a few cinnamon sticks, oh and some mung sprouts,

                                                                            1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                              "I'd like to take you out to dinner. Would you mind bringing your credit card? I'll call ahead and make reservations.":-)

                                                                        2. as a trade off when told to bring the entree, how about asking if you can bring a couple loads of laundry at the same time to do during dinner?

                                                                          1. Ok...cookieluvntasha: we should meet...(see my profile)! I was immediatle drawn to this thread b/c I had a similar situation and can maybe even one up you on.....we were invited for dinner, all the guests brought "the food" my contribution being Crab Bisque w/oyster crackers. The other guest brought steaks and a salad and the other homemade guac w/chips. Here's the kicker...the husband of the host procedes to cook the steaks the other guests brought on the grill (bad cuts of steak BTW...super tough) and he puts 2...only 2... filet mignons wrapped in bacon on the grill that HE THEN SITS DOWN AND EATS HIMSELF!!!!!!! While we are all stck chewing on shoe leather!!! I was so pis&*d! We decided we need new friends. Now, keep in mind the hostess self admittingly hates to cook (while my husband and I live for it) so it is fun for me to make and share my meals but this just still makes me SO mad

                                                                            20 Replies
                                                                            1. re: care11

                                                                              At that point, I would have stood up, asked for the other guests attention for a moment and succinctly said, "You, sir, are a dickhead and we are now leaving." Too bad the bisque had already been served or it could have been dumped on his effing head!!!

                                                                              1. re: care11

                                                                                If that wasn't a wake up call for the need to drop those jerks, I don't know what is. How do people become so clueless? If this is how they act at a dinner party that they host how do they act in other areas of their social and professional life.

                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                  You guys are making me laugh! If we could only relive certain moments in life and handle them differently.

                                                                                  1. re: care11

                                                                                    BTW...my spelling and typos in that post was atrocious!!! I was just "angry" typing and hit "POST" before proofreading...sorry!

                                                                                  2. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                    "How do people become so clueless?"

                                                                                    Because people allow them to act that way and they never act any other way. The husband should have been called on it, on the spot, and confronted about the steaks.

                                                                                  3. re: care11

                                                                                    It's just amazing how many clueless clods, boors and imbeciles there are, even in today's "intelligent age."

                                                                                    1. re: shaogo

                                                                                      But we need them so that we can modestly pronounce ourselves to be above average.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        We need them so we can pronounce ourselves just average - IMO.

                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Or so that people like the OP and everyone else who is afraid to say 'Sorry, no can do" can continue to play the martyr.

                                                                                        2. re: shaogo

                                                                                          "It's just amazing how many clueless clods, boors and imbeciles there are, even in today's "intelligent age".

                                                                                          Who are you referring to?....the victims of the behavior or the ones who are owning the behavior? There has always been narcissistic behavior, since the beginning of time. It's the people who are willing to put up with it that should be questioned for their strange behavior.

                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                            My bumper sticker says it best:

                                                                                            "Only YOU can prevent Narcissism"

                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                              Can you mass produce and market those stickers?

                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                They are mass produced somewhere. I was given it by a friend and I continually have comments on it!

                                                                                            2. re: latindancer

                                                                                              That is totally unfair classifying people who help those who cannot cook, and look to friends for help, as clods, boors or imbeciles. Some may better be described as empathetic, giving and a great friend.

                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                But there is a considerable difference between friends who help (indeed, a kind and honorable thing to do) and allowing oneself to be taken advantage of. The former is borne out of love and generosity, the latter out of fear and meekness. Although I believe shaogo's original reference to the bores, clods, and imbeciles refers to OP's hosts (and people like them), not to those like the OP.

                                                                                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                  and latindancer increased the data set by including the guests. jfood's reply was correctly placed in response to the latter. jfood already gave his opinion to the OP which is in line with most, if not all of the responses.

                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                      'and latindancer increased the data set by including the guests'.

                                                                                                      Huh? Jfood seems confused. I was simply responding to an isolated situation that care11 described.

                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                    "That is totally unfair calssifying people who help those who cannot cook, and look to friends for help, as clods, boors or imbeciles. Some may better be described as empathetic, giving and a great friend".

                                                                                                    If you'd bothered to read back and understand what I was responding to (Shago's response to Care11's description of a filet mignon incident) you'd understand I was referring to a host who sits down and eats 2 filets by himself without considering the other guests....that's narcissism in my book and those types of people aren't worth my time or energy. You may have a different opinion, I don't know. Now....while I agree that helping out someone when they can't cook is empathetic and giving, I don't agree that being taken advantage of and manipulated into doing so is what 'friendship' is all about. I believe this is what the OP is referring to. No?

                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                      You know jfood read the post three times before responding and only saw one POV in the "Who are you referring to?....the victims of the behavior or the ones who are owning the behavior?" Now after seeing this and re-reading for # 4 and #5 it looks like, oops, jfood connected dots that were not present. So he apologizes for his mis-read.


                                                                                            3. Years ago I was invited by a casual female friend to a BBQ she and her boyfriend were throwing at his house. I volunteered to bring dessert, some very special cream cheese brownies that everybody loves. I arrived about 10 minutes after the designated time, only to find myself the only guest so far and the "host and hostess" not even having begun to make any dinner preparations. Their other guests were apparently responsible for bringing the drinks but they managed to scare up some cheap, nasty, unchilled white wine from the pantry. I sipped on this for about an hour while they fussed around in the kitchen and the other guests trickled in one by one anywhere from half an hour to 90 minutes late.

                                                                                              After two hours, I had been served the nasty white wine and one lone hot dog (no bun or condiments.) At that point I told my soon-to-be-ex-friend that I had to get up early the next day, packed up all but a handful of my brownies and went home. I stopped by my favorite Asian restaurant and got some take-away for dinner -- I was pretty hungry by then.

                                                                                              I've been to some bad parties but that one was the strangest.

                                                                                              1. I can top it. Once a friend of mine invited my wife and I to a party. I asked if there was anything we could bring, and was told by the hostess that she really enjoyed a pork roast that we had prepared a few weeks earlier, and that would be really nice.

                                                                                                Ok, so I get up early the day of the party, fired up the grill and smoked the damn thing all day- you could tell by looking at it that it was perfect! So we go to the party... turned out it was a pretty large party by our standards- over 20 people, and my little pork roast was supposed to be the main course- nobody had even told me it was a dinner party!

                                                                                                The roast was big enough to survive the first 8 people in line, but that was about it- the worst part was *I* caught hell for not bringing enough!

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                                    I wonder if that's the same person I was talking about earlier...

                                                                                                    1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                                      I gotta say, people who don't ration their servings when they KNOW there's a shortage are also sadly lacking in manners.

                                                                                                    2. Something similar happened to me a few years back. A woman who works with my husband invited us to a pot luck and asked him to tell me to bring an entree. I assumed a lot of people would be going and that my dish would be one of several main dishes. Wrong. 12 people showed up with small containers of dip and chips, bottles of wine and a store bought cake. My dish was the only entree. Luckily I made 12 pieces of chicken and 12 people showed up. When I said I didn't realize my dish would be the only entree, the hostess said, "Well, we supplied the house and salad (from a bag with some cold pasta mixed in) so I thought someone else should bring the entree. "Lucky me," I answered, to which she replied "You're the best cook!" That's nerve.

