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We entertain a lot and have a lot of fun getting everyone
together. I don't expect our friends to host as often. My
husband has a couple of friends that do not entertain often.
Some never do. That's fine. It's the potluck parties that
When his 2 friends (both are couples - one with older children
in college and another couple with no children) do have a get
together, it's always potluck where we're told what to bring.
Moreover, the couple without kids have ''no children'' parties so
we only go to about half of them which ends up being once every
other year or so. We have 2 young children.
I'm kind of tired of this. Do I just suck it up and deal with
going to their potluck parties? Or do I stop going? Can I
somehow stop inviting them to our parties?
In some ways, I feel like they're free loaders. I know it's
wrong to feel this way but I do. Oh, btw, all our financial
circumstances are similar... except for the couple with kids in
college. They complain about money all the time but they
always have... even when they bought a new car, go on luxury
cruise trips and she goes to the nail salon weekly...
It's great that you like to entertain and host dinners 100%.
Some people, however, are more comfortable sharing the cooking,
and some think it's fun to have everyone contribute. Sounds
like money is not the issue here. If you like these couples and
want to spend time with them, then keep on inviting them and
keep attending their potlucks.
I think, you should stop entertaining all together, you can not
be happy if you keep doing it, I often said to myself when I see
my sister for example, so stress over X-Mas Party, she wanted to
do it, no one forces her.
And by the way we shouldn't be looking through over friends
finances, who cares if they complain and still take cruises?
Just do it for the fun of it, and more because is a scape for
you who is with the kids all the time, I assume, is your outlet
to be with grown ups, lets put it that way.
When I invite people to our place I don't expect nothing from
them, and that's it!!!!!!!!!!!
The title of your message ''Husband's Friends'' says it all. They
are his friends and you don't like them very much. Maybe they
aren't as into entertaining as you are, so they do potluck. Maybe
they all started the potluck thing when they were younger and
never changed. Your options are to suck it up or change to
potluck parties yourself so you don't feel used. I understand
that it doesn't feel good to be the one who gives and never
receives. But if you truly enjoy entertaining, is it that big of
deal? If you only do it because they are your husbands friends,
just order take out or do the potluck thing and move on.
In a nutshell, keep things really simple. If you truly enjoy
their company, keep at it, regardless. If not, fade away and do
what brings you joy instead.
You said it's wrong to feel they're freeloaders? No way. It
would be wrong to lie and pretend to yourself that they are
more honorable or fair than they really are.
If you enjoy their company despite the imbalance, sure, it's
fine to keep inviting them. If not, dump them. It's absolutely
okay to stop inviting them! It's your home and your money, time
and effort. You should be inviting people who you want to be
As for the potlucks... same advice. Do you enjoy going, despite
that you are expected to prepare a meal? If so, keep going (and
husband has to prepare or buy the item, just in case he feels
all this is ''no big deal''). If not, just say you can't make it
and move on.
The pot luck people probably don't like to cook, or don't know
how, but they like to entertain now and then. Pot lucks are
often looked at as a ''bringing the community together'' type of
thing although Miss Manners says the host should never invite
people over for a pot luck. Of course they could have a dinner
party catered, but I bet they think a pot luck is a warm and
welcoming kind of get together....you get to eat interesting
food, see what other people make, etc.
The no kid people probably don't have a kid safe house....maybe
they have pets that are not kid friendly.
I love to cook and have dinner parties fairly regularly.
My kids are now teens and my house is not so toddler safe. It's
more work for my friends with young kids to bring them here, as
much as we try to accomodate the younguns...and our friends
don't have as good a time cause they constantly have to watch
the babes. (We put our dogs in another room).
I can see how this would bug you, but try to look a little
deeper. Maybe there is more then meets the eye.
If you like the people, then welcome an opportunity to
socialize with them under any circumstances. If you don't, then
life is too short. Move on.
However, if you don't want to spend time with them because of
the potluck thing or because of the ''inequity'' in the parties,
then I think that's not right.
My husband and I love socializing and entertaining, but we
frequently have gatherings/meals with others where there is a
potluck. I usually provide all the main items and drinks and
others might bring a salad, snacks or desserts. In fact, I
expect that when I am invited to someone else's house and I
feel weird if I am told to bring nothing. For some people,
potluck type gatherings are normal. If you throw more elaborate
parties, then that's also your option.
As for the couple who throws adult parties, that's their
choice. They don't have to cater to you or your family. I
understand your position, as I also have young kids, but I
imagine that those who don't might prefer, at least at times,
to see just other adults.
Just my two cents
Just do what works for you! Stop going to their parties if you
don't want to go, stop inviting them to yours if you don't want
them. You'd probably have more fun w/ other couples w/ kids
anyway. Or invite THEM to a potluck. Some shift in friends ends
up happening inadvertently when you have kids anyway. So you try
as best as you can to keep up with the child-free couples, and
they try their best, and you get together less often than you
used to. That's the way it goes. I certainly have experienced
that from both sides, first as the child-free person, now as the
person w/ kids whose child-free friends may not be as excited
about getting together with me. And I distinctly remember how my
parents' friends shifted over the years, and they stuck more
closely to those they had more in common with.
I am looking for tips on how to host a low stress dinner party.
We like to have people over, but often I find it stressful
cooking, cleaning etc. I am an okay cook, but not great. I would
love some advice from experienced cooks and party hosts. Any
great recipes (vegetarian or meat) that can be made ahead of time
(either a day before, or an hour before so I can focus on guests
when they arrive)? Easy appetizers/desserts? How long between
guest arrival and serving dinner. Buffet style versus serve
everyone, sit at the table? We generally don't want formal
gatherings - just 6-8 people including a few kids (ages 3+). Thanks.
Have you thought about giving a brunch, especially since you
mentioned that young children will be in attendance, so you don't
need to deal with bedtime issues? Brunches are SO much easier
than dinner parties. You can buy high quality breads/pastries,
cut up some ripe fruit (pineapple, cherries, strawberries,
stonefruit, whatever is in season), make frittatas (crustless
quiche, essentially), green salad, and breakfast meats if desired
(can be purchased lox/smoked trout alongside bagels or
pumpernickel bread or bacon/saussage). To get fancier, add
cheeses. Serve juice/coffee/tea and you're done!!
But since you asked, here's an easy dinner party. Roast a
chicken, buy a high quality chicken such as Rosie or Rocky.
After removing inside packet and rinsing chicken, fill body
cavity with the cut halves of 1 lemon and fresh rosemary. Put a
bit of butter under the skin and black pepper and place in a
preheated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, then turn to 350
degrees until chicken is done. To fill out dinner, do a green
salad, purchase a selection of cheeses, and roast some veggies
(cut up in wedges potatoes, onions, and mushrooms in half and
some baby carrots, then toss in extra virgin olive oil with salt
and cracked pepper, put in oven at 400 degrees until done -
veggies should be of similar size to be done at the same time -
about 1 hour or so or can be roasted WITH chicken). Serve with
good bread and wine. Or order a whole salmon ''butterflied'' and
place on olived oiled baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil and
place lemon slices on top (some cilantro/chives or parsley on top
is good too). Put a second baking sheet in lower rack in a
preheated 350 oven that has about 1/2 inch of water. Put salmon
on baking sheet on a rack ABOVE the water filled pan after about
10 minutes. Bake about 20 minutes. Easy ''poached'' salmon. The
''sides'' can be the same as above but add fennel to the roast
veggie selection. Deserts? That's what bakeries are for or do
good ice cream and biscotti. Fresh fruit with home whipped cream
is also good.
One last tip: To divide up the work for elaborate menus, I'll
peel and cut up garlic, onions, or veggies the evening before I
do the cooking (essentially acting as my own prep cook). I'll
also make whatever I can the day before (cream cheese and/or egg
spreads for hor d'ourves to be served with olives, green onions,
smoked fish/lox, halved cherry tomatoes - all but the tomatoes
can be done the day before), any braised dish and many pasta
sauces(will take better the next day).
Good for you! It's great that you want to face your fears and connect with your
How about a taco bar? Everything can be done ahead, the guests make their own,
and you can accomodate vegetarians, carnivores, and picky eaters all at once. I
have also done pasta bars where I make a big pot of pasta, and offer a couple of
different make ahead sauces, a salad and garlic bread. There is nothing wrong with
a potluck, either.
In the bigger picture, don't get intimidated. Real friends come over for the
company, not to critique the food!
