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Dec 22, 2011 04:47 PM

Unexpected guests at a dinner party?

Hey all!
OK here's the scoop -- I have an annual 23rd of December pre-Christmas dinner for a group of friends. They have all come before, and know the routine. We invite 5 couples for a dinner to celebrate the season. We word it as such "Hey we're having our annual Curry Bash on the 23rd just like last year! We'd love it if you and x (insert spouse's name here) would join us. Get a sitter for the kids, come at 5pm, bring just yourselves and an appetite." Answer is always YES, sitters are arranged for, dinner is had, a good time is had by all. The same 5 couples have been coming over with this same invitation for the past 3 years. The menu is always samosas, onion bhajees, raita, mango chutney, madras beef, balti beef, butter chicken, chana masala, dahl, rice, kheer, chai. Spicy, and all done from scratch, including the masalas (roasted and ground by yours truly) and the Major Grey's Chutney (which is a PITA btw because of the sheer number of ingredients). It takes hours to make and I love doing it and our friends enjoy this immensely.
Our dinner is tomorrow. I JUST got a voice message from one of the couples (for whom we changed the actual dinner time because of work conflicts) that, and I quote "Sammi and I will be there for 5, with offspring in tow. See you then".
Now I'm freaking out -- the point of this dinner is to have an adult time before the Christmas holidays ensue. The menu is elaborate, all from scratch and it takes hours. Wine is paired with each course, as it is an adult evening. This menu is NOT child friendly and neither is the evening. Everyone always gets sitters. Always. Except for this year. There will be 11 adults and a six year old and a 4 year old at our table. I'm completely unprepared for this as it was not the intention of the evening to have family dining, so now I feel forced into it. Nothing on the menu will suit these child's tastes (trust me, I know them well), and I'm up to my eyeballs in making the planned menu. it isn't like these people haven't been over for this same meal before, and I specifically said "Get a sitter and come over". And this isn't like a casual drop in bbq or a potluck where the more the merrier.
How do I handle this? They are expecting a call back and I don't know what to say! I don't want to be the Grinch and say leave the kids at home, but it really is going to be an imposition on a carefully planned meal, not to mention seating space. I don't have room for a "Child's Table". I don't have the time or energy to make a second child friendly menu. And quite frankly, I think it is pretty rude to do this. If you can't get a sitter, then call and say either "We can't find a sitter so we'll bow out" or at least give us an opportunity to make the decision.
Have any of you handled the issue of uninvited guests his before?

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  1. I would call and say this is an uncomfortable situation but this is absolutely a no kids night, you're sorry that they can't get a sitter and therefore cannot come but hopefully they can make it next year without the kiddies. Your house your rules. They'll either make an effort to get a sitter at short notice or they'll be at home with their offspring.

    1. Maybe they can work it out with one of the other couples, who presumably have babysitting arranged, to share a sitter and all the kids can hang out there for the evening.

      1. Wow, people can be so nervy. I love my kid and love taking her along with us as much as any parent, but I cannot imagine doing something so rude.

        Smartie and pamf both have good suggestions. Another line that I have actually had to use before and seemed to work okay is something like this: "As much as I would love to have your children present, this is planned as an adults-only evening which the other adults look forward to. It wouldn't be fair to the people who got babysitters and want a kids-free night if I made an exception for your kids."

        Good luck with this one and let us know how it goes!

        2 Replies
        1. re: jlhinwa

          I agree with jthinwa and perhaps suggest they contact one of the other couples with kids to see if they have recommended sitters.

          1. re: jlhinwa

            i think jihinwa's wording is positively brilliant.
            stick with her script.
            don't deviate.

          2. OK DH just called them back, said "you know this is adult time, just like last year, and there won't be a special menu for them" and Sammi said "well, we'll be there at 5pm and we couldn't get a sitter on short notice". Did I mention that I invited them unofficially on 2 November, and officially 3 weeks ago? Short notice???? 3-6 weeks is short notice???? They made no effort to bow out gracefully, and DH isn't the kind to uninvite them, and I'm so mad that it isn't a good idea for me to speak with them right now. So DH said I guess we have to suck this up, but they're off the list for next year, let me tell you. And its going to take everything in me to be a gracious hostess, let me tell you....

            11 Replies
            1. re: freia

              how important are these friends to you? you could call them back right now and say I've thought this over and it's just not going to work, it's either you 2 without the kids or not at all. Tell them you're not willing to compromise to fit in with their inability to find a sitter, you understand that Xmas Eve is a tough night but stand firm.

              If you can't bring yourself to say this then ask them to bring a small table and 2 chairs for the kids, make them nuggets and fries or some sandwiches, get a kiddie movie on in the TV room and put them there.

              1. re: freia

                call back asap - no fair being imposing rude guests who assume their kids are entitled to a dinner party they were specifically not invited to. To not "enforce" your specifics of the invitation seems greatly unfair to you and the other guests . . .

                1. re: vday

                  Agreed! I'd be pretty disappointed (and maybe even a bit pissy) if I got a sitter (as requested) and came for an evening with adults only to find 2 children in attendance. I don't think it's fair to you or to the other guests.

                  Sorry you have such an egotistical friend for thinking she can't change the rules to suit herself. I'm assuming she has other redeeming qualities ;-)

                  1. re: Transplant_DK

                    I agree..this is one of those tough situations..but I would rather risk upsetting this one couple than upsetting all the rest of my guests who made arrangements and were paying for babysitters. I think either you or your husband should call this couple and explain to them that while you enjoy seeing their kids..this is an "adults only" evening . If they are unable to make it..wish them well and tell them you'll see them next year.

                    1. re: Transplant_DK

                      Maybe Feria should call the other guests and warm them of the new surprise. Perhaps the other couples would call the offending party and make them share with their sitter.

                  2. re: freia

                    "Really sorry to hear that you can't get a sitter. Let's make a plan to get together on another date, soon."

                    1. re: freia

                      Put some porn on the tube.... and start with a dirty joke....

                      1. re: wyogal

                        This answer delights me immeasurably. Thanks!

                        1. re: wyogal

                          all of the porn - none of the sex.

                          my favorite one is "Helpful Bus" (yeah we got some old pizza, Fritos and grape soda!)

                          1. re: freia

                            I apologize for saying so, but your DH sort of still left the window open for the children's attendance by saying there'd be no special menu for them instead of saying it's just not ok for children to be at this kind of an evening. Clearly the people don't care in the first place that it's an adult only evening, so I doubt they'd care if there's no special food for them. You might be lucky if they bring a little container of noodles for them to try to be "considerate". But in this case, your DH needed to choose different words. Sorry for all your annoyances with this! Good luck!
                            By the by, I have a 3.5 yr old and I'd be ripped if I went to the trouble and expense of getting a sitter to enjoy myself as an adult only to see people prance in with their children.

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