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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.

                    1. Well, as someone who is usually very good a being sure to play host as often as I play guest, as it were, I shall confess to one exception to that pattern. I just stayed overnight at the shoreside home of an old friend of mine and his longtime girlfriend. I've done this once a year for the past 3 years, but have never reciprocated, and I need to try. The problem is that he and she live in separate towns, have very different schedules, he has children (no custody, but every-other-weekend) and she does not, and he travels a lot for business. They live in a very different part of my metro area, and so the best time to get together is a weekend, and they tend to spend their weekends together at this shore home (which is 100 miles away from all of us). So, it's been easier for us to get together at this place. I've tried helping, but they love to host, and where this place is there aren't a lot of restaurant where I could play host easily, as it were (that would be the normal solution, in my book, for this circumstance). I've got to find a way to host them, because, well, it's just me. I doubt they notice or think about it, but it's so not the way I normally do things. It's going to be a challenge to pull off.

                      Anyway, I feel a need to confess that, as I have been for many years going back to the mid-90s on these boards a big champion of making people aware of the general social obligation of reciprocity according to one's means that is not obviated by hostess gifts.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Karl S

                        Since you stay over--right?--maybe you could bring a "hamper" of food and create a dazzling breakfast/brunch at the shore home. However, it sounds like they like having folks out so I wouldn't worry too much about it but would certainly bring great wine which I am sure you do.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          I bring some food, too, along with wine. But it's not the same a reciprocal hosting.

                      2. We nearly always host and enjoy it but I love the rare opportunity of being a guest.

                        Unfortunately unless I divorce my husband, we'll always host. God love him, he's Mr. Type A Control Freak and becomes a whackadoodle often when he's a guest. Fortunately our friends and family (god bless my brother) understand this about him and let him be him and fortunately they are very good about bringing salad, dessert, ice, whatever I need, wine, etc.

                        In my younger, pre-Dh days, I was usually intimidated because my home wasn't what I perceived as being up to snuff. I understand that feeling all too well.

                        1. The only thing holding me back lately is some clutter in my dining room, that I should have taken care of, already.

                          From around 1997-2007, I hosted parties several times a year, sometimes hosting 30-40 people at once. Out of the 30-40 guests who would attend one of my parties, it was a good year for reciprocity if 2 of those 30-40 guests invited me over the following year, even just for a weeknight dinner. It seems many people have gotten so used to meeting in restaurants that they don't bother hosting at home. And now it looks like I'm becoming guilty of that one, since I've probably been a guest around half a dozen times this year.

                          I have "hosted" a couple dinners at restaurants where I've picked up the tab for all my guests at a restaurant, when I haven't been able to reciprocate by hosting at home.

                          I also live in a city where people can be very wishy washy, and I was disappointed on a few occasions where I had organized a party, sent out invites weeks in advance, prepared enough food to feed an army, then ended up with a very poor turnout. At one Christmas party (the last Christmas party I hosted, before switching to Cinco de Mayo and Beaujolais Nouveau parties instead) none of the "maybes" showed up, most of the "yeses" didn't show, and 3 of the 5 people who showed up were on a strict diet. I ended up eating appetizers for the next 3 days. Now I tend to host parties in months when there's less competition from other peoples' house parties.

                          Over the last couple years, I've become friends with a few people who host parties several times a year, and they manage to host without appearing frazzled. They're my host/hostess idols. I hope to host something in the next 3 months. In the meantime, I try to compensate as much as possible by bring food, booze or hostess gifts to my gracious friends who host more often than me.

                          1. (Raises hand sheepishly) Feel free to excoriate me. I know I'm wrong, BUT: I hate having people over. I'm a good cook. I like to cook. I live in a beautiful antique house with a very pretty kitchen. I have nice, polite, mature teenage children and a husband who would like to entertain more. I can afford to host.

                            So what's my problem? I'm an introvert. I like people, but it is really hard for me to invite them to invade my space. Yes, I do it on occasion, but I stress for days, and even when I have a really good time at my gatherings, I'm so relieved and drained when everyone goes home. I'm trying to do better, because it's wrong not to reciprocate, but I know there are others out there like me who have this issue.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Isolda

                              You don't have to reciprocate at your home. You can host a meal at a restaurant.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                We do that frequently, but I don't really think it's the same as having people to your home. Most of the people we know go out often to restaurants, so it's not as much of a treat as dining in someone's home.

                              2. re: Isolda

                                For full disclosure -- it's impossible to 'step out of the host role' at your own party. B/c I make sure drinks are replenished (wine bottles in the fridge/on the kitchen counter), empties are removed, etc. etc., I can never entirely relax, at least at the very large gatherings.

                                NYE was perhaps a rare exception -- I was too buys dancing to care much, but my man & the guests managed to have a wonderful time without my stressing about every single detail. Being a good team *definitely* makes a difference.

                              3. I think hosting a big party can be overwhelming for lots of people--especially if you are single and have no one else to help. My husband and I have different skills so together we can usually pull it off. But I think more people could reciprocate if they didn't feel they had to do a big party but rather just a few people at a time. I find more reciprocating when other people don't feel they have to match the scale and complexity of the gathering they've attended.

                                1. Frequent guest, much less frequent host here. I have a nice home, and I'm a decent cook; what makes me reluctant to host more often is that I try too hard to make everything really nice and end up stressing myself out over stuff I know my friends don't care about (is the house spotlessly clean, did I sweep all the leaves off the patio, have I purchased every type of beverage someone could possibly want, do the napkins and tablecloths match, did I take out the trash moments before the first guests arrive [thanks, mom, for the last one] . . . ). I'm finally learning to get over that stuff and entertain more spontaneously - if on Friday I invite people over for dinner Saturday night, there's only so much fussing I can do. But give me three weeks advance notice, and I'll fill up every spare moment with planning and shopping and making lists and changing my mind multiple times, which is exhausting.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: cookie monster

                                    The less time between invite and party means the less people will expect you to do too. Long ago I decided I'd rather have people come to visit for the good food and conversation rather than to admire my clean house.

                                    1. re: escondido123

                                      I totally agree! It took me more years than I care to admit to become comfortable without fussing before having guests. Now I tell people that I will promise them clean bathrooms and a clean kitchen but that's it. Anything else that is in good shape is a bonus.

                                      The crazy thing is, I really have been able to adapt to functioning that way and I don't stress out....at least not often. Yesterday we had a group of 15 adults and 8 kids come over for snacks and I took a nap until 45 minutes before they arrived and then ran through the bathrooms with a clorox wipe and put out clean towels.

