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BYO Backyard BBQ... "Bring something to throw on the grill and we'll see you at 7"


A recent Table Manners column amused me with the fervor of response in re: "bring something to throw on the grill..."

Many see it as the height of inconsideration - I'd rather gnaw my own eyeballs than ask someone to bring food!

Many see it as less of a hosted event, rather an excuse to get together with friends on short notice.

Where do you and your friends stand?

  1. This is an interesting situation. If I invite you to come and be my guest I expect to provide the food and entertain you, BUT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    We are in the middle of a heat wave. We have a large built in pool. We have informally let certain neighbors and friends and our kids' friends know that they are welcome to stop by and use the pool to cool off, BUT they are expected to bring their own towels, drinks and snacks. We also let them know there is a BBQ by the pool and a fridge in the pool house, so if they expect to be here during a meal period, then bring something to throw on the grill. We supply the fuel.

    This is not a hosted invitation situation, but a offer to come cool off during the heat wave.

    6 Replies
    1. re: bagelman01

      I'm sort of in that mixed emotion group as well. On the one hand, if I feel like putting together a party, I'm going to put together a party! But, I love to cook, love to show off my cooking skills (sorry, but it's true) and love to hear the ooohs and ahhhs.

      But my closest friend... isn't built like me. Heck, for real - food is sort of her last resort before passing out. So for her, it's more of a 'we need an excuse to get together, bring something!' kind of thing.

      So I guess I swing both ways. ;)

      1. re: bagelman01

        sounds very reasonable to me... much better than sitting around in the heat w/o opportunity for pool time...wish I were your neighbor!

        1. re: bagelman01

          We're in a similar situation -- we have a bizarrely large back yard for Europe, as well as a house that's bigger than that of most of our friends (all purely by luck). As such, our house tends to be Social Central, simply because we have room for 5-6 families to gather at once -- and nobody else can even come close.

          So we have a lot of this type of gathering -- we usually provide the drinks and some munchies, but we just can't (and nobody expects us to) bankroll full sit-down meals every time everyone wants to get together. So sometimes we host the whole shebang (4th of July), and sometimes it's potluck/dinatoire, especially if it's last minute or very short notice.

          And that's okay -- it works for us and our circle.

          1. re: sunshine842

            I think that is perfect for your situation. It is so nice to have the space for get togethers and not have to shoulder the financial burden.

            1. re: escondido123

              Meant to sayt declare to be your bestest friends...

            2. re: sunshine842

              A potluck is fine, like escondido said, in your situation. Actually, if you had THE house in the area and invited me, I'd bring many alms to put at your doorstep in order to keep being invited back.
              That said, I knew somebody once who invited us over for dinner and told me to bring wine and a salad for however many the group was intended to be, she told this to many of us. She told my sister to bring a pizza or two (and the reason forgoing there was so that my sister could cut her daughter's hair- for free, of course).She wasn't reimbursed.
              She ended up being dumped by the guy we knew when he married her, he was husband #2, last I heard, which was several years ago, she had blown through hubby #5. No big surprise.

              In other words, if you're scroungy and wish to be manipulative to people you declare, don't count on not being brought up as a joke several years later. And do a reality check if it's possible that you're being taken advantage of by somebody. "Oh come over to go swimming, and bring wine and a salad for seven, plus a dessert because I WASN'T ABLE TO MAKE IT TO THE STORE even though I have a brand new Camaro, a grocery store less than a mile away, and I don't have to work and my husband has way more money than you."
              Whoa. Sorry. I guess I'm a little bitter, even after all these years.

          2. Totally depends on the nature of the party. If it's a planned event, we certainly expect to provide all food and incidentals - UNLESS it's a cooking club party where part of the adventure is the shared cooking and pot luck. But, on a hot day if we're just hanging out and have no plans to do anything but, and people call and want to come and spend some time doing that with us? It's casual. Bring some food, or a bottle or whatever, and we'll work the rest out, even if we have to order in pizza...but please, do bring something because this is just impromptu, just us, just folks. That being said, it works for close friends and really casual guests only; it's not an invitation I'd lay on a new potential friend at the outset of a social relationship unless I was pretty sure they were up for that kind of casual unplanned seat-of-the-pants fling. I see nothing wrong with either way, though; it's just a matter of personal choice and your definition of what exactly "hosting" entails.

            1. If this is something people do back and forth among a group so they can get together easily, I say it's great--anything to get people away from TVs and computer screens and enjoying each others company. But if this is someone who regularly goes to other peoples' houses and eat their meals and drinks their drinks, then I see it as the cheapskates' way out unless they are generous in other ways.

              1. am i supposed to bring something just for me/us?
                or do i need to bring enough for the whole party?

                is it just the 4 or 6 or is it 20-30?

                the size would matter first...

                then it gets like MC said...if everybody planned this and the host is providing the rest and im bringing the ribs (for example) and somebody else has the sides..etc etc...

                just winging it sometimes doesnt work out so well if everybody brings 10 lbs of burgers...

                3 Replies
                1. re: srsone

                  In our circle of friends, you're just bringing for you and yours - it's actually a little weird sometimes to have one couple eating hot dogs and another doing steaks.

