Party Predicament: When guests bring guests

by epi on October 27, 2011

Q: For the last several years and again this year we have hosted an annual open house. We have mailed invitations with an RSVP and the first phone call came today. She asked, “I will have a guest, is it all right if I bring her?”

Last year we ended up with 6 extra people we did not know. They ate and drank heartily and never sent a thank you. One person even asked if she could pack up some cookies to take home.  After that experience, how do we nicely say no? Are we wrong to feel it is an imposition to host people we do not know, nor invited? I also have a question of reciprocity. How many times do you invite a neighbor etc. without them doing any inviting to you? It is good to keep cordial relations with the neighbors, but I feel it should be two sided.

A: It is not incorrect for someone to ask if s/he can bring a friend to a large party, although no one should do this when the invitation is for a small dinner party. It is equally correct for you to say you are sorry, but you simply cannot accommodate another guest, although you wish you could, but hope she (the invited guest) is able to attend anyway. However it is likely she can’t, if she has a guest.
As to how often you invite friends or neighbors without a reciprocal invitation – that is your choice entirely. If you are never invited back, you can stop inviting them yourself, or if you enjoy their company and don’t mind at all always being the hostess, you can continue to invite them. This is not to say they should not reciprocate, for they should, of course, but some people simply aren’t comfortable entertaining and don’t, nor do they think of asking you out to dinner, or to a movie, etc., their treat, instead of returning your invitation in kind.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth October 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I had a somewhat similar situation happen to me a few months ago. We’d invited a bunch of friends over for my husband’s birthday, which happened to coincide with a “big game” on TV. One couple who we’re good friends with said that they had previously made plans with another couple (who we met once), and could they bring them along to the party? Of course I said yes. Once they go to our house, they mentioned the “big game” and said they’d have to leave early so they could go watch it. I naturally said they could watch it at our house if they wanted. The game dragged on forever, as they are known to do, and I was kind of shocked that these two couples, plus another couple who we are good friends with basically parked themselves on the couch and away from the party for the entirety of the game, only emerging to grab beers and head back to the game. I thought that this was a pretty crappy move, and I was especially surprised that my female friends also stayed parked. I didn’t know they were so into football (or perhaps it was that they didn’t want to leave their spouses’ sides??). I mean, if a game is hours long, does one really need to sit with rapt attention through all three hours of it?? The party ended up being divided between a big group who was outside lighting firecrackers and a smaller contingent watching the game. At the end, it was actually kind of difficult to round everybody up for the candles and cake.

I’m not sure what I could do in the future to either avoid such a thing happening or discourage it in the moment, but if anyone has ideas I’d love to hear them.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm

It could be worse. I was at a party once where someone took the liberty of trying to turn on the TV to watch a golf game without asking permission first. When he had trouble figuring out how the TV worked, his girlfriend went to the host and said “He wants to watch golf. How does the TV work?” again not asking permission. The host obliged but he seemed to be hiding his annoyance.

To answer your question, follow the spirit of the EPI advice here. Although it might have seemed like the only polite thing to do was accomodate them, it’s not. You have the right to say, “okay, if that’s what you have to do” when someone makes a statement like that. Think of it as being polite to your other guests so that everyone at the party is enjoying each others company and you don’t have to divide your time between the party and the sub-party.

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Alicia October 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Ok so what I see here is that you wanted to say no and did not say no.
1. You could have said no to bringing extra guests
2. You could have been ok with them leaving to watch the game. You instead told them to watch at your place. You could have also said they could put the game on and check the scores occasionally which would have meant mainly staying with the party not watching game.

Then you are upset that they did exactly what you said they could do. If you do not want extra guests then say no. If you do not mind them checking scores but would like them to mainly stay with the party communicate that to your guests. The only way they know what you want and mean is what you say. One can communicate these details with graciousness.