                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                        my motto is don't do the deep cleaning (beyond bath and kitchen) before the guests come over, just dim the lights and lug out the mop and vacuum after they leave.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          That is very sound advice. Especially when entertaining kids. One of the kids yesterday apparently had an "accident" on my floor, much to his mother's mortification. Thankfully it was not on carpet. :-)

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            HA! just the idea of mopping *before* a massive dance party is silly.

                                            Yeah, I vacuum & the bathrooms & surfaces are clean before people come over, but that's about it. The mess afterwards takes more time....

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              Oh no, I only scrub floors once the party or the holidays are over.

                                    2. My sister and I throw lots of dinner parties. We have several groups of friends some reciprocate and some don't. We love to host but we also love to be guests. We have separate duties my sister does the cooking I do the entertaining and the table decor. so it works well for us.

                                      for those of you intimidated to host and I can totally understand that if you have to do it all yourself. I would suggest perhaps asking one of your regular guests who is also single to team up and you could host together. He/She could play the chef role at their house and the front of house role at yours.

                                      As a host I don't really expect reciprocation. My joy comes with the hosting.

                                      1. The nitty gritty is if you have a passion for something, in this case hosting parties you're bound to do it often and actually enjoy all that goes into planning a gathering. Not everyone likes, or is willing to do the "work". The end.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: letsindulge

                                          Exactly.We often look out at the disaster that once was my kitchen,all the dirty dishes,glasses,cutlery,chafing dishes,platters and promise not to do it again but inevitably after going over the night and all the fun,conversation and oohs and aahs at the meal,hits and misses we immediate started planning the next one. It's like a drug.

                                          1. re: Duppie

                                            There was a particularly *eventful* Halloween party in '03 after which I swore to never, ever, ever host a party again....

                                            Even after last NYE party -- which was a grand success, save for a rather unpleasant surprise due to a house guest which had us stay up an extra 2 hours -- we continue to host.

                                            The funny thing is that -- whether there are 20 or 80 people -- the cleanup takes the same time, generally. We try to 'clean up', as in collect glasses & trash, etc. and throw it out, maybe start the dishwasher with the glasses over night, which takes maybe 20-30 min. The next day, actual *cleaning* takes place, which is my job -- 2.5 hours tops. I hate it with a passion, but it's worth it for us.

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              20 or 80 the same clean up? That's 4 time the glasses and everything else which means many more loads of the dishwasher. And cooking for 80.........that's a whole nother ballpark from 20. As for "cleaning" well that is about the same but the others, much more than I want to tackle though I'm willing to do 20 once in awhile.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                Well, the 80 people parties are generally not food parties (Halloween & NYE, both of which start after 9 PM) except for snacks & finger foods/sandwiches. The glasses are the only things that need to go in the dishwasher. Ok, maybe we have to do 2 loads. That's really the least of the problem.

                                            2. re: Duppie

                                              I'm lucky that my husband pitches right in with whatever needs to be done. It's not overwhelming that way.

                                            3. re: letsindulge

                                              The only part that can make it a burden is the cost, which can be significant for people on a limited budget--and I'm including myself in that group. I know there are inexpensive dishes, but it is still money.

                                            4. if you
                                              a) don't have children
                                              …. what's holding you back?

                                              I don't have children, but how does this make me more obligated to host? On the contrary, this makes it very difficult for me to invite friends with children. Not only is there nothing much for them to do at my place, but I don't really have enough space to invite more than one set of kids, so you can imagine how fun that is for everyone. (And no, apparently there is not much of a baby-sitting culture around here.)

                                              I am set up for 5 guests ideally, up to 7 _very_ uncomfortably. I know this puts me way out of everyone else's league with your 30 to 40 guests. My life just didn't turn out that way, sorry. I don't even know what it would mean for me to reciprocate in that case. The best I can do is cook you a nice dinner with two or three other guests. But on the way to your car, I can't help thinking that you'll turn to each other and say, "Well, that was nice, but we had 120 guests! In a tent!"

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                DD, it is the minority who easily host 30+ guests. I love parties once in awhile but I would much rather have a few people for dinner so we can really talk and get to know each other. A big party doesn't necessarily mean closeness, think of the Facebook people with thousands of "friends"!

                                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                  a) people who have (small) children are generally less likely to host. They are exhausted on a regular basis, making the house 'guest-ready' is likely more of a hassle, etc. etc.

                                                  We don't have children, and thus rarely invite children over - for the exact same reasons you give: nothing for them to do but chase the (very friendly and patient) cat around, and no other children or toys to play with.

                                                  To touch on your strange assumption that we'd be making disparaging comments about just having been invited to a nice small dinner at your place -- where do you even get that idea?

                                                  I never said I expected folks to host parties on that ridiculous scale. Even we only host such big events maybe once or twice a year.

                                                  Your invitation to a dinner with 2 or 3 other guests *would* be reciprocating. That said, 99% of our guests don't.

                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                    Agreed. We do not have children but all of our friends do. We do not have toys or a play room to keep them entertained.For that reason, we host a lot during the summer (kids can run around in yard instead of spilling on my couch), but not during the winter. Our friends tend to host more in the wintertime, as they all have the large basement playrooms for the kids. Works well for us!

                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                      Bit late on the reply here, but this touches a nerve as I struggle with this topic a lot. As a single career minded women in my mid-thirties, I would love to host/entertain. However my circle of friends consists of couples with young children. I am often invited to events at their homes but feel they would be burdened by an invite to mine. I cannot cater to their children nor can I really relax when they do come round with the kids. Since I have no kids my house isn't really child friendly. I tried once to host a party and asked people to not bring their kids and my friends took offense to this.

                                                      1. re: ebmalon

                                                        If you hosted an evening cocktail party, people would be offended that they couldn't bring their kids? I don't understand why since it's not an appropriate evening for kids and I'd think parents would want to enjoy an evening out without them.

                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                          I see what you are saying, but I know people at work that will not attend ANYTHING if their kids cannot also attend. That can propose problems for hosts that do not have a child-friendly home or are stressed by small ones around.

                                                          1. re: Fowler

                                                            Or for the guests who likely won't be invited to such events.

                                                    2. We are most often the hosts in our circle of friends and also with extended family. We have a good-sized home that can accomodate larger gatherings nicely and we also are conveniently located.

