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Thanksgiving invitees who won't commit

I have always hosted a large Thanksgiving with 35-50 people with family and folks who had no family down here, Everyone is used to just coming here and I was ok with it and bring who you want. The past few years, people have passed and it has gotten smaller. This year I have 6 confirmed guests and 6 that didn't confirm. In years past I would have cooked enough regardless and hoped that extra people showed. Since I have been unemployed for 1 1/2 years I wanted to make sure that I cooked an ample amount but not over the top in order to economize. I am planning at this point so, I called the undecided folks to see if they're coming. This consists of two singles and one group of four. Turns out I'm the backup plan and none of them will know until the last minute, way past when I'm done shopping. I don't know how to handle this. I mentioned that I have to know but couldn't get an answer. Should I give them a cutoff date to confirm? Or, should I get into the season and welcome all as I have done in the past.

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  1. Make sure you have enough food for those you know who are coming, plus some extra. Son't go overboard. Ask everyone to bring a dish to share. That way if the undecideds decide to decide, they can offset their indecision a bit by contributing. I expect that you will get a lot of replies to just politely tell the wafflers - oh I'm so sorry you can't come. Maybe next year! - but I'm one of those crazies who does like to open my home and there really always seems to be enough, no matter who shows up.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nyleve

      I'm one of those crazies too, and that's why this is a problem. Everybody knows I love to cook and it has always been ok in the past but this year I'm trying to have a budget.

    2. I'm sorry that they are treating you like that. I would give them a cut off date to confirm. Either a firm one (can't come if they don't rsvp) or a more flexible (come for dessert/must bring a dish). But don't feel like you have to spend more than you feel comfortable just in case they show up. It's hard since it's a holiday, but your need to economize should come first.

      3 Replies
      1. re: viperlush

        I think you're right and I will give a date. I always overcook but I'm trying to keep it under control. My mom was Polish and my maternal grandmother always said that if you don't have leftovers you didn't have enough food.

        1. re: Floridagirl

          Holiday's are hard, especially on a budget. In case you can't escape your urge to overcook, make sure that it's food that freezes well.

          1. re: viperlush

            maybe try to really "beef up" inexpensive options like potatos (both white and sweet; bread; maybe a pasta option for app or side; creamed onions...

      2. Set a date that works for you and your planning/shopping. Let them know the exact "cut off" date in advance. Don't beat around the bush about it.' Just I need to know by _______. If I don't hear from you I will assume you've made other plans.' It's not about you getting into the season. It's about them being thoughtful towards you and appreciative of your gracious invitation. Happy Thanksgiving to you! ;)

        1 Reply
        1. re: pagesinthesun

          you are right. That's a nice way to put it.

        2. You're offering them a nice dinner and they're not sure is they might have better plans? I would tell them you've decided the six you have will make for a nice intimate dinner, and maybe they could come next year. No reason you should apologize, give them more time, anything. This is the height of rudeness on their part. (It would be different if these are folks who might drop in for dessert or such but this is dinner.)

          1. I would call them two or three days before I planned to do my final shopping and, if they haven't committed by that time, tell them I've made the final plans and I'm disappointed that they can't make it this year but, perhaps, they can make it next year. Then I'd leave it at that.
            It's an insult to tell someone that their invitation is second in line; that you may show up if there's nowhere else to go. People who take advantage of the kindnesses of others with rude and contemptuous behavior needn't be tolerated. It's a pitiful set of circumstances when people feel they need friends badly enough to accept that kind of abuse.

            1 Reply
            1. re: todao

              You hit the nail on the head except that I don't need friends that badly. My lifestyle has always been to welcome people into my home and, as I was the last of my friends to be laid off, I had plenty of folks staying in my guest room while they were trying to figure out what to do. My town is the (was) the foreclosure capitol and things are still very bad here. There is almost never a day when I and my SO have dinner with just us. People just drop by. I love to cook and love to have people over, it's just harder now. I agree that it's rude and contemptuous behavior though.

            2. The Alternative Plan:
              Combine the two parties. Preferably by "helping" the indecisive cook (who may have been "volunteered" into it). Best if you can manage this without the indecisive guests knowing (that way, if they were skipping your party because they didn't like someone, you can enjoy their faces!).

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chowrin

                you are funny. nobody else cooks, they will be eating some frozen crap. and, wine helps all , they all like each other,

              2. I think there is room here between "rude and contemptuous" and "spirit of the season" to give people the benefit of the doubt. I mean, Thanksgiving is traditionally a family holiday. I have no idea yet what my plans for thanksgiving are either, and if somebody invited me to their thanksgiving party today I would probably say that I would want to see first if my parents or in- laws expected my presence first. I don't think you can call dibs in thanksgiving the way you can for, say, Labor Day.

                What you are describing sounds like an open house where people can feel free to stop by, or not, for as long as they'd like. If so, then treat it that way. Have plenty of appetizers and cocktails for people to stop by and enjoy, but don't plan it as the centerpiece of everyone's day. FWIW I think an open house sounds lovely and I would certainly stop by if invited. Bit probably on the way to my on- laws.p

                7 Replies
                1. re: iambecky

                  The OP did not say this was an open house, and also noted money was tight so they aren't likely to be able to "have plenty of appetizers and cocktails." I figure now is the time when people make their plans for Thanksgiving or assume they are on their own...and if you have an invitation either accept it or decline graciously.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    I don't necessarily agree with becky's impression of the open house (although I do somewhat understand where she is coming from based on the OP's description of her home literally being an 'open house' for friends/family/people who need a meal, company, place to say etc (very kind of you Floridagirl!).

                    However, I do completely understand and agree with the comment regarding Thanksgiving first being a family holiday for her and not knowing yet what her plans are. My family/tradition is very much the same and the default is to spend it with family. However, sometimes there are situations that arise that may prevent me from celebrating with them--i.e. need to be at work (for either myself or family), last minute changing of locations, etc. So while I may very well want to celebrate with and feel very honored to be invited to share the holiday with a friend/co-worker, etc, I may not know until the Wed before Thanksgiving where I will be.

                    Florida, you sound very similar to my family with regards to hospitality (especially with regards to holidays), and that makes me smile. It seems like you want to nourish and share what you have with others and probably (?) think the more the merrier? My family will often have last minute attendees (i.e. Mary ended up not going to her mother's? Please have her come to dinner!) or people back out last minute due to work or family emergencies (i.e. John's health issue is acting up again, and there is just no way we can make the 3 hour drive tomorrow).

                    I realize this lack of definitive planning may not work for all or may even seem rude to some, however it has served us very well for decades and still have a friend who will send me a note every Thanksgiving telling me how much she enjoyed and was grateful the year my family invited her to join us because she was stuck in town for work. I don't know the situations of the people who you have invited, they very well could be total self-absorbed a-holes, I'm just trying to share my perspective. I usually try to be very honest and upfront with anyone who invites me and I certainly would not expect them to accommodate me if I had uncertainty in my plans.

                    All of that being said, can you plan to make extra sides that are less expensive, yet are filling, so that way if you get more people than expected people will not go home hungry? I also like the idea of calling a day or two before you do your shopping to see if their plans have solidified. If they still do not know, mention that you would appreciate them bringing their favorite side dish (already prepared/warm, etc as you won't have room in the kitchen), a pie/cobbler/etc, a specific loaf of bread, wine, etc.

