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Jul 21, 2011 10:16 AM

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.