                                                      I would love to be a guest more often than we are, but more important to me is getting together with people I enjoy. Over the years, I've gotten less formal and particular about how we entertain so it's gotten easier to do and I am happy to let people help out if they would like to. Some occasions lend themselves very nicely to potlucks and that is always fun and helps with the expense.

                                                      In my newlywed years, I felt compelled to entertain and to do so flawlessly. I stressed myself out enormously in advance of those occasions and I tortured my husband even worse. (One time, in a fit of fury that he wasn't reading my mind and doing things exactly as I wished, I kicked off my shoe, aiming in his general direction. Think early 80's, heavy wooden clogs. It missed him but left a huge dent in our wall. Yikes!) Had common sense on my part and patience on my husband's part not prevailed, we could have easily become perpetual guests because the psychic cost of being hosts was just too high! Thankfully, experience and perspective moved me past being a "Host-zilla."

                                                      We took a short hiatus from hosting as often recently due to family circumstances. My parents moved in with us about six years ago as they were getting too elderly to live alone and living in a retirement type facility was not an option as far as they were concerned. About a year and a half ago, my father had a serious stroke that caused dementia. His behavior became so unpredictable that we didn't feel comfortable having people over most of the time. It was especially distressing to me when he acted out in front of children, though most are probably more resilient than adults. Needless to say, we felt a bit constrained in how we could entertain people while we were sorting through our options. He is now in a long-term care facility as his needs became to great to handle ourselves. As sad as I was to see him leave our home, it was an immense relief to be able to resume our normal routines, including entertaining.

                                                      1. We are more often guests than hosts. As I noted in Lingua's other thread, we have an old small house. This seriously limits he number of people we can invite over.

                                                        On two occasions (pre-DW), wanting to reciprocate many invites, I hosted a party at someone else's house. Both times the non-hosts thought it was a great idea. All they did was tidy up a bit and provide whatever they would have brought if it was at my house. I did the rest. A good time was had by all, and at the end, everybody pitched in with the cleanup.

                                                        1. I used to be the perpetual host. My circle of friends were mostly single and childless so everyone was available to be social at any moment. What fun I had! I would lovingly mix and match beautiful dishes and glasses for the perfect table of buy inexpensive bandanas and mason jars to use for napkins and glasses for BBQs. I LOVED to organize everything. When my marriage started going south and stayed there for a few years, I quit hosting parties. I did not want to have friends over to a home that I couldn't stand being in myself.

                                                          Fast forward to the present and I'm happy remarried, living in a different country and dying to host parties and gatherings but I don't have any friends yet :-) At least I know I have it in me.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Ikkeikea

                                                            lkke - sounds like time to draft a few 'likelies' - co-workers, neighbors, whoever amuses you if even lightly/slightly and invite them to play a good evening's round of "Get the Guest" the only thing asked is they bring a few diverse and interesting people you'd otherwise never meet. (there is a mean version out there but that's not right for this situation)

                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                              what's that, dinner for schmucks? '-D

                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                I think both of you might be on to something. Schmucks need to eat too!

                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                  nah that's the 'mean' version. the nice one is genuine. you never know who you might meet.

                                                            2. I used to love it a lot more in my younger days and now I just find it exhausting. People love to reciprocate but honestly I prefer doing the hosting. 'control issues' maybe? I love cooking my own food in my own home, and when we have enough time and energy to share all the better.

                                                              1. Until recently, I was more often the guest than the host. I would occassionally have people over for dinner or Sunday lunch, or (even less frequently) a BBQ. I lived in a large flat with a decent sized backyard, a huge kitchen and a giant, if simple, outdoor grill. So why limited hosting? My flatmates were vile, inconsiderate, messy people. If I let them know I was hosting a Sunday lunch and spent Saturday doing prep work and cleaning, you can guarantee that they'd bring home a club full of people in the early hours of Sunday, trash the house, consume anything that wasn't hidden or locked away and then fill the living and dining area with the passed-out bodies of their new 'friends'. I threw a BBQ for my birthday, to which they were all welcomed. One of them even was nice enough to ask if a friend of hers could come along for the night. That would have been fine. What wasn't fine was the extra 20 people that arrived empty-handed, who then proceeded to go through the place like locusts. Bleh. So basically, I was worried that my friends would see my house messy, with shady-looking characters hanging about and that I'd be stressed because half my food and drink had disappeared. However, in my constant guest days, I would more often than not also be the guest cook for the night, but at the very least I'd always bring wine and my washing-up hands.

                                                                Thankfully now I live with true friends. Even though I no longer have much space, I know it will always be clean and safe, so I host more often than not.

                                                                1. We are frequently the hosts just because we have the room -- a lot of our friends live in smaller houses or flats, and there just isn't enough space for the large circle of friends we see regularly. It's okay -- I love to host.

                                                                  I don't even blink at a group of 25-30, and I barely flinch at a garden party for 50-60...it comes easily to me, and I have my "system" down to a science as to what needs to be done by what time (I'm NOT an organized person, but my system of spreadsheets and lists is impressive, if I dare say so myself)

                                                                  We have friends, however, who drive themselves into a tizzy at having someone over for pizza...at that point, it simply isn't worth it...one's sanity isn't worth all the parties on the planet, and it sure isn't enjoyable to see someone work themselves into a froth over a reciprocal invitation.

                                                                  So I like doing it, and our house is frequently full of people and laughter...so everyone comes here.

                                                                  Yes, there are reciprocal invites through the year -- but it's typically one or two families -- everyone entertains on the level that they, their space, and their abilities can handle...and isn't that the way it should be?

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Hello sunshine, I was just browsing through the comments and then saw yours and joined this CHOW thing specifically to say thank you for your lovely comment.

                                                                    Extroverts often leave me and hubby (both introverted) feel a mixture of guilty and sometimes resentment for being pushed to be something we are not. We try to reciprocate but are nervous hosts (and even guests) and feel great relief when things have gone ok. However on the rare occasion we try to spoil people with the best food and wine and bring gifts for our kind hosts who make it look so easy. Anyhow sunshine thank you for understanding that it's a lack of ability that stops us anxious hosts, you sound like a (in my experience) rare extrovert who can understand us "innies" and that feels great!

                                                                    Take care.

                                                                    1. re: susey

                                                                      No problem at all, susey -- I hope you find friends who are happy to be with you in whatever capacity works best for all of you.