Yes sometimes when one wants to watch the game one wants to watch the whole game. They tried to leave in order to do so and you encouraged them to stay and watch the game at your place. They did exactly that watched the game. Also both women and men can be sports fans and enjoy watching a game.

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Elizabeth October 28, 2011 at 4:05 am

You’re absolutely right, I did suggest they watch the game. I just hadn’t considered the potential ramifications of it. And I also don’t mean to sound sexist, but two of these women are really good friends of mine, and I have never known they to be big sports fans. It was just surprising to me that a game would be that enthralling that they would literally sit in a room for three hours during a party. My irritation primarily came at the end when the last “three minutes” of the game dragged on for over a half-hour, it was getting late, and I really wanted to do the cake thing so other people (who were getting really tired) could leave. But at that point, it was the end of a neck-and-neck game and couldn’t be interrupted. Naturally I did not foresee this when I blithely said, “oh you can watch it here.” My husband isn’t that into sports either, and we’ve never hosted a game-watching party. This sports fanaticism is all quite a mystery to me and I generally find it rude when groups of people sequester themselves away from the main group at parties.

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Country Girl October 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Winifred, I simply cannot imagine someone coming over to my house and attempting to watch a game without even asking! And I agree that one needn’t oblige every guest’s requests.

Elizabeth, I am right there with you in that I just don’t get the “crazed-fan” mentality with the dire need to watch a game intently for hours. To be frank, the behavior they displayed was disrespectful to you and your husband. Even though you agreed to let them view the game, your guests knew that wasn’t the reason for the party and they should have kept their viewing to a minimum. If this game was such a giant, life-consuming event for them, they should have declined the invite instead of essentially ruining the party for everyone else, stressing out their hostess, and taking the focus off your husband’s birthday. I’m sure had you known up front that your friends and/or their guests were this fanatical, it would have been easier to nip this in the bud by saying “I wouldn’t mind turning the game on in the other room (and on mute) so you can check the scores periodically if you’d like. I just want to let you know that we have planned dinner at 6, desserts and cake at 7, fireworks after that. If you’d rather leave the birthday party to watch the game in its entirety, that’s fine too. Thanks for stopping by.”

A guest is responsible to comply with the party plans as they are layed out by the host. If a sports game will make it impossible for a guest to remain focused on the party, he/she should politely decline. He/she might also realize that doing so will still end up coming out “Sorry Bill, this game is just more important to me than you are.”

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Jerry October 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

Not being there and not knowing what game it was, I’ll just ‘throw it out’ that the description “crazed fan” may not be appropriate. In any case, what type of party was this? Was it a “big birthday” with a formal sit down dinner? Or just some friends getting together for some BBQ and beer? You mentioned “lighting firecrackers” — sounds like a very informal party to me.

If the guests said they wanted to watch the game, you were on fair notice that, yes, the game (and the enjoyment of watching it with others — watching sports can be highly social) was more important and/or interesting than the party you wanted. And it’s not like these guests completely blew you off — they stopped by your husband’s home to acknowledge his birthday boy even though they had pre-existing plans!

Want a solution if this happens in the future? (Although my strong recommendation would be you do not offer someone the opportunity to watch the game if you don’t want them to watch the game.) Have a spy in the room, watch for a commercial break — it should last 2-3 minutes. Have everything ready to go; as soon as the commercial starts, light the candles, sing, and let the fans get back to their game. (Birthday candles shouldn’t take that long anyway.) Alternatively, just do the candles and cake w/o the sports fans. I’m fairly sure they wouldn’t have minded; and no birthday boy older than ten would mind if a few people were watching the game rather than ogling the cake.

I know there are several people who don’t understand sports fans. I don’t understand the appeal of shopping or shoes! But I generally don’t condemn other’s consumption choices.

