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  1. Angie

    My husband and I have planned to have Thanksgiving at our home for the fourth year. In the past, his family pressures us to tell them what to bring. We give in and ask them to bring specific dishes. They then take it upon themselves to bring many other dishes. The amount of food and desserts they bring is unbelievable! Last year, they brought an entire duplication of our meal saying they didn’t want to run out of food and thry preferred their recipe over ours. We had twenty one (really!) desserts and only twenty guests! This year, we have decided to do the entire meal ourselves but they are pressuring us, even telling us they have two turkey breasts and a ham they want to bring so there is plenty of food. I want to be gracious but the amount of food they bring is overwhelming and I really don’t have the space! Potlucks are fine with me, when we are having a potluck. But when we are throwing a holiday party, how do we stop the unwanted extras?

  2. Just Laura

    First, I understand your frustration. So much extra food means both waste and a distinct lack of counter space.
    I wonder, if they are so dead-set on bringing food, could you do the hosting duties at your house with their food for just this one holiday? Having Thanksgiving at one’s house can be a chore (all the cleaning, rearranging furniture, buying drinks/wine), that handing the enormous responsibility of food over to someone who really really wants it might be liberating for you.

  3. Alicia

    Perhaps he can tell them no better so that they will understand. It is quite rude to basically duplicate the entire meal and a smidge of an insult to your hospitality.
    If that fails. Technically there is no obligation to serve a dish that someone brings in addition if it is unexpected. So If they insist on bringing dishes after you have said no thank you why not put them in the fridge saying that it is so kind of them but that you already had a main dish, appetizer, dessert ect for this meal. Continue to serve what you had planned on hosting except for the one dish they had cleared with you in advance and then at the end of the night offer that they are welcome to bring their dishes home again. A year of doing this and making is clear that as the host and hostess you determine the menu in your own home without being rude.

    • V.T. Reynolds

      We have all been to those gatherings in which the host/hostess only prepares “just enough” food for the allotted guests, leaving no room for seconds. I have to admit, especially for a holiday meal, I want to see lots of leftovers so that every person in attendance is socially comfortable to go back for more! However, it sounds like Angie’s holiday leftovers are getting out of control with the unwanted extras. Angie, I would take them up on everything! Have them bring ALL of the food since they are clearly more satisfied with their own cooking, and you guys don’t prepare a thing. As another exciting alternative, ask them if they would be willing to host Thanksgiving next time, meaning they cook, clean, buy the cocktail ingredients and wine, etc. They seem as if they are more than ready and willing to 100% host the event themselves. Once they do that once or twice, they may be ready to pass the task on to another household, and not rudely overshadow that family’s cooking prowess and hosting skills by doubling the prepared dishes.

  4. Auntie

    Am I an aunt? My partner and I are very committed. We’ve been together for years, and are very happy. We aren’t planning to marry anytime soon, but undoubtedly will in the future. His brother and sister-in-law just had their first child. We’re all very excited. I would love to be considered an “Aunt”. As I’m not legally part of their family, is it presumptuous of me to introduce myself as “Aunt so-and-so” to the new baby? I would love to be considered Aunt to this beautiful new child, but the new parents are quite conventional and seem hesitant to let me in.

    • Alicia

      Techincally no you are not an Aunt as you are not the sister or sister in law of the parents of the child. This is one of the technicalthings that getting married does it defines who is technically family. So yes it would be a bit much to claim to be an aunt as you have not matrried the kids Uncle. One way to change this would b to officially get married.
      However, you could say in front of the parents that you think of the kid as your honorary neice or nephew and thus make it clear that you would love to be considered an honorary Aunt. Also you can traet the child the same as you would if they were your neice or nephew no matter the official title and by treating the kid wonderful and being nice and helpful to the parents you will develop and Aunt/neice or nephew relationship no matter the official title. So ignoring title you will actually be an Aunt.

    • R.

      I see your side as well as the perspectives provided by the others. Aunt or auntie is loaded with meaning for some families, and for others, aunt is for family and aunite is used for close friends of the parents.

      I’m going to be on the other side of this situation someday, as my BIL is not technically married to his “wife.” However, I know that my children will have to call her aunt or auntie regardless of their marital status because they’re committed but choosing not to marry (14+ years). I’ll also look like some self-righteous snob if I insist that she not be called aunt. Anyway… if your relationship is of that kind of duration/committment, then perhaps your partner might gently suggest to his brother that he hopes they (the parents) see you as the child’s aunt as he and you certainly see yourselves as their child’s uncle and aunt.