                                                                                                      1. A friend of mine was invited to a dinner party. Five minutes after the phone call, she got another call- "I forgot to tell you to bring the chicken, potatoes, and dessert."

                                                                                                        Just a comment... when I have casual party and someone asks what to bring I always give them a definite item. A friend of mine doesn't cook or bake- so I'll tell her that we're serving deli, a loaf of bread would be great. Another makes a killer bundt cake, so I'll mention that. I keep a list of what friends are 'famous' for and mention one of those items if they ask to bring something.

                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                          This whole thread is cracking me up, and I needed something to laugh at today.

                                                                                                          If I found myself in OP's position, I'm quite sure that it would be my last meal with those "hosts". On the way to the party, I would have stopped at the nearest supermarket or Costco and picked up a big pan of frozen lasagna. Done deal. Or, call no more that 2 hours ahead of the appointed time, with regrets that you suddenly have H1N1.

                                                                                                          And to clarify something that got muddled upthread -- there is a difference between "hosting" and "cooking". If you want to host a party, but don't feel up to cooking, may i suggest you acquaint yourself with a few good caterers? Its really not hospitable to expect your guests to bring their own food. We've all read here about guests who INSIST on bringing their special "something" to a party (remember the infamous "ribs" thread?) But unless you declare your party a potluck, don't depend on anyone else for the entree.

                                                                                                          1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                            Ah, the "ribs" thread--I'd forgotten about that one! The flip side of this poster's dilemma.

                                                                                                            1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                              Maybe Chowhound should start a matchmaking service for hosts and guests.

                                                                                                            2. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                              Ah the infamous ribs story. I was thinking about that when reading through these.

                                                                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                I don't think I'm familiar with the ribs story. Does someone have a link??


                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                  I think we buried the ribs man under the host's patio!

                                                                                                            3. Someone who attends a dinner party and provides the food is called a caterer. They stay in the kitchen. They get paid. Guests do not.

                                                                                                              1. You were invited to a potluck, not a dinner party. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of Americans don't know what hosting a dinner party really means, and they think potlucks are dinner parties.

                                                                                                                17 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                  Yeah, but even at a potluck - the host usually does some cooking and provides SOMETHING

                                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                    I host dinner parties and when ppl ask if they can bring anything, I always reply with wines that will suit the courses. I still make sure I have different wines or beers that go along with my theme as well. I thought I was going to be asked to bring a wine too, and I think the others invited expected the same thing, but the host did not let us in on the fact the he did not know the difference of hosting a dinner party vs. a potluck.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                      There's nothing wrong with potlucks if they are labeled as such. While the OP's host is clearly clueless, many Americans just don't have the money and/or space to cook all the dishes needed for a full-on dinner party. Most of the dinner parties I attend are potlucks to some extent and I have no problem with that.

                                                                                                                      1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                        Understood, but I am a single host with only about 3 feet of counter space, and I could put on a fine dinner (souffle, salad, bread, fruit-based dessert) for under $30 not including wine. Many people don't know how to put on a frugal logistically sane meal by themselves. But they should be encouraged to try and learn.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                          I agree, I don't think the money is the issue. Most dinner parties are not more than a few couples. Not talking about dinner for 50-100 people. A dinner party does not have to cost more than $50-100 and certainly you could do it for less. Not saying everyone could afford that but most go out to dinner a little and even going to Chili's a couple of times will put you back that much. Mostly it has to do with priorities. Being a gracious host is not about money.

                                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                            Speaking of couples, Scubadoo . . .

                                                                                                                            . . . . I don't like to boast but I can top most of these accounts. I was once asked by an ex-coworker to come to her house in the afternoon to help her cook the meal for her dinner party that evening. But she made it clear I was not invited to the party b/c it was all couples and I wasn't in a relationship at the time. Needless to say, I declined her oh-so-magnanimous offer of the privilege of cooking her dinner.

                                                                                                                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                              Good for you for declining! Honestly, that is just such a breach of manners. Even when I'm in a relationship, I don't always take a bf to a dinner party--I guess it's kind a way of thumbing my nose at the tired notion that people MUST be coupled or that couples MUST NOT have separate lives (and that notion is very tired--most dinner parties I'm invited to or that I give involve all manners of couples and singles, though I suppose I need to make friends with a triad to expand my guest horizons!) The being-invited-to-cook is such a nice touch.

                                                                                                                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                Yes I'm the same. I don't feel joined at the hip when in a relationship ... and sometimes it's a bit insulting to hosts when people will show up with just anyone to an expensive event - just so as not to go dateless.

                                                                                                                                Her request was so bizarre b/c we weren't even still coworkers at the time. She called and wanted to go to coffee in the a.m. and then asked me to do this the same day.

                                                                                                                              2. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                Wow that took chuzpa. I hope she paid you well for the catering. BTW, sorry about the couples thing. Been married so long I just tend to think in twos.

                                                                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                  No I didn't do it so couldn't send her a catering bill! lol . . . no need to apologize - I wasn't having a go at you; just seizing the opportunity to make a joke while telling my weird tale. :-)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                    Yeah I now see that when re--reading your previous post. I was so taken back by your co-workers request. At least she was smart enough to not ask you when you had a hot cup of coffee in your hands.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                              Karl, I'll "see" your 3 feet of counter space and "raise" you, on behalf of my mother. She has NO counterspace at all in her tiny kitchen (in a 80 yr old apt in Brooklyn NY). Her kitchen table was her work space along with a sliver of space over her double sink, next to a tiny oven. Mom used to entertain quite a lot when I was growing up, and she never did potluck. I remember one year my parents had different groups of about 16 people over every few weeks. This went on for about 3 months and I had to do all the dishes (no paper plates EVER) because of course, we didn't have a dishwashing machine. God bless her, she doesn't remember this, but I sure do. She made everything from scratch (except for bread), mostly traditional Jewish food. Chopped liver, blintzes, brisket, and noodle pudding were standard fare. And like you, she did it all on a small budget.

                                                                                                                              Oh, and she baked every week, without fail. She'd set up her Sunbeam Mixmaster on the kitchen table and whip up cakes and cookies at the drop of a hat. Good memories...

                                                                                                                              So, kudos to you for making do with 3 feet of counterspace!

                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                Agreed, when I got my first apt at 21 I had 10 people over with pasta and salad and cheap wine. I spent 50 bucks max and everyone had a blast.

                                                                                                                                1. re: PurpleTeeth

                                                                                                                                  I've done that several times. A few casseroles of mac and cheese, salad, a green veggie to make the meal 'healthy.' We're not drinkers, so didn't even bother with wine, just served fresh lemonade. Some of the best parties... and the food is all non messy.. so no worries when the men decide to eat in the living room!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                    Mac & Cheese is a great one and everyone loves it. Also love chili for that.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: PurpleTeeth

                                                                                                                                      I did chili for a superbowl party. Everyone loved, and it ended up costing practically nothing!

                                                                                                                                      When I did the mac and cheese, I staggered the oven times b/c they didn't all fit at once. It actually worked out to by benefit, since people came at different times. There was always a hot casserole going onto the table, and a scraped cleaned one going into the sink to soak.

                                                                                                                            3. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                              'You were invited to a potluck, not a dinner party. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of Americans don't know what hosting a dinner party really means, and they think potlucks are dinner parties."