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Elizabeth October 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm

It was an informal party, and we did do the cake without everyone there. I’m quite sure my husband, whose birthday it was, never noticed and didn’t care one bit. I also wouldn’t say that I “condemned” their choices, only that I found them annoying. When I go to parties, I make the effort to be sociable, and I find that hunkering down in a room away from the rest of the party to basically be not very sociable. As I am not a sports fan, I don’t understand the need to hunker down in the room for every second of the (very long) game. The easy solution is to circulate – for them to get up a be social during the commercials, as you suggested, and then return to the game. (this also has to do with an idiosyncrasy of my house – the TV room is not the central social space, it’s actually tucked away on another level, so it exacerbates the problem.) I don’t think it’s my responsibility as a host to prompt people to do that. These are supposedly good friends of ours, and people who (I think) would expect my husband to get up from watching a game to sing Happy Birthday if it were one of their events.) But – lesson learned. I surely will not suggest that people watch the game again!

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LC November 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I don’t think it’s fair to call them anti-social. Watching games is a very social activity for most sports fans, it’s only that during the games, they are socializing mostly with the other fans watching the game. Consider if the same group were outside and talking with only each other for a duration of time? Or engaged in another party activity with each other?

Country Girl October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Condemning other’s consumption choices is not what I was doing. Questioning other’s party etiquette is.

I don’t typically know of anyone who shops for shoes during a party, and if they did I would call them a “crazed shoe fan” and question their party etiquette as well.=)

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Jerry October 31, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Country Girl: There’s no party foul if the host says you can watch the game during the party. I know its tough for non-sports fans to understand — sometimes the game is more important than mingling to talk about whatever people are interested in talking about at parties. As someone who has been on the other end of things — having people watch a college football game in the next room (a sport I don’t like, but whatever) and been guilted to come into the next room to sing during a key drive.

Just let it go with the sports. If you’re not a fan you won’t get why people feel the need to watch them so raptly. Just like I don’t understand why my sister likes shoes, or why people generally get all gushy over babies and baby clothes. Or shopping generally. (Note, I didn’t say “shopping for shoes” in my previous post; I said “shopping or shoes.” And yes, people talking about shopping and shoes during parties.) Or the Kardashians. It’s a consumption choice, pure and simple.

And to be sure, I wouldn’t say that the sports fans should get up and circulate at commercial time. Rather, the point was that if you wanted everyone to be there for candle lighting, the time to do it was during the commercial.

Elizabeth November 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I may be stating the obvious, here, but if one is at a party and does not care for the conversation, one can easily move to another conversation. One can circulate, get another drink, sample a canape. In other words, you’re not locked in to a boring conversation. Try changing the channel during a big game, though! When the game becomes the focus of a social event, it takes over. If it’s the stated focus of the event, you know what to expect. But it’s a real bummer when it becomes the focus of the event.

A tip for Jerry: When I’m in a situation where people are talking about what I consider to be frivolous topics (like sports and the Kardashians) and I can’t escape (like a sit-down situation), I find that one way to make the conversation interesting is to ask the person why they like the thing they’re talking about, or why they find it compelling. Those answers, I find, are very illuminating.

Jerry November 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

I like it.

+1

Country Girl November 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Jerry, you can see from my posts that not once did I mentioned that I wasn’t a sports fan. In fact, having played at a D1 college, I actually love watching sports (NBA & MLB especially and others in between). What I said was that I don’t understand “crazed-fan” mentality, which means to me someone who puts a higher priority on sitting glued to a game then on their friends and/or family. Ie. Refuses to pry themselves away from a game for a few minutes to comply with a host’s wishes to sing happy birthday to the birthday boy.

Also notice I never mentioned that talking about sports (as you mention talking about shoes etc.) was inappropriate. That shows interaction with the hosts and guests. In my mind, the host shouldn’t have to try to schedule her planned activities around commercial breaks and try squeeze them in when it was convenient for the guests who isolated themselves from the party. This was not a game-viewing party.

As I said, I am in complete agreement with you that the host should have been more clear with her guests, but I also think her guests are adults and should know what is expected of them and how to behave at a birthday party. I think we may just have to agree to disagree on this point.