Have fun with it
If you aren't into cooking, make it easy for yourself. Do a
starter that requires no cooking, like buy a selection of good
quality deli meats and cheeses (salami, ham, olives, brie,
etc...) and put them out nicely on a tray with bread and crackers
and let people help themselves. Buy a beautiful dessert from a
bakery. Or do icecream sundaes. Or just buy some really lovely
fruit, like a bowl of cherries, and put out some chocolates. An
easy main course could be a pasta where you make the sauce in
advance and just heat it up and cook the pasta when the guest are
there. Or do a stew or braised dish which is made completely in
advance. Lasagna is always a crowd pleaser and can be totally
done in advance. Keep an eye out at the shops for pre-made
items--try them on your family first so you can assess the
quality. If you like it, your guests will too. Andronico's has
some lovely pasta salads which would be great for a lunch. Don't
feel like you have to cook to throw a dinner party. Guests will
feel charmed at your efforts, regardless of whether you cook or
not. Show them you care by putting out candles and flowers.
Then spend your time at the party socializing! Good luck!
Love to Entertain
I vote for buffet style. I don't like to be served at a party-
especially by the hostess! One easy dish could be a large salad
and french bread. Maybe, a ham could work.
I read Amy Sedaris's book I LIKE YOU, Entertaining Under The
Influence, cover to cover and got a lot of tips as well as
laughs. The recipes are real and very easy...very whip it up
fast in most cases.
Anyway good advice is to keep it simple.
For kids, lemonade. Maybe put a bottle of Vodka next to it.
(for the parents) Card tables are great. make food that won't
get spread all over & maybe invest in some party plastic since
you are probably going to have a lot of rowdies around now that
you are a parent. Cherry tomatos, piate booty, etc in festive
bowls...I usually make a big hot tufu/veg (peel a carrot,
ginger, & garlic put it in a blender with soy, rice vinegar, &
a splash of sesame oil, saute veg, mix that in & add chopped
tofu) serve that with a big pot of rice. It's pretty PC for
vegans & everyone likes it, plus it's cheap so you can do
it....a big salad is good on the side. I alway put it out
de-cafe & cupcakes will get rid of/signal the end....
Remember that the most fun is had in imperfect settings so just
invite people over and enjoy them. You don't have to wow
anybody. That said, it is fun to make goofy decorations with
Just clear a space for the food & relax!
If you're not a great cook or don't enjoy cooking, then don't
give ''dinner'' parties! Host a ''game night'' or ''movie night'' or
some similar informal party. Put your energy into planning fun
things to DO, and don't worry much about what everyone's going
to EAT. (I personally enjoy those parties more anyway, as a
guest.) Order pizza or some similar crowd-pleasing takeout,
make it a potluck, have your party at a time that's between
meals so you only have to serve snacks, or just serve something
simple -- when the focus of the gathering isn't the food, you'll
feel less stressed about cooking something wonderful. Or host a
make-your-own omelets/tacos/waffles/sundaes type party -- you
set out lots of yummy ingredients and the necessary equipment
and let your guests play with the food themselves.
I happen to enjoy baking and I'm good at it, so for my parties I
concentrate on the cake. :-) (Or cookies or pie or whatever.)
You might likewise just focus your time and energy on whatever
aspect of the food and drink you're best at -- or perhaps you'd
have fun cooking just about anything as long as you can
concentrate on ONE thing (whether appetizer, entree, dessert or
drinks) and use store-bought for, or recruit guests to bring,
And have fun!
Cheese and Crackers Host
Do it regularly! That may seem like odd advice, but it really
helps to be in practice. You could set up a regular night to
host a small group you know well, then move up to fancier
groups/menus after you've had smaller ones regularly.
We're two working parents and two young kids and no extra help
but we entertain 1-2 times a week - often just one or two
guests, but monthly a larger group. Other tips for keeping it
- keep it simple: chose a menu that looks nice then eliminate
(or chose to buy) one thing. Scale back.
- lower your cleaning standards: quickly pile clutter into a box
and shove it into a closet, stand at your doorway and try to see
your house as a guest will and only clean the things that are
most glaring if you're out of time.
- never apologize: if the soup is too salty or the bathroom a
mess, just ignore it and never draw attention to it by
commenting on it. Chances are half the time guests won't
notice. Unless it's inedibly salty - then quietly don't serve it.
- set the table/clear the worst clutter first so that if you run
out of time when guests arrive, you're cooking instead of
running around cleaning.
- likewise, have appetizers/drinks basically ready to go
- invite guests from more than one household so they might
entertain each other while you finish the meal prep. Or, try to
get the kids to entertain the guests and v.v. (we sometimes use
video for the kids as a backup during the pre-meal rush)
- Breathe! Try to relax and have fun, even if it was a hectic
prep. Your guests will enjoy themselves more if you do
- Pick menus that have elements that can be done ahead. Cooking
magazines tend to tell you how far ahead something can be done,
as do some cookbooks.
- Try to follow the rule of never making a something the first
time for guests. Especially at first, cook things that you are
familiar with or that are very simple so being distracted by
guests won't throw you off.
- When I invite new guests I ask for any food restrictions in
the family in advance. I don't tend to accomodate food
preferences per se (''my kid only eats white food''), but I do set
a menu that suits true restrictions.
- Offer a range of beverages (alcohol and non)
Enjoy! There's a lot to be said for entertaining, especially in
our situation with young kids where both eating out and being
invited to someone else's house are very rare treats.
- Loves entertaining...
Often times my husband and I feel like we take on all the work
of entertaining and having friends over to our home, but are
rarely invited over to their home. We are very social people
and love to cook, drink wine and mingle with friends and their
children (we have two children). We have a couple of friends
who reciprocate often, but the majority of our friends and even
our family members (my own brother) do not.
Sometimes I wonder if we'd even see some of our friends (or
family for that matter) if we didn't invite them over! These
are friends with children the same age as ours, and our
children all get along very well. Also, these are friends we
have known for the past 5-10 years, and I can say they've had
us over maybe 2-3 times at the most.
And while I love to get together, it tends to get very
expensive to always be the one hosting. On average our dinner
parties cost us between $30-50 not including the wine. I buy
nice cuts of meat or fish, organic vegies and put together
simple but gourmet type meals (these are not throw a hamburger
on the grill kind of parties). We spend a lot of time cleaning
the house, setting the table, cooking and then all the clean-up
afterwards. We derive a lot of enjoyment from entertaining
friends and family, and feel it's important for our children to
experience the fun in having friends over and sharing a meal
and good conversation around a table.
We are pretty easy going people, and our children are very
polite and play well with others. We make and keep friends
easily and have never had a falling out with any of them, so it
can't be a personality thing or something with our children.
I've tried having friends over between meals, for a ''let the
kids play'' kind of thing, but inevitably they stay for lunch or
dinner. We've tried meeting friends in restaurants but it's
either too expensive or its hard on the young children so that
doesn't work too well. And on the rare occasion that we have
been invited over our friends order take-out (and of course I
pay our fair share)! Is it normal to invite people over to your
house and make them pay for the take-out order?!
Do some people just never entertain or host dinners at their
home? Is it right to have dinner at a friend or family member's
house 15-20 times a year for the past 5+ years, but invite them
over to your home maybe only 2-3 times in that time frame?
Should I just not invite these friends over again and have my
children be sad about not seeing their friends? How do I do
that to family members? Or should I just realize (and accept)
that some people do not/will never reciprocate or just don't
would love to have someone cook us dinner for a change!
I agree with you that in a perfect world, everyone should contribute
their fair share. But you're aware we don't live in such a world.
I see that you have four reasonable options:
1. Host potlucks from now on, so your food cost is minimal.
This means accepting that the food will always be a wildcard.
Also, it gently teaches your friends that there is effort involved in
parties, and perhaps they will wise up.
2. Stop inviting people who never reciprocate (in other words, stop
3. Realize there is a cost involved with great entertainment, and
understand that your enjoyment far outweighs the money you spend on it.
Understand that in your circle of friends, your role is that of host,
for better or worse. Accept that others cannot accomplish what you can.
Accept that it will always cost you more than it does your friends.
4. Widen your circle of friends to include people who enjoy hosting as
much as you.
My feeling is that your friends are not opposed to helping out - they
just never thought about it. Or, hosting parties is not their forte.
