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BYOB BBQ or Dinner party

Is it considered tacky or rude to have a BBQ or dinner party, and request your guests to provide their own alcoholic beverages? The host is a recovering alcoholic, and while she is ok with others drinking around her, she doesn't like keeping alcohol around in her house (either before or after-party leftovers). She's providing everything else food and soft drink-wise, and invited others to bring a dish they made only if they wish. Some of the guests I know have grumbled about having to bring their own drinks, but as someone who has seen enoug alcohol abuse in his life, I fully understand her concern and reasoning for the request.

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  1. My friends and I always have BYOB parties. I don't see anything wrong with it.

    1. Absolutely not rude or tacky. No one should expect a recovering alcoholic to go on a shopping spree for booze. Frankly, it would even be fine if she didn't allow alcohol at all, and served Arnold Palmers or something.

      1. Recovering alcoholics definitely get a pass on this in my book. Do the people "grousing" know her situation? I find it hard to believe anyone worth entertaining in your home would complain that an alcoholic won't provide some booze.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LeoLioness

          If I knew her situation, I would actually not only not grouse, I would not bring alcohol to her house. I like my cocktails\wine\beer, but if I cannot enjoy a dinner party or BBQ with friends without alcohol? I may ask her to refer me to her treatment program. Friendship trumps wine any time.

          1. re: gaffk

            well yes. I agree, the grumbling is a bit childish/churlish. if it might cause discomfort I would happily abstain, but it sounds as if the host is OK just doesn't want it around before or after or even have to consider it. fine in my book.

          2. re: LeoLioness

            Agree with LeoL. A recovering alcoholic or someone who abstains for religious reasons that welcome guests to bring their own booze is going above and beyond what is required of a host(ess).

            1. re: LeoLioness


              It's been my experience that normal drinkers who do not have issues with alcohol (or "normies," as we call them) are fine with not having alcohol served at every social occasion or being asked to BYOB.

              I have also observed over many years that there are those who are offended that alcohol isn't offered or made readily available in good quantity and don't have a problem being vocal about their opinions. Not only are they not considerate of the recovering alcoholic, they often seem determined to undermine or sabotage someone else's sobriety. IMO, these are usually people who want someone drinking as hard as they do so they feel more comfortable in their own exceess.

              I have a couple of hard-drinking (most likely alcoholic) extended family members who weren't so supportive when I stopped drinking as I am sure I was more fun to them when I was pounding the drinks down with them. It can be uncomfortable to be the only problem drinker in a crowd of "normies." I avoided them at eating/drinking events until I was comfortable and strong in my own sobriety but I know that a couple of them still think of me as a kill-joy. Whatever. What matters to me is that I am sober and healthy. I wish them well but don't intend to get dragged down in their problems.

            2. not tacky at all, I usu fret (as a drinker) that I haven't stocked enough, but people often bring something anyway so usually the opposite is true and the non-drinkers get stuck with few choices. given the circumstance I might mention that it's also take YO away.

              and I second LeoL's opinion/outlook.

              1. I can't imagine that friends of this woman would complain about a BYOB gathering. What kind of people could possibly even think of this as a huge burden placed on their poor selves?

                1. The people who are grousing are ungrateful wretches whether she is a recovering alcoholic or not. She is offering food and drink, bought with her money and time, and they're complaining? Not a bunch I would want to break bread with. When I go to someone's house for dinner, I always bring a bottle of wine, that's part of being a guest.

                  1. The OP's question never should have needed to have been asked. (How's that for an awkward sentence?)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: John E.

                      Exactly, the thought not the sentence.

                    2. She could have not mentioned it at all, and then just served soft drinks. I bet the same people would have been complaining because she didn't have booze for the drinkers.

                      1. Sheesh...does every party *need* alcohol supplied by the host to be complete?!? As another recovering alcohlic, it drives me batty when people think they need alcohol in order to have a complete experience. I understand that many people derive great enjoyment with good food and wine pairings and I get that. But with some folks, it seems like they don't think they can have a good time unless everyone involved has tossed back a half dozen drinks in the course of a couple of hours.

                        Okay, recovering alcoholic rant over...back to the original question. The only thing tacky about the OP scenario is that people would complain about the host behind her back when she is extending an invitation to feed and entertain them.

                        In my early days of sobriety, I did not want to tempt myself or deal with the jonesing that could happen in the presence of people drinking normally, so I just didn't serve alcohol period. Didn't announce it ahead of time, just didn't serve it and really didn't want people to BYOB either. If people felt that something was missing, oh well.