Jerry November 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I guess we will have to agree to disagree. When you look at the original problem, however, there was no indication that the sports fans refused to comply with any of the host’s wishes, which would have been per se rude.

LC November 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

As a huge sports fan, I completely agree with you. At an informal gathering and with advance notice, I don’t find this rude at all. However, perhaps that is because my crowd is known to throw most parties around sporting events or that most of my friends are also sports fanatics who check the scores discreetly even at more formal gatherings.

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Jacqueline October 27, 2011 at 6:49 pm

A friend of mine had a similar situation happen recently. She had planned and invited a small group of friends, including myself and a relative of mine, to a small get together. Apparently, my relative started mentioning the party to and inviting other people herself. This got back to the host and the host knowing I am this person’s relative, asked me to talk to her. I wasn’t sure exactly what to say, but did speak with my relative, letting her know that there “must” have been a misunderstanding and that my friend was intending and planning a party for a small select number of guests only. Wanting to give my relative the benefit of the doubt, I did not breach the subject of why she would think she had the right to invite people to someone else’s party in the first place. This unfortunately went right over my relatives’ head, so to speak, and she was more concerned about why it was me and not my friend talking to her about this. My relative is very type A and my friend is more passive. Personally, in my opinion, it would have been better had my friend talked with my relative directly, but I understand her not wanting to; thinking having me breach the subject may be less confrontational. Sadly, I don’t think my relative “got it”, that the bottom line was: she should not have invited people to someone else’s get together and less about who had to bring this to her attention.

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Elizabeth October 28, 2011 at 4:08 am

I completely understand why you did intervene on behalf of your friend, but it’s a good lesson to learn, that it’s best not to get in the middle and even passive people need to learn to stick up for themselves!

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Lauren November 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I have a question for everyone. I am 29 years old and currently living with my boyfriend of four years. We moved in together about 4 months ago. I’m very close with his parents and sister who I see often. On his mother’s side of the family, there is a fairly large Christmas dinner party each December in NY for the extended family with a rotating host/hostess each year. I have never been invited to the dinner and it has never bothered me or crossed my mind until this year. However, this year my boyfriend’s grandparents are hosting. They sent an invite to him only, no “and guest” and they did not include my name. I have met and spent time with his grandparents many times over the past four years. Part of me is slightly hurt and confused that I was not invited to the party given they are the host/hostess this year. Am I off base? Is it rude/wrong if my boyfriend asks to bring me? He also was surprised they would not include me at this point in our relationship. Although we do plan to get married one day, what if that was not in our timeline…at what point are you considered part of the family or not? At the same time, I certainly do not want to be rude or seem pushy. Thoughts?

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Just Laura November 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

How strange. I too would feel hurt. Most people I know invite significant others, particularly if the couple has been together for years. Do you happen to know if you are the only partner being excluded, or are all non-married significant others excluded? If others are also not invited, it could simply be an issue of space.

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Lauren November 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Thanks for responding! No I do not know and I don’t think my boyfriend does either. His sister is married so that is a little different. His immediate cousins are all several years younger than us and have not had serious boyfriends to consider. The rest is of the invitees are more distant relatives.

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Ann November 8, 2011 at 10:26 am

This is where generational differences can come into play. You and your boyfriend may feel you are committed, and going to marry “someday” – thus you feel you are “part of the family” already. Us older folks see it from another perspective. We were raised in a time when if you really loved someone, and you have been together for as long as you and your boyfriend have (you said four years), you would be married by now. What is the wait? Also, to us, technically you aren’t part of the family, until it is legal – by marriage. We have lived long enough to see many supposedly committed relationships fall apart. Couples who were convinced they were going to be with one another forever, split up. Your boyfriends family are also in an uncomfortable position. They are possibly waiting to see if you two do get married, then they will know that you really are “part of the family” now, and they will feel more open to inviting you to this traditional family gathering. These gatherings may be very special for them, and because you and your boyfriend have only been living with one another for 4 months, they are waiting to see if it really turns into more than a living arrangement. That is my humble perspective, as an “older” person.