                    Good luck, it sounds like you are a wonderful person and I hope you have a great holiday!

                    1. re: pollymerase

                      For many, many years we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends because family was far away. Every year we would ask around and find out who wanted to come for dinner. Those that said yes came at the specified time and then we would have a meal of many courses. Those who were local and going to family were invited to come after their family meals and since we didn't start ours until 5pm, that often meant folks coming by while dinner was still in full swing. So they'd pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine and join the party. Sometimes they'd eat something, sometimes not. It was a wonderful yearly event and people loved it. But it was our choice to have that kind of meal, not our guests choice. I am surprised that people seem to think the host has some obligation to be patient, be flexible, be ready to feed whoever shows up whenever they want to. If these guests who can't make up their mind wanted to show the true spirit of Thanksgiving they would recognize that they are the ones who should be thankful---and either accept the invitation or say thank you I have other plans.

                      1. re: escondido123

                        It sounds like you have a very nice holiday and have worked out a system that works for you and your friends. I don't feel the host should have an open house available for people to stroll in whenever and be expected to receive a feast, however I think there are many situations that may cause someone to not know if they will be able to attend until much closer to the day. I personally have no problem with someone not knowing until the day before Thanksgiving if their ill mother will have the strength to travel to have one last holiday at her sister's house a few hours away, or if they will be needing a place to get out of the house for a few hours to eat turkey and gravy, pie, and just be in a happy holiday environment. I'm in biomedical research, so I know plenty of people who will want to try to leave town and visit family/friends at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but they very well may find out at the last minute that they will be receiving and processing samples from a patient. Or they may think they have to stay to take care of an experiment, but have something go well (or wrong) the day before Thanksgiving and realize that they can go to their sister's place after all. I feel Thanksgiving is a special scenario (as opposed to a quarterly dinner party someone may hold) and that there are multitudes of reasons that would preclude someone from a definitive yes/no and they shouldn't be written off as a guest who isn't showing the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

                        I understand that this may not be what the OP wants or may not work for her. I'm not saying she has to have the holiday that I grew up with. It does however seem that this is the way she has approached it before, so I'm trying to provide insight into how to bridge her old customs with her current situation. I would not suggest to someone who every Thanksgiving has a multi-course, plated meal, with wine pairings that they need to switch to a buffet style meal to accommodate several people at the last minute (two of whom are vegans!).

                        As a poster down thread says, communication is key. A simple, I don't know, from the guest is of course rude. As is, well, I'm holding out hope for an invite to this really swank thanksgiving meal. Likewise, I think it would be good for Florida to be upfront with the guests and have them keep her abreast of their plans and please help contribute by bringing x,y,z if they do end up coming. That way the burden is not completely on her to provide all of the food.

                        1. re: pollymerase

                          Thank you, pollymerase, I was going to say much the same. There are plenty of people who have inconsiderate bosses who haven't set the work schedule yet, health concerns that crop up, travel plans that get way-laid. Sometimes it is not possible to know exactly what you're going to be able to do three weeks in advance of Thanksgiving.

                  2. re: iambecky

                    That's what I had in the past but can not afford that this year but eating here was the big deal for most, hah, that was the good old days

                    1. re: iambecky

                      While you are correct that plans aren't solid yet for most people, the thing to do after receiving an invitation that might be a conflict is to pick up the phone and call family and at least establish if the family celebration is a go or no-go. You don't have to have it planned to the minute, but you have the obligation to not let the host (Floridagirl) hanging with no idea how many people she's feeding, as well as the implication that she's not Priority One on your schedule.

                      Floridagirl has every right to set a date and a tell them that if they can't decide whether or not she's important enough to plan for by a certain date...then she's not obligated to feed their insensitive asses out of her pocket, either.

                      This is a lot like the girl who turns down three invitations to the dance because she's holding out for Mr. Perfect to ask her...then ends up sitting at home alone because Mr. Perfect asked someone else, and she's burned all her bridges with everyone else.

                    2. a proper sit-down for the confirmed. the others, call a day or two before and say you've changed it to a later time and it's now a buffet (of leftovers but don't say that) should they choose to wander through.

                      1. I'm not going to go into the rude people thing because they might just be indecisive BUT......I would definitely call them before shopping. Ask them again if they are coming and if they waffle do tell them you'll see them next year. I can see a person planning to go out of town to visit family and being stuck last minute but that is not the case here with 6 people. T-giving IS supposed to be about family and you need to nurture yours by not overspending in case "some people show up".

                        1. I'll go into the rude people thing, Linda :-)

                          I had to pick myself up off the floor for a second....did people you graciously invited actually TELL you "Um, you're our second choice!?!?!"

                          How incredibly rude.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: pinehurst

                            Now hang on a second. Like someone earlier mentioned, Thanksgiving is largely a family holiday and that's going to be almost everyone's first choice (or obligation). And sometimes communication within a family is convoluted and stupid. So Aunt Doris, who usually has Thanksgiving, isn't feeling well but Cousin Sue has offered to have it this year but she's not on email so she told her sister Deb but somehow Deb hasn't quite gotten around to letting everyone know and you THINK it's going to be at Sue's house but you're not sure...this is how it goes in my family anyway. No one wants to be alone for Thanksgiving - so if you can't be with your family, you do want to be somewhere. Giving people the benefit of the doubt, I think it's not so much rudeness as discombobulation. The spirit of the holiday, in my opinion, is to be generous and open to whatever happens and just go with it. I get that it's expensive to host a dinner like that and when finances are tight it's really difficult. Just ask people to contribute - why wouldn't you? They can bring the wine, the mashed potatoes, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the salad - who wouldn't gladly do that? You make a big turkey (they're cheap) and if it's only 6 for dinner, then it's turkey sandwiches for the next two weeks. So what?

                            I remember very well the one Thanksgiving, shortly after I moved to Canada, when I was invited - mere hours before dinner - to a friend's house when she found out I was going to be by myself. I've had many Thanksgivings since then but that's the one I remember best. I don't remember the food, I just remember the warmth of being there.

                            1. re: Nyleve

                              I kind of agree with you, Nyleve. Normally I hate this kind of "I can't give you a firm answer because I'm waiting for a better offer" answer (or non-answer as the case may be), but my impression from the OP that this meal has traditionally been open to those who really have no other place to go based on this "folks who had no family down here." Perhaps, especially when it was large, people would just know they always had a place to go, even if their family plans fell through or someone had a sudden work commitment at the last minute that prevented them from going out of town to have dinner with family.

                              I know that trying to get an answer from my family in advance of the holidays is really hard. You ask person X who has typically organized or hosted in the past, but she has to ask Y & Z about their plans, but Z is out of town. And Y is having a hard time because of a recent illness or hospital stay and everyone is tiptoeing around her because the gathering won't go forward without her... That sort of thing.