                                                                  2. In a close group of 2 couples and 2 singles, we're the perpetual hosts. I tire of always hosting, being volunteered to host (seriously!) and being expected to host. Fortunately the 2 singles have started hosting occasionally. I appreciate the effort, positive reinforcement and all. Unfortunately it's a case of too little too late — I'm burned out.

                                                                    None of B through D apply to the non-hosters, and none of the close group have children (several in the extended group do, but they host too).

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: odkaty

                                                                      maybe they're some of the one who get wigged out at the hint of having company.

                                                                      Not saying you shouldn't say "enough" -- by the way...have you ever asked them if they'll host?

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        The other couple? They've suggested several times over the years, but no invitation is ever forthcoming. It's a bit of a joke amongst the rest of the group.

                                                                      2. re: odkaty

                                                                        Sorry to hear that, odkaty. Everyone else: Do not let things get to this point. If you have identified someone as a "perpetual guest", no matter how much you tell yourself that you appreciate their company and no matter how many excuses you can find for them, in your mind you've started doing the math ("13 barbecues, 17 garden parties, all 5 of my weddings, and I _still_ haven't seen their house from the inside!") and things will not get better unless you say/do something.

                                                                      3. I echo the couple of people who have said they are embarrassed about their home. We live in an apartment. The capret is extremely dirty looking and worn, even immediately after cleaning. The walls are atrocious, even with washing, magic erase and the huge PITA we went through to request a re-paint after several years in residence. The caulking around the sinks in the kitchen and bath is awful. The kitchen floor linoleum is so scratched it looks dirty even when freshly mopped. The tracks on the sliding patio door are like they are in a dungeon. And I admit I have NEVER cleaned the top of my bookshelves where pictures and knick knacks are. As someone else said, I am into cooking, not cleaning. I keep things picked up but with our very small space for 3 people, it is very, very cluttered looking. We keep batik hangings on the walls to try to hide some of the flaws but some just can't be overlooked or fixed and it is embarrassing. We complained so much about the state of our tub and tile that they came in and sprayed over it with some horrible smelling white "sealant" paint, which promptly started peeling off at the bottom near the cheap, awful caulking job, and now there is mold UNDERNEATH the caulking that I cannot seem to remove no matter how much I scrub with bleach.

                                                                        It's also a huge undertaking for us to have anyone over. We have to get folding chairs out of our storage locker just so there is somewhere for people to sit. We had a playdate for our son with another couple and their daughter not too long ago and it cost us a huge amount of money to make food for everyone, and the kitchen looked like a bomb hit it. It was exhausting and awful, even though the playdate went "fine" basically. With no room and a crowded, dirty looking home, why would I ever want to invite anyone over?

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                          with some landlords you just have to say "screw it, I'll do it myself and swallow the expense because your crew will just botch it anyway and make it worse"

                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                            We've considered that, hill food, but we have decided to start saving for a down payment on a house so that hopefully by the time the little one is ready to go to first grade, we can live in a house instead. So it's just not worthwhile for us to spend a lot of money on improvements in the apartment right now.

                                                                        2. I think for some perpetual guests, the problem might be the people who are the regular hosts. I love having people over SO much more than going to other people's houses so I guess in a sense I am forcing my hosting on people - in the nicest possible way!

                                                                          That said, it sometimes backfires. My sister recently turned 40 and earlier in the year the extended family were asking her where she wanted to celebrate it as we all wanted to be with her. Obvious options were Washington DC where she lives, or the UK where most other family live. She decided she wanted to host a party at my house (we live in the Caribbean) and invite lots of her friends to fly down too. As it emerged in the days leading up to the party she didn't want to hold the party at our house, she wanted it all arranged for her so we ended up organising and paying for her party of 30 people. She didn't lift a finger to help, either with prep or clear up or contribute to costs. It was obviously a breakdown in communication and I should have known as she has always been the perpetual guest type who arrives empty handed! I think I might ask her to host my next birthday!!!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Rocky74

                                                                            Rocky74, I can relate to that!! So sorry you didn't receive any help in exchange for your efforts.
                                                                            While Texas is NOT the Caribbean, I find myself and my home the gathering point for visiting family (mostly in laws :/) from the northern parts. I have now been handed the responsibility of taking on ma and pa in law's 50th anniversary next spring. And I think I may have brought it on myself in a way, because news travels if you like to host.
                                                                            Now I just need to figure out how to tell them that hosting the party and all the food and prep is the gift, not in addition to. Hehe...

                                                                          2. Oh, lunguafood, I'd LOVE to host...but we live in a house that we inherited from my husband's mother. It is VERY small, has poor lighting, the kitchen and living room has little lighting, and almost all the furniture is old and outdated. We can just fit my husband, kid, and I at the tiny kitchen table. Even before the recession, our finances weren't the best, but now...? I always watch the Home channel and sigh at the couple who tells the home decorator that they have this little kitchen and/or living room that they don't know what to do with, but they DO have a budget of $12,000. Jeez, what I would give to have half of that to put into this place.
                                                                            So why don't I host? I COULD actually finance an event, but I am frankly embarassed to let anyone into my house; it is too small, dark, and worn out to entertain in, and I don't have the money to make it presentable or to move.
                                                                            I am grateful for all of you who can host. To the events I am invited to, I come early to help set up, provide several of the dishes and wine, and afterwards, I bus, wash dishes, and help clean up in order to make up for being the perpetual guest. I also work hard at being flexible and not high-maintainance.Hopefully, if and when I am able to be proud enough of my living space to invite people into it, at least one or two of my guests will be as helpful as I have been.

                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Michelly

                                                                              Michelly -
                                                                              Relax! People don't come to visit your house, they come to visit you. Invite people over and don't worry about the house. If you feel you must comment on the surroundings, you can just say in a breezy tone something about it being "cozy" or your "heirloom house" and leave it at that. You know the ones in your circle. If there are people who would make snotty comments...just don't invite them. Life's too short to worry about what other people think of your house.

                                                                              It doesn't have to be a fancy event, cake and coffee or after dinner drinks. Even if it's only a couple of people, they would love to come over.

                                                                              My house is old, small and dark, too...and a bit cluttered. As I noted in another of Lingua's threads, if we have more than two people over, they have to bring their own chairs. And they do.

                                                                              Even tho I can only have a few friends over at a time, the welcome mat is indeed out...most of the time.

                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                Some of the best parties I've ever been to have been BYOC. Bring your own chair :-)

                                                                                1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                  Absofreakinlutely. Any "friend" who judges where or how you live is not worth being your friend.

