Open Thread

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  1. Laverne

    Hi, I’m going on a weekend trip with my book club. One of the women volunteered to make a picnic lunch for all of us the first day (we’re wine tasting at local wineries), and the rest of us will all just pitch in and help pay for the meal. It sounded great at first, but she is on a very restricted diet, and the menu reflects that, no dairy, no sugar, no nuts, no meat and no wheat. When I saw that, I very gently suggested that we all pick up our own food at a local deli or make it more of a potluck lunch, but no go, the others thought it was “awesome” and the woman making the meal said it ” was no problem.” So, my question is, what do I do now? Suck it up and pay $10 for food I don’t want to eat to save hurt feelings? Bring my own food? What is the polite thing to do?

    • Elizabeth

      Do you already know the menu and know for certain that you will not like the food? If so, you are within your rights to bow out of the lunch and bring your own. Instead of changing everyone’s plans, you can simply contact the woman making the food and let her know that you’ve decided to bring your own food to the wine tasting, so she can adjust her amounts accordingly. If she asks why, you can say that you understand her food restrictions are a matter of necessity, but that you also have strong preferences (or needs) that you don’t expect her to accommodate, so you’ll just bring your own. You could say, “I admire your willpower/discipline, but for me, a meal isn’t a meal without bread/meat/cheese. But it’s not that I want to upset the apple cart for everyone, so I’ll just bring my own meal and enjoy your company during lunch. I just wanted to let you know so you could adjust how much you make accordingly.”

      If, however, you don’t yet know the menu, you could ask her or suck it up for one meal. There is the possibility of things getting awkward for you to be the only one not to partake of a communal meal. Eating together is, after all, a strong bonding experience in all human cultures, and it would be better for your relationships with the other members if you would join them. Also – if the outing is tomorrow this person has already purchased food for you, I think you are obligated to reimburse her for the cost, whatever you end up eating.

  2. Laverne

    Thank you for your response. We aren’t going until next weekend, and yes, I have seen what she is planning to bring for lunch (and although the food is not what I would ever choose to eat, it won’t kill me). I was just trying to figure out if there was a way possible to politely bring my own food without offending her. I am a little bothered that she hasn’t thought that perhaps the other six of us might want like something other than her limited choices.

    • Elizabeth

      I understand your feelings about the whole thing. However, it sounds like the other members are viewing the whole enterprise as an exciting experiment. Thinking on it more, I actually cannot imagine a wine-tasting day without the baguette, cheese and charcuterie that would so naturally pair with it! I think the only polite thing you can do is to bow out of the arrangement, as I previously suggested. You can’t, however, accuse her of not taking your preferences into account. I don’t know if these restrictions are elective or determined by an actual allergy, but if it’s the latter, you have to feel a bit bad for someone whose diet is so restricted. One additional thought: you could bring a couple of baguettes and a wheel of brie to share with everyone, adding to the meal prepared by the friend. No one will fault you for being generous!

    • Jazzgirl205

      It’s just one meal. I don’t know your club, but would there be hard feelings if you brought your own food? Maybe this lady is inviting you all into her world. Maybe she thinks that you will like at least some of her food and want to serve it for some of your get togethers so she won’t feel left out at gatherings. One meal may be a small price to pay for the comraderie and goodwill of your friends.

    • Joke

      I’m really curious to see this menu! It would be lovely to have as a reference for serving a meal for people with dietary restrictions! Would you mind sharing?
      I am a 95% vegetarian (as in, I will still eat the animals I am served when invited for dinner be it at home or at a restaurant with no appropriate choices) and I must admit that I had to try very hard this summer not to be offended by my future father-in-law taking out the lunch meat and bread after I served a vegetarian meal that I planned to be something filling with familiar foods and one or two elements more unfamiliar to them (for example quinoa, falafel). I did vent a little to my fiancé some time afterwards but not to his parents as I was very humbled by their efforts to serve me vegetarian food during my two week stay with them.
      I’m just telling the story because I agree with Jazzgirl205 in that there are two positives for this lady in serving the food for all:
      – she is not “left out” from eating certain foods someone else may have brought
      – she has an opportunity to share something she considers delicious and you may discover something new this way
      I am sure that she is making a special effort to bring something lovely and she may be saddened if she considers that you don’t appreciate that. If you bring baguettes and brie like Elizabeth suggests or something else to add to the meal, I would definitely discuss this with the lady concerned beforehand.

  3. claudia

    I have worked with the same people for 15 years, my daughter is getting married and one of my friends/co worker wants to host a shower everyone has met my daughter at other events. Would it be appropriate as only a few will be invited to the wedding.

    • Elizabeth

      Usually etiquette only permits wedding guests to be invited to bridal showers, following from the thinking that if someone isn’t close enough to be invited to the wedding, then they’re not close enough to be asked to buy the bride a gift. The only exception is the work shower. However, this would be the case if YOU were the one getting married, not your daughter. It would be best to forgo the work shower, and simply invite your closest coworkers to your daughter’s ‘official’ bridal shower. That way the others are not put into the uncomfortable position of having to buy a gift for a couple that they are not close enough to be invited to the actual festivities.

      Another option would be to have an event where your daughter comes to go out for lunch or happy hour with you and your coworkers. They can toast to her happiness without having to spring for a gift. Another option would be if your friend could host the kind of shower where the gift does not cost anything. For instance, perhaps your coworkers could shower her with their favorite recipe or relationship advice.

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