Maybe they aren't organized enough; maybe their house is too
messy/small; maybe the idea of hosting overwhelms them. Maybe also,
parties are not that important to them. Sure, they enjoy going to
others' parties, but there isn't a large enough priority for them to do
it themselves (enjoyment vs effort expended is not high enough). I know
all these things are true for me. So... I should never go to another
party again, because I will never ever host my own party. Yes, that
might be the fair thing to do, even though it would mean the end of
socializing. Instead, I see that some people are fantastic party hosts.
So I leave it to them since they're good at it (and LIKE it), and I
contribute, whether it is wine, flowers, dessert, snacks, whatever.
I think it's wonderful that you are able to host successful parties
regularly. How nice that you enjoy hosting them and also are organized
enough to get all the necessary food as well as guests. You said you
derive a lot of enjoyment from it and spend .. was it, $30-50/month on
it? As far as entertaining fees, that's not bad considering how much you
enjoy it. I knew a gal who spent $300 per party, just on the
If all your friends started saying ''Gee, I don't think I should come
and eat all your food. After all, I never have parties myself'', I'm
sure you would still encourage them to come.
Otherwise, you'd end up hosting a party in which only you and your
spouse are present.
Good luck figuring this out for yourself. I think there is no perfect
Signed, Party goer
Yes, you need to accept that some people just don't like to entertain,
and if you tire of entertaining, then take a break or don't do it. You
don't want to find yourself resenting your friends and family because
they don't share your passion for entertaining. I do agree that having
to pay for takeout at someone else's house isn't very cool, especially
in your situation of having provided meal after meal for them. But
you've got to let your angst go about the lack of reciprocation.
an occasional entertainer
I grew up in a home that was great for entertaining, and with parents
able to be generous and warm people. My childhood was filled with good
people having fun because my parents made it possible. The only reward
or payback they got was years of fun, great friends and seeing that
their kids grew up generous and warm people too.
There are two possible explanations for why others ''let'' you do all
-- either they are comfortable and happy in your home, or they see you
as unwilling to give up control. If in fact its the first case, there's
no harm in encouraging your guests to bring food or drink, or just in
accepting what they offer... and accepting that your home is the center
of activity. If its the second option ---- well you have to decide what
My parents gave us the gift of a welcoming, warm, generous home. If they
were keeping track of who owed what I never knew... If entertaining
makes you happy, I'd encourage you to stop keeping track, and accept
your role in your friends' lives.
I miss the social circus I grew up in... but married a shy person.
Thanks for reminding me that we need to do more having people over --
for our sakes, for the sake of our kids, and because its fun!
Soon to be graciously hosting...
I could have written your email. I have thought long and hard about it
and have come to the following conclusions.
1. I love to entertain, so I do it often. The house is a little
cleaner, and I love taking out the good tablecloth, dishes, glasses and
setting a great table. I own dozens and dozens of cookbooks and love
making new things, sometimes gourmet, sometimes cheaper but gourmet
like. This is why we often have people over.
2. Many of my friends DO NOT like to entertain, and they will never
invite me over.
Some live in small, cramped apartments in SF. Some are not genetically
disposed to appreciate all that ''having friends over for dinner''
represents. I have one friend who so shamelessly NEVER hosted a party,
gathering, or dinner but was always there for yours that we started
making fun of him regularly and this eased the tension. And he's
started having us to dinner, but he just bought a beautiful house to
entertain in. I think there are many reasons why people don't invite
friends for dinner, most of them having nothing to do with stinginess or
callousness. It often has more to do with messy houses and the
perceived inability to cook.
3. People who come to your house for dinner and don't ask ''What can I
bring?'' are RUDE. A good friend cooks something or brings a salad,
maybe even a decent bottle of wine. An idiot can muster up a bad bottle
of wine. Empty handed? For shame.
4. What's UP with the people who invite you over and ask for $$ towards
the takeout? However, there's a difference between inviting people over
for dinner and then ordering take out and expecting the guest to pay
half and ''come on over and watch the game,'' which then turns into,
''Anyone want to chip in and order a pizza?''
In conclusion, my husband and I are the entertainers - so much so we
joked about it in our wedding vows. Our friends are not quite as
enthusiastic about it, and while I am disappointed, I have come to terms
with it. You don't mention - do you work?
Since having my son I've been working part time from home, so it's a lot
easier to plan a Friday night meal and prep here and there Thursday and
Friday day. Or plan to make a braised chicken or beef dish and marinade
it overnight, get it in the oven for 5pm. I am also a big multi tasker
and my son is very well tempered, so I can cook a dinner for friends
without a toddler tantrum. When I worked a FT job my entertaining was
way less aggressive. And I saw my friends less as a result. So I am in
the same boat as you, and I used to think exactly what you think. and it
got me nowhere but in a sadder state. The social strata is filled with
all kinds, and I've decided that this is my role. Better this than on
I grew up in a household like the one you describe--my parents were
always having people to dinner and it was a source of great pleasure for
them, and for we children--except when we were teenagers, of course. But
I learned from my friend, whose parents were some of my parents' closest
friends, that not every one is as comforatble hosting a party as my
parents were. My friend described how her mother would have a panic
attack any time she was preparing for guests, and it was hell on
everyone in her family. Why not try what our circle of friends
does--organizing potlucks/picnics/barbeques at local parks or other
neutral places? This has worked really well for our group, which has a
core of four families but is very elastic and accomodating of new
friends, visting family members, etc. By having the get-together at a
park, everyone is spared the heavy housecleaning involved in preparing
for company, and the expense is spread around so that everyone can
participate. And the kids have an absolute ball. The coordination,
choice of theme (Mexican food with Margaritas, Red White and Blue food
for 4th of July, whatever) and other detail planning can be shared or
delegated to one family.
We've been doing this for years, beginning with a Mother's Day barbecue
planned by the dads when our kids were in kindergarten; now the oldest
are high school juniors and we have many happy years of memories, as
well as surrogate family for us all. We have taken camping trips and
vacations together, and shared rented ski cabins that accomodate skiers
and non-skiers alike. And the potluck picnic idea has then evolved
naturally into dinner parties where the hosts prepare the bulk of the
meal but one family brings dessert, another a green salad, and the third
an appetizer. You get the idea.
You sound like a very friendly, welcoming and generous person, and I'm
sorry that you are feeling used by your friends. I'm quite sure they are
not trying to take advantage of you. I wanted to give you a perspective
from the 'other side', as someone who rarely invites friends over for
dinner. The reason I don't invite people over is that, for me,
organizing a visit and cooking meals for strangers (i.e. non-family
members) is very stressful, especially since I'm not a particularly good
cook. I'm also sometimes a bit uncomfortable about the way the house
looks (not always as neat or clean or cozy as I wish it could be) and I
feel that I would have to get it all organized and scrubbed if I were to
officially invite people over. However, if a friend were to call up and
say 'hey, I'm going to be in your neighborhood this afternoon, should I
stop by?' I would almost definitely say 'yes!'. I have a few suggestions
for you. First, you can subtly invite yourself over to your friends'
houses, as above. Some may be very happy to have you over. Second, if
you do want to have friends over for dinner, make it a potluck! This way
everyone can contribute, and it won't all be on your shoulders. Also, I
think it's fair to ask for help cleaning up afterwards. Third, regarding
take-out food, I do think it's fair to ask guests to share the bill.
Fourth, now that the weather is warming up, maybe you can suggest to
meet your friends at the park. This way no one has to host or pay for
food for others. And finally, some of us, although we would love to keep
in touch with our friends and see them often, simply find child-caring +
work totally exhausting and encompassing (see other posts in the same
advice wanted newsletter, for example) and just don't find the time to
I'm in fact quite impressed that you find the time and energy to
entertain so often. Hope this is helpful, and that you don't lose your
I am in a similar situation! it has been a pattern over the past 5
years... 1st because my husabnd & I were the first amongst our friends
to get a house & it seemed so much easier than all trying to cram into
an apartment, then we had a baby (2
1/2 years ago) & I think folks assumed we wanted them to come over here
so we could still put her down for naps, etc. it wasn't an issue when
we had more time & we had more $ to dedicate to hosting, ie. before
baby. so now we do a few
things: when we want to socialize, we say ''want to get together this
weekend?'' and when they say yes we say ''great, we'll come over to your
place at around 5:30- what can we bring?'' the other thing is we
ABSOLUTELY will not clear the table or wash dishes. after dinner we
make some excuse about needing to give the baby a bath, etc. luckily
our friends fall for these cheap ploys :) we still do more entertaining
than our friends, but it is a start! also making it a habit to ask
folks to contribute to meals you host- salad, dessert, bread, wine. I
used to be somewhat of a control freak about what was being served, but
after looking at our grocery bills I mellowed out (plus I keep the 'big
stuff'/main dishes to myself) good luck, virginia
You asked, ''Do some people just never entertain or host dinners at
their home?'' and believe it or not, you hit the nail on the head right
there. Some people just don't, and probably never will, and probably
have no idea how you're feeling about it!