                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                    one of my best parties ever was in a studio apartment (where noise was not an issue) Imagine the cocktail party in "B'fast at Tiffany's" but smaller and more crowded and a much shabbier building - the place was a dump but nobody cared. the only noise issue was I couldn't hear the door buzzer to let people in. somehow they piggy-backed or broke in. not comforting but it was a fun night.

                                                                                    another good one was in a mouse infested farmhouse/cabin 2 hours from anywhere in January toasting things on skewers in the fireplace with a blown kitchen stove and a destroyed bathroom (Thanks Wren for both! but you're still welcome back! and I really mean that. they were just a series of unfortunate accidents, everyone has recognized that and it's been 25 years).

                                                                                    it IS about the friends. if you give me a box to sit on, just make it a sturdy one - all I ask.

                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                      Yep. And bring your plate, please :-D

                                                                                  2. re: al b. darned

                                                                                    You don't understand: I don't like my house, and I don't want to share my annoying, ugly surroundings, or how I feel about it, with anyone.
                                                                                    I would rather go out, and I forgot to mention that I do invite friends OUT to eat, and I offer to pick up most or all of the tab. That's another way I make up for being the Perpetual Guest.

                                                                                    1. re: Michelly

                                                                                      I'm sorry you don't want to share your surroundings with anyone, though you might be surprised that there are other people who feel the same way and would be relieved to know not everyone lives in sweetness and light. But it sounds like you have found an alternative that works for you and that's great.

                                                                                    2. re: al b. darned

                                                                                      I've been in the position where someone has come by to perhaps drop something off and I've said, "I'd invite you in, but the place is a mess". They reply that they don't care, but I sure do care. It's not that I or perhaps Michelly (not to speak for her) have rude friends that would judge me based on the messiness of my house but I am uncomfortable and embarrassed about it. I've been to other people's cluttered and messy houses--it doesn't bother me and doesn't seem to bother them at all. I'm not that laid back about it though.
                                                                                      ETA: Now that I've read Michelly's response I guess she is of the same opinion!

                                                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                        Oh yeah - the bring your own chair is a given unless you don't mind sitting on the floor or ground, which I don't. The only clutter I won't leave out is bills, financial paper, mail, otherwise my home has the hubris of I'm coming and going. I don't even HAVE a dining table!

                                                                                        Do not ever be concerned about the condition of your home (other than the cleanliness of your kitchen which I am anal about). I only worry about the obvious - like what platter can I put this dish into and do I have enough T.P. Believe it or not, I did run out one time and it wasn't fun. The T.P., not the dish.

                                                                                        1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                          ... do I have enough T.P. Believe it or not, I did run out one time ...

                                                                                          This is why it's handy to have a 24-hour WalMart nearby..

                                                                                    3. i would think that most of your guests would probably think, we can't do it better than they do, so why bother! that's lame, but i would understand it. if you guys throw the best parties (and it sounds like you absolutely do - i just curse you for your selfishness in not living closer), maybe your friends think - that's their thing, they throw the parties! and maybe are intimidated theirs would be lame?

                                                                                      as for me, i am sorry to say that i used to be quite the hostess, even when living in teeny tiny studios, but since hooking up with the boy, 9 years now - that's the non-social, no-friends-to-speak-of, never likes to leave the house before midnight and doesn't like to entertain (YET still, the most fabulous BF EVER) BF - I never have anyone over anymore. If I could get him to leave for 5 hours or so, I'd do it, but it never seems worth it. He went away for 7 weeks earlier this year and I got caught up on repaying for many dinner parties at all my friends' homes, and had a few at my place. It was great! And, I will say, I'm always one of those at my friends' parties helping out, bringing food, cooking along with them, etc. This all sounds lame, but it works for me, works for the boy, and works for my friends - none of them ever begrudge me not having them over. On the other hand, none of them take the full laboring oar you guys seem to do (there's not one couple who has ALL the parties) since all of my friends love to entertain/cook.

                                                                                      all of this is simply to say - i want to be another one of those guests at your fabulous parties who never reciprocates! ( : i'll bring something good and help clean up!!

                                                                                      1. I don't like to cook! There I said it - love to eat and am the queen of making reservations but really just make the basics for the family and, since we are so busy with ice hockey most weeks we eat out alot. We do have a nice house and will throw a party once or twice a year which is mostly catered. I say mostly catered because most of our friends LOVE to cook and want to bring something. I have told them no in the past but they get disappointed and, since the food is SO good, I accept and make my catering arrangements around them.

                                                                                        1. I love to host, and am usually the perpetual host. And in our circle of friends, I'm really the only decent cook. Throw a swimming pool in the mix, and there you have it.
                                                                                          But, only for small groups, like a dozen or less. More people for some odd reason would just create a lot of anxiety for me. My house is always clean as I'm a neat freak, so that's not the problem. I think I feel that with a large group, somebody might go without something, conversation might not be that interesting, or I just would be unable to give attention to each guest.
                                                                                          I have a few friends that almost never host, but I think they have valid reasons. One of my best pals and a great guest lives in a tiny apartment. Another has 3 crazy (really crazy) dogs. And there are some bad cooks in this group. So, I'm pretty happy with the system I've got going.

                                                                                          1. I used to host occasional gatherings when I lived with my parents... but here we are in a two-bedroom apartment with no outside space aside from the pool (which is residents only), four dining chairs and only room for six people to sit in the living room at one time, with guest parking for one or two cars if we're lucky. The building association strongly discourages anybody from having guests, and while some people blithely ignore it, I'd be too afraid of being evicted because somebody complained. Add in my own insecurities about people wanting to socialise with me, our limited budget, and the fact that nobody ever invites US anyplace either, and large (or even small)-scale entertaining isn't going to happen.

                                                                                            1. Some dear friends have never visited my home, because I'm very messy and lazy. I always meant to make it presentable and have people over, *someday*. When my partner started living with me, he would make an effort, but now he's given up too :-)

                                                                                              Luckily we have a boat, docked at a marina, and can invite friends there and have a BBQ too, so we are not "perpetual guests".

                                                                                              1. Lingua,

                                                                                                I read 62 replies before deciding to put my 2 cents in.

                                                                                                People change, times change, circumstances change. One may go from perpetual guest to perpetual host to guest to host over a lifetime.

