16 Comments

  1. Sanjit Keskar

    Is it right that a lemon slice or wedge is NOT to be used when using a fingerbowl?
    …not even if hands are greasy? ….and what if one has been eating Indian food with hands?

    • melissa rice

      The custom of cleaning hands in a fingerbowl is common in Indian restaurants and social events. It is fine to use a lemon slice only when provided with a fingerbowl. Otherwise, the best thing to do would be to wipe your hands in a napkin and use the restroom for further cleaning.

  2. Redinalexandria

    When I host even a casual dinner for friends, I often say, “no need to bring anything”. Usually everyone still asks, “may I bring something?” and I’ll repeat, “no, thank you. I have it covered.” Without fail, everyone ends up bringing something. I appreciate the bottle of wine or flowers, as I can choose to add it to the bar or table or just set it aside for later. But, there is always someone who brings a course (dessert or an appetizer, usually). This is a gesture I appreciate, but is it wrong for me to be a little resentful at the same time? I have thought out my menu (whether it’s steak au poivre or burgers and dogs on the grill) and spent time/money making my items. So, when guests arrive with appetizers, I have to find room for it on the table AND then I think to myself, “why did I bother with making appetizers if Suzy Q was going to bring a veggie tray?” I’ve also been “upstaged” by a guest who decides (without telling me) to bring a 3-layer beautiful store-bought cake that makes my homemade brownies look pedestrian… and everyone eats the pretty store-bought cake and I’m left with enough brownies to feed an army that I made from scratch. Another guest called me the afternoon of my cookout (after clearly telling her already that she should just bring herself) and asked if she should bring the fresh asparagus she just picked up at the farmers market. I thought, “just a handful of uncooked asparagus? Does she want me to add this to my things I need to cook or make a dip to go with it?” I had enough to prepare without looking up some recipe for asparagus or finding room on the grill. I told her she could bring it but I had nothing to put with it, such as dip, etc. Thankfully, she brought wine, instead. Am I a rude host or is this a broader problem?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      You are not a rude host. I get irritated by this sort of thing too. I suggest filling the food table up so there isn’t room for extra dishes. Use decorative items to fill space if necessary. When they show up with food you can say “Thank you! This will be good if we run out of food!” Put the dish away in the kitchen, and don’t put it out unless you actually do run low on food.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with Winifred and Jodi. It is rude, but very difficult to cure your friends of.

      My suggestion: Since you know your friends are likely to feel awkward about coming empty handed, and in the absence of direction will feel obliged to bring something that you will later resent, why don’t you just ask them to bring wine or some other non-perishable. That way you can direct what they bring without it interfering with your carefully-considered menu. You could also ask them to bring a baguette, some fruit to go with dessert, or something else that if it is leftover will make a nice breakfast.

      Most of the time I’ll tell my friends: “I’ll have beer and wine, but if there’s anything special you want to drink, feel free to bring that.” That way, they usually end up bringing a bottle of wine (which we drink that night or don’t, and no one ever cares), or they bring and drink some kind of expensive hoppy bitter beer, which I would never buy anyway. Win-win.

      • Darla

        What an excellent response. We entertain very frequently and more often than not we provide the main dish and friends bring the sides. I usually suggest sides and deserts and keep a list so we do not wind up with an unbalances menu. For a ‘No Gift” event, I always bring a hostess gift of wine or flowers, or an item such as a wine stopper. (We live in Wine country) If we are preparing all the items for a meal and someone asks, I do request something simple such as the bread or a fruit tray.

  3. Jody

    I think it’s more a sense of people feeling awkward at showing up empty-handed. Still, if you (as host) say not to bring anything the guests should abide by that decision. If guests bring some food anyway, and you have the meal completely planned, I would not feel guilty about not putting out the guest’s contribution. I don’t think you’re a rude host at all; you’ve taken care to plan a good menu and plan your table and shouldn’t be expected to alter your arrangements at the last minute. It might seem like a small thing to some people but it really isn’t.

    • Elizabeth

      They can be. Usually people try to match the formality of the invitation with the formality of the event. So, an emailed invitation might signal a relatively informal party. Or, it could mean a number of other things: they didn’t want to spend money on paper invitations, they wanted to to utilize the RSVP feature of an Evite-type website (for their convenience, or for their guests’ convenience), or they believe that the response rate will be better with an emailed invitation (because its easier to respond electronically). But I don’t know that there’s anything rude per se about an emailed invitation. You should reply to it as you would any other invitation – promptly and in the same medium as you received it.

  4. David

    I agree that no gift means no gift. I recently married, asking for no gifts. Two relatives each brought us especially cheap gifts of $50. Checks. I was and am still so offended. Guests may, at a later date, invite you to dinner at a very nice restaurant, if they insist on giving and sharing.

  5. Adrienne

    First of all, it’s not rude. It may be lacking in etiquette but it’s certainly not rude. Look up the definition of rude (offensively impolite or ill-mannered). I brought a small gift to a wedding when the invitation said no gifts. I simply didn’t know better. I had never been invited to an event where I was explicitly told not to bring a gift. I was uncomfortable doing such as I was raised never to go to a party empty handed. I thought a small gift of some sort would be fine. My heart was in the right place. This was probably the case with your relatives, David. Try to look at it from the other side before getting all high and mighty and being offended by someone trying to do something nice. When people bring something, they are trying to be kind. For the gal worried about being upstaged by a guest. Really? I think you need to re-examine the purpose of your get togethers. Is it for community and to enjoy each others company or is it to put on a show?

  6. Auntie

    What should one do when a niece emails her engagement adding that the wedding will be among close friends and family. We are clearly not invited. What should we do about a gift?

  7. Lori C

    Are you sure you will not receive an invitation? If you have confirmed you will not receive an invitation to the wedding, a nice card congratulating the couple is perfectly fine. If you are positive you are not invited to the wedding, you should not receive an invitation to any wedding showers. If you are invited to a wedding shower, you are to receive an invitation to the wedding.

  8. Nessy

    Well we were issued a “save the date” card about 5 months ago and then an invite to the wedding about 1 month ago. No mention was made regarding gifts so I dutifully purchased a thoughtful gift a while back. Now I’ve just been told “no gifts – if you want to put money in a wishing well please do”. Should I now not give the gift? Or return it to the store and give the money I spent on it? Ahhh!

    • Elizabeth

      I would ignore whoever told you “no gifts”. Weddings are traditionally gift-giving occasions, and there are plenty of people who dislike giving money. Go ahead with your original plan.

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