No, it isn't fair, but there it is.
We happen to give big parties with some frequency, but almost never
invite anyone over for dinner. When we do see friends for lunch or
dinner, it is almost always a go out or take-out situation and everyone
pays their own way. This is not abnormal, although usually it's a
little more reciprocal in the sense that either family might be the one
to suggest getting together and there is some tradeoff in terms of which
family visits the other's home. And it's also a little more upfront --
we don't issue an invitation for dinner and then say, hey, we're calling
for pizza! When the arrangements are being made we'll say ''we could
hang out for a while and get some dinner'' or ''we could meet at Habitot
and then go get some lunch''.
Perhaps you could ask your friends to bring the wine. And/or some other
component of the meal. Or you could adopt the take- out solution
yourself -- at least some of the time. Or suggest meeting at a nearby
restaurant and returning to your home just for dessert. But don't
expect people who don't ''do'' dinner parties to invite you to one --
and don't deprive yourself of their company, assuming you otherwise
enjoy it, over this!
Have you considered inviting people over and doing potluck? If you
entertain regularly, it might be a way to make it a bit easier on you.
We have friends that do that, and I don't mind bring a dish of some sort
to make it easier on the host. Sometimes we bring wine and a dish.
Whenever we entertain, our friends ask us what they should bring.
Initially, I had reservations about asking people to bring something.
With a young child and limited time, I do ask guests to bring something.
I usually provide the main course, side dish and will have drinks too.
When there are a few families, there is plenty of food to go around and
the pressure is off me.
Sounds like you throw a great party - and perhaps you make it look too
easy. So there may be a couple of things going on.
Perhaps because it looks so easy for you to do, your friends don't see
it as an imposition. Or perhaps you are inadvertantly setting a high
standard and they are afraid that they won't measure up...will they
bring a bad wine? Or the wrong one? If you eat at their house, will it
be as good (this is the one I had to get over)(maybe that is why they
order out)? Is your house very neat and tidy and their's isn't (they
may be embarassed)?
Is your house a great space for large groups and theirs isn't?
Here are some potential solutions to ease portions of your burden
- financially and otherwise...As they leave next time say, ''HEy lets
have dinner at your place next time.'' Give gobbs of positive
reinforcement when on that rare occaision you do plan to eat at their
house (remeber why they might feel reluctant)...''a simple home cooked
meal would be fine''..or if they might feel better cooking with you, as
you have tons of experience, say ''I can come over at x pm and we can
cook it together.''..Set examples when you go to their place and offer
to bring the dessert or the wine or both - and say you'll bring these to
their house this time, and they can bring wine and dessert next time.
At the dinner and afterwards, praise their cooking. Also at the end of
the meal say, ''you cooked, so we'll help with the dishes!''. Tell them
how much fun you had at their house and how it would be nice to go back
and forth with the dinning location (''it's so nice to get a change of
scenery!'') Nesxt time the dinner is at your place, ask them to bring a
major portion of it...or the wine and the dessert. After the dinner,
get them to help you with the cleanup so that you don't have to do all
of it and end up resenting them for it. And there is always the
approach - although not as honest perhpas - of making the meals at your
home less interesting (order pizza...and a boring pizza at that) and
tell them you just didn't have it in you to get a big meal together that
Dear hosts with the mosts; that was a hilarious entry. You sound like
great and generous friends we would all be lucky to have.. Maybe 1)
some of your deadbeat friends will read your entry, cringe and start to
anty up, 2) You'll be deluged with hungry, thirsty and ready for new
friends kinda people who saw your entry and who would actually
reciprocate in kind...but if neither 1 or 2 happen I'd suggest dumping
the whole lot of them and cultivate a new friend garden. You're kind of
had! Bon apetit and Salud!!!!!
Some of us, who are parents of two young kids and who both work full
time, are way, way too exhausted and overwhelmed to entertain the way
you do! I could never find the time on a weekend to cook a gourmet
dinner after doing all the weekly house-cleaning, shopping,errands etc
(all while minding the kids).
You are truly amazing to be able to manage that! Have some pity of those
of us who are way less together than you are!
I'd love to have friends over more often, but it would make my life
unbearably stressful. I would say that if you enjoy entertaining,
continue to do it, but it isn't fair to expect others to entertain you
in the same fashion, or as often as you do.
Boy can I relate. I've come to the conclusion that if I decide to
entertain it is because I want to and want to see the people I invite,
and I just don't expect reciprocation. I find that I do this very
rarely now. It is a huge effort to make a nice evening for people, and
if I and my family are not important enough for them to also make an
effort for us, then they are telling me loud and clear where I stand on
their priority and friendship list. It is up to me to hear the message.
I don't expect complete or instant reciprocation, but if a couple or
fmaily never bothers to reciprocate (and I mean not even a ''come over
for coffee'') then, for me, this says something about how they value me
and my friendship. I've been told that this behavior is typical for the
bay area and to just accept it, but I have a hard time doing so. I
think it is sad commentary that there are a lot of people that are more
than happy to take advantage of other's hospitality without thinking
that maybe part of being a good friend is acting in like spirit. As I
mentined, even an invitation to coffee would count, it doens't have to
be a full evening of entertainment and food. Anyway, I don't have an
answer. I have pared down my husband's and my own list of ''friends''
quite dramatically in the last 3 years, and I can't say I am sorry about
it. After several evenings of us providing food and entertainment, we
were a bit hurt ourselves when no one bothered with a single invitation
to us over the span of more than a year. Maybe people are too wrapped up
in their own self-important lives. We all have busy lives and families,
no excuses there.
We have some friends who often invite us over for very nice dinners, and
we rarely invite them over even though we enjoy spending time with them.
There are a number of reasons for this.
1. We hardly ever get the chance. Whenever we think we start thinking we
should have them over, they invite us over first.
2. Distance. We live far away, and we've definitely gotten the
impression they don't want to drive that far just to visit us.
We on the other hand don't mind BARTing over to visit them.
3. Time. I'm the one that loves to cook and entertain, but I'm also the
one working 50+ hours a week. My husband is a SAHD but doesn't cook.
While I used to entertain quite a bit, I've had to reprioritize after
our baby was born and unfortunately, spending time entertaining has been
deprioritized quite a bit. Although entertaining is a high priority for
you, you aren't in a position to decide how high a priority it should be
for your friends.
4. Cost. We are living on less than half as much income as our friends
who entertain us often, and I'm pretty sure that they don't know that.
Entertaining them at the same level they entertain us would be a major
financial hardship for us.
It's wonderful that you love laying out a lavish spread for your
friends. But if you are starting to feel taken advantage of, then by all
means tone it down a little. I'm sure your friends love spending time
with you, and I'm sure they would reciprocate if they could. I suspect
that the reason they aren't is because they, like us, just can't. At
least not on the same level. Also, when our friends do order take out
when we visit, not only do we not mind, but we always pay our fair
I'm so sorry that your friends' behavior feels unkind. What a nice gift
you have given to so many, by offering these wonderful evenings. I
don't want to excuse anyone's behavior here. But just a few thoughts:
what about entertaining other families by just cooking one of your
favorite 'weeknight' meals and deciding to spend, say, no more than 30
minutes picking up the house?
Maybe that would make you feel a little less resentful about
entertaining, and maybe it would make others feel a little less
intimidated by serving their own rice-and-beans meals to you. I know
that these days, if I have to pull together a party where I feel like
the shelves need dusting and the sinks must be scrubbed and I must buy
wine that costs more than $6 a bottle, I pretty much give it up the idea
right there. Sure I'd like to host that kind of party, and I LOVE
attending such events, but it would literally take me a week to assemble
such an evening.
So, hats off to you for your flair and competence! but maybe lowering
your standards would help? Also, maybe joining a book club or some
social circle where the hosting responsibilities rotate would allow you
to feel your efforts reciprocated. Hang in there!
Wanna be Martha Stewart, but.........
you can invite people and ask them to bring something - have a potluck
or say, for example, we're providing salad and bread, you bring a pasta
as for playdates have them at a park that way you can leave when you're
ready and avoid complications like guests that won't leave.