                              I don't really know how the OP can politely let people know that things have changed, that this is a much smaller, intimate gathering than in the past and that she really needs to have a firm commitment by X date in order to stay on schedule and within her understandably tight budget. Maybe just send the people for whom you are still awaiting a response with a note to that effect with a firm date and then a line along the lines as has been suggested above, if don't hear from you from then, I assume you've made other plans. The problem with that last kind of sentence is that people who are already thinking they will rsvp "no" or "no'ish" won't bother to rsvp at all because they know shes' just going to assume they can't come.

                              I would maybe call these people and have this conversation with them directly and find out what they are thinking. We're only talking a handful of people here.

                              I mean, presumably these folks are close enough to her that they know she's unemployed and probably can't afford to be extravagent.

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                <I would maybe call these people and have this conversation with them directly and find out what they are thinking. We're only talking a handful of people here.>

                                I think this is the best way to do it. Let them know that things will be different this year due to budgetary restraints. And while you understand that holidays plans can be hard to pin down, this year you need a know by a certain date.

                                And the OP needs to decide if it's worth it to her to turn away friends on a holiday. Would it be better to make it a potluck style meal (can she trust them to bring a dish?) or plated meal (easier to stretch by controlling portions?).

                              2. re: Nyleve

                                you know, i just did not get the feeling from the OP that the undecided people were waiting to hear from family who could not decide. if her guests were upfront with the OP that they were first, obligated to attend a yet undecided family function, i don't think she would be the kind of person who would begrudge this situation. she clearly stated that her thanksgiving dinner was for her family and friends who do not have family in-town. a proper reason for not commiting to the invitation immediately would be the appropriate response imho: "i don't have my work schedule yet, when is the latest i can get back to you?" i wonder: how in the world do you tell someone that her invitation is second choice without appearing to be rude, insensitive and unkind? my mother would have thumped me on the head if she ever found out i did something like that.

                              3. re: pinehurst

                                I hear all three of you. It's tough, especially when folks who perennially have hosted are in their eighties, have health issues, etc. But it was this line:
                                "Turns out I'm the backup plan and none of them will know until the last minute, way past when I'm done shopping."
                                ...that got me. Aunt Betsy will know before Nov 15 if her rheumatism is better, probably.

                                And I'm with you on bringing something, but on another thread on Homecooking, people were calling folks out for suggesting that every guest (no matter how cash strapped) could bring a little something (can of string beans with a pat of butter and salt and pepper?).

                                Anyhoo, given OP's generous offer to host despite her situation, I just threw down the rude card.

                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  The OP has apparently already sent out the invites and gotten some rsvps and it's only Nov 2. (And the OP was posted yesterday, so, Nov 1.). So, yeah, maybe Aunt Betsy may know by Nov 15, but maybe she didn't know on whatever date in Oct the OP sent our her invites. My family doesn't start discussing Thanksgiving until November. Maybe that's wrong (and it annoys me because I like to plan farther ahead than that), but I'll bet it's not that uncommon.

                                  And, maybe it's not rheumatism, maybe it's the recent tragic untimely death of a family member and the whole family is reeling from shock and sadness and grief and the prospect of having Thanksgiving dinner without this dear person is painful to discuss. That's what's happening in my family right now. Sometimes you just have to give people a little room about whether or not they plan to spend a key holiday with their family, especially if these are people you care about to invite to one of the most important family holidays of the year. If you don't care enough, then you shouldn't have them at your table.

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                    "I have always hosted a large Thanksgiving with 35-50 people with family and folks who had no family down here, Everyone is used to just coming here and I was ok with it and bring who you want. "

                                    Except it seems like she is use to being a back up plan or at least flexible in her guest list. She is changing the rules this year. Maybe the waffling guests aren't comprehending the change. Maybe they have legit reasons for not knowing until the last minute (work schedule, school schedule, booking travel, their own money issues, family drama, etc.). I think talking to the people and explaining why she needs to know by a certain date works best. And make sure that they understand that things will be different this year. Give the wafflers the chance to explain why it will be last minute and together figure out the best why to deal with it. Communicate.

                                    1. re: viperlush

                                      Great answer.

                                      I agree that just honestly letting people know that the realities of the economy mean a tighter budget this year is legit and may prompt a few to firm up their plans. A compromise which allows for flexibility plus controls the budget is to have a cut of date for the meal. Anyone who finds them selves free after that date is welcome to drop by for dessert and coffee.

                                2. Wait until they arrive then tell them that they were "back-up" guests and no longer needed to fill the table, but hey, thanks for coming.

                                  1. Personally I would speak to those invited, but, if you have any reasons why you wouldn't want to do that, see if you can plan /buy for the max number of people and have a menu planned that will allow you to freeze nearly all of the leftovers to be used in a different way. Yes, you would be spending money at the start but you would be recouping in in the weeks after as you pulled some bits out to use here and there. You could freeze mashed potatoes to put on top of casserole type dishes, I make stuffing and freeze it to line pie plates with later and then bake quiches. You could do plainer styled veggies and freeze to later use in soups of casseroles.

                                    I wish you luck though. RSVPS are a difficult subject no matter what.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Astur

                                      OP stated he has spoken to them; they advised Op's dinner was back-up.

                                      You really believ e making dinner for twice as many people as have actually agreed to show up is the smart way to go since after all one can eat leftovers some other time?

                                      1. re: Astur

                                        RSVPs are not a difficult subject at all -- anyone with even the most basic manners knows what it means, and knows what to do about it. Telling someone you just don't know because something more important might come along isn't polite, well-mannered, or considerate.

                                        Yes, there are work schedules - yes, there are family emergencies -- but by a week or so before Thanksgiving, any reasonably competent adult should be able to sort out whether or not they think they can make the holiday or not, without resorting to telling the host that they're a b-level invite.

                                        Emergencies still happen -- but there's really no excuse for not having some vague idea where you might be by a week or so ahead of time.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Let me make myself clear. I can't stand people that don't RSVP and think then absolute A-holes. I am very outspoken on the subject. I don't allow people to get away with it in my life and don't think that anyone else should either. I am a very nasty person about it and will gladly tell people that wishy-wash around me that I will see them next invitation around. A lot of people can't seem to do that though. It seems like the OP couldn't find a way to deal with cracking down as I would so I provided a solution that might fit so that if she didn't feel up to the task of making people respond that she could still deal with the holiday.

                                          I sure as heck won't allow someone to tell me that I am their backup and I would have told them exactly how that made me feel when they said that to me.

                                          I provided the response that I felt seemed to fit the solution best for someone that can't say no - which could have been the right solution for someone else reading this now or in the future with the same issue on their end. It doesn't need to be done however. The point is for a poster to think about the responses given and come up with what they see as the best solution for them.

                                      2. You tell them you're not a backup plan, plain and simple. (I'm seriously astonished that they told you this!) Just tell them you need a final count by a specific day. If you don't hear from them, tell them you hope they enjoy their holiday wherever they're going to be. You need to finalize *your* plans, and can't go overboard this year due to being unemployed. If they say "Oh, I'll bring something along if I come!" repeat that you cannot expect someone to be there with a dish and then not show up. While you'd love to host them, you do need to tighten the belt a little bit this year.

                                        Or just invite them for dessert. But IMO, they're being rude not confirming far enough ahead of time, and you have the right to say you can't just have drop-ins.

                                        37 Replies
                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Honestly, I think Nov 1 is too early to expect people to RSVP for Thanksgiving. I don't think people are necessarily being rude. It's simply too early. And remember, she hasn't even given them a reply by date.