                                                                                                                              Really? I give lots of dinner parties and am invited to them as such. People don't ask me, when invited to my parties, if they can bring anything and I never ask the host of the party I'm invited to. If I need help I hire people to help me. There is no way I would expect my guests to be involved other than to attend and enjoy.
                                                                                                                              However a hostess gift is ALWAYS given on both accounts whether it be flowers, candy or whatever.
                                                                                                                              As you say, a potluck is not a dinner party and a dinner party is in no way shape or form a potluck.

                                                                                                                            4. "Oh -- it's a POTLUCK. Sorry -- I misunderstood. I thought you were inviting us to a dinner party. I'm afraid I don't have the time or energy right now to participate in this type of activity. Anyway, I've never made lasagna before, and I wouldn't want to subject a room full of guinea pigs to my trial effort. Perhaps we can have a real dinner party sometime."

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                                                                Wow, the host in the OPs post was one extreme, you are the other. If I ever got such a response from a friend, I don't think they'd be my friend anymore.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                  I think one is allowed to accept or reject any invitation. If a potluck isn't what one has in mind, then just say no. And if the potluck aspect of it is announced after the invitation has been accepted, it's still alright.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                    I think it's fine to say you're not interested in a potluck, but I agree that the "perhaps we can have a real dinner party sometime" is a bit much. I would probably just say I don't have time to cook lasagna before the party or that it's not really my specialty.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                      I agree with you that "real dinner party" might be a bit much. BUT. These are clearly people who really aren't friends so go ahead and annoy them :) But in my book it's also fine to say that you'd love to get together but really not up to contributing this time around. Leave it to the faux-host to decide. I love to cook and I love to have people around so the majority of the time, we're doing the hosting. But I also have no problem with saying that we're stressed/busy/whatever and that I can't. If I lost a friend, than I didn't really have that particular friend. Good riddance to bad rubbish as my mother used to say :)

                                                                                                                              2. Maybe you were invited to my sister's house.

                                                                                                                                The family was invited there one Thanksgiving. When we arrived, all the necessary ingredients for the meal were piled up on the counter. As the afternoon progressed, my sister made no move at all to begin preparations. At about 5 PM, my father and I looked at each other, and realized that unless we did something, there would be no Thanksgiving dinner. So, he and I used what was available and put together a minimal dinner, just to avoid conflicts in the family.

                                                                                                                                I no longer have anything to do with my sister, for this and a myriad of other reasons. And I don't feel in the least bit guilty.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Missyme

                                                                                                                                  Ah, that venerable American tradition, the Passive-Aggressive Holiday Feast. Too bad Norman Rockwell didn't illustrate cinematic cartoons; he was capable of skewering folk on occasion.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Missyme

                                                                                                                                    Wow! That's really bad. This is why I invite strangers (my husband's law students) to join us for Thanksgiving. Nothing but gratitude and pleasant behavior.

                                                                                                                                  2. Oh yes, this happened to me for Thanksgiving. When I offered to bring something, they asked me to bring the TURKEY. Then, while on the subject, they suggested that I make gravy and bring stuffing. They even told me the type of gravy the liked. I went along with it as I prefer to make my own turkey anyway, but I was stunned.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: RRobertaR

                                                                                                                                      I would have made it ahead, jointed and boned it, and brought it all in containers for the hosts to slice up, warm up and dish out. If they asked me to do that, I would say, oh, I am not good at that, just cooking.

                                                                                                                                    2. perfect antidote? see the thanksgiving for neo-slackers on this site and repay that long-overdue invitation. easy, breezy invitations already written out for you!! Ask him to bring the turkey. And gravy too, of course since he's roasting the bird. And might as well throw in the stuffing since stuffing is inside a bird. And do make sure it's understood that no deep fried turkey will do. Nor gravy from a jar.................. And maybe some really good Parker House rolls, pick up on the way...?!!

                                                                                                                                      1. We were invited to a bbq at a friend's house. On the day of the bbq, my husband called his friend and asked what we could bring - he said - 'I guess steak for yourselves and whatever you want for your kids'!!! I couldn't believe it. There were three other couples (one from out of town, one who the dinner was for as they were moving, and one other couple that were relatives of his) and he provided their steak. They made baked potatoes and salad. I'll never go back. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

                                                                                                                                        (Oh, and I'm not sure what would have happened if my husband hadn't called. It was only 2 hrs before the dinner and when we arrived he definately did not have steak for us or anything for the children. He had hamburger patties for the other kids but not enough for us....)

                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: beggsy

                                                                                                                                          You were seriously wrong. That was NOT a friend.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                            Absolutely. Friend? Please don't bastardize the word. Other words come to mind but not friend.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: beggsy

                                                                                                                                            Yeah, I have to say that if that was the answer I received to that question, I would have told my "friend" that we weren't going to be able to make it after all and hung up.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: beggsy

                                                                                                                                              So he provided food for everyone but you?? How unbelievably rude! Why did he even invite you? Pfft

                                                                                                                                            2. then we have the cases where you are asked to bring a potluck dish and the host criticizes it,

                                                                                                                                              My (not delightful) sister is a typical example, she is quite capable of making anyone feel very small if you bring something not up to her standard. She asked a few family members to make fruit salads for a party she was self catering and then loudly told me that mine was the worst because I had added some passion fruit juice to it. Another time her friend brought a pasta salad which she tasted then immediately took it off the table and told me loudly to make it taste better.

                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                What a bitch! I hope you told her that she could put those salads where the sun don't shine. Sheesh.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                  You should have accidentally stepped on your sister's toe so that she would lose a nail.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                    One way to make it taste better would have been to take the salad, the friend who brought it, and gone home, enjoying the entire bowl between the two of you! Food tastes better when removed from an environment of human toxicity.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                                      All of life tastes better like that.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                      Jfood would have politely told that b&tch (and he has because he does) that he was feeling ill, taken the salad and the family and just left. No scene, no comments. Off to a good meal at some restaurnat or at home with the other jfoodsy, forget about it and then made sure the caller ID worked on the phone at home.

                                                                                                                                                      Time with the other jfoods is too precious for extra blood pressure medicine.

                                                                                                                                                    3. Hahahahaha, that happened to me too!!! I kept on marvelling about it, over and over, to my husband, especially since I'd had the hosts at my place for dinner and asked them to bring nothing (they showed up with some cookies or such in hand). I went, with main course in hand, but I won't let myself fall into that trap again!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                                                        Oh, and I have to add one thing. The promised delicious dark chocolate pudding cake for dessert (host-made), which was the only thing they served in addition to some homemade "Bits & Bites" mixture, plus cheese & crackers, was made without sugar or wheat flour, "healthy style". I was on top of my game and claimed I was too full, so didn't get a serving, but Hubby, well he was tuned out and ended up with a huge mound of inedible goop. Poor him! If there were to be a next time, which there won't, he will know better.

                                                                                                                                                      2. The jfoods were invited to dinner last week and were asked to bring the sides, the salad and the dessert. Host made the protein and the apps.

                                                                                                                                                        Great time was had by all.

                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                          I think the key thing is that in this situation, jfood knew what he was getting into. I too have had great times when asked to bring food to the party, but usually I know the hosts very well, and we are almost like family. Bringing food to contribute is part of the fun. I have also had great times at potlucks, but usually I am not forced to bring a specific item that is expensive or time-consuming, if I bring it, it is my own choice. Fun times ensue.