                                                                                                I was the last of my social group to marry. As such I was the perpetual guest as the young married were eager to show off their new homes and all those wedding gifts (serving pieces, china, silver crystal) they'd rec'd. They also were busy trying to play matchmaker for the single friends.

                                                                                                When most of these married friends had children, I did not enjoy being the guest when conversation revolved around kids. So, I had a new social set and tended to host as I had a large fully equipped home and more than ample funds to host.

                                                                                                I then married (the first time). My mother in law announced the week after the wedding that she hosted all the religious holidays, and the other son-in-law (who was a CIA grad exec chef) hosted Thanksgiving and I was expected to be a perpetual guest if I expected to dine with family on a holiday. I put up with this for a time and then jettisoned the wife and in-laws.

                                                                                                I am remarried and have a very large home. My wife and I love to cook and entertain. We can seat 36 for dinner and easilly handle 60 for a buffet. Combining households we have more than adeqaute crystal, silver, china for very large groups. We now are perpetual hosts. This also allows us to drink and not be concerned about driving. We have more than ample space for overnight guests, as well.

                                                                                                I have 3 sisters-in law. In 40 years, one has never hosted unless it was an outside BBQ handled by her husband and a caterer, the next oldest is too cheap to host. She arrives empty handed and leaves with leftovers. The youngest doesn't host because she does not want to have to invite her husband's family as well as her own, she has turned herself into a perpetual guest.

                                                                                                I also have a niece-in-law who is a perpetual host. She is a vegan who is allergic to wheat. She knows that her diet is too complicated to foist on a host, so she is seldom a guest.

                                                                                                1. Thank you, everyone, for your replies so far. They have been very interesting, and have given me quite some insight. Keep 'em coming, if you will.

                                                                                                  1. We would actually prefer to host all the time so we would not have to drive. Most of our friends live quite far away so they would prefer to host so they do not have to drive way out to our house. Once their kids are older and can stay alone for the night our friends will be able to stay overnight at our house and not have to worry about driving.

                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                      You've touched on a great point here. Both my man and I like to imbibe, so hosting ourselves takes care of the driving issue.

                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                        That is a good point, I forgot to add that to the reasons I like being the host.

                                                                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                          Not to bring up a sticky subject, but aren't you liable legally as the hosts if the people are coming to your house and drinking too much and then were to (God forbid) get into an accident upon leaving? This has also made me nervous about having anything but daytime playdates at our place. I don't want to get sued.

                                                                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                            I'm not really sure about that one...
                                                                                                            I am fortunate to have a resposible groups of pals, and anyone who drinks too much will call a cab.

                                                                                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                              From what I've read, unless the host both encouraged the person to get drunk and drive AND made money on the alcohol-served, liability is very unlikely. That said, we all need to keep an eye on our guests. But if the vague idea of getting sued is foremost in your mind, you probably shouldn't let anyone on your property at all or pay for an umbrella policy to cover such vagaries, they're not very expensive.

                                                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                It's not foremost at all, but it came to mind when several people pointed out that the reason they like to host is so they can drink as much as they want and not worry about driving home impaired.

                                                                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                  Do remember that there are places where the DUI limits are low enough that you can be legally drunk if you have two glasses of wine with dinner...and places that will impound your car **on the spot** if you are over that limit.

                                                                                                                  It's kind of nice sometimes to be able to have one more glass of wine knowing that you don't have to worry about driving...and be nowhere close to drunk.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    "It's kind of nice sometimes to be able to have one more glass of wine knowing that you don't have to worry about driving...and be nowhere close to drunk"

                                                                                                                    Well said! Also, where I live if you cause an accident and have ANY alcohol in your system you can wind up in big trouble. Even if you are under the legal limit.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      Agreed, very well said. As a very petite gator, it takes so very little to put me over the legal limit. The wikipedia chart has me at .09 with 2 drinks.
                                                                                                                      I'm pretty fortunate that most of my bunch lives reasonably nearby and cabs are plentiful around here. Lots of times I'll just take a cab both ways, because it's much more fun to say "I'd love another" than "no, I'm driving".

                                                                                                                  2. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                    Unfortunately the laws vary from state to state but the overly cautious will hire a bar or caterer to serve drinks and have the liability fall upon them and their insurance or have the guests pay a nominal fee for their beverages so as to put to responsibility on them but both have been contested in court and in some instances been successful.
                                                                                                                    My gatherings have never been so big, with that many people that I am unfamiliar with their drinking habits that I saw either a viable option. Besides I handle the bar as well as pour the wine so I pretty much have an idea of who had enough.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Duppie

                                                                                                                      My reading of a few cases was that people could be liable if the host DID charge rather than just having friends over for dinner/drinks as a gift. Once a business transaction occurs, as if the host was a paid bartender, then problems can occur. But as you say, laws vary. I think the best thing is to cultivate friendships within walking distance and go to dinner on foot.

                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                        That is why liability insurance is so costly and sometimes unavailable to establishments that wants to serve alcohol...between the ambulance chasers,opportunists,drunks and the outrageous laws it just doesn't pay to serve or drink for that matter. I have a rule that I picked up from working in the restaurant industry. Don't drink until the guests have gone home.I'm sharper,faster and I don't miss as much, not for everyone but it works for me.

                                                                                                                    2. re: escondido123


                                                                                                                      Liqour liability laws vary greatly from state to state.

                                                                                                                      I am an attorney (disclaimer) and went to school in Massachusetts and practice in CT. II am not overly familiar with the laws in all 50 states, but am very familiar with laws in the northeast.

                                                                                                                      Your statement about the host having MADE money from the alcohol served has nothing to do with the liability of a social host who serves a person to the state of being intoxicated and lets them drive away. Courts in states such as New Jersey have extended the 'dram shop' laws (what you are referring to) to social hosts and being in the profession of selling alcohol is not a requirement for liability to attach to the host. In some states the host does not have to even provide the alcohol, just allow it to be dispensed on his/her premises and be aware that a guest is drinking to the point where driving may be dangerous.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the info. So I could be held responsible for something my guest does after they leave my house? We usually serve wine and coctails and people are free to mix their own drinks. I would not know if they were pouring themselves singles, doubles, triples, etc or what their BAC is when they leave. Obviously if the person was visibly impared I would not allow them to drive but I am not so sure I could tell if a social drinker was at .06 versus .10.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                          Perhaps bagleman can confirm but after being alcohol safe certified for many years and living and working in the NYC tristate region I believe that this is indeed the case. There have been cases where even if the person that caused any kind of accident has not imbibed at your house but you identified he/she was intoxicated before they left without you attempting to get them either to relinquish their car keys or get a cab you can be held liable. As i said, there are some very strange laws...