                                          I understand the OP may need an answer by now for her own reasons, and if that's the case, people may have to say to her "If you need an answer now, I'm sorry but the answer is no." But, it's possible that people think this party the OP throws every year is important to her and they may not want to disappoint her, especially when they know times have been tough for her these past couple of years without a job.

                                          But, they may ALSO have family commitments, in-laws, work commitments, etc. that they simply can't sort out by Nov 1.

                                          It is generally rude to say "You're my plan B" but if people are saying something more along the lines of, "I would really love to have Thanksgiving with you again this year, but I haven't been home for Thanksgiving in several years and my Aunt X has indicated that she may be hosting dinner this year. If that's the case, I really need to go there for Thanksgiving. I'm trying to pin her down but that could take another week or two. I know you asked for my response by Oct 31. If you need a response now, I will have to decline your generous invitation. However, if I could give you my answer by Nov 10, I may be able to attend. But, I absolutely understand if you cannot wait until then for my reply."

                                          This is the type of conversation good friends ought to be able to have with each other even though it it is technically rude. If they aren't the kind of friends you can have this kind of conversation with, I'd say now is the time to stop hosting them. And,yes, in my example above is pretty much saying "you are my plan B", but it is actually so much more complicated than that when you're talking about an important holiday such as Thanksgiving. This isn't an ordinary dinner invitation.

                                          Also, I'm assuming these people we're talking about aren't habitually rude by not RVSP'ing promptly. If they are, I think that's an entirely different kind of situation. I'd give them a firm deadline, make it clear that the deadline is firm this year (which is a change from years past) and stick to it. It's also fine to set a firm deadline for the people who aren't habitually rude and are trying to sort out family stuff. But to say people are being rude by not having confirmed by Nov 1 when they've apparently not been given any kind of reply date is kind of harsh.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            TDQ, please note I *did* say to the OP "Just tell them you need a final count by a specific day. If you don't hear from them, tell them you hope they enjoy their holiday wherever they're going to be."

                                            That specific day can be Nov. 5th. It can be Nov. 15th. Whatever date of the OP's choosing prior to her shopping day - for which she has a limited dollar amount to spend.

                                            We also don't know how the invited guests have responded, other than what the OP has given us. While it would be lovely if every invited guest responded in the manner you suggested, I know it's often not the case that everyone is so understanding of time limits AND money limits.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              To quote a friend of mine, "So, we are in violent agreement?" :)

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Make it non-violent agreement, with a glass of vino or libation of choice on the side, and let's shake on it.

                                                ::::::Elaine Benes shake-dancing:::::::

                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              The OP said there was a "group of four" who couldn't commit. Unless they are all members of the same family, I think they are waiting to see what they all feel like doing as the day approaches. They have that right, but it is rude to the OP. And she did ask if they were coming and they said they wouldn't know until the last minute.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                they she should cross them off the list.

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  I did make the assumption that "the group of four" was a family unit. Or Abba. Or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

                                                  Maybe they were trying to decline the invitation and were having difficulty doing so for whatever reason (eg., maybe they got the sense that she really wanted them to come and they felt like they had let her down by making other plans) , so said the only way they might come is in the unlikely even that their plans fell through "at the last minute." Really, this is the same as saying no and she should cross them off the list.

                                                  I still hold firm that if you don't put an RSVP date in your invite, Nov 1 is too early to expect non-family to commit to coming Thanksgiving dinner.

                                                  The OP asked if she should give them a cut-off date. Yes, yes she should. You should any time you extend an invitation where you need people to respond so you can do some advance planning. In this day and age lots of people still neglect to RVSP, but it does make it easier to cut people off after said deadline...

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    "In this day and age lots of people still neglect to RVSP"

                                                    sad but true. a potluck or a cocktail party can be one thing. a dinner (and a meaningful one at that) has tighter rules.

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      I get the feeling you are now laying the blame on the OP for not giving a firm cut off date since these folks might be "trying to decline the invitation and were having difficulty." Are these folks who aren't able to say "oh, thanks so much but we have other plans?"

                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                        what's the difference? I don't see blame being tossed around, just a reminder that some NEED a firm drop dead line or they get flaky. sad but true. even with that they still might show (or not)

                                                        the only thing I can see is that since it used to be a 35-50 person thing, maybe they don't realize a few more or less people really does matter now.

                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                          I'm not trying to blame anyone, though I can see why it might come off that way and I'm sorry if it did. I think the OP is trying to do a generous, lovely thing. I also think human interactions can be crazy-difficult sometimes and the more emotionally invested we are, the crazier and difficultier it gets. The holidays are the peak of crazy-difficult, I think.

                                                          What I've been trying to keep in mind is that these people are presumably the OP's friends (why otherwise would she invite them to her table for one of the most important holidays of the year?) so I'm giving her dear friends the benefit of the doubt as I would give my dear friends in a similar situation. I assume the best in people, especially friends, until I'm certain they are being jerks. (At which point I stop considering them my friends and cut them loose. If the OP has any inkling this is the case, she might cut her losses now.)

                                                          This is a sticky situation the OP is in that I think she might have partly avoided by including a "respond by" date in her invitation. She then missed the opportunity to provide a respond by date for the Fab Four and the Single Two when she had them on the phone.

                                                          Not to worry. I still think she can establish a respond by date. (Remember, these are her friends.) Just call the Fab Four back and say, "I realize you won't know your final plans until the last minute, but I've reviewed my meal plan and realize I need your response by X date. This is a departure from the past where I've been able to accommodate guests even at the last minute, but I'm on a tighter budget this year."

                                                          If they insist they can't know by X date, then I think she just has to gently uninvite them. "Oh, that's too bad, I'm sorry you won't be able to join us. Well, I hope you enjoy whatever you end up doing for Thanksgiving. I hope you can make it to my dinner next year."

                                                          If that feels too harsh to her (because, yes, these people are her friends), maybe she can do as someone suggested above and invite them to drop by for pie and coffee after the meal. And then (very important) name a time. And if she needs them to bring dessert, ask them to. And then I'd follow this up with a nice, handwritten note (or email I suppose) with the time of dessert clearly mentioned so there's no last minute confusion about what time they are supposed to show up and what they need to bring.

                                                          There's no reason to let rude or indecisive people, even rude or indecisive friends, (or friends with rude or indecisive or complicated families) blow your budget and ruin your meal. You just have to be clear and specific and firm.

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            I think that's the crux of it -- in prior years, 6 people out of 50 who didn't show is roughly 10% of the total...no biggie, and even professional caterers plan for a variance of 10% from the expected total.

                                                            But 6 out of 12 is now 50% of the total -- and makes a stunning difference in ingredients, plates, prep time, and cost -- and it IS a big hairy deal. Dinner for 6 is a cakewalk -- dinner for 12 becomes a consideration.

                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      November 1st too early? I have asked alot of people what they are doing for T-giving and they all know.

                                                      1. re: Linda VH

                                                        I'd say by the 15th or so is more than fair -- Floridagirl won't be doing much shopping before that date -- hell, Thanksgiving is at MY house, and I don't have all the details nailed down. I've sent the date out for those who have work issues to sort (with crossed fingers that they can sort it) -- but I won't send invites for another week or so yet.