                                                                                                                                                          I think the OP's frustration is from their feeling that they are being taken advantage of by the host. It isn't their party to host, and yet they are told (not asked) to bring an expensive main, for a certain number of people. Fun times are unlikely to ensue.

                                                                                                                                                          Boy, am I lucky I have a lot of really great friends who never seem to take advantage of me! i am very grateful to have a lot of fun times.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: moh

                                                                                                                                                            lasagne expensive? Under $20 for a fair amount. Yes jfood knew what he was getting into and wished he brought more, if you understand.

                                                                                                                                                            The OP asked what they could bring and the host said lasagne. Jfood agrees it is a goofy thing, but OP could have said, "do you have another suggestion?"

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                              Well, lasagne can be under $20 for a fair amount, but I use a lot of expensive cheese, and lots of vegetables, and good canned tomatoes, and I can go over $20! lasagne is a labour of love for me, love the stuff, love feeding people the stuff!

                                                                                                                                                              And very fair point about asking about another suggestion. Although i suspect the host would have said, "nope! Gotta be the lasagne!"

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: moh


                                                                                                                                                                All jfood can think of is the character on SNL...twirling her hair and saying "well I use hand picked tomatoes picked by a georgeous virgin and the cheese is had made by monks in Tibet..." Sorry couldn't resist.

                                                                                                                                                                Jfood agrees it is a labor of love and the last twonights jfood has benefitted from two great slices from his freezer from a few wwekends ago. you can go hog wild with ingredients for a lasagne but jfood remembers in HS and when he was a coach for the little jfoods' soccer teams when there were post-game dinners and it was get the carbs on the table next to the lousy garlic bread.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                  Ha jfood! I love that skit, it's one of the few SNL has these days that's decent.

                                                                                                                                                                  That said, recently a friend had surgery and several of us set up a schedule to make dinner for her family. I picked lasagna, and easily spent over $40. But I made my own meat sauce with lots of fresh herbs, wine, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                  (Truth be told, it probably wasn't worth the extra expense, when compared to a more inexpensive version though.)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                    Fair call jfood! I'll admit it is a little ridunculous :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: moh

                                                                                                                                                                      it is always apleasure dealing with a rational person with a sense of humor.


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                        Too bad that this is such a rare occurrence.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                      C'mon, don't you think it's at least a little odd that the host didn't have a scrap of food to contribute to his/her dinner party? I mean, I never scrimp on taking things to people's homes, and it's usually reciprocated. However, they usually put a little effort into the event--themselves--and I don't mean setting the table.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I obviously agree with fellow posters that what happened to the OP is totally unacceptable! But regarding other comments, it strikes me that some find it normal to not bring anything to a home when invited. I think, however, that this comes down to fundamental cultural differences. Here in Greece, no one would ever go into a home without something in their hands. It doesn't need to be expensive, and certainly not part of the meal- a modest bottle of wine, a few flowers...To me this is always a nice gesture. But I understand the ideas about such things vary greatly in each country/society.

                                                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                                                                                                I agree. Personally, I feel awkward showing up empty-handed, knowing how hard my hosts have cooked and cleaned to host me for a meal. But as long as the company is good, I wouldn't resent someone showing up at a dinner I was hosting without a gift/contribution. Different strokes.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                                                                                                  Not necessarily by country, but perhaps by the individual. When I host people, I really want them to take me at my word when I say "don't bring anything". Often (though thankfully not always) they do bring something. My rationale is that what they bring often winds up as waste: I don't want trinkets or knickknacks or little towels or soaps--I've got plenty of stuff and I'm paring down (time to introduce more minimalism in my decor!) I don't want chocolates or muffins because I'm watching my weight. Flowers, actually, that's okay! Not something I buy for myself all that often, especially now that the farmer's market has gone to bed for the year. I don't want wine, because I don't drink that much (usually only drink wine with friends, though I might have the occasional cocktail by myself). That said, if someone does bring something, I acknowledge it as being an expression of kindness--people really do mean well. But if I am told not to bring anything, I don't!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, hosts never tell guests not to bring anything and then expect them to read something else into that and then get disappointed when they do not bring anything. When I tell people don't, I mean it.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                      Several years ago my friend asked what she could bring to a family Thansgiving in another relative's house. The answer: "The Turkey"! And there she went with a 20lb roasted turkey perched on her lap.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you--I was starting to wonder whether I was some sort of alien!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                          "hosts never tell guests not to bring anything and then expect them to read something else into that and then get disappointed when they do not bring anything."

                                                                                                                                                                          Sure they do! I know many a host who would feel it impolite to ask for something (and thus insist that nothing should be brought), but would be devastated if the guest arrived truly empty-handed.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                            The hosts are responsible for their own disappointment in that case, not the guest. Period.

                                                                                                                                                                            Things are much simpler when people are clear instead of evasive.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                                                          I agree that if someone says "don't bring anything" they should mean it, and not be disappointed if guests come empty handed.
                                                                                                                                                                          I was just mentioning a cultural difference: in Greece I cannot imagine anyone not bringing anything no matter how much a host insists. It is just considered incredibly rude here.
                                                                                                                                                                          I personally appreciate both the graciousness of the host to want to take care of the guests totally (and not expect anything in return), but also the guest's desire to show appreciation through an offering.
                                                                                                                                                                          But I can understand nofunlatte, you wanting to avoid a pile of unnecessary knickknacks!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                                                                                                            I should explain to our Greek poster that it *is* customary in the US to bring something. However, unless specifically asked to bring something to be consumed on the occasion, what should be brought is a gift for the host (flowers, a bottle of wine, etc.) that is shared at the host's choice. Although there are always some people who claim that they always bring something to eat/drink, that's the way it's done in their circle of friends, community, etc., that is not standard American etiquette and as you can see from these threads, most people consider it to be rude. Not as rude as, in this case, pretending you are hosting a party and then asking everyone else to do the work, but still, rude.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                              I actually grew up in America and now am living in Greece. I was always under the impression that in America it is also customary to bring something. But I have noticed in this thread and others on this board, many people who claim that it is not necessary when the host denies the need, or that it isn't necessary in general- So I was just observing that in Greece this would not become a debatable topic, and that in America there seem to be many different views on certain social graces.
                                                                                                                                                                              I'm still shocked at the audacity of the OP's host...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                                                                                                                I think that the two different types of "bring something" are being conflated:

                                                                                                                                                                                No, you shouldn't bring something to be served at the event unless okayed by the host; and

                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, you should "bring something" -- it's called a "hostess gift" which as a *gift* is to be disposed of as the host chooses.

                                                                                                                                                                                If someone asks you to bring something, it's not a gift, and you have every right to expect that it will be served. Conversely, if you just show up with something, then it's the host's right to treat it as a gift and put it away for another time.

                                                                                                                                                                                I guess there's actually a third "bring something" which is when you call and say "I'm on my way, do you need anything" which should be restricted to close friends, family, and people who live in areas where they can't just run out and get something they might have forgotten.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. THIS? Is rude. Is this family or non-family? Even if it were family, I'd say it's bordering on unforgivably rude. If it's friends or acquaintances I'd be stunned, and I am used to dealing almost exclusively with potluck scenarios.

