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empty handed

you've been told in no uncertain terms that you're not to bring anything to easter dinner. no food. no flowers. no wine. no nothing. she means it. it goes against every fiber of your moral being to show up empty handed. what do you do? and if you bring something.....what is it?

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  1. I do not bring anything, then send a thank you note after the fact. If the hostess is really, truly serious about not wanting anything, it is inconsiderate to disregard her wishes.

    34 Replies
    1. re: mpjmph

      thanks. i think i'm just looking for permission to honor her wishes.

      1. re: eLizard

        It was the "no uncertain terms" that convinced me.

        1. re: eLizard

          "no uncertain terms" means
          "no uncertain terms"

          imho, you not only have permission to honor her wishes, you have the OBLIGATION to honor her wishes.

        2. re: mpjmph

          Yep, if the hostess is explicit that she wants nothing, you must honor her wishes.

          Totally agree about a thank-you note afterwards. Depending upon how close of a friend and how elaborate of a dinner she prepared, I might be include a gift card for something I knew she would enjoy at a time she could choose to enjoy it.

          ETA: I think one of the problems of bringing a small gift to be opened later is that it can cause other guests who honor the "absolutely nothing" request to feel awkward, which can make the hostess uncomfortable.

          1. re: jlhinwa

            I love receiving a hand written thank you note from a guest. If you want to do more, perhaps have some flowers delivered (after the event). Personally I wouldn't do a gift card because to me it seems like you're paying someone back for dinner (like insisting on helping cover the check at a restaurant when you've been invited out as a guest).

            1. re: Chatsworth

              Good point, though I was not thinking restaurant gift card, rather something that I know would be used and appreciated based on the recipient's interests. For example, a gift card to a local nursery for a friend who is a gardening enthusiast, or a gift to a craft store for someone who loves to scrapbook, etc.

              I am the odd hostess who does not want flowers at any time because of the allergic fits I get when they are in my house. Such a bummer!

              1. re: jlhinwa

                it's not that rare an allergy.
                lots of people are allergic to flowers.
                i've even had a dog that was allergic to flowers.
                the problem is that once the guest waltzes the flowers into your house, the kind of thorough cleaning that needs to be done that night or the next day is truly burdensome.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  but if you're good enough friends to be invited over for Easter dinner, you've probably already heard about allergies and sensitivities in prior conversations.

                  This is not a business dinner, nor a dinner to which you invite people you don't know very well.

                  All of my friends bring flowers/chocolates/wine/lovely little cookies, as I do to their house.

                  Really, I am never, ever going to upbraid someone for having a little politesse.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    when i'm invited to easter dinner, it means that there will be guests there that i DON'T know very well.
                    i don't make easter dinners because i prefer smaller undertakings.
                    when i am invited to easter dinners i always bring whatever the hostess specifies that i should bring.

                    (one time i was even given her elderly mother's broccoli salad recipe because the mother was getting too old to make it. of course, i followed the recipe EXACTLY)

                    being polite is being willing to do what the hostess needs/asks you to do, and refraining from doing whatever the heck YOU feel like doing instead.
                    it's simply a matter of saying to yourself that you can get through this event with having the hostess' needs being met instead of your own.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      if you have that enormous an allergy problem, then you need to tell people upfront that you have an allergy problem -- just like you need to enquire about allergies so you don't serve up something that will trigger a reaction in your guests.

                      It takes an incredible lack of politesse to manage to get pissed off for others' display of politesse.

                      You write this as though you would actually bitch someone out -- in front of other guests -- for having DARED to follow the norms of society and bring something to express their appreciation.

                      Even if it's something as off-the-wall as a hand-knitted angora nose warmer -- be gracious to your guests. They're your guests.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        NO
                        it should NOT be necessary for ANYONE to divulge anybody's medical problems in order to justify a simple request.

                        YOUR ACTION would be the impolite one.
                        you were given all the information you needed to be a polite, agreeable, guest.

                        you are not invited as a medical consultant.

                        why is your desire more important that respecting the simple desire of your hostess that has been COMMUNICATED to you?

                        i certainly don't see your actions as being "polite"
                        call it what you want, but "polite?"
                        not in my book.
                        completely dismissing the clearly communicated, simple request of your hostess, not too polite.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          I'd bring you a big ol' bouquet of flowers AND a bottle of wine just to watch the apoplectic fit that ensued.
                          Pass the popcorn.
                          Uncork the wine.

                            1. re: monavano

                              Finally, *someone* admits what really goes on in the mind of the aggressive gifter.

                              Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mona Vano.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                Oh, if it will make your head explode, I'm bringing it.

                              2. re: monavano

                                there would be no fit.
                                the stuff would be put by the mailbox near my house.
                                i would post about it in the FREE section of craigslist.
                                both items would disappear in an hour or two.
                                you'd be surprised at how many people monitor that section day and night.
                                many are willing to spend more in gas to get something for free than the item is worth.