                                                                                                                        2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                          Obviously you know the law better than I do. My understanding was that selling liquor to people created a liability that was not there when it was given to them. Thanks for the correction.

                                                                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                            This seems so crazy to me, but I have heard that this is the case where i live as well... I think if you're the one who bought the alcohol you can be held liable, but not sure what happens if someone shows up at your house with alcohol they bought, drinks it all, and then drives.

                                                                                                                    3. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                      It's definitely a reason why we host so often.

                                                                                                                2. My friends who host most often are married and live in big houses with large areas to eat. I am single and I live in a small(ish) condo with a kitchen table that is falling apart (I would seriously love to buy a new one but I honestly can't find one I like... it's a matter of taste, not finances). Parking is an issue in my building, and noise is a MAJOR issue in my building (like, if I say, "Goodbye!" to my friends in the hallway at 8:00 pm, someone will stick their head out their door and glare at me). I'm perpetually single and never do double-dates or anything with my married friends, so I hardly know their spouses. I usually only encounter them when they invite me over for some special event. I find hosting a bunch of married couples super-awkward, so I don't do it. The only thing more awkward than hosting a bunch of married couples is hosting ONE married couple... dinner for three? OMG kill me now.

                                                                                                                  I have my single friends over all the time. Two or three of us can eat on the couch and Lazyboy, and not have to worry about a kitchen chair giving out. And they don't hold hands with one another while smiling at me with pity and commenting on how difficult the dating scene must be. I won't lie... amongst my single friends I have the nicest house (despite the kitchen table) and I'm easily the best cook, so it is a bit Show Offy and fun that way too.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                    I totally feel for you Jetgirly. I went through some of the exact same things when I was single and living in a small apartment in the city and most of my friends were married and living in big houses in the burbs. Parking was always this huge issue for them and I was like, really? It is going to kill you to find a parking spot and walk a few blocks? Or getting a sitter. That was always and still is often an issue. I had to chuckle at your dinner for three comment because I know what that was like. Could be very uncomfortable at times. Like when George would have to sit around with Jerry and his girlfriend calliing each other Shmoopy all night long.

                                                                                                                    The good news is sometimes your married friends will know a single person that might be of interest to you. It sure beats blind dating because they have already been pre-screened as it were.

                                                                                                                    Have you checked Ikea or Crate and Barrel? They might have a kitchen table you would like and be safe for your guests to sit at.

                                                                                                                  2. I have never had many friends, and used to just be the +1. I did have a small circle of friends at one point, and they hosted most of the time because of location. I was the only one living in the city, and they all lived outside of it, at walking distance of each other. So coming over to my house was basically the whole group going through the hassle instead of just one person (me) going through the hassle. I did not have enough space to have them sleep if the party stretched, but they all had space for one overnight guest. I did host a couple of times but it was all agreed between us that this was too complicated, so I would compensate by arriving early with parts of the necessary foods and helping with the whole cooking process, then staying overnight and helping the host clean everything up.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: cactusette

                                                                                                                      and THAT is the crux of the issue...however you entertain -- whomever you invite ---

                                                                                                                      It's whatever works best for you and your friends...and nobody else really earns an opinion!

                                                                                                                    2. My sister hosted a BBQ graduation party recently for 50+ people. She hired a lady for 4 hours to clear empty plates, replenish the buffet foods, clear glasses, and generally do the drudge work of hosting including doing the dishes. She said it was the best $$ she had spent lately as it allowed her to socialize and enjoy the party while it was happening. She found the lady at another friends party allowing that hostess to also enjoy her party. I don't know if that would help any of you, but thought it was worth mentioning.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: Nanzi

                                                                                                                        that is a big thing -- sometimes it's hard to enjoy your own party because you're too busy making sure everyone else is enjoying your party...

                                                                                                                      2. I would love to host. But I live on the edge of town, and none of my friends want to drive out to my place. So I always end up driving to their places.

                                                                                                                        1. Space. Simply space. I'm an above average cook in our circle of friends but my space is very minimal and I've hosted parties before (one was family and I ended up with eight people in my 8 1/2 X12' kitchen and literally shooing people out so I could open the frig) and the others have been at SO, which is a challenge unto itself (no dishwasher anyone?) but at least he has a large outside covered patio. But his parties tend to grow to like 30 people and I spend two days in prep and one day in clean up.

                                                                                                                          When we're invited to others (mostly his family now, my family doesn't live nearby) we always bring hostess gifts and I do my time in clean up w/ SO and we ALWAYS send thank you notes, cuz' we appreciate them going to such trouble.

                                                                                                                          Besides the expense, there has never been a single acknowledgement back other than "What are we doing at your house for this holiday?". God love our friends, but now we're hesitant. We adore his family as well but it's so large that the last get together, dinner was served on their outdoor basketball court - upwards of 100. No way could we even conceive having that many over, not to mention parking.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                            ""What are we doing at your house for this holiday?".

                                                                                                                            you've done something right.

                                                                                                                            1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                              The standard etiquette reciprocity alternative for people with limited space is to hosts those hosts at a meal out (brunch, luncheon or dinner) according to your means. (So, if those hosts provide a lux experience for you, you are not obliged to reciprocate at that level, though fast food would not be a good level to descend to...)

                                                                                                                            2. Some people just aren't born to host a party. It was one of the ongoing jokes on the Mary Tyler Moore show. She had a great place, parking wasn't an issue, her landlord was invited so noise wasn't a problem. But Mary just didn't know how to host a party.

                                                                                                                              I actually know someone like that. When he is out with friends, or at a party at someone else's house he may not be the life of the party, but he sure adds to the fun. He has a comfortable place, with enough room for a good size gathering of friends, and his income allows him to splurge on this once in a while. But for whatever reason being the host is just overwhelming for him, and it prevents him from enjoying the event. And if it is obvious that the host isn't having a good time it's hard for the guests to do so. It has been about 5 years since he hosted a party of any kind, at his home, picnic at the beach, or even hosting a group at a restaurant. His friends know why, and everybody is happy with the arrangement.

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                                                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                true some don't have 'it'

                                                                                                                                but that was a classic theme that ran through MTM (I know Betty White is a hot trend right now, but that one dinner party is prime) "do you know what happens to Veal Prince Orloff if it isn't served immediately? He dies!"

