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What should the host provide? What should I bring?

  • d

I've recently been invited to my good friend, Meg's, birthday celebration. Her boyfriend is planning it and sent the following request:

"Please bring veggie burgers, whiskey, veggie dogs, beer, veggie ribs, tequila, vegetables, ice, birthday presents/flowers. Not necessarily in that order. Oh, if you eat meat you can bring that too, no judgement! We will supply music, dancing, Meg, and guacamole."

Had Meg's other friends (who happily offered to throw her a party) planned this, this wouldn't have happened. The boyfriend swooped in and took over planning duties and then asked everyone to do the work for him once he secured the BBQ spot (his brother's house). The boyfriend is out of work and none of us are rolling in dough so a potluck BBQ was to be expected, but I believe the host should at least provide the basics (if you're throwing a party, you can buy ice for your guests).

I was planning on bringing flowers for Meg and a six-pack to share between me and whoever else. I will bow out of eating anything at the BBQ and dine out later. I am perturbed the boyfriend went about it in such a cheap and tactless way.

My question is: Do you think I should bring food and more alcohol and suck it up because Meg is a good friend? I feel as though I'm punishing Meg by not contributing to her night for her boyfriend's lack of etiquette.

A sub-question: After batting around party ideas between Meg and her friends and boyfriend, she decided she'd like to have a BBQ at the boyfriend's brother's. So, really, it was her idea. Is SHE at all responsible to bring any of the food/alcohol items requested?

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  1. I guess it depends on how good a friend Meg is. If she was a good friend, I would get together with her other friends, plan a menu, maybe concentrate on food and beer, inform the boyfriend what you are bringing. I would also consider my contribution as my gift to Meg or at least a good portion of it.

    If she is not that good a friend, I would bring a 6 pack, a pot luck dish to share and the flowers and that is it.

    1. what happens if everyone brings ice and flowers?

      I dislike this kind of open invitation with zero organization. I think the BF needs to plan this a little better and tell everyone exactly what to bring for the potluck and for sure provide something. I agree with NE Elaine, this needs discussion with the other friends and the BF.

      1. what the hell is a "veggie rib"?

        i know he can't be talking about celery ;-P

        1 Reply
        1. re: soupkitten

          "Artistry" with soy protein isolate, yeast extract and sodium. The celery sounds better.

        2. Meg and her boyfriend....Are they still in Jr. High or have they made it to High School???
          I would decline the invitation! Period!!
          Maybe put a bug in Meg's ear....She needs to find another boyfriend. ~~ Would also suggest that you explain to her that she is not the center of the Universe!!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Uncle Bob

            Rule #11, from Dave Barry's Rules of Life:

            "There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven."

            1. re: Sherri

              Please keep that quote handy - it seems that there is a growing problem among young people who want their significant others to enjoy a lavish birthday fete on someone else's dime! Enough already.

              1. re: Kater

                Not limited to young people. The other day my MIL (age 65) asked if we could see her for her birthday celebration on June 13th because she will be traveling on her birthday (June 15th). Mind you, she (and FIL) will be traveling to Europe to take a cruise...it's not like they are traveling to the gulag. I felt like saying no, just because it's immature, but I didn't.

                This is also a woman who still sleeps with stuffed animals (and travels with them!).

            2. re: Uncle Bob

              ha ha, uncle bob! that's it precisely!

            3. Decline BF's invitation and ask Meg to lunch for her BD, just the two of you...girl time. Explain same to BF. Of course, lunch is your treat.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Gail

                +1 with what Gail said...I think the BF should have left it in the hands of those who know how to throw a party. This is almost the same as someone who invites you to dinner and then asks you to bring it..tacky!

              2. it's rude - but so what? you either want to celebrate with meg or not. if you don't want to: that's kind of the end of it. if you do choose to go, just bring some beer or cheap wine, flowers, and some chips/crackers and veggie dip and call it a day (what is that $10-20?). try to enjoy everyone's company and make the most of it.

                i also agree with ne elaine - maybe coordinate with others what everyone will bring so there is not too much duplication and it turns out to be a well rounded, fun event.

                1. That is in extraordinarily poor taste. However if you accept the invitation it is rude to refuse to contribute to the pot luck extravaganza and refuse to eat. In for a penny in for pound... of veggie burgers. Bring beer and ice as well and a gift of course. Or decline the invite citing a conflict - that's what I would do!