Boy, I could have written your post, although I'm not sure my house is
quite as clean as yours. We have a few friends who reciprocate meals,
and lots and lots who don't. I think that the preparation of food has
become a lost art, even here in the foodie bay area. People seem amazed
that we cook dinner 6-7 nights a week. I've finally just chalked it up
to the way life is, and decided I'd rather see people than not, even if
it means hosting most of the time.
Have potlucks! It's a great way to entertain lots of folks without going
bankrupt. I've done these for years and they are always fabulous. Call
your friends and ask them to each bring one item and a beverage. No one
feels the financial burden of feeding a crowd. And since each is
responsible for only one dish, most folks usually make something
special. In order to make sure things are somewhat balanced, you may
want to assign a category to each guest (appetizer, dessert, entree,
salad, etc.). As an interesting aside, it's a good way to measure if you
are, in fact, being taken advantage of by some of your ''friends''. If
someone shows up empty-handed, or with a bag of chips, you may decide to
drop them from your guest list.
I think some people enjoy entertaining and some don't.
My husband and I love to have dinner parties. We do this every couple of
months...invite 14 or so people and make a wonderful dinner. Often we
invite smaller groups over for Shabbat or a weekend dinner.Sometimes we
invite the same friends over again adn sometimes invite newer friends or
people we'd like to get to know better. Some of these people
reciprocate and others don't.
Even some of our better friends never invite us over. But they don't
invite anyone over....so it's not that they're excluding us.
Some people don't have space, don't feel comfortable with people over,
don't have the know how to make a dinner for multiple folks. Many
If it were up to my husband, I don''t think he'd do dinner parties on
his own because he's not a very organized thinker. He could cook for 2
or 3 but not 14, even though he loves being part of our dinner parties.
It can be an expense. You can't really ask people to help with that but
maybe you can have them bring something....wine, dessert, a dish?
It's hard to go out with lots of kids, but you could try going out to
dinner (not as cozy and intimate) rather than everyone at your house.
You may just have to accept that this is the way it is and enjoy it for
that. HOpe this helps.
Your situation does seem unfair. But, as you know, entertaining guests
is a ton of work when there are little kids underfoot. I LOVE to
entertain, but simply don't do so now that I have 2 small kids (1 and
3). It is just so stressful trying to get the house ready, cook, etc.
So we do take out or potluck when
people come over. If you are willing to entertain, your guests
are lucky. But unless they've asked you to have them over, I don't
think they should be expected to reciprocate. It would be cordial of
them to do so, but serious entertaining is too much to ask of most
people with small kids. I'm glad you enjoy it and continue to do it. I
wish I still enjoyed it! I'd love to socialize more, but it is just too
stressful for the whole family.
Miss Manners would reprimand you for inviting people to your home with
the expectation of reciprocation. That said, we have encountered the
same problem. The solution ? Revise your friendship. They obviously
do not share your philosophy on manners and entertaining. You could meet
up in other ways, like at a park to play ---- forget having them over
for dinner. Find other friends who share your culinary interests. Who
Maybe your 'old' friends and family will notice they aren't getting a
free meal and suddenly start inviting YOU over.
- they can't take advantage without your consent
Some people just find entertaining stressful I think, and also have
trouble making plans in advance. That said, we are in a similar boat,
always having the family and friend dinner parties at our house, also
always hosting playdates that stretch through meals. Schedules between
families are hard, sometimes we only see certain friends every few
months even when we make an effort to do so regularly, but our good
friends who also entertain try to make sure we take turns at each
other's houses. As far as hosting manners go, I think it is okay to
order takeout if someone doesn't feel like cooking on a given day (who
knows what chaos their day held?) and still wants to have people over,
but I would never ask for my guests to pay the bill. The hostess/host is
responsible for entertaining menu and costs in my opinion, unless of
course people offer to bring a dish/wine or something.
You can only choose your guests based on how you enjoy them and your
children get along, and I would only entertain when you want to, maybe
less frequently if you think you are beginning to feel resentful. You
could also suggest meeting elsewhere, like a park for picnic where
everyone brings own food, etc, now that the weather is getting nicer.
It reminds me of the dilemma of younger days of going out with friends
who don't earn as much money, so you either go on the cheap, or pick up
the tab, but I always found it better to choose the quality of company
over the financial ability to keep even. You are a generous soul and
your friends probably appreciate your hospitality and feel bad they
can't reciprocate or get it together enough to feel like they can.
this does not address the whole of your post but why not host potlucks
sometimes where you provide the salad or just one simple thing. and I'd
invite less often the ones who never reciprocate and more often the few
who do. The ones who don't probably feel too intimidated to pull off
such an event but definitely they are rude not to offer to bring
something substantial to the dinner, or to help clean up after, and/ or
to find some other way to help you out or reciprocate.
I hope someone offers wonderful advice because I, too, have had this
problem to the degree that I seldom entertain anymore.
Here's my take. You sound like you do as I do and work towards providing
a nice time for your guests. I've never had anyone turn down an
invitation to my home!
On the other hand, I think reciprocation can seem more involved than my
guests want to handle i.e. provide a nice home cooked meal. I'd be happy
with drinks, take out, etc, but this never seems to cross anyone's mind.
Does this make sense? Not that it answers the question..
Been There, Seldom do That
I can relate to your situation. My husband and I are always the hosts of
the dinner party, but rarely the guests. I too put out great effort (and
often great expense) and have come to a peace about it. Namely, that I
do these things (meal plan, shop, cook, serve, eat, talk, clean up...)
because I enjoy it (like you!) - it is not conditional insuch that it
must or should be reciprocal. The enjoyment is mine alone and no
inhospitable guest can taint that. In an ideal world, it would be great
to enjoy ''my kind of offerings'' at someone else's house but that is a
seperate kind of enjoyment not related to feelings of being the hostess.
If you only like to play the host if you can also play the hosted, then
dinner parties may turn out to be more angst producing than a pleasure.
Keep in mind that others may not enjoy hosting a dinner party (it can be
quite stressful even if you know how to cook!) but I agree with the
take-out - if you have people over for take-out you don't ask them to
You might think of starting a gourmet club (like a book club for
foodies). Perhaps it is a group of 3 or 4 couples who all like to
cook...you meet once a month a someone's house (with or without kids).
It can even be a potluck style with the host of the evening delagating
the dishes that each couple needs to bring with them to the party. It
can even be a themed event. My friend had a lemon tree and served a
dinner party with each course centered around lemons! This could be a
great way to explore new types of cusine too (one dinner party can be
just indian food and another one Spanish tapas). But most importantly it
is a great way to regularly meet with friends who share your passions.
I have also encountered this situation with some of my frineds and
similar feelings of resentment have surfaced. What may help is to
remember you are making a choice to entertain and nobody is forcing you
to have others over. If you choose to continue with entertaining in your
home, you can also make a choice to set some boundaries. You can not
make that choice based on what you expect back from others. Some people
are not used to entertaining, some people may not feel comfortable with
their home, some people get very stressed about having people
over,etc... With that, if you like to have people over but feel that
others are not ''pulling their share'' or taking advantage of you, be
clear on your expectations. You can say something to the ''regulars''
such as, ''I want to have you guys over but I can not keep doing all of
the work because Im starting to feel resentful. Since this is a regular
occasion, I would like some help in chipping in for food, preparing,
kids cleaning up after themselves, etc..'' Setting boundaries can
sometimes feel a little uncomfortable, but it will feel a lot more
uncomfortable when your anger spills over for something inappropriate
because you left your feelings unchecked.
Well, I have to admit that I'm more in the ''don't reciprocate''
camp. Not because I don't want to, but because I'm not a very organized
person and don't ever seem to get it together to throw that dinner party
I'm always fantasizing about. Therefore, I really try to be a great
guest by always offering to bring dessert, salad, wine, whatever the
host/hostess needs (and if I do have people over and order take-out I
don't let them pay for it.
Having said that, I don't think you should always feel like you have to
do all the work yourself. Why not invite everyone over for a potluck --
maybe a regularly scheduled thing. You provide the wine and a main dish
and have everyone else bring something.
Or now that the days are getting longer, what about inviting everyone to
meet up at a park for an evening picnic. Sometimes people just need
someone to suggest or organize the event and then they'll step up to the
plate and do their share.
I, like you, love getting together with friends and always mean to do
it, just don't feel I'm as capable of entertaining as some of my other
friends. And perhaps you are so good at it, you make it look easy and
others don't realize what an imposition it is to always be heading to
your house for dinner.
