Parties and Etiquette…

Wow, there were some heated posts about cooking men! Some strong opinions!

Well, on to another topic. I went to and hosted a few parties this holiday season and I observed and learned of some anxieties women are experiencing. What do you do when you invite guests to a party and they ask what they are to bring? Do you say, “Oh, nothing but yourselves”, or do you tell them that you actually need something? Conversely, as a guest, when the  hostess invites you, do you offer to make or bring something? If she says no, do you still bring something?

Some women feel that when they are hosting a party, it is their time to shine and they want to do all the “work” ,create a fun evening for their friends and reap the benefits of accolades from being a Celebrity Home Chef. Others feel that although they may want to do the bulk of the food and festivity preparation, they would love some relief and not have to make some desserts,  a salad or some appetizers. Some do not want to impose on the guests by telling them they could use some help and that their bringing something would be great.

All the  above depend on the individual host/hostess and the guests. We all know of friends who love to cook and are happy to make a dish for a party but we also have friends who would be stressed  if they had to bring a dish, either buying one or making one. Sometimes we just don’t know our guests well enough to know their cooking strengths. A polite response to them may be that they bring some wine or a beverage if they have some around the house but if they don’t, that nothing is necessary to bring, except themselves. One busy home chef told me she would love to ask her dinner guests to bring kid food when she has other families over  because the kids never eat the adult food and she does not want to make 2 separate meals. She is reluctant to ask, however, for fear of imposing. Depending on how well you know your guests and how comfortable you feel, you can request parts of the meal, such as the broccoli, while you make the entree for the kids. Some relief is better than no relief.

In my experience, people  are  usually happy to be able to contribute  to the meal as a token of gratitude but not so much that they feel they are burdened. After all, they are not throwing the party this time. The challenge is knowing where that line is. One rule of thumb always applies-guests should always bring a token gift,wine, food or otherwise ,and should always express gratitude for the invite either at the end of the party, by email, phone call or a note after the party. Every host/hostess appreciates acknowledgement for the hard work and love that is involved in throwing any size party.

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2 Responses

  1. When people offer to bring an item to dinner I usually acccept their offer if I know they genuinely want to cook and will enjoy participating. If he/she is just being polite but is not a cook, I often tell him/her not to worry about it or I suggest something like a beverage. I guess I do feel a little compelled to do the bulk of the cooking myself if I am the entertainer. I feel good with this accomplishment and I want my guests to feel pampered.

  2. I agree that it feels great to be able to prepare an entire meal for friends or family, but there sure is something to be said for having everyone pitch in! (Although sometimes it seems hard to accept help)Then, as the host, you are able to relax and spend time visiting with your friends rather than scurrying around the kitchen. I see this as a trend in my own family with holidays…we will hopefully all be bringing a dish in the future rather than one person doing it all. I love these topics Alma! Good luck with the biz!

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