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Oct 17, 2011 09:21 AM

The perpetual guest -- are you one? Why?

I've mentioned on other occasions that we host get-togethers rather frequently -- whether it's a poker game, weekday after-dinner drinks, larger potlucks or dinner parties, massive Halloween or NYE parties -- you name it, we've probably done it.

Our circle of friends is pretty expansive & very low-key, i.e. doesn't stand on ceremony, and overall is less sensitive to etiquette issues than likely 90% of hounds here.

The interesting thing is that -- besides one or two other couples -- nobody else is doing much of any hosting. By nobody I mean the majority of friends who are invited to many a gathering in any given month, but who *never* reciprocate. Mind you, they are wonderful guests -- never show up empty-handed, great company, etc. etc. (otherwise, they probably wouldn't be invited as much). I've just never seen their house from the inside...

I understand that many folks have hang-ups about hosting -- after just having had a rather harmless (IMO) thread locked within 24 hours about hosting responsibilities, I'd certainly understand if even the most optimistic, bright-eyed and enthusiastic folks would rather not risk making any number of unforgivable (according to some) mistakes rendering them unworthy human beings.

Granted, hosting is ALWAYS work: you have to clean before and after, often you have to plan a meal (which means shopping and preparing), and any number of other things some people apparently just aren't comfortable with.

Aside from the effort, tho -- if you

a) don't have children
b) have the financial means to host
c) don't live in a car
d) are consistently invited to events

…. what's holding you back?

Please try and keep the discussion civilized.

I know, I know -- a lot of you have pretty strong opinions……but I'd hate to get this thread deleted just b/c some of you can't control yourselves.

TIA, as always.

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  1. We, too, are the people who host. However, for the last two years, we've cut back. For 11 years we had a massive BBQ with about 120 guests, and we make all the foods and desserts ourselves. But ever since we had a monsoon one year, we always feel we need to get a tent. That, plus the help that we hire to keep everything running smoothly means that this event was costing in the neighborhood of $3000, the food being the least of it. Every year, people would tell us how wonderful we were to have this party, and yes, they brought bottles of fine wine, pig geegaws and other lovely hostess gifts, but in all that time, we were invited to maybe 5 other comparable parties. (This is to say nothing about the frequent dinner parties we host.) And from one party to the next, we wouldn't see the majority of our guests. Now, we just do our annual New Year's Day open house, and we will see about further BBQs. It's a tremendous amount of work, and though it's fun, I'm no longer sure it's worth it. So, either many people we know have hang ups about hosting, or most of our guests don't care to reciprocate!

    So I guess we are the perpetual hosts, and I, too, am wondering about the perpetual guests!

    3 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      I would throw out that it's not possible for most folks to throw "comparable parties" -- especially these days, most folks don't have the money, space, time, or resources to throw a shindig for 100+ people -- do you get invitations for other things -- like smaller parties, dinners out, etc., etc.?

      1. re: sunshine842

        I don't think it's even sustainable for everyone to return the invitation by hosting a comparable event. 120 guests, I guess that's around 40-50 invitations (singles, couples, families). You'd be attending one of these parties every weekend! Not to mention the 100 glasses of champagne you would have to drink at 100 different open houses on New Year's Day.

    2. I would love to invite people over more, but I'm so embarassed and insecure about a number of things! My home is not beautiful. Even when it's clean it looks dirty cause the house is so old, the carpet is brown and the linoleum floors look dirty immediately after being mopped. I'm a foodie and care so little about decor that my house is a mishmosh of stuff.
      I also am not a very good host, I often forget to offer beverages, I don't know what do do to get conversations going, and what to offer in the way of activity, hospitality, etc. I spend a lot of time cooking and chatting with whomever hangs out in the kitchen with me.
      So although I've hosted dinner a couple times I always feel really insecure the whole time so I don't really enjoy it.

      8 Replies
      1. re: iheartcooking

        I bet you are just fine as a host. As for offering beverages.... we kinda have an 'open bar/fridge' policy, the guests know where everything is.

        Obviously, we'd serve drinks at a sit-down dinner. But anything beyond that -- including our regular poker game where we can be as many as 8 -- people just help themselves.

        Never sweat the small things. It's about having a good time together, really.

        1. re: linguafood

          us, too -- we pour the first drink, after that, you're on your own.