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          <but if you're good enough friends to be invited over for Easter dinner, you've probably already heard about allergies and sensitivities in prior conversations.>

                          Not necessarily so, unfortunately. And that doesn't mean if a person knows it that they remember. I don't know how many years it took Mr. jlh to remember that flowers on my birthday was not a kindness.

                          ETA: Reply to sunshine above.

                          1. re: jlhinwa

                            I have allergies in my household that leave one or more of us miserable if those allergens are brought into our house.

                            It's my house and I have to live there, and the allergens remain long after the event -- therefore everyone who is invited to share my space for a while is told what is off-limits.

                            I'm not sharing medical history -- I am simply stating that we are allergic to x, and cannot have it in the house. None of my friends would willingly cause me discomfort, so the allergens stay outside.

                            (funny you say stargazer lilies below -- that's one of the worst for me. I love how beautiful they are, so the only ones in my house are silk)

                            It's no different than telling someone you're allergic to nuts of seafood.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              <funny you say stargazer lilies>

                              I'm not allergic to flowers, thankfully, because gardening is one of my passions.
                              When someone, inevitably, brings them to my home I, sadly, have to put them outdoors, I ignore them & they die quickly.
                              I don't have the heart to throw them immediately in the trash when someone has been thoughtful enough to bring them to me.
                              They're beautiful but deadly.

                            2. re: jlhinwa

                              Easter night update: we had my brother-in-law, my nephews, my BIL's live-in girlfriend and son (my future ex-SIL #4, I'm afraid...he picks great ladies, marries them, and then they wise up....sigh), plus another family for Easter dinner.

                              BIL asked what they could bring and I told him we had everything covered, but if they would like, they could pick up an extra bottle of wine. They showed up with a lovely bottle of wine which was consumed with dinner and...da da da...a potted Easter lily. BIL has known me for 33 years. Oh well. I put it in a prominent place in the living room and then took it outside when they left. I am sure it was his GF's idea as she has lovely manners and was very appreciative that I was cooking for everyone (plus doing an egg hunt and egg dying activity for the kids). No way was I going to make her feel badly for bringing something that she didn't know I am allergic to.

                              Other couple asked what they could bring and I told them we had everything covered, but thanks for the offer. She made a large batch of krumkakke, a Norwegian cookie that is very laborious to make. It was lovely and I served it along with the other dessert we had.

                              Even though both unexpected items were not necessary and in the case of the lily, problematic for me, I very much appreciated the kindness shown.

                              1. re: jlhinwa

                                it would have killed me to make her feel bad, but I'd have had to put the lily outside as I thanked her profusely -- I adore them, but they reciprocate by making me sneeze and cough violently until they're gone.

                                Then I'd have smacked my brother upside the head because he knew better and let her walk into a potentially embarrassing situation and didn't say anything.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  It is actually my BIL (husband's brother and a royal PITA--thus the reason for 3 lovely ex-wives and he is only 45). The new lady in his life is very lovely and this was the first big family holiday dinner we've done since they moved in together. I am sure she was a bit nervous--she knows we are still very close to each of his ex-wives. Talk about awkward. Of course, he is the one who should feel awkward but he is such an a-hole that he doesn't get it.

                                  Anyway, there is just no way I would do anything other than to make her feel 150% welcome, even though that meant doubling up on antihistamines and sucking it up for me. Thankfully, today is the day our housecleaners come and I've asked them to do extra dusting/vaccuming. (Yeah, what kind of moron host has guests over the day *before* the housecleaner comes?!?!)

                                  1. re: jlhinwa

                                    Smart ones, that's who! I tidy up before people come but AWAYS wait for after to do a deep clean.

                                    1. re: Gloriaa

                                      Yeah, that's it. I am smart! I tidy up before hand but don't waste time deep-cleaning anything except kitchen counter/cooking surfaces and bathrooms. I don't even vacuum before guests come over.

                                      I can't wait to get home tonight to a perfectly clean and tidy house!

                                2. re: jlhinwa

                                  <No way was I going to make her feel badly for bringing something that she didn't know I am allergic to>

                                  This is what I've been attempting to visualize. Someone is invited to my home, they ask me what they can bring. I say, "just bring yourself", they thoughtfully bringing me something to show their appreciation, I open the door and there's those damn lilies that make my eyes water like crazy.
                                  I thank my guests for them and put them somewhere where I'm not going to be touching them. After they leave they go outdoors, sadly. I had a dinner party recently and, like your dinner, one of the guests brought a dessert she'd made. I had asked her not to bring anything but she did. My dessert had taken half the day to complete but I served hers along with mine and made it a point to show how much we enjoyed it.
                                  Why would anyone make someone feel bad for doing something that's nothing but a polite, thoughtful act of kindness?
                                  I'm glad your Easter dinner went well. You sound like a wonderful host.

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    That's gracious! Just keep smiling.