                                                                                                                                                                        Now, my ex-husband's family is ginormous and quite often the only way to do the large dinners is potluck. My sisters-in-law and I are usually responsible for the majority of the meal, all the sides, appetizers, salads,and a number of desserts, for example. My mother-in-law is aging and infirm if she hosts, she'll generally provide the main entree, whether it's the turkey, ham or leg of lamb, along with a couple of pies, and the rest of us will complete the dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                        In summertime there's usually an even larger family reunion / July birthday bash cookout hosted by my one of my SsIL for even more of the extended family (once upwards of 100 people all told). In that case, nearly everyone brings a dish to pass or a 6-pack or a bottle of something. In my food-culture, a family cookout is almost always going to be potluck.

                                                                                                                                                                        Dinner parties? Notsomuch. If I invite someone to my house for a dinner party and they ask if they can bring something, I will always say, "Just yourself."

                                                                                                                                                                        1. In response to a number of the replys, my experience is that Americans expect to take a food dish to a dinner party. Why ask what you should take if you don't expect to take something and even if you don't expect to take something, there is an assumption out there that you will! This isn't the case in Europe. In Europe I'd expect to take a bottle of wine, some flowers or some chocolates. Why would the host who's doing a themed or well planned meal want a random dish to arrive and then feel that it had to be served. Fair enough when its a potluck type thing but not for other meals.

                                                                                                                                                                          73 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: superjo

                                                                                                                                                                            The only food dish I would take to a dinner party, without solicitation, would be dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                              Why on earth would you do that? It would annoy ME hugely and I wouldn't serve it AND I would probably send it home with you.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                You think your host is incapable of supplying dessert? What an insult.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                  Same here.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Bringing homemade food is a generous action, perhaps misplaced with some people's plans, but an extra dessert is so unlikely to throw the balance of a dinner party off that I can't imagine how it could be at the level of outrage being suggested here. Any person who brought any food to any dinner party I planned would be thanked. The dish would be served along with whatever I made. if people eat it, fine, if they don't, I might ask the bringer to bring it home citing waistline fears.

                                                                                                                                                                                  An "insult"?! Not serving it and telling them to take it home?! Wow. Just.... wow.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't consider the dessert course any less a part of the meal than anything else. I think it was Karl S who has said that the host hosts and the guest's role is to be a guest. My guests should - no, DO - remember. It is presumptuous to bring ANY course of the dinner unless one is asked

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                      That's nice for you. For me, I tend to go all out with cocktails, appetizers, entrees and sides but I often lose steam when it comes to dessert. But really this isn't about how you or I or anyone else plans or executes a dinner party. It's about how a host treats a guest, even a guest who has done something the host prefers he/she had not done. In my opinion, insulting a guest by not serving and then telling them to take home their homemade offering would FAR outweigh any "insult" done by the guest bringing the dish in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                        It's entirely different if a friend who knows that you historically have little energy left for dessert asks if they can provide it. We're talking about unsolicited. I plan MY dinners and when invited to someone else's home, I assume they have planned theirs also. I'm not the greatest cook by a long shot but would never, ever presume that my host needed MY contribution unless I were so asked. Never.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                          unsolicited or not, they mean well. They're not sociopaths, trying to ruin your party (hopefully). Why hurt their feelings by refusing to serve their dish/making them take it home with them? So mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                      What on earth are you talking about? When I invite people to dinner, I've planned the menu (INCLULDING DESSERT) meticulously. I do not want someone showing up with their Best in Show or any other dessert. Bringing you food, unasked, to a dinner party is not a "generous action," it's a passive-aggressive assault.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                        People bringing you food is a passive aggressive assault?! An ASSAULT?! Wow. Just... wow.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm with you Chris. An assault? C'mon. It's someon'es way of saying thanks for having us. That's all. Different people say it in different ways. Part of the role, perhaps even the MAIN role, of a host is to make his/her guests feel comfortable. Turning ones nose up at an offering hardly does that.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                            Dial down, kiddo. I'm hosting, and you can keep your food for when you are. I don't want it at my dinner party.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                              Sometimes the world presents us with things we don't want. It's our choice to decide whether to perceive those unexpected events as assaults or gifts. I'd prefer to be a person who can try the appreciate the good motivations even if I don't like the product of those motivations, and realize that how people feel when they leave my party is far more important than what they ate.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                                here, here, Chris VR.

                                                                                                                                                                                                any reaction other than gratitude for a food gift/contribution/whatever-you-want-to call-it just reeks of egotism. and no, you don't *have* to serve it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I suppose it's a continued waste of strength to keep making a distinction between someone bringing a gift and someone preparing part of the dinner. The first is indeed a lovely thing. Lovely. I can't imagine a living being disputing that. Ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm sure this has been said below, but even if someone prepares what you perceive to be part of dinner, you can still accept it graciously and with profuse thanks, and opt not to serve it. You just kindly explain that dinner is ready to go from A-Z. If the person who brought something unsolicited gets upset, well, they have only themselves to blame for not checking with the host first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    But I think there's a lot to be said for gritting your teeth and trying to incorporate their contribution into the meal. Consider it part of the art of compromise and flexibility of being a friendly, non-overly controlling host.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't completely disagree with your kind intentions. However, I would add that one is then validating a behavior that is likely going to go on and on and on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                        But you could at least give them a chance to take the hint by accepting something graciously and not serving it. Or when you call me to invite me again, you can say, nicely, thank you for bringing a pie last time but I'm going to be making cherries jubilee and don't need any extra desserts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                            But as the host, teaching manners is not your job. Perhaps a gift of Emily Post or Miss Manners might be in order.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                              I am not inviting people to bring me food. I am inviting people to a dinner party where I am am providing the food. Your insistence on bringing food implies that I am incapable of providing for my guests. Don't do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                No I think it implies that one is so grateful to the host that one want's to bring something to help. It's most often as act of generosity. It's a sad way to see the world that an act of generosity is termed as passive aggressive. Maybe there are a few out there who would do this as a passive aggressive act but in my 15 years of hosting all sorts of food events I have never encountered one person who has done this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pikawicca, respectfully, I think you should try to assume that your guest has the best motivations and not the worst, and respond accordingly. If they are being invited to your home, I assume s/he is a friend. If they offer to bring something, in all likelihood, it is out of friendship.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I say this because I would automatically offer to help and/or bring something. I am usually taken up on my offer, but I would not be insulted if I was told: "Thanks, anyway, but I really like to plan and make everything myself." And I would comply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If someone does not listen to you and continues to "contribute" after being told not to, then you can assume the worst.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reading these threads on CH has taught me that there are a lot of different customs at play, and they are not identifiable. I know what works in my circle of friends, but if I am invited to by someone new, I will tread lightly :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Originally it was bringing an unsolicited dessert which I think is very far from asking and then complying either way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last night we had a little dinner. One couple brought a bottle of wine and one an organment for the Christmas tree. To me those are the perfect gifts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I like the ornament idea. Target is selling cute little kitchen tool ornaments (whisk, pancake turner, rolling pin, etc.) that would make superb gifts for a fellow cook's tree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                                  What you're missing here, Chris, is the sense of self-importance that goes along with the art I, and only I, can create and if anyone interrupts my artistic flow with their nasty and offensive dessert for the masses (who cares about their intention), then they must be punished with my vitriol and offended as deeply as I feel offended that they dared to question my masterpiece. Don't you see?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: krissywats