                                                        1. re: Linda VH

                                                          My fiance's famy won't even discuss it until the week before.

                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                            you mean that they can't even decide go or no-go? We've had plenty of years that we had no idea what was on the menu until a day or two before (other than the turkey, natch) -- but we knew that we were getting together and about what time!

                                                            That's where I'd just send my regrets and go somewhere that has some idea what they're doing.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              They won't discuss whether or not they are having something until a week before at the earliest. The menu doesn't change they only make the same exact thing for every special ocassion dinner all year. Not going is not an option. My fily keeps working around their craziness.

                                                            2. re: melpy

                                                              Sometimes my family drags it out this far, too, and I find it maddening. I end up having to turn down a lot of invitations from lovely people like Floridagirl (including my in laws) while waiting for my family to sort the plans out. (But, notice, I RSVP "no thank you", instead of holding out or simply not replying.)
                                                              '
                                                              But the truth is, I love my family. I WANT to spend Thanksgiving with them. I have lots and lots of amazing friends who are wonderful cooks and delightful company. But, I can't think of a single friend whose table I'd prefer to have Thanksgiving at than my family's. To me, Thanksgiving is a family holiday first. If I could host, I would, but distance makes that a complete non-starter as many are unable to travel.

                                                              We used to hold a "stranded friends" Thanksgiving every year of the kind that the OP describes. But, as people got married and started their own families, we encountered more and more scheduling conflicts. Eventually, we just scheduled our stranded friends Thanksgiving dinner for a different day. Now we take turns hosting it and the date shifts around. And, sadly, it doesn't happen every year any more. We are all nostalgic for the old days, but we realize that we've grown up and our priorities and obligations are different than they were in our young and single days.

                                                              I'm sure my in laws find it frustrating that we decline their invitation to Thanksgiving dinner nearly every year (because they often have a need to know a headcount before my family gets its act together), only to learn after the fact we spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home. Actually, I do know they find it frustrating because they whine about it. But, they need to start their planning earlier (which I understand) and the rule at our house is, "If you need an answer right now, the answer is no." I have no problem turning them down for Thanksgiving (even every single year if it shakes out that way) because my in-laws always get Christmas.

                                                              Feel free to run holiday dinners in accordance with your schedule and your rules, but don't expect that I'm going to spend every single holiday with you. And the tighter the schedule and the more demands you make (such as requiring everyone bring a dish and requiring the dish be a certain color as was once required of me), the more likely it is the answer will be no. Sometimes, we want to march to our own drum, thank you very much. And by the way, your turkey is really dry. And pork chops and beans is not a vegetable. And jello is not a salad.

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                but don't expect that I'm going to spend every single holiday with you.>>>>
                                                                When I married my first wife, my EX MIL announced that she hosted ALL the Jewish Holidays and that BIL hosted Thanksgiving and wife and I were expected to be there.
                                                                My reply: We'll see you every THIRD year. One year for you, one year at my parents and one year we host, END of DISCUSSION.
                                                                Getting rid of ex-MIL was the best part of my divorce. I still am on good terms with ex-wife (no kids), BUT have never spoken to or seen my ex-MIL from the day I served divorce papers on my ex.

                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                  RE: Your ex MIL, yeah, some families don't understand that their family changes and they need to adapt as their children grow up, move away, and/or start their own families.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    Sounds like my aunt's new family. We were TOLD that Thanksgiving is her MIL's holiday and they were expected. I think she also claims Mother's Day.

                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    OK, I just snort-laughed at this, TDG:

                                                                    "And by the way, your turkey is really dry. And pork chops and beans is not a vegetable. And jello is not a salad."

                                                                    :-)

                                                                    And *totally* agree with you that once you become your *own* family, you cannot spend holidays with in-laws or your own family every single time. Most often, my sister and BIL come to my house, because of a bit of conflict amongst his family. But there are times that Thanksgiving is just me and Mom - my sister and BIL head to their cabin in Maine and spend it alone. And love it that way. And Mom and I are OK with that as well. His family? Not so much - which is why my sister and BIL come over to *my* place - because we don't expect them every holiday!

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      The dividing up of holidays is really stressful for me because I hate to disappoint anyone, but I'm a grown woman and have my own opinions and goals for my little family. People are so invested in and can be so entitled about holidays. And the entitlement only gets worse once babies get introduced to the mix.

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        Yup. The entitlement thing - my sister said her MIL and SIL "claimed" holidays for several years - claimed them in August. Even after my sister and BIL bought their new house and wanted to host T'giving or Christmas - nope, they were claimed. Finally, my sister just said they were having T'giving and her in-laws came over for dessert after having dinner at *their* house - because "that's the way it's always been done." Absolutely no respect for my sister and BIL having their own house now. After that, they just don't bother. They switch off between my house sometimes stopping in at her in-laws, or they go up to their cabin, as I noted earlier.

                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            You can pick your friends, but not your relatives (except in-laws).
                                                                            Over 40 years ago when my sister married, my mother called sister's MIL and worked out a deal. Even numbered years were Bagelman years, odd numbered years were in-law years. We have made this deal with our kids generation as they married as well. So all the cousins on the Bageman side know if it's 2012 then the Bagelman family hosts, we just rotate which family member hosts. Next year everyone gets to go to the in-laws and we host my wife's family.

                                                                            The best thing about this is that my kids still get holidays with their married cousins and offspring every other year. We tend to host more often than my siblings as we live in a central location, have a larger home (for both accomodating overnight guests and sitting a large group in one room), and don't mind the work or expense.

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                the issue is that the parties involved didn't have unreasonable territory issues. well done.

                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      "requiring the dish be a certain color"

                                                                      All I can think of is Epicurious having a search option using paint chips to achieve the exact color requested!

                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                        HA! Well, the most frustrating thing is that this requirement was demanded of me pretty much at the last minute (maybe 3 days before?) and well after I'd committed to bringing a particular dish. It was a weird request (they probably read about it on some blog or in a ladies magazine and thought it would be "fun") and one that has never been repeated since, thank goodness.

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          My evil twin would be very tempted to just spray paint the dish...

                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                            Food coloring was made for exactly this sort of request.

                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        I have to ask, what color? Was it some autumn-hued theme?

                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            Hmm - deviled eggs, summer squash, corn, a bowl of Cap't Crunch

                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                              Or a banana peel for the one making the request to slip on? '-)

                                                              2. I think we're making this more complicated than it needs to be.

                                                                For years, Floridagirl has been as faithful and dependable as a Swiss watch, opening her doors to everyone and feeding whomever came along.

                                                                For the past two years, times have been tight for her, and she's *still* welcoming people to her home, but would like to not overspend.

                                                                So...if her guests can't commit, or won't commit, or feel that by committing they might be hurting someone else's feelings, it doesn't mean that Floridagirl can't commit to a game plan.

                                                                I would plan to cook for the guests who have committed by, say, Nov 16th, and bake an extra pie or two for the ones who may or may not show up.