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Winifred Rosenburg November 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I agree with Elizabeth. I would also like to add that many times couples wait longer than they would like to get engaged for financial reasons. Weddings can be very expensive, especially for people with large families. Many couples choose to wait until they can save up for a wedding before announcing an engagement. In addition, living expenses are more than what they used to be, and it’s difficult to start a nest and pay for a wedding simultaneously so many couples start the nest first and then plan the wedding. My point is it’s not really fair to imply that because they’re not married they’re not really committed. They’re a lot more committed then celebrities who rush into marriage only to get divorced months later.

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Elizabeth November 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Lauren,
Once you’re living together, you are considered a social unit and it is quite rude to not invite social units to big gatherings. All your boyfriend has to do is call up Grandma and say, “hey thanks so much for the invitation, it sounds like wonderful party, and I love seeing the family. However, now that Lauren and I are living together, there’s no way I could leave her alone like that.” Then, pause. Grandma will trip over herself in a rush to say, “but of course you have to bring Lauren!”. (As well she should – your marriage status is no business of hers.)

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Country Girl November 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Perfect advice, I agree completely!

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Jerry November 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm

As do I.

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Nina November 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Hmm, I don’t know. I think it is more about making the party comfortable and happy for all involved than exactly who is legally bonded to whom. If your boyfriend will be unhappy at this party without you, and it wouldn’t be inconvenient for anyone, his grandparents should try to honour his wish that you attend. Maybe you aren’t really “part of the family,” as Ann says, but you are important to one member of it–and it’s just a party after all, no long-term ramifications. However, if he makes the request and it turns out it really would be awkward for space or other reasons (ie., the grandparents are religious and upset by the whole living-together thing), then you should both let it go graciously–it’s just a party, after all.

My fiance’s family was always warm and open to me, and mine to him, long before we were engaged. I don’t know what the point would be in being chilly and exclusive before the engagement, and then welcoming afterwards. It’s nice to feel that even before our marriage, I already have a good relationship with my in-laws to build on.

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Michele November 16, 2011 at 11:33 am

I lost my mother last Thanksgiving. I am planning a small thanksgiving dinner for my husband, children, father and sister who is coming from Georgia. I invited my mother in law who lives by herself. I usually go to my sister in law’s for thanksgiving, along with my mother in law. However, this year, I didn’t want to be around a lot of people, and want the first anniversary of my mother’s passing a small dinner. My mother in law told me she is bring 5, yes 5 guests with her. She insisted and didn’t ask. I’m emotionally torn about this time of the year and finally told her that I cannot entertain others this time, however, if it was another day and time, I would love to have more people. She is now very upset with me. Is it wrong on her part to invite guests when she knew I’m having a difficult time with this year and wanted something small.

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Just Laura November 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

It is wrong of her to invite guests to YOUR dinner. I am sorry this is a difficult time for you, so you must take a page from her book: Insist, and don’t ask, that she not bring these additional guests as you are not able to accommodate them this year. Have your husband explain this to her, if possible, since it is his mother.

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Alicia November 16, 2011 at 11:51 am

Use this statement. “I’m sorry it is not possible for us to host you and your 5 guests we understand however if you must decline due to your hosting those guests. Thank you for understanding. So what do you think about (insert completely different topic here)?”

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Ashleigh November 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

I’m dumbfounded that your husband hasn’t said anything to his mother!! He could very easily pick the phone up and let your mother know that you would love to have HER for Thanksgiving, but as this is a difficult time of year for you (which your insensitive MIL should already know!!!) you cannot handle having her bring an entire army with her.