                                                                                                                                                                                                    And balanced by the "sense of self-importance" that for some reason caused the guest to assume part of the role of the host. Is that what's called "tit for tat"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm so glad you agree with pikawicca and me, krissywats. Thanks for the props.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah yes - i think it is....I think it is. However - I prefer, with my guests, to be gracious and if they 'tit', I refuse to 'tat'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are a million cultural, personal, maybe even economical reasons that might lead a person to think a gift of food would be appreciated. If one feels assaulted by that - that's all on you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why don't we take it back to basic psychology: you cannot control anything but yourself which includes how you react. Someone might one day bring a gift of food. If your get-together is about people enjoying one another then someone dropping in with a plate is not that big of a deal. If, however, it is not about the people but rather only your presentation - well then 'assaulted' you seem to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: krissywats

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, gosh, I in no way meant to imply that a gift of food wouldn't be appreciated. It definitely would. But someone taking over part of my dinner menu would not be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Huh? You didn't imply it... you said it:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Why on earth would you [bring a dessert]? It would annoy ME hugely and I wouldn't serve it AND I would probably send it home with you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Perhaps some of us interpret "a gift of food" differently than bringing dessert. A "gift of food" is something for the host to enjoy whenever, probably later. "Dessert" is one of the dinner courses and....sheesh, I don't think I should have to describe various dinner courses to a Chowhound so I won't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                              gift: "something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Someone bringing food to your dinner party is, in my opinion (and by that definition), bringing you a gift. I can see that you don't view it the same way, but I hope you can try to realize that someone who feels they are giving you a gift (whether you view it that way or not) deserves better than to be sent packing at the end of the night with their gift in hand, untouched and unappreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I will repeat that a gift of food is a lovely thing. Bringing one of the courses of the dinner is not. Totally different things. A gift of food will be lovingly received and put away for a special treat later. No argument there at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chris: A true "gift" is given with no conditions, requirements or expectations. Unfortunately, your so-called "gift of food" is not really a gift at all if the giver makes it clear by its presentation that the expectation is that it be served. If I receive a gift I can do anything with it: toss it out, serve it, save for later, or re-gift. Any giver who insists I serve it, I wouldn't call that a generous act at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't recall a discussion of a guest who insisted on anything being served here, and indeed, I'd agree that insistence by a guest would be quite rude. Although I find it fascinating how people land so firmly on the side of that insistence in the replies upthread to this post http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6579... One poster even said " I would have immediately said, either serve it, or I take it home."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can't really see how a gift isn't a gift if it's given with the expectation of being used. I still see is as a guest trying to show appreciation for the invitation, and with that intention, it's a gift in my eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: krissywats

                                                                                                                                                                                                            very nicely put. I agree 100%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dagwood

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree also. A gift of food is always welcome. Not part of the dinner; a gift. Perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was actually agreeing w/ Krissywatts, above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If someone brings dessert, it is a token of grattitude, and should be taken as such.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If the intention of the guest is for it to be served, but the host has other plans and instead takes it upon him/herself to say "thank you" and to keep it for a later date, than the onus is on the guest to go along with that graciously. Even if it becomes apparent that that was not the intention of the guest, the host should still be GRACIOUS and not take it as an assault. As should the guest be GRACIOUS and not insist on insulting the host by insisting it be served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's all about manners people. It's not that hard. It's not an insult if a guest brings a dessert, and I really think that most civilized people should be able to work through this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dagwood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is really funny because it seems like you're agreeing with me :) You call it "dessert" and I call it a "gift of food." If the gift of food is a dessert, then the host thanks the guest sincerely. It's definitely not an insult if a guest brings "a dessert" aka a "gift of food." And I totally agree with you that a gift of food would never be considered that night's dessert and therefore no one, civilized or otherwise, should have a problem with that. What's the problem? If the host hadn't prepared a dessert and thought he/she even wanted one (I don't always), then there's one there for serving. Otherwise, it can be kept. If it were presented as a gift rather than a dessert for that night, then I wouldn't send it back home with the guest. Since I don't like dessert, I'd just give it away to someone the following day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And why can a "gift of food" not be a "dessert"? A dessert does not mean a "dessert for tonight", it just means it's a dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Except that I don't think under any circumstances it should be sent home with the guest. That would show that it wasn't appreciated, and would be a very poor display of a host indeed. It should be served or it should be saved. Under no circumstances should it be returned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: krissywats

                                                                                                                                                                                                              good post krissywats! I like to think that people bring things out of love and appreciation, not to hijack the host's carefully planned evening. Don't snub the food-bringer's kindness! Even if it doesn't "go".

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Assault"? That feels rather extreme. I also plan my menu for dinner parties from beginning to end and neither want nor expect people to show up with anything. But if they brought something, at worst I would be bemused. If I could figure out a way to make it fit into the dinner, I would. If not, I would thank them for their generosity and ask if it would be alright if I saved the dish to enjoy the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        But I will say that desserts are always welcome because there is never such thing as too much dessert. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                                                                                                                                          First of all, I think too much dessert is more often a problem than too little.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Next is the fact that not every dessert --- or app for that matter --- goes with every dinner. I'm still trying to figure one out for a dinner party on Saturday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          And how far does this get carried? (What if they brought RIBS??????? :) ) At first I thought pikawicca might have overstated it, but now I agree this is passive-aggressive behavior. If you want to bring a nicely wrapped box of something that makes it clear it's for another time, fine. But if you walk into my house and hand me a cake or pie or whatever, then your inappropriate behavior may very well be matched by my own :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                          If someone showed up at my house for a dinner party bearing food I would be shocked and insulted - but I'd say 'thanks' and put in the freezer for later. If it couldn't be frozen I don't know what I'd do - there would be no space in the fridge if I was cooking a dinner party - and I'd certainly not serve it, whatever it was. I plan my parties to the last detail - the only thing I can think that I might serve as an extra would be a perfect cheese, or some handmade chocolates.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can't imagine anyone I know bringing food anyway - it is not the 'British way'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think the point here is, not everyone views dinner parties/social responsibilities the same way. Some people take great care in planning a full menu, Others are used to potlucks/casual dinners where there is a "more=merrier" attitude. Bringing an unsolicited dessert is not passive aggressive! They aren't trying to show you up, but trying to do what they think is polite. They don't think you're incapable of making dessert - how childish to put it that way! A gracious hostess thanks them and serves it alonside the original dessert. Let's have some perspective here. Dessert-bringers are not out to shame you, so don't shame them. No?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: carbocat