                                                                "Welcoming everyone" doesn't pay the electric bill, nor the gas bill, dear Floridagirl.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: pinehurst

                                                                  All I would add --so there are no surprise last minute drop ins-- is that this year is slightly different from years past in that that Nov 16 (or whatever date) is a firm cut-off.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                2. I've been on both sides of this (more at Christmas than Thanksgiving) on more than one occasion with famly members unable to decide what they want to do and when, but when they decide what they decide, then I had better be there. I've invited people and gotten the same response from them.

                                                                  I'm assuming that everyone will know what they are doing at least within two days of Thanksgiving (although in some families the dynamics don't even allow for that.) I suggest that the OP shop for 10, but make some of it something that can stay in the freezer if the extra 4 don't show up, for example in addition to the turkey, get an extra half turkey or favored pieces. Maybe a small ham. It's going to stretch the budget a little bit right now, but the week after thanksgiving, or the week before Christmas when everything is crazy, it will be good to know you have something on hand on that day you weren't able to shop. Same for the sides. Most of them freeze pretty well, maybe have a big bag of mixed vegetables in the freezer as well for 'just in case', and you can never go wrong having an extra box or two of stovetop stuffing in the pantry for emergencies. I've been known to stretch the mashed potatoes (ok, double them) with instant. Threw in more than the usual amount of butter and some cream cheese I happened to have and all was well. Extra guests were expected - asked in fact - to bring extra wine or other adult beverage.

                                                                  If perchance you are like one relative of mine who fortunately we are all very fond of , but who insists on tossing all uneaten food in the trash immediately after supper is over (yes really) then you have a problem. Otherwise I'm sure it will all work out somehow. If all 12 show up, you just slice the turkey a little bit thinner and make a bigger pot of rice. Drat, that probably means no turkey sandwiches for breakfast the next morning.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                    I am also reminded of someone who pretty much insisted I show up for a holiday meal. I told her that I had two other commitments, but I would do my best to try to stop by for a few minutes if at all possible, but I could not possibly be there for the meal. I called twice that day and left messages that I was not going to be able to get there. Two days later she 'accosted' me and told me that she had held dinner for 45 minutes waiting for me to arrive. Another friend who was there verified that. The other friend also verified that she heard (they all heard) both my phone messages, but the hostess had dismmissed them saying - oh, I'm sure he will be here. Sometimes you just can't win.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        Yes, this is what I was trying to say (somewhere in all of my blather!) above, that you have to make sure that people haven't effectively said "no" but that you refused to accept "no" as an answer. People might be trying to let you down gently.

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                      2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                        wow K-Man. talk about P/A tactics. yeesh. remember: water - duck's back. water - duck's back. and if ever it comes up again just say a firm "NO but thx very much"

                                                                        I hope this person has other redeemable qualities.

                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                          a wonderful caring person with some deep issues attached. i was reinvited the following year and gave a simple no without elaboration. she still told people i might be stopping by. i also let two others who would be there know that i would not be able to attend.

                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                            sigh, yeah I have friends like that. not many but I almost never 'cut' people, I just get wary (weary?)

                                                                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                          That is ridiculous. I hold a party each year which is somewhat open house but somewhat dinner because we do appetizer, meal and dessert not all at te same time. If you decide not to come in time for eating you get whatever leftovers I can convince the masses to hold off on.

                                                                      3. I HATE it when that happens! I would call them, if they say they still don't know, then I'd say, "Okay. Well, I've got to do my shopping and I don't want a lot of leftovers, so maybe next year. Have a good time whatever you do." And that would be that!

                                                                        I mean, if you analyze what they're saying, it boils down to: "Well, we'd really rather go somewhere else for a free Thanksgiving meal, but if nothing else turns up, we'll come to your house." People THAT rude deserve Thanksgiving dinner at Taco Bell!

                                                                        1. My advice is to cook the amount of food you feel is necessary without figuring in the ones who have not committed. In the end, you probably will have more than enough food anyway, based on the comments you have made thus far, even if they do decide to show up.......don't let the lack of proper responses spoil your day or efforts...

                                                                          My next advice is to drop the ones who did not RSVP properly...from next years guest list.

                                                                          1. I would be really insulted if someone told me that I'm their back-up plan. That said, to maintain a pleasant relationship, I would call them back before my shopping trip to get a firm answer. If they still can't give one, I would tell them they are welcome for coffee and dessert, but I need a firm number for dinner, so they should plan on dinner elsewhere.

                                                                            1. It's frustrating for sure - I do or have done the same for many years (orphans thankgiving). Lots of my friends are always waiting for the coolest option - which may or maynot be my gig.

                                                                              The best way to handle this is to decide what you can afford to make and make it - I let my friends know - I am making a 15 lbs turkey, mashed potatos, etc. I usually make a lot of appetizers as well. So I they don't show for the whole day perhaps they can stop by for some drinks and nibble during the day. The randomness of it all kind of adds to the day in my opionion.

                                                                              The problem is that the folks you've invited likely don't cook and likely don't consider what goes into making a large dinner. It's like trying to push a string un-fortunately once you send the invite it's kind of out of your hands...

                                                                              1. I've held off replying, but after dinner with my brother and SIL last night I must.
                                                                                At dinner, my SIL asked if they could come to our Thanksgiving dinner. My wife and I immediately replied yes, but questioned why after 40 years of hosting SIL's family they wanted to come to us.
                                                                                My Brother said, that SIL's family won't commit to being there, maybe they'll stop by. So Bro and SIL gave a deadline of October 31 to make a decision, no reply.

                                                                                Today, my brother called and said SIL's niece called to say she and her family (8 of them) would be at SIL's for Turkey. Bro told them to find a restaurant somewhere because he and SIL won't be feeding these ingrates who couldn't commit!

                                                                                39 Replies
                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                  Bagelman, that was actually quite polite. I would have been tempted not to answer the phone, not to answer their message, and let them arrive at a dark empty house on Thanksgiving. Perhaps a note on the door - 'sorry we couldn't be here, happy thanksgiving'

                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                    I think I would have replied, "Oh shoot. I wish I'd known sooner! Unfortunately, we made other plans when no one RVSP'd by Oct 31!"

                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                      unfortunately, these outlaws would just break in and raid the freezer and pantry and booze. It's happened before. Glad they're not my relatoves.

                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                        UPDATE.....
                                                                                        Thursday 2PM, we were just starting our appetizers and my Brother's cell phone rang, he excused himself from the table and went to answer it. It was SIL's niece and she wanted to know where Bro and SIL were. Niece and family had driven from NY were at Bro's home and no one was there. Seems neice did not believe Bro when he told her to find a restaurant since they never replied.
                                                                                        Bro told niece that the local McDs was open and to have a nice drive back to NY. SIl was happy and announced that maybe they won't have to see the neice and family in December either.
                                                                                        I just smiled to myself and said nothing. I wasn't inviting them to my home to spoil my holiday either.

                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                          Wow! Good for your brother and SIL! I cannot believe that the niece still thought that dinner would be at your brother's house after being *told* they weren't hosting it. I can only imagine the conversation in the car driving back to NY. ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            Am I the only one who finds this sad?

                                                                                            1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                              Well, they drove down despite having been told there was no event taking place.

                                                                                              I find that mostly dumb, not sad.

                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                Exactly, lingua.