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Amanda December 22, 2011 at 3:46 am

Ok I have a huge dilemma…. I usually host family dinners for all occasions and holidays. This year we have some friends that were not expecting to have family around for the holidays. Also my son works at a boarding school in which several boys will not be going home for Christmas, We invited the friends, several months ago, to Christmas dinner. Which increased our ten to eighteen. I also found out about the boys and invited them, that makes it 21. Now the friends will be able to have some family around by some I mean 5 so that makes 26. The number is not the trouble… Since there is 26, the friends offered to use their house (it will fit us all well). I accepted. Now my sister, brother in-law, and her father do not want to attend. I understand that they do not know the friends as well as we do. But what should I do? Suggest we split up the dinner? Since the friends will now have family around. Except that it is so close to Christmas and I do not know if they could come up with the entire meal, with such short notice. Or do I just go on with the plan to go to their house and let my sister stay home? sigh…what should I do???

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Alicia December 22, 2011 at 8:50 am

You have no obligation to change your plans because one person decides to decline your hospitality. I would stick with your lovely plan and let your sister know you would love to have her attend and then do your warm jolly Christmas. If she misses out that is a shame for her but also her choice.

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Sarah January 1, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I had a similar issue to those posted here for our annual NYE party. I was so frustrated with how the situation played out and the lack of etiquette and respect from the other families that are friends.

We have a very close neighborhood (or so I thought) and have many events throughout the year together.

One event is an annual NYE progressive dinner that has been in place for over 20 years. As new members move into the neighborhood (us included), they are added to the invitation list. It is typically adults only. However, last year we did meet up with the kids for desert and toast and it was great to ring in the NY as a family. We had over 40 people at this event.

In planning this year’s event, an email was sent a few weeks in advance of the party with a notation that it was nice how the kids were included in the prior year and that we wanted to do that again this year. Suggestions for stops / hosts were requested. Several families responded indicating that they wanted to spend the entire evening with their (key word is their) family. We learned that one of the families were planning an event at their house (and invited others that were part of this group) and it became “them” vs “us”. This same family expressed frustration the year prior in how “inefficient” a progressive dinner was. In an effort to compromise and keep the event a whole neighborhood event, the option was sent out that the first 2 hours would be an adults only meal at one house and that the kids could hang out at another house and pizza or other food made for them. The rest of the evening (9-12) would be spent with the entire family (I opened my house for this stop). There were no takers for this option. This left 3 out of 7 kids out of the mix and separated the groups of friends. The 3 kids were very disappointed and had even turned down other invitations. The adult only host graciously offered for the kids to join us for dinner.

Several hours prior to the 9-12 family event, several phone calls came in asking if the other families could join us. Of course we graciously welcomed them. Only one of the 3 families offered to bring drinks / food for this stop. One of the families requested if they could invite another family that doesn’t live in the neighborhood and isn’t known by most of the others in the neighborhood. They also suggested that several teenage kids be allowed to attend (this first started by the teenage child – my child reminded them of the intent of the party and said no). The mom and I chatted early in the afternoon. I reminded her of the intent of the night and that if one child invited some friends, that all of the kids would want to do so and we would then lose the family spirit of the night, not to mention that my basement would be taken over by 30+ kids. Despite being told no, she extended an invitation to the other family (they were not able to attend). At 930, I get a text from the mom indicating that her child invited extra teenagers to their family dinner and that they were having so much fun and were not ready to go home. She then told me that I had the choice of letting the extra kids come or the family would be by later when they were done having fun. This upset my teenage daughter greatly as she was looking forward to ringing in the new year with her friend. I texted the mom back and said that they were welcome to come but should understand that this put the other kids in an unfair situation as they were not allowed to invite others. She tried to turn the situation around on me and said that her child had to invite others to spend dinner with them because my child wasn’t available for dinner and how it left her child out. First let me restate that the invitation to participate in the progressive dinner was extended to them and the only accepted for the 9-12 portion. There was no invitation to my teenage daughter to come have dinner with them. Even if they would have extended the invitation, I would have had to decline because this would have left the other 2 kids that were left out of the “them” vs “us” situation. One being my younger child who is friends with 3 of the kids at the “them” party.