        2. re: iheartcooking

          I've a friend who is a perpetual guest. I've been to her apartment and it is too small to hold more than one or two guests. However, there is a pavilion with grills and tables at a park just down the road from where she lives. Another park by a lake offers the same. After hosting her innumerable times, my friends and I don't understand why she doesn't step up to the plate one summer afternoon for a picnic at the park. It wouldn't have to be fancy and we'd bring food too. Meanwhile after years of her coming and partaking from our efforts we are feeling put upon to never have her make any effort to have us for a meal.

          1. re: susanl143

            If she's a friend, why not suggest you all get together for a picnic at the park near her house? That's a lot better than just feeling put upon, assuming her friendship matters to you.

            1. re: susanl143

              I can tell you that at the park near my house, it costs $200 to rent a pavilion for 4 hours, and I do not live in a really big town. We had my son's birthday party in a park in a very small town last summer, and it was $100 to rent it for the day.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                The pavilion here is free for everyone -- probably part of the New Hampshire Live Free or Die motto.

              2. re: susanl143

                I may be a little late on this one but I feel like I am in your friends shoes. I used to live with roommates and therefore a bigger place and I was constantly inviting people over. I moved into my own place (a small studio) a few years ago and have never been able to entertain since as their just isn't enough space. If someone mentioned to me about a park or something nearby where they would be interested in going to a party, I'd be willing to host in a second. Maybe your friend doesn't think people will want to go to a party in the park, etc, a place that isn't their home?

              3. I have been "the guest" in the past. When I was living in a tiny studio apartment, I couldn't exactly throw a large party. I'd have a couple of people over for dinner, but I simply didn't have the space for a bigger gathering.

                Now I live in a larger apartment, but space is still an issue. My partner and I are part of a rather large, close-knit circle of friends--whittling down invitations for a party isn't really an option. We did manage about 30 people at a party last year, but only about 7 were able to sit down at any given time!

                But offhand, I can think of a number of reasons why people don't host:

                -Being insecure about a messy/unattractive home. Feel free to write it off as silly, but I grew up with a borderline-hoarder, it's no joke.

                -The "if it ain't broke" syndrome. If the same people always host, people get used to them always hosting.

                -General insecurities. I have a friend who is smart, kind, and accomplished in her field. And also suffers from crippling insecurity about her self-image. Her perception (not reality, mind you) is that everyone would be judging her food, hosting style, apartment, etc. It's not something I can relate to, but I can have some empathy about it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I totally agree with the "if it ain't broke" theory. In my early 20s I was the first in my circle of friends to have a big house, enough dishes, and the passion for entertaining. Every weekend we had people over for dinner parties, big and small. After a while people would just assume we were entertaining in some form and call to see "what's going on this weekend." I loved it so I didn't mind.

                  1. re: Ikkeikea

                    I think it's important to note what lkkeikea said--a passion for entertaining. Yes, you are getting tired of hosting that huge summer BBQ as well as other events throughout the year but you wouldn't be doing this if you didn't have a passion for it. A lot of people don't. That's not to say they shouldn't reciprocate at least once in a while.

                2. My wife and I loved to entertain and we had perhaps 8 to 10 gatherings a year ranging from BBQ's to Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners sometimes for as much as 40 guests. We are the perfect team where she has the front of the house and I man the kitchen,grill and bar. Then we downsized and moved to a smaller house and yard and decided to have smaller, more intimate gatherings and was greatly surprised when we heard that some of our well fed friends were put out when they were not invited to a certain dinner or party. Mind you they have all been invited just not at the same time.
                  We have now decided to scale back even further and become perpetual guests for a change...That is if the invites ever come.

                  1. My husband and I are very comfortable giving dinner parties. Some are casual and some more formal. Sometimes just a couple friends for dinner in the kitchen, sometimes 8 or more at the big table outside or in the dining area. We like the planning, the preparing and the hosting. Many of our friends reciprocate--though my husband would be happy if he always got to host because he likes to be at home and busy--he's usually the chef--rather than sitting around talking. One of our friends is a bachelor who has us over maybe once a year for a BBQ of some sort, but he's always willing to help with house projects/lifting/moving etc as well as giving us his knowledge on certain subjects. Everyone brings wine and always asks if they can contribute something food wise, but we'd really rather plan and execute our own menu so if someone insists on bringing something we suggest either an appetizer or dessert. I certainly wouldn't continue to have gatherings if I felt someone was taking advantage of me, but in my small circle it feels just fine the way it is.