                  We'll usually bring something for everyone, too - salad, chips, that sort of thing.

                  1. re: shanagain

                    From what I understand, that's exactly it. You just bring grilling item for your own group of 1 or 2. Some also want you to bring your own booze. (My ex-boyfriend used to throw these kind of parties and supply absolutely nothing except the grill and dishes/glasses. He would mooch off of everyone and basically get a free evening out of it....guess that's one of the reasons he's an ex.)

                    1. re: shanagain

                      but then i would feel bad im eating a nice thick,juicy grade a prime porterhouse and your eating just a hot dog.......

                      well maybe just a little bad...

                  2. When I give a party, I'm the host and I expect to provide everything. We are a wine drinking crowd and even though I will tell my guests that they do not need to bring anything, many of them will show up with a bottle to share. If it's very casual and maybe just one or two friends, we may do some kind of cooperative meal, especially if someone has a recipe or an ingredient he/she is eager to share. I have a few friends who think as I do, and many many friends who do not. I've been to parties where the invitation says to bring something to grill AND a dish to share, to potlucks where I was asked to bring a particular thing (I mean, such as "a vegetable dish" or "a dessert"), and also to real potlucks where nothing is specified. I'm a good cook and I enjoy sharing, and I do enjoy tasting all the different things that people make. I wouldn't entertain like that myself though, because it just doesn't feel like entertaining to me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kathleen M

                      we decided that it must be a sure sign of getting old when we went to a milestone birthday party a few years ago that the hostess provided all the eats, but requested we BYOB...we realized that there was not a single 6-pack of cheap-ass beer in sight -- we'd all brought 1.5-litre bottles of respectable wine.

                    2. I've been to a couple of these. We bring a dish to pass, then whatever we want to grill for just ourselves. Host usually provides reasonable condiments (ketchup/mustard/mayo, lettuce/tomato/onion). People usually stick to burgers/chicken breasts/ sausage, etc., but sometimes people will throw a steak on. It's definitely a casual get together, and if it were me, I'd provide the burgers/chicken breasts/sausage myself. Even for a smallish crowd, how much does that stuff cost? But I am usually happy to accept any invitation.

                      1. I would never host such a party (except in the case Bagelman cites below, which I think is very generous of him) and I know that when I am invited to one, the food will not be good. Why? Because it's all about the protein, which I find boring. There will be a listless potato or pasta salad, perhaps a tray of crudites, and maybe some condiments and buns for those who brought burgers or hotdogs as their "something to grill." The dessert, unless I bring it, will be those ubiquitous brownies. Just not my favorite type of meal. However, the point of these gatherings isn't the food, but the friends, so if I like the people who are hosting, I go.

                        1. It is both rude and very tacky. If you are the host, then you are providing the main parts of the party: the main course, the drinks, an app, a side, etc.

                          My family and friends always offer to bring something so I will assign them something like an app or a side or dessert. If they didn't offer, though, then I'd do it all myself. "bring your own food" is just tacky. I'd decline that invite.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Njchicaa

                            If you read sherriberry's post below, I think you might change your mind because the ones like hers changed me mind about this. Getting together is the important part and if everyone is comfortable with that approach, the more times the merrier.

                          2. Not a fan of bringing your own food. Protein, appetizer, dessert, or otherwise.

                            1. Depends on the circumstances. We are good friends w/ a few other couples in the neighborhood. Sometimes one has a planned event, provides the food and issues invite-usually verbal. Other times, we wander into each others yards if we see each other outside and say-hey, lets grill out tonight, bring over whatever you got. I have no problem w/ that as we do it at least twice a month and the hosts are usually the couple w/ the yard that gets little evening sun and has nice shade. It would be unfair to burden them w/ always providing the food and drink just because they have the most comfortable yard.. With this crowd, the beer/wine bill alone would be quite high if not shared amongst us all.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: sherriberry

                                Exactly, the "bring your own food" idea or potluck party is about friendship, not dinner party formalities and "putting on the dog" entertainment. I am really surprised that so many people that love food on CH really don't seem to have good friends and neighbors that they interact with in an informal, fun way? That strikes me as "weirder" than the bring your own ____. There are times for formalities, written invitations, hostess gifts, etc. -and time for backyard BBQ's and BYO beer. Different set of etiquette and mood for each.

                                But I always think it is strange when "foodies" don't appreciate all kinds and varieties of food and dining atmospheres - from fine dining to burrito's with your kids. I never realized how uptight and very narrow some people were around food issues until I came to CH. I actually never thought of eating together (in any form) as being so filled with tight constraints. At least it is enlightening.

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  Exactly, the "bring your own food" idea or potluck party is about friendship


                                  Absolutely! My best memories of shared meals are focused on the company of my friends and family, not on the quality of food. (Don't get me wrong, LOVE good food, always in search of new ideas, better, fresher, etc. It's just not the most important part of eating to me.)

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    Sedimental, you said a whole lot there. You are my hero for the day.

                                      1. re: sherriberry

                                        Very much the same among my friends. We're all young professionals and grad students, and there are always financial considerations for social events. If we expected the host of each party to provide the full package everytime, then we'd each only host one BBQ/summer. Instead, we can have the full deal every weekend if we split the cost. Most of the time it plays out as host provides burgers/sausages and everyone else brings drinks and sides to share. Some times we change it up and the host provides a keg and sides, and everyone brings their meat or vegetable of choice for the grill.