When I didn’t respond quick enough (because I was trying to decide how to appropriately respond while participating in a family game) one of the others at the “them” party also texted me trying to solicit an answer and noted that the extra kids were in tow.

When it was all said and done, everyone had a great time. I got a text this morning reminding me of that fact. I don’t disagree that it was a great time and that the two extra kids were not a problem, but the point is being missed. This isn’t the first time that her daughter has invited others to events leaving my children as third wheels. I have discussed etiquette with my children using each issue as an example.

It is clear to me that this mom / daughter doesn’t get the message. Any suggestions on how to be more clear?

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Elizabeth January 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm

These kind of group events only work if everyone is on the same page, and unfortunately it seems as though as the kids have become teenagers the family doesn’t want to be separated from them during this traditionally adults-only party. The whole organization either has to change with the times, or people will start doing their own thing (as indeed they have). It is too bad that this one family didn’t follow the “rules,” but it really isn’t quite fair for the group (or part of it) to dictate the terms of the plans. You could either have an all-in or all-out policy for the progressive dinner, or the event itself could change to something more inclusive. In all likelihood, the groups will splinter. I don’t know if you are doing your kids any favors by trying to uphold some sense of ‘fairness’ for a big unruly communal party. This puts too much emphasis on the social event of one night, when it would be healthier for them to learn that social groups have a natural flow and flux to them, that they can see their friends the following weekend or what have you, and that it’s better to have a good time with who your with than to be worrying about what other people have chosen to do. Maybe next year, it would be best to be on vacation over New Year’s, and then come back fresh the following year once new traditions have gotten sorted (or petered out).

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J May 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm

It seems like this neighbor girl needs a swift kick in the pants, but sounds like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I agree with Elizabeth that it’s ok for everyone to do their own thing, but it’s very rude for them to call at the last minute and ask to be invited to your group party and then not contribute anything, bring extra guests without your express advance permission, and especially for the adults to encourage their kids to leave 3 of the other kids out. That just makes my heart hurt for the 3 who are not included, and it’s not only rude, it’s also unkind. If it were me, I would be very direct with this mom that it’s her choice to use poor etiquette but it doesn’t mean that you need to allow it. And good for you for teaching your kids to know better.

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Winnie April 16, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I am in a predicament. My 8 yr son is having his First Communion ceremony during the mass we attend. We have invited only old intimate friends from church whom we regard as family ( 6 ) plus a friend whom I have only known for 1 1/2 yrs ( they go to the same mass as we do and we usually ate lunch after mass with them ) , her husband and 6 yr. old daughter to a small luncheon at a restaurant after the mass. The children receiving their First Communion have designated group of seats where they can sit together with their guests . She asked if she could also bring her husband’s parents ( who are visiting from out of town ) to the ceremony and luncheon. We wanted the celebration to be intimate and only invite the people who know our son well . We only invited this new friend and her husband and child since they are going to be at the mass anyway and we usually ate lunch with them on Sundays. We can only afford so much to pay for so many guests’ meals . For her family alone, we have to pay for 5 meals ! We only planned to spend for 11 people ( including us ). How do I tell her without offending her that we can not accommodate her in laws ?

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Jody April 17, 2014 at 7:07 am

I’m sure the other couple felt comfortable enough with you that they could ask to bring others, but it was still improper of them. If they knew the husband’s parents would be visiting they should have declined your luncheon invitation (I’m assuming the ceremony is part of Mass and therefore that’s no problem for extras to attend). Letting them know that you won’t be able to include the husband’s parents because you’re limiting the guest list to those who know your son well is good; if they make noises about not wanting to leave the parents out of things, you can say that you sympathize and understand if they feel they couldn’t attend. If they continue to press it, I’m not sure what else you could say.