                                                                                                1. bagelman's brother's niece/family ignored the Oct. 31st RSVP deadline.

                                                                                                2. When they finally called on Nov. 5th, bagelman's brother told them that they would NOT be hosting a dinner. bagelman's brother told them all to enjoy a restaurant meal out on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                3. So the fact that the niece and her family *also* chose to ignore that answer and drive from NY to wherever bagelman's brother and his wife lives is entirely on the niece and her family.

                                                                                                Pretty cut and dried to me.

                                                                                              2. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                The brother and SIL not being there I do not find sad. I do find it sad that grown people can show so little respect toward others. They were given a deadline, they did not commit and were therefore told dinner would not be had. Why should Bagelman's brother and SIL feel bad about any of this?

                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    We have so many ways we can have conflict - with friends, with family, with complete strangers. I do find it very sad that an occasion like Thanksgiving (insert Christmas, Passover, Arbor Day, etc. here) can bring cause division and stress.Look, I do get that sisters-in-law can be the spawn of satan, so I am not going to stand in judgement about anyone else's family relationships. God only knows how I feel about my own two. But I do find this whole thread upsetting. I should probably stop reading it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                      I understand what you mean.

                                                                                                      In this case, since the niece never replied to the uninvitation (wherein Bro and SIL indicated they weren't going to be hosting and that she should find another way to spend Thanksgiving), I worry she didn't receive it.

                                                                                                      I don't know how far she drove, but it seems a sad way to have a family member (and her husband) who a month ago would have been welcome at the table have to be left in the cold, so to speak. Also, I'm a little distressed by the SIL announcing she was happy about the whole thing. If this is how she wants terminate her relationship with her niece (since she's concluding she's off the hook for future holidays also), I guess that's her choice, but its not the most graceful or direct way of going about it.

                                                                                                      I'm not defending the niece's lack of prompt response to the RVSP, that was inconsiderate of course, but I do find the whole thing sad.

                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        Seems like a lack of respect from all in my opinion..... as you indicate, the niece was welcomed at one point, so it's not quite the same as if there were other family issues involved that would preclude their attendance....it seems the elders were almost relishing the outcome.

                                                                                                        I doubt there was a lesson to learned here....only more angst at future holidays......not gatherings, as I suspect there will not be any..

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          "Today, my brother called and said SIL's niece called to say she and her family (8 of them) would be at SIL's for Turkey. Bro told them to find a restaurant somewhere because he and SIL won't be feeding these ingrates who couldn't commit!"............. That seems pretty clear to me. Its bizarre that they would just show up after receiving this message.

                                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                            But they never replied to it, per bagelman. So it's unclear that they got it, either literally or figuratively. And this story is being told to us third or fourth hand, so while it seems clear to us what was communicated, apparently it wasn't all that clear or direct.

                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            TDQ...as I posted above the neice WAS TOLD that bro and SIL were not hosting and to make other arrangements. No need to respond to this ORAL instruction via the telephone. No email, no voicemail, no text. She knew perfectly well that my bro said to find a restaurant, that since she didn't respond to the original invite, he and SIL made plans not to host.

                                                                                                            We, including bro and SIL are NOT sad. It's time SIL's neice grows up and stops expecting the world to revolve around her.

                                                                                                            BTW, SIL is 70 years old and had reached the point where she no longer is willing to be taken for granted by her brothers' assorted children and grandchildren (SIL and Bro have no kids). Bro thinks the niece figured SIL would cave in and welcome them with open arms, wake up and smell the coffee.

                                                                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                              Well, I wouldn't really say having 10 family members, including children spend Thanksgiving at McDonald's after a long drive is cause for celebration or happiness. It's not really in the spirit of the holiday or hospitality in general. But, only you know your family. If these people are so despicable that they deserved to spend Thanksgiving driving in the car for no reason for rvsping four days late (when no one else rsvped at all, if I recall correctly) and then apparently miscontruing the communication from your brother as some kind of joke, then I wonder why your brother and SIL even invited them in the first place. Good riddance, I guess.

                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                TDQ..from the residence in NY to my brother's home takes 40 minutes in the car, no big deal, Niece was repeatedly asked for months (including twice in my presence and was given a final deadline which she ignored. The other members of SIL's side of family who had been invited had already declined. This niece seems to have a sense of entitlement. Three years ago when asked if she and family were attending xmas dinner at SIL's home niece replied that 'we're going to a restaurant, but we'll stop by and pick up our presents.'

                                                                                                                As to why my SIl invited them in the first place, she is the last surviving member of her generation in her family and feels an obligation to invite both of her deceased brothers' offspring and their families.

                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                  You're right, 40 minutes is no big deal. I was envisioning hours in the car, perhaps because that's how far I am from nearest family.

                                                                                                                  I didn't realize there were several invitations before the final deadline. With all of that background I guess I don't feel very bad.

                                                                                                                  I hope a positive change comes from all of this.

                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              TDQ, read bagelman's original post about this situation. He said "Today, my brother called and said SIL's niece called to say she and her family (8 of them) would be at SIL's for Turkey. Bro told them to find a restaurant somewhere...."

                                                                                                              SIL's niece CALLED (5 days late) and was told that bagel-bro was now *not* hosting dinner. So she knew. There was absolutely no "not receiving the uninvitation". She heard it from the bagel-bro's mouth.

                                                                                                              ETA: I see bagelman has also re-explained his original post as well...

                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                His initial recounting of the events was not as cut and dried to me. Initially he indicated that "SIL's family" did not RSVP after having been given a 10/31 deadline, but that the niece called four days late to RSVP. He now says the other members of the family declined, which actually is rsvp'ing.

                                                                                                                First of all, I envisioned a bigger, more complicated extended family group than just the niece and her children (though, the niece, her husband and 6 kids is certainly plenty), but a group that included other members of the SIL's family such as perhaps the SIL's siblings and their spouses, etc.

                                                                                                                So, I envisioned a situation where the niece was the only member of the family who rsvp'd, albeit (rudely) 4 days late. I envisioned a harried young woman with a large family for whom time simply slipped away or who was trying to sort out Thanksgiving arrangements with other family members. and rsvp'd late, when no one else in the family would commit. (Again, giving people bagelman's bro and SIL care enough about to invite to their table for 40 years the benefit of the doubt.)

                                                                                                                I was further confused by his comment today that they "since they never replied." I (not remembering the uninvitation had been delivered via a phone call) had thought he meant that the niece never replied to the uninvitation. Now I realize that the "never replied part" was referring to the fact that the niece had replied to the rsvp four days late. Replying late is rude but it's still replying (and it's rude, no doubt about it) but I had recalled that she had replied to the invite, but late, so that's why I misread that sentence to mean that she hadn't replied to the uninvite, which led me to worry she didn't know she'd been uninvited.

                                                                                                                I did not realize that there had been repeated attempts to pin her down nor did I realize the other members of the family had rsvp'd no and she wasnt the only one with a shred of manners but the lone holdout.

                                                                                                                I have more to say but baby is cranky and awake from nap.

                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  OK, I'm back. Don't know why baby is so cranky. Long holiday weekend throwing everyone off schedule, I think, but now they are playing hide and seek.