                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      Awww, thanks latindancer. I had the most lovely afternoon and evening with my guests. It was a ton of work but also a lot of fun. Everyone got along well (not always easy or guaranteed with my BIL in the mix), and all the food turned out well. The krumkakke was a lovely treat and my friend who brought it what we didn't eat behind, which we have been snacking on since. :-)

                                      And yes, while I would have preferred not to have the lilies especially, I would never want either lady to feel that I didn't appreciate their kindness, because I know they were truly gestures of kindness and appreciation.

                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                        Krumkake!! I grew up eating those things. Those "krums" go every which way when you take a bite! Got to get me some and maybe some Fattigmann!

                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                          <truly gestures of kindness and appreciation>

                                          Exactly. That's the message.

                                          You simply put your ego aside and allowed your guests to bring things they thought you'd like. You understood they weren't going out of their way to disrespect you when you said 'I've got it covered'.
                                          Your graciousness in allowing another person to show a bit of kindness and appreciation is a mitzvah. A simple act of kindness and it's not difficult to do, as you've demonstrated.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            :-) Thanks latindancer. I love having people over and for the most part, I care deeply about the people I entertain, so their feelings are going to come before my preferences. (Before anyone goes crazy, within reason of course. Blatantly rude, intentionally disrespectful, hurtful or other behavior is different.)

                                            I am still smiling, thinking of what a lovely day it was. I live in the Pacific NW and our weather has been crummy for months...Sunday was a glorious, warm (almost 70 degrees) day. Perfect!

                                3. re: westsidegal

                                  So true, and even worse is the fact that if they are really bad ones for me (like stargazer lillies), I will be miserable for the rest of the evening and won't enjoy my guests. Wish it weren't so.

                                  ETA: This was a reply to Westsidegal above.

                                  1. re: jlhinwa

                                    "stargazer lillies"

                                    you're right ~
                                    they stink

                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      I actually love the fragrance of them, but they are pure evil.

                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                        I think the smell of them is highly unpleasant-but I'd bet others hate the smell of (say) fresh carnations which I adore-matter of opinion I suppose

                        3. I abide by the request of my host(s) and bring only myself.

                          1. Yup - just send a nice note thanking her after Easter is over. Maybe you can treat her to a movie or a drink/dinner at another time.

                            1. I will sometimes bring a small wrapped gift, making it clear that it is to be opened after the guests have gone. It just doesn't seem right to come empty handed, even if I planned on sending a thank you note.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: janniecooks

                                That's very nice, but in the case of the OP, you wouldn't. Right?

                                1. re: janniecooks

                                  I always stipulate to bring absolutely nothing except "a hearty appetite and sparkling conversation" on all my invites. When someone brings something it makes me uncomfortable. Even if it is "to be opened after the guests have gone." I do not invite people over in order to score gifts. I think bringing something when a host stipulates to absolutely not bring anything is more about the giver making himself feel better than actually giving the gift. If you truly respect your host, you will do as asked.

                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                      +1.
                                      Even if the gift does not need to be opened or put in water, it's still something that needs to be handled and addressed by the host(ess).
                                      For Pete's sake! do as you're asked and control your impulses! It's NOT ABOUT YOU!!

                                    2. re: janniecooks

                                      So you bring a gift instead of a thank you note? How are those two things equal?

                                      Unless I'm told otherwise (such as in the OP's case) I bring something AND send a thank you note.

                                      It always irks me when I ask someone to not bring anything more than themselves and a smile and they bring something anyway. (like my mom--always brings something even when I say "please, please, please don't bring anything")

                                      1. re: gourmanda

                                        I bring a small gift and send a thank-you note the next day. I never said "gift instead of thank you note", you are reading between the lines something that isn't there. The gift is just a token of appreciation. I have never been offended when a guest in my home brings such a token, even if I have made it clear I want them to bring nothing. And it is not done out of obligation. It is never disrespectful to give a person a gift. Never.

                                    3. Flowers are always nice. If it's a party on Saturday night I like to take a box of nice breakfast pastry clearly labeled "not for the party---this is for your Sunday breakfast". All the effort of the household goes into the party and it's nice for them to have something special for breakfast while they sit around and re-hash the party.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Querencia

                                        That's very nice, but in the case of the OP, you wouldn't. Right?

                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          beg to disagree.
                                          <<flowers are always nice>>
                                          not when one of the other guests has asthma
                                          or if a member of the hostess' family is allergic to pollen
                                          or if you bring those lilys that have the pollen-like stuff that stains everything it touches forever.

                                          re: pastry for the next day's breakfast.
                                          i don't buy/eat day-old pastry from the bakery, why would i want to eat day old pastry that a guest brings the night before? for that matter, i wouldn't serve day old pastry to my dinner guests either.
                                          nothing about it is "special" to me.
                                          it may have been "special" when it came out of the oven, but certainly is not "special" by the next day.
                                          i've tasted cookies that were very special when they came out of the oven, but 5 hours later were nothing with nothing.
                                          there's a reason that a good bakery will mark down whatever pastry is left over at the end of the day for sale the next morning.