Have you tried potlucks? We also entertain at our house more often than
we are invited elsewhere, and it does take a *lot* of effort. But I have
come to appreciate the fact that our house is well set up for gatherings
with kids, and not everyone has the space or inclination to entertain.
We have a big recreation room downstairs and lots of fun stuff for kids
to do (musical instruments, dress-up clothes, art/collage materials), a
wild backyard with trails and a creek for exploration. So I just try to
find ways to make it easier on me: ask people to bring food, enlist kids
in the clean-up afterwards, occasionally hire a housecleaner before a
big party so I can concentrate on food or other preparations. And if we
didn't have people over so often, I might never be able to convince my
own family that there was a good reason to clean the house.
I don't have a solution, and think people should reciprocate, but would
like to offer my view of why your friends and relatives may not be
inviting you as much as you think they should.
I think that cooking makes some pepole nervous. I can cook, but have to
plan for it, do it ahead of , and I'm never sure if its just going to be
good. My husband, can prepare anything on the go, and if he prepares
things, everybody says its delicious.
Thus, I'm a lot more lazy about organizing things that involve
food than he is... If people perceive you as a good cook and
someone who enjoys having their company, then maybe they have little
incentive to change things around?
What about suggesting dinner at your friend's and bringing some food?
This would be a middle point from them taking care of everything at
My husband and I also often feel that our entertaining efforts are not
reciprocated. We have finally accepted and come to understand some of
the reasons we may not be entertained as much as we like. I think these
reasons may apply to you. First, the reality is that most people we
know (particularly those with young children) don't have people over
much. As you know, it takes a lot of time and effort to shop, cook and
clean up the house, particularly when you are also caring for young
Once the guests arrive, things tend to remain hectic as diapers still
need to be changed, sippy cups need to be refilled, etc.
all while graciously trying to host your friends. Second, from the
lovely entertaining style you described, you may have friends who don't
feel they can entertain as well as you do. Some of my friends are very
intimidated by cooking and I suspect this an additional barrier to
having us over. Third, some our friends don't like to have people over
because they feel they lack space, etc. If you really want to keep
seeing these people and a home and a meal need to be involved, perhaps
you should try potluck so everyone shares the cooking and cost. Good
luck and don't take it personally.
I know how you feel. My solution to this problem has been to continue
inviting people over, but seriously change the amount of work involved.
My husband and I never clean beforehand anymore, and usually buy some
stuff to just throw on the grill.
Similarly, if people stay for a meal, I just boil some pasta or
something equally simple. I really do recommend this strategy-- it means
we still get plenty of quality time with friends, but don't feel put
upon. Many of our friends just can't seem to get it together to
entertain. I accept this and am happy to have them at our place (in fact
it's easier), as long as they don't mind the simple (read cheap) food
Goodness, your email resonated with me...for a lot of reasons. First, I
have friends who sound like you (good gourmet cooks, very organized,
lots of energy, more money to spend on entertaining) and they kinda
stress me out...so I don't have them over to my house as much as I've
been over to theirs. (Some of them have never been over, yet I've eaten
at their houses a couple of times.) Do I feel guilty about it?
Yes, but only to a point. I like to invite over the people who are easy,
that I have fun with, who won't mind that I had a bad day and decided to
order pizza (or throw a hamburger on the grill) instead of cooking. Or
that I'm serving some crappy wine that I know nothing about.
I also have friends who have so much more energy than I do that they are
ALWAYS initiating events. My husband and I can't keep up with them! We
mean to (we really do) but they always sneak up on us and get that
invite in before we have a chance to.
Another thing I'm thinking is that maybe other people don't reciprocate
because you are not at the top of their list. I don't mean that they
don't like you or appreciate what you have done for them. What I mean
is, if they are the kind of people who like to have dinner guests only
once a month, instead of say, every weekend, then maybe there are other,
closer friends that they want to have over instead of you. This may not
seem fair but it may be true. I have friends that I LOVE to see who
never, ever have us over. They always come to our house, bring good
wine, and help me cook. It is always fun.
Why do we never go to their house? Who knows? I'm just glad to see them
and would gladly have them over for the next 50 years even if I never
ate at their place.
Finally, have you thought about telling your brother to have you over?
Or that you would love to have someone cook for you for a change? That's
what I did when I got tired of coordinating most of our family
get-togethers, and it was really fun. My brother just assumed that I
wanted to have everyone to my house all the time, but once he realized
that wasn't the case, he took the lead.
If you are tired of taking on all the work of entertaining, you can
always stop doing it, back off, and see what happens.
You may find that others step up to fill the space you have created.
There may be some folks that you don't see...but if it's bugging you
that they don't reciprocate, maybe it's time for a little distance. If
you think it is too expensive to have people over and fix all the food
yourself, why not ask people to bring everything but the main course? As
far as your kids being sad that they won't see their friends--I bet
they'll deal with it, but it also sounds like you would be sad to have
your level of socializing go down. Maybe there is a way to keep seeing
your friends without the time, energy, and expense you described...you
might just have to change your idea af what a good night having friends
No Longer Keeping Score
My husband and I also love to have people over. Some friends
reciprocate, some do not. I generally dont take it personally. I think
an awful lot of people are intimidated by entertaining. They think
everything has to be perfect, and if they can't make it perfect, they
shouldn't even try. It sounds like you do some really amazing,
wonderful dinners, and they may feel like they just aren't up to snuff.
I know there have been times when I have mentally sworn that I would
NEVER have so-and-so over, I would just be too embarrassed to have her
see my shabby house and eat my nt-so-fancy cooking, after being in her
gorgeous home and eating her gourmet cooking! But I always get over it,
and figure people are coming for the company anyway. Maybe your friends
are feeling intimidated too.
There are a few ways to work around it. You might start making
gatherings into semi-potlucks. You provide the main dish, and ask
people to bring the side dishes.
Everyone I know is fine with this, in fact people usually are more than
happy to chip in.
Another thing we sometimes do is to have a barbeque at a local park.
Everyone brings stuff for the barbeque, and some side dishes. We
usually provide the charcoal and some extra meat. But that way we don't
have to clean the house, and the cost is spread around.
You can also suggest outings together, like all going to the zoo or the
Good luck! I am sure your friends are worth keeping, they are probably
just feeling overwhelmed and disorganized!
loves a party
In a sentence, ''Yes, there are people who never have other people over
to their houses.'' My family is almost one of them.
We do have friends & family over for big occasions (holidays and
birthdays, mostly), but we are not much for party-throwing. In fact, my
parents never had guests over for house parties, so it has taken me a
bit of time to feel confident enough to have such parties myself...I
really had no idea how to do them.
Now I do have rare parties, but I don't necessarily enjoy them, for all
the reasons you mentioned: lots of work cleaning and
I would say that you should do it less if the non-reciprocation bothers
you enough, or just do it anyway and know that some people will not
reciprocate very much.
ps. I do think it is a bit much for people to expect you to chip- in for
take out meals at their house...Just curious...did they ask you for $$
or did you offer?
My friend could have written your letter! I'm on the receiving end,
here's how I feel: I envy my friend's social grace and the comfort and
warmth of her home. She makes entertaining seem effortless and is a whiz
in the kitchen. I'm afraid I won't be able to perform to her standards.
However, she does have some dietary restrictions and has stated a clear
preference for HER cooking, despite our efforts to accomodate her. In
addition, she doesn't drive well. Finally, her husband is online
constantly, so I suspect she's reluctant to tear him away from his
computer. She really seems to enjoy entertaining, but your letter made
me realize that may not be the case, so thanks to you I will redouble my
efforts to have them over (I do offer). Oh yes, our house is really
really small, that definitely makes me uncomfortable about having many
Dear Always entertaining, You sound like a lovely and generous hostess,
but from reading your post, I'd say you are simply doing too much
yourself, and maybe expecting too much of others. If you are really
entertaining several families, each 15-20 times a year, you must never
have a meal alone with your family! I, too, love to entertain, but I
know my limits--there are one or two people I eat with a couple of times
a month, but apart from very close friends, I'd say one or two dinner
parties a year is reasonable for most people. Some people aren't even
able to get it together that much--it can be intimidating to have a
fabulous hostess come to your house for dinner! Certainly the guests
should try to keep track, and not accept so many invitations if they
aren't able to reciprocate--but if you are getting to feel resentful and
overworked, the thing to do is just stop issuing invitations. If you
invite someone over and they stay until meal time, as hard as it might
be, you may simply have to say, ''gee, I can't ask you to stay to eat,
perhaps we can get together another time...'' I would hate to know that
a friend was asking me to stay for dinner, and secretly resenting it.