                  1. Hi guys, thanks for all of your responses.

                    Meg is a very good friend and, as I'm sure everyone has gathered from the original post's tone, I'm NOT a fan of the boyfriend. While I do think he lacks social decorum, I don't have to purposely hold out on contributing to her night. You're right, bringing a pack of hot dogs or whatever isn't a big deal. I got riled up because of the principle, but, honestly, I'm making a mountain out of a molehill because I can't stand the dude.

                    Bob, Sherri, and Kater--completely agree that celebrating your birthday on someone else's dime and/or expecting others to be as excited about it is silly past the cartoon-watching age. My friends and I are in our late 20s, early 30s. Call me a curmudgeon, but this is why I'll only go out to dinner with my SO, if anything.

                    Smartie--I also hate this kind of "planning." But, yes, I agree with you, NE_Elaine, nachosaurus, and Kater, the friends should coordinate who's bringing what so we can have the best night for Meg. I've gotta say, though, next time I will decline this kind of invitation and opt for one-on-one birthday dinner.

                    So, in conclusion, I'll bring food, drinks, and a gift for Meg and see what others plan on bringing so we can coordinate our efforts. Again, thanks for the advice.

                    1. His delivery is a bit off, but his plan isn't much different than what we do in my circle of friends for cookout style parties. The host usually provides appetizers/chips/sides and everyone else brings their preferred meat/veg for the grill and drinks. Of course, we all know each other very well and will usually organize specifics on our own in groups of 2-3, independent of the host. For non-cookout potlucks we take more time to pin down the details.

                      As for the sub-question - in the same group of friends, the birthday-person usually suggests the theme/location of the party, but we never let the birthday-person pay. Birthday parties are never extravagant affairs for us, usually just 5-6 people getting take out and hanging out, and we rotate cake baking duties. It really all boils down to the dynamics of your social circle.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mpjmph

                        In university, the BYO party is pretty common, but it rarely gets quite as grabby as the example given here. From what I read, the hosts are providing the location and..... guacamole. So as far as food goes, they are providing a dip, and expecting their guests to bring the meats, sides, desserts, alcohol (type specified), vegetarian alternatives to meat, and even the ICE! I'm surprised I didn't see instructions to bring their own chair and plate. Then, added on bringing all their own food and drink, is a request for presents and flowers.

                        For a typical college BYO barbeque, the hosts provide the non alcoholic drinks, mixers, ice, cutlery, dishes and plates, plus some sides, and people bring their own meat and drinks. If it's a birthday, gifts aren't expected.

                        For this case, I'd probably take meat and some alcohol, and maybe a small gift, but skip flowers altogether. And I'd mention to Meg afterwards that it would really be much easier to host a party for her than to have her boyfriend manage it, because it would be much more coordinated.

                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                          we were actually invited someplace once where it was suggested we might bring our own folding chairs.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            As someone living in a chair-deficient household, I admit that we've asked this too... I didn't think it was rude, because it's not as easy to acquire chairs as it is to buy some burgers, but then again I wouldn't ask it of anyone but good friends (and I wouldn't put it on the invite).

                      2. I just went to a cookout potluck like that (except not starting with such an annoying sounding invitation) and the invitations were electronic. In terms of food coordination, Evite can be handy as folks can note what they're bringing in their RSVP. Easy for hosts, easy for guests to see what is already on the list. Of course, it helps a lot if it's called a potluck in the first place!

                        1. maybe i'm showing my age with this response.

                          sometimes the girlfriends, in the throes of romance, seem to lose their mind.
                          but, in the end, in the case of a good girlfriend, it usually pays to cut them some slack and let them work it through.
                          this is only one meal.
                          i would not want to have a relationship damaged on account of a situation like this.
                          i'd probably bring a food item and some beverages and shine the whole thing on.
                          next year the boyfriend may be gone or the boyfriend may have matured into a better person.

                          1. Since I'm petty, I think you should print a copy of this thread and leave in a easily spotted place in their home. I doubt the situation will arise again.

                            1 Reply
                            1. this is your friends party. make it work. no need for pettiness. don;t consider it "sucking it up" but celebrating with someone you love. what could possibly add up to more important than that.