      If they don’t go for the aunt title, I’d suggest you encourage the child to call you something plus first name (ex: Miss Sally), so that the child is used to referring to you with some sort of a title. Personally, I find it unappealing/disrespectful for a child to call me by my first name only.

    • Lin

      I know the whole possibility of being an aunt is very exciting, but it really isn’t anyone’s decision but the child’s as to what s/he will call you. My children have several people who initially wanted to be called “Grandma” or “Grandpa”, so we started with “Grandma Mary Ann”, “Grandpa Eddie”, etc. Our children, in just a few years, have come up with different names, leaving only “Grandma” and “Grandpa” to only one couple. The child in question in your situation will find a name s/he will call you and may learn to call you Aunt all on her own, or you and your partner may be married before s/he really starts speaking, and at that point you are most certainly an aunt without question.

      Part of this situation may be more along the lines of you feeling included in the family. How does everyone else feel about you? Are you included in family gatherings? If your partner’s parents are still around, are they referring to you as “aunt” to this child; if not, is there a dominant spokesperson or leader in the family that regards you as part of the family? Could anyone be an advocate for you to explain that you are indeed family and should not be treated otherwise?

      Bear in mind there may be part of the situation you might not be aware of; there may be an issue of a member of the SIL’s family who has a habit of bringing significant others into the lives of the children in her family, and making them regard the significant other as aunt/uncle for the two weeks they’re together, and the brother and sister-in-law are not wanting to muddy the waters with their child, yet be fair to everyone involved.

  5. Personally, I have been introduced to a nephew of a significant other as “Aunt Laura” by the mother and grandparents. It carried with it a great feeling of pride, so I understand your side. However, I would say that it is up to the new parents, as it is their child. And technically, you are not *yet* the aunt. I don’t say that to belittle you or your commitment with your significant other.

  6. kim

    When someone dies how long should you wait before posting or blogging their demise? Shouldn’t there be at least some time frame so family members may be notified rather that finding out by reading it so impersonally on a facebook page? I find it tacky to blog before the body is cold. Am I too sensitive or just to old?

    • Just Laura

      When my future Father-In-Law passed away very suddenly, I didn’t dare post anything about it until after both sons had already done so. Once I saw the “We’ll miss you, Dad” message on FB about a week later, I felt that it was acceptable to post, “Almost had the best Father-in-law ever.” My fiance thought it was nice.

    • Graceandhonor

      Your instincts are perfect, Kim. Yes, best to wait on family members to discuss it first. I just love how people wonder if their cultured responses are too sensitive or due to their age; they are neither.

  7. joy

    I extend an invitation to a family so Ican make new friends and get to know them better. I give them 2choices and ask them to get back to me. One date has already past with no response. I’ve seen them at church, no response. I’m thinking they do not want to visit with me. Is this a realistic conclusion? What should I do if anything? This plan to invite people over is my strategy to get to know people better. I’m new in town.

    • Graceandhonor

      Joy, you are to be admired for wanting to get quickly involved socially in your new town. Your conclusion may be correct, and I suggest that if you ask someone to your home again, phrase it this way, “I would love to have your family come to my home next Sunday for lunch. Will you let me know by Tuesday? Here is my phone number.” Sometimes, with vaguely worded invitations (either/or dates), things fall through the cracks, and that may be part of the issue you experienced with your first invitation.

      You also might want to think about your interaction with these people. Are you coming on a little too strongly in the beginning? Perhaps you might want to wait a bit, participate in some group activities, and see if someone invites you, the newcomer, first. Best of luck to you, Joy.

  8. Ann

    I recently received an invitation to a 50th surprise birthday party for a casual friend. The invitation was sent from a very close friend of the birthday girl and requested recipients to e-mail for more information on the event. The e-mail contained details of the party to include a $125 donation if you decided to stay overnite or a $55 donation if only staying for food/drinks. The woman throwing the party has reserved a beautiful cottage for the night. When I looked it up on-line, it was a minimum of $1600/nite. I do not know the woman throwing the party but have been told by numerous people who know her that her family is quite well off. Do you think it is appropriate to throw such an elaborate party and ask the guests to contribute? In addition to bringing a gift?