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Alright, I'm willing to try this yet again :) Are you talking about a gift for the host that happens to be a dessert that can be enjoyed when the host chooses? Or are you talking about someone bringing one of the courses for the meal without asking or being asked? They're SO completely different. So please tell me which you're discussing. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                lol, I do appreciate you rehashing this topic with newcomer-me! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You're right, a hostess gift of sweets is different from an item the guest means to heat up and serve that night. All I argue is, even if this guest brought a dessert course for that particular evening, they probably didn't do so to hijack your party. Intention is what is important here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Of course, should the host/hostess not choose to serve the item, the guest will understand (or should understand). It's just the posts that suggest these dessert-bringers are purposely provocative that confuse me. Unless you know this person to be malicious and petty, why be offended at anyone bringing anything that cost time and money to your home?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And thanks again for your response, C O :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've read through all of this, and here are my thoughts, for what they are worth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Like many others, when I plan a dinner party, I plan the food from A to Z.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Sometimes I don't get to Z aka dessert and just pick up some gelato and cookies. If that were the case and a guest brought dessert, I would serve both, and say something about how nice it was that X brought dessert.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. I would prefer that my guests don't bring food to be eaten at the dinner without asking me ahead of time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. I would not be insulted, however, if a guest chose to bring food. I might think it a bit odd, but I would assume that it was being done out of kindness and thoughtfulness (even though I might think it misplaced kindness and thoughtfulness), rather than some sort of an assault or implied insult about my cooking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Depending on the item, and my planned menu, I would either incorporate the brought food into my menu, or thank the guest very nicely and ask if he or she would mind if my husband and I had "it" for dinner/dessert/whatever the next day. (Expecting, of course, that the guest would graciously say, oh of course that would be fine.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          6. If I served it, and there was some left, I might say to the guest - this was really delicious, would you like to take some home with you for tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Being a guest and being a host each have their "rules" ... if a guest breaks a "rule" that does not, to my mind, give the host license to break the "rules" applicable to her, most importantly, graciously making her guests feel comfortable and welcomed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                              MMRuth, I wholeheartedly agree. This is how I'd treat my guests and how I'd wish to be treated. It's all about graciousness and manners, as someone said above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm amazed at some of the responses to this thread. I believe my friends and family would behave graciously. I don't believe a good host/hostess would ever make a guest feel that they've committed an egregious faux pas. That seems petty and egotistical to me. I'd likely not be friends with such a person, just as I likely not be friends with the OP's acquaintance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              That said, the only times I would ever offer to bring anything is if I were going to an extremely close friend's house or to an extremely close relative's house. Thankfully, they know me well and realize I'm only offering because I know they either need or want my assistance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Otherwise, I eagerly anticipate the hospitality of my hosts. I was raised to bring the host or hostess a gift: flowers, wine, a book, or something I know they've wanted--I usually go with flowers unless my host/hostess is allergic. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The world is a melting pot--there are so many cultures in each country now. I think it's helpful to remember that because of this diversity, there are different cultural mores. Not all of us were raised the same and what is offensive in one culture is counted as graciousness in another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not to mention, some people just don't know what to do because they're awkward in social occasions. I prefer to think the best unless I truly know one means the worst.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MangosSurpriseMe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not to mention, some people just don't know what to do because they're awkward in social occasions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree. There was a backlash against formal etiquette in the '60s and '70s -- it was seen as being elitist, discriminatory, classist, establishment, artificial, etc. But when they threw out formal etiquette they threw out the baby with the bathwater: it used to be that there was a set of rules and everyone knew (or could easily find out) what they were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now people just make up their own rules and then get upset when other people violate them. I'm all with people who think it's terrible when people bring unsolicited food to a dinner party and expect it to be served, but I've seen people on threads similar to this one who were upset because a guest had the audacity to bring them flowers and they had to interrupt their dinner preparations to deal with them, they already had the flowers they wanted, etc. Boo-hoo. Flowers are one of the traditional hostess gifts, and if you can't deal with them graciously then you have no business inviting people over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Re: flowers. I know I've "expounded" on this board about how I prefer not to receive flowers from arriving guests but I would certainly never convey that preference to a guest. And, flowers are a traditional hostess gift in some societies, and not in others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I've received flowers that weren't already in a vase, I simply grab one, put water in it and put the flowers in. I put them aside until the following day when I have time to trim stems and arrange. NBD.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I once brought flowers to a friend of a friend's place. They didn't own a vase, period. It was a minimalist design scheme and they eschewed such "clutter" as vases, flowers, and other elements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In order that the flowers not be a total waste, I ended up cutting the blooms from the stems and floating them in a bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      After that I stopped bringing flowers as a gift unless I knew the recipient would appreciate them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have subsequently heard a colleague express great concern that, over Christmas, someone brought her out-of-season, non-native, transported flowers as a gift when they knew that she was an environmentally conscious person. She was wondering if she could really still be friends with this person who seemed to not know anything about her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh well, I'm not sure there is anything that would be a universally "safe" (let alone appreciated) host's gift.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        seriously? can't people just appreciate a nice gesture?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As for the carbon-footprint-concerned person -- get over yourself already. How could anybody be so incredibly self-engrossed and self-important!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As for the vase problem... my man and I don't own a single vase, but we'd NEVER make anyone feel bad for bringing flowers. Thankfully, we have two Weizen glasses that can fit a not too large bouquet, and we make do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good idea. In many cases with flowers I'd like to feel grateful but some give me allergies. There's really nothing I can do with those arrangements other than put them outside so the pollen doesn't get in the air. At least with other gifts, even if they can't use them or allergic, the damage hasn't already occurred just by bringing them in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ata, is sounds like the person who got those flowers needs more fiber in her diet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                can't make this stuff up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the :-) first thing in the morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow...go to work and out to dinner for a few days and miss all the fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here are a few foods for thought:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the guest:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 - Always ask; never just show up with food that may be construed in the eyes of the host of "do i need to serve this." Exceptions exist and the probably include some homemade holiday cookies this time of year if the host has some children
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 - If you bring wine, it may or may not be a part of the meal. Assume it goes in the den during the meal and if they serve it, that's upside.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 - Same with dessert. If you just show up with it, it may be served, it may not be served. Do not take offense if it sits in the den with bottles of wine. If you bring it in a dish that you would like back, well should have thought of that first. But if the host is gracious you wil;l receive a thank you call from her the following day or you can discuss with him when you call the following day to thank them for a great time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 - Jfood probably incudes hors doevres ("HDs") in this as well but it is placing the host in a weird position since day-old HDs are usually not that great (carve out is guacamole and chips...yum for breakfast)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5 -Never bring part of the sit-down part of the meal unless asked. No your roasted potatoes may not be the best in the world. Think about the words on the pizza boxes..."You've tried the rest, now try the best" and remember how you giggle to yourself every time you see this.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6 - Helping - Always kind to ask "is there anything i can do?" NEVER assume you are wanted in the prep of the food. Think of the food prep as a dance. Extra people make for very hard synchonization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the Host:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 - Whoever stated that your guests are guests, not props is brilliant. Jfood will use that line in the future. TY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 - If someone brings a "special" wine, serve the dang thing. Who knows maybe there is someone who knows more than you about pairing. Heck EVERYONE knows more about pairing than jfood.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 - Likewise with dessert. If it is a casual event with a casual dessert, so what if there is an extra pie. Serve the thing. The standards are probably higher than the wine, but if it can be fit in, jfood always tries. Same with HDs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 - Wrapped versus unwrapped. To jfood wrapped means open later. It's a dinner gathering not a b'day party where gifts are open.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5 - If someone brings a dish in a non-disposable container either give it back when they depart or make sure it is cleaned and returned. The guest who brought it should make arrangements to pick it up versus the host having to do an away game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And to those who plan the event to the upteenth degree, bravo (no sarcasm at all). The guests on the first invite may not know this so give them a little slack. If they bring aunt millie's world famous gopher dip to the second one, may need to have a little sidebar with them before event #3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Enjoy the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As the one who innocently brought a pie to a party, lol, may I say that it was intended as a gift which could be served or not served as the host saw fit. Even I, who am more of a dessert bringer than a liquor bringer, would not bring a dessert to a fancy sit down dinner party (with food served perhaps on Royal Doulton with hand painted periwinkles), unless the host was a friend of mine and it was pre-approved. To be honest, though, I never go to such events. For the casual parties I attend, desserts are welcome. And if I do accidentally make a faux pas and bring an unwanted dessert, for goodness sake, just say thank you, don't serve it and if necessary, take it to work on Monday. I guarantee you that the jackals at work will eat it up, lol. It was not intended as a a slap to your face.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The reason I said the only food I would bring to a dinner party would be dessert was because of its flexible nature. It could be served or not. To me, it does not say "serve me tonight." If one brings a dip or a side dish, it's obvious that it's intended to be served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I realized that I was trying to put myself in a hypothetical situation, one I've never been in. I've had the occasional plate of baked goods during the holiday season, but that's it. So my hypothetical huff was probably QUITE exaggerated. I still don't think I would serve it but I wouldn't return it either. I'm retired so no office vultures to take it too but I'd figure out something. Were it a pie or cake, it would definitely take a road trip as neither I nor my husband really like desserts. Perhaps a cookie every once in a while with some wine after dinner. I honestly believe that most people would ask before bringing something like a pie but again this just isn't something I've had to deal with in the real world :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jfood posted to yours since it seemed to be the beginning of the bunny hole. Nothing was directed at you Val...sorry for the confusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And I responded to you because it was at the bottom. I did not take offense at anything you said, in fact I agree with everything. I'm still trying to wrap my head around c oliver not liking desserts. How can that be :-) I wish I could be like c oliver.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Val, my child, I don't like desserts but don't get between me and a bag of Wavy Lays potato chips!!!!! Not and live to brag about it anyway. We all have our poisons. And if you bring a bag of aforementioned chips to my home, I definitely won't serve them so I can eat them all by myself later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Val55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting thread. It has helped me realize the world is apparently divided into two categories. Those who choose to view a guest bringing a pie to a party as annoying, an insult, presumptious, and/or a passive-aggressive assualt. And those who simply view it as a generous act. I know which group I'd rather share a meal with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mjhals