                                      2. Like others have said, it definitely depends on the group and the circumstances. With good friends that I know well, I love being able to be spontaneous and decide to do something at the last minute and these kinds of get togethers make that more possible. Where I live (the sun-deprived Seattle area), just having a nice summer day is reason to have an outdoor bbq dinner. And lately, even our notoriously unreliable weather forecasters haven't been a lot of help so being spontaneous is key to taking advantage of a good-grill day.

                                        I am not inclined to invite people over and ask them to bring their own main dishes (which is kind of how I see BYOmeat), but I've gotten relaxed enough in my old age that if someone offers to bring something, I will happily accept. I will also tell them what we are grilling so if they have a particular desire for something else, they can feel free to bring it. We have a large home and can handle a good crowd, so in our close circle of friends we are usually the place people gather. I love that we can do that but I am not sure I would love to do so as often if the full load of each gathering were solely my responsibility.

                                        1. In spite of the fact that we are in our 30's and 40's, few in our social circle can afford to fully entertain more than once or twice a year. So opening your home to friends who bring food to grill and/or drinks to share is the only option. Either that or we just wouldn't get together very often. Nobody is ever offended and our group has grown quite a bit due to the casual, comfortable nature of our gatherings. Anyone is welcome, as long as they bring something and don't act like an ass!

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: mojoeater

                                            There ya go!

                                            People that don't act like asses......priceless.

                                            1. re: mojoeater

                                              but if you think about it, it ends up costing each couple the exact same amount of money....

                                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                                and when you're breaking it down to a financial and/or effort framework -- the host family is cleaning house, will be washing the dishes (or buying the paper plates), is paying for all the flushes, is providing the gas for the grill...

                                                It ain't like they're freeloading.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Exactly! Even by my very relaxed standards (clean bathrooms, clean kitchen, no guarantees beyond that), it is still a fair amount of work to have a group of people over for a meal. Well worth it, but still time and $$ spent nonetheless.

                                                2. re: kpaxonite

                                                  But it's a lot easier to spend $20 each week for 5 weeks than it is to spend $100 all at once.

                                                  1. re: mpjmph

                                                    Precisely. I think a lot of us CH'ers don't realize how privileged we are. I'm also in the young professional/slave to student loan bracket, and I'll take the $20 contributions any day.

                                                3. re: mojoeater

                                                  I concur completely although every once in a while I do like to at least try to provide everything myself. Some friends live in apartments and just cannot entertain while I have decently-sized deck and patio to entertain so often my house is the gathering place.

                                                  1. re: Dax

                                                    I meant to add I usually at least try to provide all of the main course with 1-2 sides plus *some* beer but note please feel free to byob too. Some people will bring a side or a pie to balance everything out.

                                                4. Isn't that called a "Potluck"?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    um, also known as an "assless potluck".

                                                  2. No matter what the invitation, never showing up empty-handed is just good manners and taste, be it a bottle of wine, or a deer haunch.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: beevod

                                                      Beevod, I've got a cellar full of wine, and a full propane tank -- what time will you and your haunch be here?

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Have haunch, will travel -- (is propane hard to digest?)

                                                        1. re: beevod

                                                          it can give you gas.


                                                    2. I agree that one really needs to know the crowd before issuing a bring your own meat invite.

                                                      I never knew these kinds of parties existed until I was 30 some years old. Someone at work was talking about it and I shared my opinion on the subject. It was not a favorable opinion. I later learned that I really ruffled feathers. It just seemed so odd to me that a host wouldn't provide the food. *****

                                                      I love the examples I read here about gathering with neighbors, offering up pool time, etc. It works for everyone, everybody is happy and has a good time. BYOM works in these situations.

                                                      We have attend a couple of bring your own meat parties in the past 5 years. Each time, it was a large gathering and the invitation clearly stated what the host was providing.

                                                      One was a block gathering of neighbors and the hosting house was providing fresh fried walleye and the invitation read something along the lines of "should you like something in addition to walleye, the grills will be fired up and ready to go, families are welcome to bring their own items to grill"


                                                      ****At the same place of employement, a fellow employee hosted an annual party where he charged $10 per head to cover the cost of food and drink. I thought this was even stranger than BYOM. When I asked him if he ever turned a profit, he mumbled something about charity and walked away. I declined his invitation.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                        yeah -- the donation per head always put me off, too.

                                                        A good friend of ours used to throw this type of party -- once he tried a $5/head throwin to buy dinner, but then asked people to bring food!

                                                        We all showed up for the party (he's a good guy, but at the time just misguided, not malevolent) and another guest collared him in front of everyone and and pointed out that he could either be a tightass or a freeloader, but we were not going to collectively allow him to be both.

                                                        After a few rather uncomfortable minutes, he apologized, went out to buy burgers for the grill, and it never happened again.