    • Just Laura

      You mention you have “been told” that this woman’s family has money. One should never count others’ money, as you don’t have access to her financial information, and don’t know if she personally has money or not.
      Having said that, I don’t like the idea of throwing a party and making others pay either (even though that is becoming more common with weddings/bridal showers/birthday parties). A person should throw a party that is within one’s means. You should, however, be thankful that the woman is up-front about the anticipated costs. Many times we hear stories about how everyone was invited to So-And-So’s b-day dinner, only to be surprised with a bill at the end.

      If you are uncomfortable with this party arrangement, feel free to politely decline the invitation and send along a lovely card or gift.

    • Graceandhonor

      It is alright that the host asked for payment if a guest is staying overnite; this is equivalent to paying for your own hotel room. However, being charged for food and drink, obviously indicates this person is not a host, but just a coordinator. It would have been best if guests weren’t expected to chip in for food and drink, but let this go, and have fun with the birthday girl, if you feel your friendship is worth it. And, yes, it is immaterial whether the coordinator is wealthy or not.

  9. Frustrated

    For the 5th year in a row we are planning on hosting Thanksgiving with my inlaws. My hubby loves to cook and I love to set a beautiful table. The problem we are having this year is his many of his family members won’t tell us if they are definitly coming and if so what time. He comes from a large family-if everyone comes there will be over 20 people. Some people from my side are coming as well. We have a large dining room and like to have everyone sit together at a long table at the same time. However, how do we know what time to serve dinner if we don’t know what time they are coming and if they are even definitly coming? They don’t see a problem in this. One SIL told me she can’t tell me a definite time because she might get to chatting with people at the other side’s house that she doesn’t get to see often or her kids might start playing a game and she would hate to make them leave. When I was little my parents took us to both sides of our family ever year and when they told us it was time to leave one side we did as we were told and left. My other SIL said her husband’s family doesn’t eat at a certain time. What should I do? Do I let my house turn into a cafeteria and let everyone eat whenever they come? Do I say if you can’t tell me what time or if you are coming don’t come at all? What is the correct thing to do?

    Thank you,


    • Graceandhonor

      I can understand your frustration, and it may have started when a mealtime was not clearly stated when issuing the invitation. At this point, I suggest you phone your family, and your husband his, and state, “We will eat at 4pm.” Then, do so. Those who do not arrive on time can serve their plates and join the meal in progress, or if it is finished, eat with other late arrivals. There is no way to appease or accommodate everyone, and this is the best you can do. Do not allow anyone to make you feel guilty or delay the majority of guests from eating at a reasonable hour, and in an orderly fashion.

      • Just Laura

        I couldn’t agree more. A set time takes the proverbial ball out of your court, and places it in theirs. Do they want to eat at your beautiful table? Then they’ll be there to enjoy it at the time you’ve set.

  10. Lin

    I very much understand your frustration, as I have family who can’t even tell me if they can accept invitations to events 2 days before when they have been given a month to determine their schedule (and they are aware of their work schedule a month in advance). This may be a little too late to do for this Thanksgiving, but for different gatherings where those people are involved, we usually mention that we are making favors/food/reservations for the people to RSVP a definite “yes” by a certain date. It isn’t as nasty as “if you don’t tell us we’re coming you can’t eat here”, but it sends the message that if your invitees want a seat, they need to let you know; it also gives you an option to allow those who decide to show up at the last minute to eat after everyone who did take the time to RSVP has been served (as opposed to feeling guilty turning people away on Thanksgiving). Of course, make exceptions to people who do not have control over their schedules as much as everyone else does (if a doctor/therapist/etc. the family gets called away for an emergency and doesn’t show up later, or someone stuck with a bad boss who isn’t making a work schedule for Thanksgiving weekend until the Wednesday before, you might not want to penalize him/her for it).

    For this Thanksgiving as late as it is, you might need to toughen up and deal with it (or just let those to arrive on time and RSVPed have first chance at the food), but set the stage up for next year’s. Explain how it was difficult to deal with so many people not knowing, and explain how you intend to handle Thanksgiving dinner from here on out. If they don’t like it, they have a year to find someplace else to celebrate. You are going to have people upset about it, but having to unlearn a habit (in this case, showing up whenever they want if they are moved to do so) and learning a new habit (committing to attend and to arrive on time).

    • Lin

      A few corrections to my above reply:

      “(if a doctor/therapist/etc., in the family gets called away)”

      “but having to unlearn a habit (in this case, showing up whenever they want if they are moved to do so) and learning a new habit (committing to attend and to arrive on time) can be difficult.”

      Sorry for the confusion – apparently my mind moved faster than my fingers.

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