                        Over time, that evolved to being fine with people drinking around me but still not wanting to be the one to procure alchol so I either had people BYOB or assigned the task of buying it to my husband or brother.

                        Now I don't care at all and will buy whatever I think is appropriate but it has been so long since I've purchased wine and beer that I have no clue what are good choices.

                        I still like to have alcohol-free evenings from time to time, if for no other reason than to prove it can be done.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: jlhinwa

                          perfectly understandable. your house, your call. Period.

                          "The only thing tacky about the OP scenario is that people would complain about the host behind her back when she is extending an invitation to feed and entertain them."

                          I think we concur on exactly this point .

                          1. re: hill food

                            That's how I feel about it--my house, my rules. I would never, ever dream of imposing any of my issues on other people in their homes. If I'm not comfortable, then I just need to stay away. Thankfully, that isn't an issue for me anymore but for a while I got pretty creative about excuses for not attending certain functions.

                            1. re: jlhinwa

                              as an unapologetic non-bully drinker I fully understand why my non-drinking friends may on occasion decline. I don't take it personally, in fact it would be refreshing if for once some would just come out and say something direct like "uhh I'd be uncomfortable being around liquor at your party, can we just go hit the zoo or a museum sometime soon?"

                              1. re: hill food

                                You know, that is an excellent point. I am pretty much an open book about myself now that I am comfortable with what and who I am (more or less anyway!). If someone asks me today why I don't drink, I don't like doing the whole "I'm an alcoholic..." blah blah blah, because I find it tedious. I will say something like "I like drinking too much and once I start, I don't want to stop so it's best for everyone if I stick to coke..." or something to that effect. But when I was newly sober, I wasn't comfortable with the question at all, and didn't know how to answer it.

                                1. re: jlhinwa

                                  I'm sure it takes time for one to get to that point of being able to say "hey this is me and I don't". so I don't sweat the excuses. I don't want to compromise someone's hard-fought path to sobriety and whatever they need to do to maintain that is POK with me. but I guess there are those out there who feel your decisions are a comment on theirs. sad. (although I don't think I'd go so far as even offer any reason why I didn't drink. really nobody's business and if they try to urge it after a polite declination then they're asshats. or yank their chains and say you're a Mormon with 4 DWIS under your belt and any more and it's a mandatory 5 year jail time!)

                                  now I do hope you meant to capitalize that 'c' and refer to the mass-market soft drink (heh)

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    Haha! Yes, a capital on the "c" for Coke, which my husband thinks is almost as nasty of an addiction as alcohol. He is one of those annoying people who never needs sugar, caffeine, etc., and can be a little self-righteous when pointing out just how bad it is. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He also is a healthy-eating vegetarian who finds it very annoying that I have low bp, great cholesterol, and not overweight despite my unhealthy choices. Gotta love the irony.

                                    I love the idea of yanking people's chains, and the idea of saying I'm a Mormon with a gazillion DWI's is a riot (no offense intended to any Mormon's reading this). I need to have a good couple of lines ready to pop off with for future events.

                        2. The only ones being rude and tacky are the ungrateful selfish people expecting alcohol to be provided in this type of situation.

                          1. In Australia it's customary to bring a bottle of wine to dinner parties and for BBQ's it's normal to be expected to bring your own alcoholic beverages, unless the host states alcohol will be provided. I find it interesting that so many people on CH feel BYO is rude or tacky, but that is just a cultural difference. The one thing I do especially like about everyone bringing a bottle of something is being able to share a great wine or try something new with other people. I've learnt a lot about wine in this way and have tried some varietals that I wouldn't have otherwise - likewise I've been able to share some of my own finds that other people may miss. I believe you go to a dinner party for the great company first and when I'm hosting I like to plan a table of guests that doesn't need the lubrication of alcohol to get along well first. It's pretty sad if you grumble about having to bring some alcohol for a party, rather than feeling the friendship of someone who would like you to join their table.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: TheHuntress

                              Huntress - that's sort of customary in the US as well, which, I guess, is why I and others are appalled at the reaction of some guests. any right thinking person always brings a host/ess gift of some kind, if that amounts to BYOB or a bouquet or whatever. that's what ticks me off about this.

                              if I were the party-thrower, I'd be really tempted to go through with it this time, and never invite the jerks again for anything.