                                                        (pretty volatile way to have an intervention, but it worked well in this case)

                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                          ... the ten a head is strange. But i'd do it, if I were hosting something. It's enough work to get everything clean, and cook up enough for ten people. 'Sides, I cook something good, I'd pass out the recipe -- everyone wins. My grocery budget for a month is $100 dollars and that's for two people. If you asked me to cook, using my normal foods, enough for ten, you'd get some nice jheera rice. And maybe some zucchini. Give me ten a head, and I'd make something fabulous.

                                                        2. When we're invited to a bbq/party by our friends we know that we are expected to ask what to bring and/or suggest something. I usually offer to bring shrimp cocktail for however many people will be attending (usually about 2 lbs. or so of shrimp laid out on a platter with 2 cocktail sauces - one spicy one mild - on the side). Others bring salads, baked beans, etc. etc. We always also bring a bottle of wine although the hosts have a full bar. Creates a great variety (especially with dessert) and eases the burden of the hosts.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Linda VH

                                                            We have an annual 4th of July BBQ that is this sort of affair. It began as two couples cooking burgers on a Hibachi in the parking lot and watching the fireworks across the street from DH's office condo. Fast forward 9 years and about 150 people. We provide meats, some sides and beverages. Many folks bring other sides/desserts. It has become an annual event many look forward to. This year, we went through 12 pork butts, 30 lbs of chicken, dozens of ears of corn, 10 lbs of beans-and that is just what we provided. Guests brought at least 20 other items. My husband invites everyone he knows and tells them to bring along friends and neighbors if they like. Now, we sometimes get the neighbors as repeat guests even though the original friends can't attend.

                                                            1. re: sherriberry

                                                              Wow, that sounds like a very fun 4th of July celebration! No wonder you have so many guests.

                                                              What a lovely and generous thing that you are willing to do this every year for so many people!

                                                              1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                We love doing it. It does take a village though. We have a friend who owns an eight foot smoker on a trailer who cooks all the meat, and friends who come early to set up tables, tents, etc. After the fireworks, many stay late to avoid the traffic and help clean up. We are truly blessed.

                                                          2. It's fine by me for impromptu get-togethers among good friends. I may feel a little guilty if I'm grilling a thick porterhouse next to somebody's skinny hot dogs, but I'll get over it.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              Our group of friends treats these as very much an eat, DRINK and be merry occasion, so any guilt is generally saved for the next morning's hangover. ;)

                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                That has never been a problem for our group. We do try to coordinate a bit, and we share whatever is brought. No one has ever brought food just for themselves. A typical example-grilled chicken, pieces cut in 1/2, smoked sausage, chips and dip, baked, beans, a dessert. Have a bit of whatever you wish. Actually, no one has ever brought a steak-more likely chicken, ribs, shrimp, etc.

                                                                1. re: sherriberry

                                                                  Same here, it is interesting to me that some posters (also on other threads) who feel that it is cheap, rude and tacky, seem to associate the potluck or cooperative gathering of friends with being poor. This is amusing to me because my friends who are all silver haired professionals with a string of letters behind their name- have plenty of money. It is about time, energy, spirit of cooperativeness and a chance to SHARE with one another of food, wine, time and friendship. It has nothing to with being "too poor" or "too cheap" to provide all the food!

                                                                  That really cracks me up.

                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                    Nice to have a kindred spirit here. It definitely is not about money-just people with crazy schedules that enjoy each other's company and often do things spur of the moment. I also fail to understand how this is bad manners.
                                                                    One couple hosts most of the time, not only because their yard is comfortable, but they have three small children ages 4-10 and it is easier for them to have the kids at their own home. We try to compensate by providing a larger share of food, drink etc. I also make the homemade B-D cakes for the group.

                                                                2. re: Veggo

                                                                  jeez veggo ..did u just copy and paste my post from above.....


                                                                  1. re: srsone

                                                                    Funny. Guilt -free minds think alike!

                                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                                    Guilt. So over-rated, don't you think Veggo?

                                                                  3. I too am a fan of the good kind of pot luck (where not everyone brings Doritos as their side dish). It is about friendship and reflecting each person's ability to contribute. People talked about discomfort comparing steaks to hot dogs, but what if that is your comparative income levels? When I was poorer I hated going out in a group that would inevitably split the.check after ordering collectively more food than my budget allowed. A grill your own allows each to tailor their expenses.

                                                                    Plus let's think about our collectively more complex diets. Beg, peace, no migrated, low sodium, ethically raised meats, etc. A bring your own grill allows people to break bread together without going broke or breaking their diets. Heavens, I might even be able to invite my friends with celiac, since it's a situation where they can be comfortable bringing their own food!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: thinks too much

                                                                      Everyone might bring their own, but I have yet to host or attend a function like this that everything DIDN'T get piled on a big platter and passed round the table, unless there were extenuating circumstances

                                                                      Obviously, vegans, celiacs, or those following religious dietary guidelines will keep theirs separate, but that's okay, too.

                                                                    2. it depends on the people, the nature of the gathering, and the frequency of hosting

                                                                      I love cooking for friends-but sometimes its just nice to be together when you don have time to prepare food for a group.

                                                                      Nothing wrong with potluck, as long as you are also making a contribution to the food.
                                                                      I do not approve of a host that imposes food and drink requirements upon guests bringing food-such as "that guy" who provides expensive wine lists for guests to bring.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: AdamD

                                                                        no, that's the horrible sister who sent out the mail for Thanksgiving not only dictate WHAT to bring, but WHAT DISH to put it in! Hilariously funny because it wasn't my family, but oy.