Another way to give yourself a break could be to have a pot luck, either
at your house or as a picnic; that can be alot of fun with the kids, and
other people are much more likely to be able to get it together with an
assignment to bring one thing. Entertaining is supposed to be fun for
everyone, and when you are no longer having fun, it
is time to make some changes. Good luck!
It's entirely possible that your friends are intimidated by your ability
to host dinners, have a clean house, cook gourmet food, etc. I know that
I have some friends that I'm intimidated by, and I wouldn't consider
having them over without cleaning up the house first, and sometimes
things are so hectic that I can't get the house clean. They may also
feel that their food is too boring for you, or that they can't afford to
reciprocate. Or maybe they just aren't thinking about the effort it
takes since you pull it off so effortlessly apparently. You can't
really ask them to host dinners for you, but if it's wearing on you, I'd
suggest that you not have them over so often, or tell them that you'd
like to have a potluck. You could occasionally say that you want to get
together with them but you've just been so busy that you can't find the
time to cook, and restaurants don't seem to be the way to go. You could
have playdates at a park or other neutral site, so that you don't get
stuck hosting meals.
And since you seem to have many friends that don't reciprocate, it is
possible that you won't see some friends as often if you don't host, but
you probablyshould be willing to either let those ''friends'' go or
focus on ways to get the kids together in neutral, meal-free zones. How
about a picnic, and everybody brings their own food, or say that you'd
like to meet someplace not associated with food (the zoo, Lawrence Hall
of Science, Merry go round, etc), and either do it right after lunch or
mention that you'll bring lunch for your family? Or tell the person that
you're not going to worry about food since your kids will have just
eaten, and that will make things easier. Or if you feel generous, you
can continue to host, but not as often, or bring picnic food to share.
Eventually, if you work within your own limits, you'll move on from
people who aren't really compatible as friends, and you'll probably
naturally spend more time with people who do reciprocate. (I'm with
you, thinking that reciprocating should come naturally, but I also know
that some people can't keep up with me and I can't keep up with others).
I've now got friends that I can have over any old time, because they
don't mind that I have to move things off the table before I feed them,
and I don't mind that they've got clutter.
My husband and I also like to have big dinner parties with friends and
family. We do not do it nearly as often as before we had kids, but we
probably have a big dinner party about every 2 or 3 months or so. I
spend in the range of $200 plus, and we usually have about 8-12 people.
I say without modesty that I have cooked some fabulous meals. People
love to come to our house. The wine flows freely. Other than family, we
rarely get invited to other people's houses. And that is totally fine
with me. We have friends over because we enjoy it; I do not expect
reciprocation. In the past, I was on the other side of the equation. I
had friends who would frequently invite me to dinner, and I could never
reciprocate. I did not have enough dishes, chairs,space, or money to do
so. Also, some people love to cook and entertain; for others, it is
simply too overwhelming.
In fact, I find that there are very few people who can cook a nice
meal for more than just family. If you are feeling put upon, stop
having dinners. Otherwise, just enjoy the times you have at your house,
and let go of all your negative feelings
Not everyone is as comfortable having people over as you. They might be
insecure about their house, or their cooking, or just don't feel as
adept as you at making a party come alive. If you don't feel comfortable
in addressing the issue point blank, why don't you suggest having a
roving potluck hosted at different houses at different times. Or, better
yet, now that the days are longer, suggest a Friday evening dinner
picnic at your local playground, potluck style. That way you and your
husband can still enjoy cooking and socializing a little, but it wont be
on you to organize everything, prepare, clean, etc.
We had that problem several years ago. Our solution was to have our
friends over regularly but make it pot luck. We do the entree and
''assign'' everything else. Also, a small group of women (4) meets
regularly for Girls Night Out and plans activities for the larger
''group'' during the year. Each volunteers to coordinate 1 or 2 events,
the invitees are agreed upon in advance and whether it is a kid friendly
event. It's not perfect but it's allowed us to spend time with our
friends without the burden and expense of doing everything ourselves.
I appreciated your posting because I often feel the same way you do. I
think it's great that you don't take it personally.
My concern isn't the money so much as that I feel unappreciated or
wonder how much folks do care for us since they don't reciprocate. I've
come to the conclusion that many people have a much harder time
entertaining that we do and so I usually keep inviting and trying not to
take it personally. However I would not offer to pay for take out at
someone else's house when invited there unless it was planned that way
ahead of time. For example sometimes we'll agree to meet in a park and
split the cost of food. But if your friends/family invite you over and
get take out, they're reciprocating and I don't think it's expected that
you would contribute.
Hang it there.
Rarely a guest
If I am one of your friends or family members, I apologize for not
inviting you over. I would love to entertain, but as a single mom,
working full time, and living in a tiny, dark apartment, I just can't
comprehend planning and carrying out a nice event. I can handle
organizing a potluck in a park, but it seems hard to find other
interested families. I am willing to help out with a dish, some cash,
or set-up/clean-up next time you invite me over, just let me know.
Boy do I know this one! I am from the midwest, where getting together
with friends is a centerpiece of life, and where it's good manners to
invite over those who have invited you. But even there I learned that
some people love to entertain, some people don't. That didn't stop us
from getting together; we just ended up doing laundry together, going
bar-hopping, out to hear music (much cheaper than here), or just hanging
out on the porch or in the living room. In the Bay area, however, where
I've now lived
11 years, I've found that friendships are definitely NOT the centerpiece
of life. There are so many more options it's often very hard to
connect, and when we do get together with friends, unless it's a kids'
playdate, I've found it often has to revolve around some meal or
''event'' that involves my cooking. I love to cook and derive a lot of
satisfaction out of seeing people enjoy what I serve, but in 11 years I
can probably count the number of times any of our friends has
reciprocated on my two hands. I've come to accept that the natural
inclination of the majority of the population to love eating but not
cooking, coupled with the disconnectedness of the Bay area in general is
just going to mean that I do more than my fair share of entertaining and
have to consider it a gift, and if I don't like it, I can just slack off
for a while. I tried organizing a weekly meal with a few friends, the
idea being to take turns at each other's houses, but it didn't go very
far. No one wanted to commit in advance, and it's not the sort of thing
that works if people feel pressured into it... But maybe all of us
kindred dinner-makers should start our own group!
Good Friends + Good Food = the Good Life
Boy, do I share your frustration. As I was reading your posting, I kept
thinking that our experience matches exactly yours. Our 'friends' never
invite us over to their homes. My husband suspects that perhaps people
are just rude or people may just be busy. But we are busy as well and
still manage to provide a nice meal. Just like you, I also share the
same fear; that my kids won't have memories of family and friends'
gatherings and the pleasure that comes with the sharing a wonderful
meal. We contemplated asking people why they don't reciprocate our
invitations, but decided that it was better to leave it as is. Now we
no longer invite them and have concentrated on inviting only those
friends who have at least invited us a couple of times to their homes.
We do tell them how appreciative we feel that they invite us and tell
them that we appreciate the reciprocity. Now, we have less people to
invite, fewer friends for our children, but we save money and all the
time in prepping and cleaning. We are now thinking of forming an eating
club with the understanding that we will be rotating homes. If people
want to join in, then they have to share the cleaning and all the duties
that come with such privilege. We no longer invite parents to stay for
lunch when they pick -up their children. We tell them that we have an
engagement and off they go. My advice is to take care of yourself and
your budget and cultivate only those friends who understand the deep
meaning of the word reciprocity and most important, surround yourself
with people who appreciate your kindness.
Thanks for bringing such an important issue to the attention of the
readers. I hope we all think about our actions when we get invited
somewhere and reciprocate kindness with kindness.
Yep. I know what you're talking about. We historically have tended to
be the ''entertainers,'' too, although I find that my energy for it has
waned with kids, job and age. I think that many people grow up in homes
where their parents rarely entertained, and they likewise rarely do.
Doesn't mean they don't like social events, and hey, when invited over
by their highly social, gourmet cook friends, they're thrilled to go. I
don't blame you for feeling resentful, since you've been doing all the
work, but you've also kind of set it up that way.