                              1. re: hill food

                                Thanks for clarifying, hill food. I've seen some reactions posted here that have made me think bringing a bottle of wine to someone's party in the US is considered very offensive. I never even thought the question would ever be asked - even if you are told to bring nothing by a host/ess you generally still rock up with a bottle of wine over here. Nobody cares whether it's drunk or not, nobody overanalyses what the person is trying to say with said bottle and really as long as the company's good who cares? We tend to be a more relaxed culture, granted, but I never thought anyone would bitch about having to take their own alcohol to a party. If people are only coming to my house to drink my alcohol and no other reason, well, I don't think I'd want to invited them ever again either.

                                1. re: TheHuntress

                                  yup. the only tacky thing considered here is if one expects/demands their bottle be consumed with someone's planned dinner THAT evening. in the OP's case it oughta be consumed and removed. in other circumstances it's brought, offered and just forgotten unless/until the host/ess puts it out.

                                  I think I'd like Australia (but you can take Mel Gibson back and Rupert Murdoch while you're at it, Nicole Kidman and Peter Weller are more than welcome anytime as are many others)

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    You probably would like Australia, we're a pretty laid back bunch with awesome food, excellent wine and great weather in which to enjoy it all. Mind you we don't want Gibson or Murdoch back, but you are perfectly welcome to keep Kidman, we don't want her back either ;)

                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                        LOL! But a real Aussie has skin like a leather Akubra...

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      Gibson, Weller, and Kidman are all American born. I was not even aware that Peter Weller spent any time in Australia.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        <edit> whoops right you are John, I meant the director Peter Weir but while I'm at it I'll add Judy Davis to the keep list (that scene of her struggling to hold a ridiculously tragic Christmas dinner carried that movie).

                                    2. re: TheHuntress

                                      Perhaps in some parts of the US (Utah, maybe?), this isn't done, but here in the northeast, everyone seems to do it. And it doesn't matter what the wine is. In my town (suburban, well-off, lots of middle-aged people like ourselves), it's not uncommon to stop by the liquor store on the way to the party just to pick out a wine for the hosts. And no one cares if the hosts open it or pour it down the sink as soon as their guests leave. It's just what's done, like shaking hands.

                                      1. re: Isolda

                                        I have to amend my response that it's customary, when I lived in DC every year a friend had a large 'cattle call (100+)' holiday party, catered, open-bar, valet parking, tented and heated patio and her husband had a renowned wine cellar. we never bothered bringing anything to those. besides she was more or less sewn into her dress and posed in the front hall while staff brought her refills and nibbles so gifts would have been awkward.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          Ya, there's definitely the odd exception, but generally you will be told if it's fully catered.

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            We used to go to a Christmas party similar to what you describe except the hostess was not the same. There was parking about 1/2 a mile away and they had several sleighs pulled by horses to bring the guests to the opulent home. We went every year until the hosts moved back to Tennessee. (He gave Oprah Winfrey her first television job in Nashville).

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              sleighs? nice touch.

                                              raises the question "what do you give someone who has everything" and to tie it back to the OP's friend who (for herself) wants nothing?

                                              1. re: hill food

                                                The hosts of the Christmas party we attended got our warmest personal regards in the form of a nice thank you note with a Christmas card.

                                                I suppose if they were close friends and the gathering were more intimate (meaning a gathering nmbering fewer than hundreds) we would have brought something.

                                  2. Not only is it not tacky, but she need not advertise her reasons for the byo request either. I have friends that have the nicest house and pool in our social group, and they frequently host get-togethers. Some are potluck; some not. But always the invite says something like: "We will provide water, soft drinks, and lemonade. If you prefer beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages, please bring your favorites! We will have plenty of ice and mixers." Now, I have no idea if this couple includes a recovering alcoholic, or if they just prefer not to serve alcohol for other reasons. I have never asked and never would; its simply not my business. I appreciate any invitations to their beautiful house, especially when they are for a pool party during our hot summers. And sometimes I bring my own beer; sometimes I just drink the soft drinks provided. But I never would dare grouse.....

                                    1. I think the hostess is amazingly gracious to even alllow BYOB. She must be very strong in her sobriety and I think she is to be commended. The complainers should just decline the invitation.

                                      What I find ironic is that at most of the parties I go to, which are not BYOB, people usually do bring wine for the hosts anyway as a matter of course. So when a host actually suggests that guests do what they would likely do anyway (at least in my set), the guests get to complain about it?

                                      1. I'm on board with all those who say definitely not tacky. For comparison's sake, how's this for tacky: I was invited to a BBQ and told to BYOB and bring my own share of what I wanted to bbq (i.e. the only thing the host provided was the grill!)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. Nothing tacky or rude about it. Although I'd be wary of those 'friends' who are grumbling about it.

                                          I think this is one of the first times I can recall seeing a post where all involved are in harmonious agreement (so far).