                                                                      2. It all depends upon the event.

                                                                        For a celebration or a party (Hurray! I graduated from the Sandra Lee Culinarey Academey), I would cook all the food.

                                                                        For a casual get together... Hey! Wanna come over to watch the game? I'm firing up the grill. Bring some extra meat, especially if your moocher roommate tags along.

                                                                        1. I have a specific wording I use if I want guests to bring something. Usually it's spur of the moment, neighbors and close friends, and I'll call and say, "Do you want to share a meal?"

                                                                          Then we figure out what we have already in our fridges and freezers and put a meal together. It's an easy way to put a lazy hot summer get-together together. We all have a good time and appreciate that no one has to put on the giant party. We usually save those for winter.

                                                                          1. Well if it's a planned event it's typical in my family that the person hosting it usually provides the meat but everyone else brings something for the meal. Nobody is asked to bring anything it's just always been that way whenever we have a get together everybody just brings food. Of course my mother is always expected to bring her lemon pudding dessert or else she will never hear the end of it.

                                                                            1. Don't see a problem with this sort of get together. Hey, you're grilling XXX and drinking beer, and we are grilling YYY and drinking beer. Wanna do it together? Burgers and dogs, steak and chicken, ribs and dogs... Doesn't matter. It's the good company, the laughs and good food that make the event.

                                                                              Don't get me wrong, I'll "host" an event where I provide the food, just bring your drink, but it doesn't have to be formal all the time...

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: THoey1963

                                                                                This is exactly the case for us.

                                                                              2. Among my family and friends, we would find it strange for each to bring their own main course and it it themselves. If we are getting together very causal and last minute it would be more like a pot luck and certain dishes would be dived up. As the host I would just ask someone to bring a salad or vegetable. In actuality when I'm hosting I have a hard time asking anyone to bring anything. Some might say I'm a control freak when it comes to food :P

                                                                                1. I haven't counted, but I THINK I'm with the majority here -- for a casual form of entertaining, when everyone expects the same thing, I think it's great. it's lower stress for everyone and, usually, you get to try a lot of different things.

                                                                                  Perhaps what's concerning more people here is that it is a lot more common for someone to say -- hey, we're grilling hot dogs/burgers/sausage -- and asking everyone to contribute apps, sides, or dessert. But why not mix it all up?

                                                                                  I think I mentioned this on an earlier thread on a similar topic, but one of our recurring neighborhood gatherings has been 1 family who -- 2 or 3 times a year -- hosts a get-together and asks everyone to bring appetizer and dessert. BUT in this case, it's an all app and dessert party -- so people take more time and get more creative with both apps and desserts.

                                                                                  The hosts clean the house, make several dishes, provide all the beer, wine and soda, and (since this is a family gathering) have a couple basic choices for younger kids (hot dogs, mac & cheese, etc.)

                                                                                  It's a lot of fun, we see people we rarely get to chat with, and it's a great mix of food.

                                                                                  1. I think this type of get together is often last minute and folks just bring what they have for the grill. That is the most expensive part of the meal--excluding the booze--and it also eliminates the "I don't eat pork/fish/chicken/shrimp/beef problem that seems to have become so common. We have friends where we may get together on the spur of the moment in the winter and everyone just brings what they have and we figure out how to make a meal of it. No grilling involved and lots of fun.

                                                                                    1. When we have get-togethers I will provide some meat (generally hamburgers or bratwursts) but ask people to bring a side dish. I have a lot of friends with dietary restrictions so I don't feel bad suggesting they bring things they can/want to eat, so they are welcome to bring tofu, chicken, or whatever it is that fits their restricted diet... I dunno, I just don't think of it as rude when it comes to a casual bbq. Now, a formal dinner party would be a different animal all together!

                                                                                      1. I have a totally different train of thought to this issue. When we have a get together it is usually potluck. We supply the main and a couple of sides. The reason is not because of etiquette. I personally don't want 15 people hammering for the bbq and in the kitchen when they invariably forget something like bbq sauce or mustard or need to borrow a pot, can opener etc. How can that many people cook for themselves and then sit down together to eat? Unless you have several BBq's and indoors is off limits I see organized chaos never mind the mess.

                                                                                        1. I haven't attended anything set up this way but I sure don't see anything wrong with it. We have a friendly, social neighborhood and will often see each other in the yards. Someone suggests getting together, someone else says, "I have XXX in the freezer.", next guy thinks about what they have...we end up eating and having fun together on the fly. Happens alot.

                                                                                          I like hosting meals and actually enjoy providing everything so folks can just show up and relax but am happy to include anything others choose to bring, planned or not. Whatever. Let's laugh, talk, and eat together, however it comes about.

                                                                                          If bringing our own main for the grill is the difference between getting together or not, then that's an easy one.

                                                                                          Too many rules spoil the broth.

                                                                                          1. I would bring an armadillo

                                                                                            23 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: redfish62

                                                                                              Oh, man, redfish62, that is the funniest reply! I laughed out loud.