                                                                                                                              2. I don't host much anymore. I used to all the time. Then I had an accident (see the thread abut kitchen injuries, lol) and just got out of the habit. My house is small and won't hold many people so anything I do is in the garden or just a few people. I don't have room for seating for 12 indoors.

                                                                                                                                My friends who have a large house overlooking the ocean throw parties all the time. They've got a great space for it. I always help with the prep (it's FUN in there!) and help clean up. They don't expect me to reciprocate. I asked!

                                                                                                                                1. I try to host DH's family at least once a year, but it's kept pretty even among his brothers and sisters. I do not host my family because I assume they don't want to drive to my house. It's not horribly far, just a town over, and it's a actually the town they would drive to for restaurants or shopping or movies, so now that I think about it, that doesn't make much sense. But they're all host-types too and honestly, my brother is a much better cook than I. I'm a little intimidated to cook for him. He always likes what I bring to pitch ins, but an entire meal is daunting. I do think I'll make a point of having a cook-out before or after one of my son's little league games this summer. I've had my best friend and her husband overa few times, but if we're just hanging out having snacks and cocktails or ordering pizza, it's at her house because she's a smoker. I don't care if she smokes here, but she insists and it's really better that way. Her house is cleaner and her kids are older. I bring the snacks and often the drinks. My kids do play dates and that seems to be pretty evenly split.

                                                                                                                                  1. As a young woman I'd be invited out to many dinner parties hosted by older couples from our religious circle.
                                                                                                                                    They all had confidence in holding large parties because they were regular hosts, which was something our religion advocates -- being hospitable.
                                                                                                                                    Later we as a couple did the same. We'd learned how to do this organically -- by example we learned over time to be confident.
                                                                                                                                    Kudos to all those who teach by example!!
                                                                                                                                    And incidentally I was scared stiff at the beginning. My place was never clean or big or perfect enough. But people love that you think enough of them, even in your vulnerable domestic state, and no matter how imperfect it is, they'll love being there!!!

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Per_se

                                                                                                                                      My situation was similar. When I was single, I was a guest 99% of the time. Our "group" consisted of retired couples, couples with no kids, large and small families, and a couple "lonely singles." At these gatherings I learned that the other people there weren't "perfect" either. Just a bunch of ordinary people having a nice time together. I never left one of those get-togethers feeling like I didn't have a good time...even the time I didn't get any of Elaine's famous chili, because Russ dropped the pot in their driveway while putting it in the car.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                        but at least you could comfort yourself with the thought that nobody else got any chili either, and Russ is probably still trying to win those brownie points back. :)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                          Either that or it contributed to the divorce. : > O

                                                                                                                                          1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                            in which case "trying to win those brownie points back" is called "alimony"

                                                                                                                                    2. About 10 years ago we started to have a big Christmas party every year as a way to stay in touch with friends whom it was getting harder to see as we all had young kids. They were family friendly parties. We have a relatively small townhouse, but we would invite 50+ people. I initially expected people to reciprocate with invites to dinner, a BBQ or at least drinks. We had these parties for five straight years and received exactly three return invites. So, we stopped having them. I felt bad, like our " friends" were willing to partake of our hospitality (these parties were expensive), but then not bother with us for the rest of the year. One of our friends who did return the invite used to throw a huge BBQ every summer, but stopped having them for exactly the same reason. We all live in houses in the burbs, no one lives in a tiny apartment, we all have kids. So, what gives?

                                                                                                                                      My spouse feels that it is because most of the others have big extended families with siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. So, when they have a party, they already have a ton of people with just their family and don't need to invite friends. Our family is tiny, so

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                        I think people view parties different than invitations for smaller groups -- people tend to reciprocate individual invitations, but not parties.

                                                                                                                                        Why? Dunno. Just seems to be how it is.

                                                                                                                                      2. I'm pretty bad about stuff like that. If you send me a Christmas card, I don't even think about sending you one back. Odds of me serving as your host are the same as the odds of you waking up on the moon.

                                                                                                                                        However if we go out to eat, I'll pick up the check.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: redfish62

                                                                                                                                          I would not mind at all if someone chose to reciprocate by inviting us out for dinner, or even just drinks, if they were not in a position to host at their home. But that has never happened.

                                                                                                                                        2. I love to host, but there have been times in the past when it hasn't been practical.

                                                                                                                                          It's usually the combination of small living space and lack of money that does it. I didn't have space to fit more than a couple of people (if that) into my accommodations, or was renting a room with kitchen privileges, but not hosting privileges. I could afford to feed people *if* I could save money by doing everything myself, but couldn't afford to take people out, or buy pre-made food. Hosting in a park would work if food wasn't required, assuming I was living somewhere where a rain plan wasn't needed (this has been true for 3 out of 20 years of my adult life), but there's the problem of getting the food to the park on public transit in the first place.

                                                                                                                                          1. We don't host. Ever.

                                                                                                                                            This will sound like we are the two most unfriendly, snarky people around, but we are private people who do not want people in our home. We are childless by choice, and cherish the quiet, freedom, and solitude of being home. Alone. Our jobs are require a certain amount of physical and emotional involvement, so our quiet home time is a major priority.

                                                                                                                                            We choose to invest time with good, close friends at new and/or favorite restaurants, and we love to treat. The "dining out" experience is rare and special occasion for us and we love to treat others in this manner.

                                                                                                                                            1. When I lived at home with my parents, I would help my mother throw dinner parties for their friends from church. We moved to different congregations quite regularly since my father was frequently called upon to help out in different places.

                                                                                                                                              We always assumed that if we wanted to have dinner with someone or get to know them better, we should take it upon ourselves to extend an invitation. Yet in all the years and many dinners that we threw, I could count the times when our guests reciprocated on one hand. My parents were quite popular and everyone seemed to like them, but they were rarely invited anywhere. And it wasn't as if their 'friends' had hang ups about entertaining as we would hear stories about what a great time they had with so and so when they had him/her/them over for dinner.

                                                                                                                                              It actually broke my heart to see my mother work so hard (with 4 kids) to put on a fabulous dinner and then see her hurt because no one seemed to want to extend an invitation back. They eventually stopped entertaining altogether when they faced some financial hardships.

                                                                                                                                              For some reason, as they've gotten older and stopped entertaining, they can hardly keep up with all of their invitations. Perhaps because they no longer have kids? Better friends? I'm not sure, but I'm so glad that I haven't seen that hurt look on my mother's face in years.