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Winnie April 21, 2014 at 2:09 am

I told her that I only invited a few old close friends and we are only given a certain amount of reserved seats for the participants and their guest to sit together . I told her it is unfair to her in laws to be put in an awkward position where everyone knows everybody or for the others not to be able to talk freely in her in laws presence. She said oh they don’t mind . I tried another route and I said, they were here to spend time with her family and not my son . She pressed on. Today she told me that they will be at the mass anyway and that since we often eat lunch together after church that they will be going to the same restaurant to say hello to us. My husband is very upset . Should we just change the venue and not tell her where we are going to have our luncheon for my son ? I hate conflicts !

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Winnie April 21, 2014 at 2:13 am

Thanks Jody ! I am trying to be diplomatic with them and this is really stressing me out !

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J May 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I don’t blame her for wanting to bring her in-laws, since it’s very rude to go to an event when you’re hosting guests in your home without them. If you knew that her in-laws were going to be in town and didn’t invite them to come along as well, then you would be in the wrong. But, it sounds like you invited them without knowing that they would have guests. In that case, when she asked if she could bring them and you tried to say no, she should have taken the message and just declined your invitation. Sounds like you just need to be direct and say that you can only accommodate the people you have invited and you understand that she needs to entertain her guests, but that your family and your son would be happy to see them on the day of his First Communion even if they can’t join you for lunch. Don’t change your plans or hide from them, that would just be weird and rude on your part.

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Mindy June 7, 2014 at 8:42 am

Well my issue is this: I have been planning for nearly 6 months my husband’s 40th surprise birthday party. He is a great guy and I wanted to do something very special for him. I found a catering place that offered what I needed. I could invite a total of 35 people with my budget. I started planning and made several party favors and such. Investing lots of money. I sent the invitations to all the family and friends I wanted to invite two months prior to the event. 2 days prior to the RSVP date I had asked my guests to get back to me, I setup a Facebook private message to remind my guest that I needed a head count of who was coming by the date I stated on the invitation.

My mother in law, who lives alone and has no significant other received the invitation as everyone else. I did not include “her …and guest” on the invitation because I only invited her because she never has shown up to any private party of ours with anyone. So this individual the day after my Facebook message to RSVP was decides to tell me she is having someone drive her to the event because she “does not want her kids to go out of their way to bring her” – let me remind you, her kids have always brought her and are nearby. She knew since I started the plans of the bday party months before never mentioned she wanted to bring anyone.

I naturally responded in a very polite manner, “please let me see what I can do. I only invite you because you live alone, don’t hand a significant other and you have always come with your kids.” “If someone cancels I will extend the invitation” she responded in a rather nasty way, for me to invite someone else instead.

So, to make a long story short, 2 days after the RSVP date, she sent me a rather nasty text stating she is coming to the party because she loves her son too much, and added that I could save the money that I stated I was going to have to pay. I responded in a very nice way, “thank you, you won’t regret it, I’m exited you are coming and that I love her”

Not satisfied with my response, she went ranting on Facebook and posted things that were not nice. Disguising the real reason for me asking her to allow me to see if someone cancels, went and posted things that the people who read it interpreted that “whomever” that person was that invited her and not her friend was mean for doing that “because anyone who invites someone SHOULD also invite a guest” even when this “extra “guest” has not been mentioned to begin with as someone this person was interested in extending the invitation to.

So end of story, my husband now knows about the surprise party. A surprise party I have worked so hard to put together. His mother and I don’t speak.

So my questions are: was I wrong by simply saying to her please let me see if someone cancels to then extend the invitation to her friend? Was I wrong by assuming that the fact that she lives alone and has no significant other would be a reason for her to come alone as she has done in the past? Was I wrong by being upset for her blowing the surprise to my husband? Was I wrong by having a head count and stick to it (knowing that I could be over one or two people) but not trying to break the bank only to help her monetarily?

Please, I want to hear your advice and please don’t hold anything back. If I’m wrong I want to hear it.

Thank you.

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