                                                                                              You realize, though, that the armadillo would be for your own consumption, right? :)

                                                                                              Thanks for the morning crack-up.

                                                                                              1. re: AnneMarieDear

                                                                                                they taste like chicken.........

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  OK, I'm going to piss people off here, because this really isn't about food or entertaining, it's about ettiquette and good manners, although much of it seems to be forgotten. I would NEVER invite someone to my house to eat and expect them to bring anything regardless of the finances/ages/we-have-always-done-it-that-way thought.

                                                                                                  Everyone can think of an inexpensive way to entertain, even if it's hot dogs and beans and low-end beer and box wine. Entertaining is RECIPROCAL. I invited you, you invite me, which incidentally, is why you never accept an invitation you are not willing to return. I have been invited to "bring your meat: deals, and have always declined. It is rude, and poor form. No excuses. Dish to pass suppers are known and understood ahead of time, and I don't mind those at all.

                                                                                                  People who charge for get togethers are profiteers, and people ask others to bring dinner are coordinators and nothing more.

                                                                                                  If you are going to entertain, ENTERTAIN without putting the burden on the guests.

                                                                                                  1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                    I'm not pissed, I just find the rigidity kind of sad.

                                                                                                    This isn't about entertaining and it definitely isn't about reciprocating. It's (at least in our circle of friends) liking each other enough to turn a regular old Tuesday into a reason to get together for a few hours, and as noted above, break bread with friends.

                                                                                                    Interestingly, from my point of view, it's extraordinarily rude to expect anything from your friends/guests - including a reciprocal invite.

                                                                                                    1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                      Especially when some people don't have accommodations to host a gathering.

                                                                                                      1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                        i'd have to agree w/ you there. But no matter where we are invited, or whose house it is, the 1st thing I say is "what can i make/buy/bring or do that will things easier for you?". And, within reason, I do it!!!

                                                                                                        1. re: MRS

                                                                                                          I think most people do that, don't they? But it seems... much different than the reciprocity being mentioned above.

                                                                                                    2. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                      i just don't think this is true for all cultures and all social situations.

                                                                                                      1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                        Excuse me.

                                                                                                        If that's what works for you and your friends -- hunky dory.

                                                                                                        But pointing fingers and deriding -- and name-calling for heaven's sake! -- me and my friends (and others here who choose to do the same thing) for entertaining in a manner that works for us is the equivalent of yucking someone else's yum -- which is a cardinal sin here on CH.

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          I think this is one of those times where we have to agree to disagree. What works for some obviously doesn't fly well with others. If you like it, keep doing it. If you don't like it, don't do it.

                                                                                                          This isn't a Miss Manners board. It's a board for sharing ideas about food. I am one of the newest members to this site. I want to learn what y'all know about food. Not about bickering over whose napkin ring is bigger...

                                                                                                          1. re: THoey1963

                                                                                                            Hoey, if you're new, then it's only fair to point out that this board shows to whom someone is replying -- if you look in the upper right-hand corner of my reply, you'll see I was responding to The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah.

                                                                                                            If you got that, maybe YOU were also responding to the same post, and just clicked "reply" to mine in error.

                                                                                                            Lots of people miss that at first -- and a lot of miss it from time to time long after we're no longer newbies.

                                                                                                            You only posted one other time on this thread that I can see, and you were basically agreeing with me, so I'll assume you just clicked the wrong 'reply'.

                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                              My husband and I have a cottage on a lake. We are the only ones of our good friends to be so fortunate (it has been in his family his whole life and was passed down to him). Most weekends that we are at the lake we have friends come to enjoy it with us. I absolutely love cooking and happily prepare 2-3 meals per day (often my husband does breakfast). I also often am the one doing all dishes and cleanup (for the simple reason that it gets done to my satisfaction). Our friends insist on making contributions to the weekend in any way they can, lest they be perceived as freeloaders. We suggest that they contribute by bringing alcoholic beverages of their choice for themselves and potentially to share. They also email me each time to ask what ingredients we will need for meals. This is helpful not only as a financial contribution to the weekend, but also because we are often at the cottage for a week or more and can't get some ingredients in our little local store. The guests coming from the city can pick up special items. My husband and I provide the venue and amenities, cook meals, mix fun cocktails, don't ask to be reimbursed for propane, electricity, fuel for the boat, campfire firewood, satellite TV, etc. In recent years we've asked guests to bring bed linens and towels, because we no longer have a washer and dryer on the premises and must haul laundry back home (6+ hours' drive) with us. They happily oblige. It's easier to keep track of your beach towel when it looks familiar to you.