                                                                                                                  Anyway, now that I understand the situation more, I can understand why SIL and bagel-bro (ha!) feel vindicated: they figured reluctant-to-commit-but-gift-happy niece would just show up with her brood despite having been told that other plans had been made. And they were right. Had they been home, she would have tried to impose on them. Under the circumstances, I think I too would have been glad I had a place to be other than home, and company to enjoy other than the niece's. I think it's unfortunate the niece (who I now imagine as being quite a bit older than I originally imagined -- definitely old enough to know better!) and her family had to learn this lesson this way, by having McD's for Thanksgiving and an hour and a half of wasted time on the road, but let's all hope she actually DID learn a lesson.

                                                                                                                  Now, on to the Christmas discussion: bagel-bro and bagel-SIL host the niece and her brood for Christmas every year in addition to Thanksgiving? Wow, that's a lot of hosting of an ungrateful crowd. I hope things get better!

                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    it is a lot of hosting, but SIL had 2 brothers. One died at age 40 leaving kids and an ex-wife, the other died at 45 leaving kids and an ex-wife. SIL hosting was the only way she got these cousins together, as the 2 ex's didn't see a reason for the kids to see the dead fathers' family. But over the years, SIL was taken for granted and expected to just cook and serve more and more people with no help and no thanks. Familial guilt only goes so far.

                                                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                  I kinda like the phrase bagel-bro...

                                                                                                      2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                        Back in '99, we had a major sweep of the older generation. The next holiday season, I had a big party which included many cousins affected by the deaths. All subsequent efforts to include them has resulted in lies ("Yes, they'd be there with potato salad.") But no one ever showed up, which made me very sad since we grew up with an ostensibly strong family.

                                                                                                        1. re: sr44

                                                                                                          I buried my last grandparent in 1991 and hosted the after funeral meal (as I live closest to the cenetery). That meal was the next to last last time I ever saw or heard from my cousins on that side of the family. They were sent invitations to weddings, etc. but never attended. Finally, in 2005 my siblings and I decided to stop wasting the stamps. When one of those cousins died, I asked the surviving sibling why they never attended anything. The answer, just because we had common grandparents doesn't mean we have anything in common, we only attended things to make the grandparents happy.
                                                                                                          This all goes back to my original post that one can choose one's friends but not one's relatives. BUT we still drank a remembrance toast yesterday to those who are no longer with us, and ate some of their favorite holiday foods.

                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                            I suppose families need to subdivide at some point, but that's a hard way to do it.

                                                                                                            I encountered a cousin in law in the supermarket a month ago,and he showed no sign of recognition.

                                                                                                          2. re: sr44

                                                                                                            I'm sorry--that's very sad. I fear that will happen in our family, too.

                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              It's almost worse than the inevitable losses. We don't have to celebrate every holiday together, but there are neutral ones like Memorial Day where we can get together.

                                                                                                              1. re: sr44

                                                                                                                I know what you mean and my anticipation of the inevitable scattering of the family after the grandparents pass on is one reason why I endure some family insanity at the holidays. They may be crazy, but they are all I've got and they won't be around forever.

                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  It is hardly the end of the world for some families not to get together on holidays. After my mother died, no one in my family did anything together again on Christmas or Thanksgiving. Weddings and funerals were enough, and nowadays, I don't even bother with those.

                                                                                                                  I'd *much* rather be by myself, or with friends, on holidays than be forced into serving some false ideal of togetherness with people with whom I have nothing but parentage in common.

                                                                                                      3. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                        That's funny. My situation is that all of my family has passed away so it's all friends. However, I am Polish on my mothers' side and the rule always was, in our house, if there are no leftovers, someone went hungry, and I believe that. Also, there is rarely a day here without dinner guests so even though there are two of us, I always cook for four.

                                                                                                        1. re: Floridagirl

                                                                                                          I also come from the school of abundant cooking. Shortage of food wold never be a problem with additional guests. This past week when most of our area lost power with Hurricane Sandy, we were feeding/housing up to 50 people per day.
                                                                                                          BUT>>>>comes a holiday and a formal table is set. It I have set china. crystal, sterling for 12 guests in the dining room, I'm not interested in having 4 louts who couldn't respond/commit show up and expect that I can either sqeeze them in at the table, ruin the holiday feeling by having to use mismatching dinnerware, or set another table in a different room. This is nottaking someone in in an emergency, they are just plain rude.

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              DQ..we live in a house that was built in 1803 and constantly added on to over the years. My wife is a designer/builder/realtor, and in many ways our home is her portfolio. We have 12 rooms on the first floor and a 7 room apartment upstairs, as well as a studio over the detached garage. So with 7+ bedrooms, 5+ bathrooms and three kitchens, 4 fireplaces with spits and ovens,outside grills and pizza oven, a large crowd is doable, just a lot of work. (I'd love to move to a smaller place, but we own this just for taxes and it's cheaper than rent would be in a 3 BR apartment). Our washing machines and dryers ran round the clock. Half my youngest daughter's classmates either moved in or showed up to shower and do their hair.
                                                                                                              Today, after most of the town finally got power back, we got hit with a noreater and 10 inches of snow. School is out, and kids started arriving at 8am. I'm sure they'll be in the hot tub and rolling in the snow. I'd be pulling out my hair, if I had any left.
                                                                                                              I made 6 gallons of chicken soup yesterday and dumplings and noodles, let them serve themselves.

                                                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                Now that is hospitality! I am sure so many people were very grateful.

                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                  You. Are. Da. Bomb-Diggity. ::::hearts and musical notes and flowers:::::

                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                      Your children obviously learned generosity, empathy and compassion from example! Kudos to you and Mrs. Bagelman.
                                                                                                                      Your home and family will be warmly remembered in a lot of Sandy recollections.

                                                                                                            2. Floridagirl, I'm just wondering how it's going. Have you been able to decide how to move forward? We're basically two weeks away.

                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                              1. If they do not confirm, within a set time, I would call them, to make sure that they got the invitation. At that point, I would ask for either a refusal, or confirmation.

                                                                                                                The mail, or e-mails, and even text-messages, can be lost, or overlooked. I know that I do it, with too great a regularity, and I then have to issue an apology. However, when asked, I will either commit, with apology, or accept, and ask what I can bring.

                                                                                                                My poor wife encounters too many non-RSVP's, and must juggle tables at many events. The commitment is just not acknowledged, as it once was. Then, when committed, too many are just no-shows.

                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                  Hunt, I've been reading your posts long enough to know that a no-show for one of your gatherings would be their loss.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                    Hunt, I feel for you and your wife. I am 42, younger than you I believe, but I don't know what happened or who raised these people in my generation who don't RSVP. I have encountered it mostly with my children's parties. It is bad enough when you are rude to a host, but to disappoint an eager child is really incomprehensible. I think some people have never hosted something important to them and therefore don't understand it 'from the inside out'. Anyway, I was so incensed over the RSVP issue once that I did some internet research on the topic and found that people were saying, now you can count on 40-60% of people don't respond. It's not even that they are interpreting that as 'regrets only' - it's like if they can't go, they just disregard it. I have taken to writing on invitations, "we would love to see you - please let us know whether or not you are coming, so we can plan". I would have considered that crass in the past, but I've had a better response rate with that than "RSVP".