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just becase I would be annoyed if someone bought food I wouldn't make it show - I'd act as if I were grateful and say I'll keep the food for later - maybe to treat myself the following day as I'd have had my fill of cooking. I am not a COMPLETELY un-housetrained sociopath!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mjhals

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Then there's another way to divide the groups:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The hosts who accept the pie gracefully as a generous act and make a choice about whether to serve it or keep it for later, and guests who are upset if the host decides on the latter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hosts who do not accept the pie gracefully as a generous act are violating hospitality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As are guests who are upset if what they bring is not served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Really simple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Exactly, and, as usual, you said it much more gracefully than I.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: mjhals

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I plan my meals around the desserts, for the most part. I've had people bring their own, unannounced--one year, everyone decided to bring a pumpkin dessert. Fine, I just put them out w/ all the other ones I had made. I'm not insulted by it and I don't think there was anything but good will behind it so took it as such. However, if they had told me what they were going to bring, I could have saved the time on desserts (days) and possibly made sure we didn't have over half a dozen pumpkin desserts and wasted effort. People took some home but there was so much left. I have too little willpower to have a lot of extra desserts at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But, that doesn't top the most recent, someone decided to grab a watermelon she had lying around at home and was very insulted that it was never served that evening. I had 25+ people over and no time to prepare it. I had actually forgotten about it until the next morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: superjo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When I invite guests for dinner, I don't want or need anything but their company. When I'm invited to someone's house I bring a hostess gift...flowers, wine,etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. It sure boggles the mind how many different opinions there are on this topic. Passive-aggressiveness on part of the guests, control-freakishness on part of the hosts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thankfully, my social engagements don't carry nearly as much psycho-baggage. Nuts. Just nuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have learned from this and other threads to not ask if I can bring anything. When invited, I put on my guest hat. I will almost always bring a little gift but that's it. If it's a potluck, I'll be told that. I have found this to be quite liberating. I have also said when asked if a guest can bring something "No, I'll fix everything and hopefully you'll invite me some time and return the favor." Done with a smile and a lilt in my voice

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    since we've differentiated between bringing a gift and bringing part of the meal, how 'bout we differentiate in the original question? "may i bring something for the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    table/meal?" allows for a host gift even if the answer is "no thank you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and you still have the option to cut and run if the answer is "yes, please bring prime tenderloin for 20."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: appycamper

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Since I don't ask if I can bring a gift, then the only question WOULD be "can I bring something for the table/meal?" It's the same as saying "Can I help you fix your dinner?" Which is why I no longer ask. I bring a gift and don't try to bring part of the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: appycamper

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One need never ask if one can bring a *gift* (which is *not* the same thing as bringing something for the meal). Any gift one brings should be something that does not require the host to do anything other than thank you briefly at the time and allows the host to resume hosting duties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You and I and c oliver are in agreement, but there are many who are not. Is this a generational thing, a regional thing? There is a surprising (to me) difference of opinion here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This idea had crossed my mind earlier. The generational thing. Are there people in their 50s and 60s who feel it's fine to bring part of the meal. Maybe it's a changing culture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i may not have expressed myself clearly. my intent was to suggest we be more specific than asking if one may bring something. then upon being told "no" coming empty handed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              or upon not asking and receiving an answer coming with something unwelcome and expecting the host to serve it. a very awkward situation and not something i would do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              since there seem to be prickles either way i was in favor of asking if something for the table would be welcome. either way i would bring a gift, with no expectation that it be utilized at that meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and it may well be a regional or generational thing. having mixed in various social circles in the past 30 plus years, there are some (southern mostly) where not contributing is rude. others where bringing something is rude. another where not asking is rude. one more i can think of where bringing anything store-bought is rude. my close peers all bring an element and leave leftovers behind (generationally 50-60 years of age). sigh. need a play book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Did anyone else read this
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I only ever bring wine to dinner parties, but I never ask what I can bring either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hsk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm really glad that you posted that! For the longest time my husband wouldn't understand why I didn't want his family to bring a dish to our holiday meals. I'd just ask them to come hungry. I'm glad that I'm not the only one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. My mother is notorious for this. She asked me to help her plan an easy no cook hors d'oeurves for my grandpa's 75th b-day. She had a wine and cheese thing in mind. Some how, I ended up buying most of the food and wine. Then, when I got to her house to help her set up, she hadn't prepped a thing. Then, an hour before everyone arrived, she said she had to go shower and dress (which she should have already done) and left me to assemble and prep everything. Everyone came over and she was quick to take the credit when I did 100% of the work and bought most of the food. Needless to say, I did not allow that. I just interjected with, "She bought the shrimp tray, I made everything else. " She does this all of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        She always tries to flatter me into bringing most of the food to gatherings by praising my cooking. At TG, she insisted I make the turkey and pushed this damned turkey bag on me. After a while, I looked at the turkey and figured out the bag was causing it to steam. I promptly removed it and fixed it up and got it browned. I was extra mad becasue there was no fond, just this crappy juice in the bottom. I had to make due to make gravy and it was nothing like one made with a nice fond. When she saw it, she proclaimed, "See the bag makes it perfect everytime like I said!" I promptly told her the turkey was as beautiful as it was due to hard work and some major fixing and babying on my part. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sounds more like a mom issue than a dinner issue to me. Moms & their daughters.... an endless theme --

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think my mother in law may be your mothers long lost sister!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Folks, it seems that everything that can be said on this topic has been said, so we're going to lock it.