                                                                                                              So, while I am happy to pay for all ingredients, wine, beer and snacks now and again, to do it for 8 or 10 weekends of the summer is both excessive and unnecessary. If the friends don't have a place of their own and can't reciprocate with their own cottage weekend invites, they feel best helping out with food and beverage contributions. Nobody needs to shell out cash at the end of the weekend. I usually give out shopping lists bearing in mind the cost of the ingredients I am requesting. One friend, who visits nearly every weekend and has for many years, contributes more than the others, because he is thrilled to have a home away from home. I usually only request that first-time guests bring some wine and anything they like to drink. If they get a second invite, they are treated as regulars and a shopping list will come their way. I do take their financial situations into account when making food requests. I also consider their interest level in food and cooking and cater lists to their perceived shopping skills and geography. What I mean by this is that I won't make someone drive 25 miles to pick up a special ingredient. I will send that person to specialty store if it's close by. If a guest is a hot dog and frozen burger type, I will keep their list simple and straightforward, but a foodie friend might be dispatched to a Chinese grocery store to procure a whole fish, banana leaves, funky greens and herbs, etc. Nobody feels put out when they are being regaled with seriously good food and guaranteed a fun weekend. If I ever ask a person to purchase more than his or her fair share for a weekend, I always insist on partial reimbursement. Some happily accept the offer, while others pooh-pooh it and refuse reimbursement. Either way, it's always a good weekend, even if the weather doesn't cooperate. The only time this system backfires is when one guest is either super-picky and won't eat what the others are eating or if the person is not an eater, period. It doesn't take long to figure it out, though, so I just wouldn't ask that person for food contributions. If possible, I will create meals that include the items that person enjoys, but if it just isn't possible (i.e. that person lives on gummy bears, KD and chocolate chip cookies), I tell them to make sure they bring what they like and let them deal with it. This is a rare occurrence, so really not an issue. I am aware of non-eaters, though. The person that eats a half cob of corn and a tiny serving of salad at dinner is not asked to bring a meal's worth of food for the group. Fortunately for me, the big eaters and drinkers know who they are and contribute their fair share every time. It all works out quite well. Only once have I felt badly because one couple told me once that they were feeling cash strapped and couldn't really afford to chip in a lot. They asked if I minded if they brought their own food from their fridge at home, to avoid doing a big shop. I told them to do what made them most comfortable, but that we could tone down the offerings that weekend and just keep it simple, which is what we did. They've since rebounded financially and have resumed our typical contribution and sharing model.

                                                                                                              As for the original question, I have no problem with the "bring your own protein" concept in theory, but in practice, it is difficult to manage the serving of a meal when everyone is either waiting for turns at the grill or staking their claim to their items, each of which cooks a different way and for different lengths of time. It gets complicated. If each person or household brings proteins plus a dish to share, I don't think it's any less of a get-together, but I do personally prefer to have everyone sit down together to enjoy a cohesive meal, even if I have to offer a couple of different proteins to satisfy different tastes or dietary needs. The one time we tried doing that, most people just wound up cutting up and sharing their proteins with the others anyway.

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                Sorry Sunshine, you are right. I was actually posting to the thread in general and not specifically to you. I will take the training and try to use it as I continue to get used to this wonderful forum.


                                                                                                          2. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                            Last minute get togethers wherre everybody brings a little of this and a little of that can be fun. It the long run KSS, you may find your rigidity leaves you out of a lot of occasions when others are willing to go with the flow. That's your choice but don't be so quick to criticize others, as they say, "what will be will be."

                                                                                                            1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                              I only take issue with the following, from KSS' post: "People who charge for get togethers are profiteers, and people ask others to bring dinner are coordinators and nothing more."

                                                                                                              I have, on occasion, done all the shopping and cooking for an entire cottage weekend, and allowed guests who did not over-contribute wine, beer or spirits to make a cash contribution. At no time did I turn a profit from any one person's contribution or from the entire guest list. I have never recouped all or more of what I spent nor would I expect to do so. Contributions of supplies or cash are helpful when the initial layout is sizeable, There are only so many times you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on friends who can't reciprocate because they don't have a venue like a summer cottage to hold weekend get-togethers.

                                                                                                              As to the "coordinators" statement, that assumes that said coordinator is not also contributing to the dinner.

                                                                                                              1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                If you are comfortable with it, 1s, that's fine. Admittedly, your situation is different. But I believe and was raised that you don't ask your guests for anything. Tthere is a quid pro quo in your situation, so I will exempt you from my statement. The coordinator statement was meant for people who iissue invitations, and then expect there "guests" to provide everything, and think that they have entertained.

                                                                                                                And for "shenanigans", I'm not rigid, but I am correct. The idea of entertaining is socializing. That's why it is reciprocal.

                                                                                                                Thoey1963: You are correct, this isn't a Miss Manners board, but it was an etiquette question on a food board.

                                                                                                                1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                                  Sorry, you are right, it was an etiquette question, but I am seeing a lot of hostile answers like "do it my way or you are wrong". Again, we'll have to agree to disagree.

                                                                                                                  On that note, think it's time for me to bow out of this thread as it really is not going to provide a true answer. The question is too broad to have one correct answer and in any given situation there can be many possible answers, some more politically correct than others.

                                                                                                                  1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                                    Where do you keep getting the idea that this is about ENTERTAINING, as you put it? It's about getting together with friends. Must that always be A Thing to be recorded for the Junior League's minutes?

                                                                                                                    Oh, and since we're on the subject of manners, very clever, but let me point out that my board name is shanagain as in shan-again, not a mangled spelling of shenanigans.

                                                                                                                    1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                      ............It's about getting together with friends.............

                                                                                                                      Maybe it is difficult for some to understand this "concept" if:
                                                                                                                      1. they think all people need to be entertained
                                                                                                                      2. they don't have any actual friends, just polite, reciprocally obligated acquaintances
                                                                                                                      3. they believe they are always being judged and if they are not rigid with rules- that others will think less of them
                                                                                                                      4. they grew up in a rigid household where rules were more important than people.

                                                                                                                      With any of these things, it would be hard to relax and value a sharing relationship with others over your own interpretation of an etiquette rule. BTW: the only hard and fast etiquette rule for a potluck or BYO get together is that -YOU NEED TO BRING SOMETHING :) If you don't- it is considered bad manners.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                        I have a hunch I know what a bunch of 'hounds will be doing this weekend. And raising a glass (or bottle, can or best of all, plastic party cup) to friends.

                                                                                                                2. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                                  I found this derision-filled, and name calling is completely unnecessary, no matter what's being discussed.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                    You took the words right out of my mouth. (and if there was a grill nearby, I'd cook 'em up and share them with you:)

                                                                                                            2. I always find these questions kind of interesting. In Australia it is VERY commonplace for people to host a BBQ and provide sides/salads and for guests to bring their own meat and alcohol. Being we are a very 'outdoorsy' kind of nation, BBQ's on the weekend is just kind of what people do and nobody thinks anything of this arrangement. As a whole though I would say Australian culture is pretty relaxed and informal, so we don't seem to have the same dining ettiquette and rules as so many other places.

                                                                                                              The other difference I find interesting is that when one does host a dinner party it is considered polite for guests to bring a bottle of wine. It makes me giggle when I read the debates about bringing wine to a hosted event as here it is unthinkable to rock up without more wine! It's never expected that the bottle will be opened (but there's a good chance it will!) and it is really up to the host to decide what is done with it, but there is certainly no offence either way. But again, I guess we're just a pretty relaxed bunch interested in having a drink and a good time with good company and to hell with the rules.

                                                                                                              I do acknowledge I would be the most appalling dinner guest ever, particularly in the US, due to these cultural differences :)

                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                I too am surprised by the responses. With my friends, most of whom are financially comfortable, this is pretty common. Often times though someone will bring something to share with everyone (often ribs) because they like to share their good eats. However, it tends tobstay pretty low- end for the meat. Fancy is tough when you may not be able to control the heat level. Because a few people have the best "gathering" houses, we tend to go there often and wouldn't want them to always provide. This tends to happen with us more often at events to which our children attend, so they are casual.

                                                                                                                1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                  Huntress, you'd be a welcome guest at my house any time -- my guest list usually looks like a dog from every town, and we laugh a lot, eat and drink *very*well, and enjoy our time together, and always comment that we don't get together often enough.

                                                                                                                  With the variety of cultures that ends up being the norm, you'd have to be pretty badly behaved to even raise an eyebrow, let alone qualify for "appalling".

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    Got a twelve pack, a couple sirloins, and can throw together a salad. Wanna grill out? :D

                                                                                                                    1. re: THoey1963

                                                                                                                      Sure, but the drive home from my house is a killer....

                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                        For your cheese, I would row across the pond.
                                                                                                                        (fine print: when I was younger)

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          Heh! We'll have to do it "virtually"... :D

                                                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                        Aw, shucks sunshine, thanks. I'll bring a few bottles of Australia's finest to share and some killer lamb and we can have a rocking party!

                                                                                                                      3. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                        Interestingly, my husband is from Adelaide, S.A., and he doesn't, nor has he every tried to get me, to participate in- everyone-bring-something dinners.......unless of course, it was a planned dish to pass dinner.

                                                                                                                        I sort of got the idea that a lot of the posters who support this are young and living in a crappy economy, or are unknowledgeable about manners and ettiquette. At some point, this will be looked down upon, as it is by more mature people - like me. I'm not rigid, just well mannered .

                                                                                                                        1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                                          The sort of idea you are getting is very incorrect. I live in Canada in a great economy and am doing quite well. I don't find you to be well mannered at all. I would say judgemental and narrow minded might be a better assessment. BTW, I am also quite mature. In my life, I find it rude not to bring something to someones house when attending. And the same goes if I am hosting.......my friends will always want to bring something and it just goes that way. We all bring something no matter who is hosting, whether it be a bottle of wine, side dish or a bag of chips.
                                                                                                                          Interesting coversation as it just goes to show manners mean different things to different people and sometimes it means the complete opposite to some.

                                                                                                                          1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                                            The types of things i am referring to are just spur of the moment gatherings where fellowship is the most important thing. Kind of like an unplanned potluck.I fail to see how this is rude in any way. By the way, I am neither young, poor or immature. "Looking down upon" , being judgemental and calling others names, on the other hand, is the opposite of being well mannered. Just my 2cents.

                                                                                                                            1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                                                                              Gee, I'm 60 and have given all sorts of formal, expensive, well-mannered dinner parties and now at my mature age this "bring what you can, let's get together party" is sounding like a fun, friendly way to socialize without having anyone do too much work or spend too much money. Everyone I know is watching their pennies and this sure beats going out to dinner. Life is way to short, nothing like finding new ways to enjoy it.

                                                                                                                          2. isn't a potluck asking people to bring food to your party too? I love potlucks.

                                                                                                                            1. As etiquette threads often do, this one has become quite personal and flamey. We're going to lock it now.