Maybe you've set the entertaining bar so high that they feel overwhelmed
when they think of having to reciprocate. Maybe they feel like they see
you enough, given that they're already eating at your house twice a
month. Maybe they are just not in the entertaining mindset. I think
I'd entertain a bit less at my house and/or entertain more casually
(throw a hotdog on the BBQ now and then, for heaven's sake) and STOP
paying for the takeout at their houses, unless specifically requested to
I know exactly how you feel. I am the biggest host in my family... I do
everything with my mom when it comes to giving parties, etc. I used to
get mad and resentful at my 3 sisters.
(They would never participate in setting up cooking, decorating and
cleaning, etc.) Finally, I gave up on feeling mad at them because I
realized that I get complete joy when I entertain. I love setting up, I
love the whole process of entertaining and told myself not to have
parties if I am feeing angry/mad.
Since I have had my son (3 years ago). I now need some help and can't do
it all. So, I delegate! I call the sisters up and ask them if they can
bring a dish, come early to help set up and help me with my son. They
don't seem to mind helping now.
I would ask your friends and family that you need some extra help with
cooking. Let them participate with the cooking...Have a cooking party!
Have everyone pitch in...bring a special dish.
That might be fun for everyone and will make you feel better about them
I can't believe that your friends would charge you $$$ for takeout! Wow,
what kind of freinds would do that? Especially, after all your nice
dinner parties. That would piss me off.
I would cut back on the invites and start making new friends that are
also givers and not takers. Balance is key and we all need it in our
lives. When you have friends that don't appreciate you it's time for
them to go.
I hope you can work it out. Just know who your real friends are.
And before you plan a dinner party...prepare yourself to have a good
time ...you invited them - right? And remind yourself that you love to
entertain. If you're not having fun - Stop entertaining.
What I tell my girlfriends about ungrateful boyfriends sounds like it
would be good advice for you: If they don't appreciate it, don't do it
- or, Do it because you want to, not because you want/need
Soo - don't host so many dinners if you are feeling unappreciated or
unreciprocated. In your situation, people certainly aren't going to
change and start hosting/having folks over. Especially with kids - just
because you can somehow swing the shin-digs, many folks find it
impossible to more than the holiday/birthday once or twice a year thing.
Also, you sound like you are more in the formal camp - if your friends
order take-out and you chip in - would it kill you to loosen up and do
the same? Or have a pot luck. Some houses have a better set up for
gatherings, my house sucks for having people over. but i love to bring
a dish over a friend's house.
Perhaps people feel like they can't match your standards and don't
invite you because it's too hard to do it your way...
if it's really the friendships that matter, then be friends.
don't build up resentment - and whatever you do, don't continue to have
people over if you will begin to feel resentment towards them (which it
sounds like has already set in)... A wise friend of mine says,
''sometimes the only thing you can change is how you think about
relax and enjoy your company
We also like to entertain and have people over on a pretty regular
basis. What I have learned and come to accept is, not all people enjoy
entertaining, having people in their homes, and dealing with all the
work that comes with it. For me, I have people over for the pleasure of
it. Not because I want them to reciprocate (even though it would be
Entertaining is expensive, time consuming, and can be stressful. I also
think it takes some talent to entertain.
That is why so many people don't do it. When I have people over, I
enjoy it so much that it is worth all of the work. I always ask my
guests to bring something (usually wine/beer) .
We also recently had a potluck with about 4 other families. I made one
thing and everyone brought something to share. It was a great way to
get a group of people over and not burden ourselves with all the work.
My advice, just enjoy yourselves. I assume youe friends love and
appreciate that you open your home, cooking, and time to them. But
don't keep a track record.....
Don't take it personally. We are in a different age. Your family and
friends like you and the fact they invite you back two or three times
is very very good. AlI think you are doing a great job. I also like to
You are doing a tremendous job keeping your budget to around 50 dollars.
Mine goes way over the top (over 150 or more).Entertaining is a task
that some people can't imagine and I don't blame them. Cleaning the
house, buying the food and preparing cooking and cleaning up. that's a
full time job. Try hiring people and you will see what it costs. We are
in an age of no time. It's beyond the means of many, extra time and
money in the same week.
It's not like the old days when a wife was at home and that was her
duty. IThere are no extended families to come and help at the drop of a
hat or to take care of the children. What most people do is have pot
lucks. I hate pot lucks myself since the meal is so unpredictable and
usually lob sided no matter what you do.
I feel that when you get past 40, unless it's a family tradition. and
you have two working people in the family you should seriously consider
upgrading your entertaining and stop asking people to pot lucks. It
feels cheap. It send the message that you don't have enough to share.
Many people in the arts do this I wonder if they don't realize they are
a grown up now. I went to one where they hired someone to serve rather
than provide the food. Seemed backwards to me. I am with you I say
provide for your guests. But I am not the majority.
Hear my beef. Entertaining gives rise to resentment. Given the fact I
hate pot lucks I can't get one family member in on it. I do not want
anyone to bring anything.
She insist she bring a special dish at the last minute when I have
already planned the entire meal. For instance I plan an entire Japanese
meal and she had to bring Apple Betty) On my Mexican motif I spent two
days making tamales and she called to say that her children wouldn't eat
them so she was bringing QUESADILLAS. It hurts my feelings (I planned
special kids cheese tamales). One guest wanted to bring her left overs
and was upset that she couldn't bring them. So count your blessings.
My family resents the tension in the house when I give these parties
that my guests love. On Easter my husband made us go to a Picantes
because he couldn't stand the time involved. It wasn't very good but I
have to say I saw his point. Everyone was happy because they had two
days free (rather than preparing and cleaning up)
What you are asking for is a set of family and friends that happen to be
into entertaining. You don't have them. Entertaining like parenting is
a one way street.
If you love it it it helps, if you don't' farm as much of it out as you
can. Give up the expectations that you will get anything back. That's
If you really want to cut down on the costs order pizza barbeque and
get your friends to pick it up and offer to pay when it arrives. They
probably wont take your money. That's the standard now- Dutch.
order pizza and more for the baby
Wow, I have a sneaking suspicion that our friends could have written
I have one set of friends who always host their friends, and I never
reciprocate. Why? It's overwhelming for me. I know it's not
overwhelming for them, and I'm awestruck and appreciative about that,
but it's something I just cannot do. This is a particular talent that
you have, and that not everyone shares.
I feel bad about rarely having groups over - I grew up in a party
household, and miss it. But with working and childcare I just can't
muster it. Plus, another aspect that may or may not be a factor for you
is that for us, I feel really overwhelmed by a larger family in my
house. I'm a single mom with one child, and a family of four just feels
like a huge group in the house, especially with active kids. My house
is smaller (MUCH smaller) than my entertaining friends' house. Plus, as
a single parent, it's a lot of work to have people over - you're the
ONLY host, with lots of responsibility for food prep, child direction
(what's OK/not OK in your house for kids, etc.), greeting, meeting,
making sure everyone's taken care of. It's too much for me, and I envy
people who pull it off easily.
Anyway, bottom line, I think you're gifted at this, and your friends
appreciate it but are not able to reciprocate for one or many reasons.
If you enjoy it, keep doing it, but realize that not everyone can.
Think of it as playing the piano beautifully for everyone's enjoyment -
you wouldn't expect everyone to be able to do that as well, and it may
help to understand that it feels analogous to those who don't have your
But I do think your friends should certainly buy your take-out!
I get take-out a lot when friends are over, because that's the only way
I can manage to have them, and we do want to see them.
Something's got to give. And with friends who are on similar footing,
we do often split the cost. But if I invite people over more formally,
and certainly if I''m reciprocating for entertainment they've provided,
I pay for the takeout, and brook no arguments. I don't know whether you
can mention this to your friends - I can see how you'd feel resentful.
Maybe next time, don't offer to pay ''your share'' and see what happens?
overwhelmed and impressed
Just a thought from the other side of the fence:
I used to have people over for dinner often, before my son was born.
Now I rarely do. My husband and I both work full time. On any given
weekday, I'm picking up my son from preschool and racing home, with
about 30 minutes to throw dinner together before he has a hunger-
based meltdown. My husband usually doesn't get home until 7:00 or so.
By 9:00, I'm so exhausted I just fall into bed.
On the weekends, I spend most of my time scrambling to get the bills
paid, the grocery shopping and laundry done. My house is progressively
messier and messier. There are piles of stuff everywhere, and they are
not getting put away. I am hopelessly behind on a dozen tasks, and I
don't see how I'm ever going to catch up.
Not a great place, or frame of mind, for a dinner party. The best we do
is inviting a couple of close friends over for takeout or the quick
''throw something on the grill'' type of party you were implicitly
looking down on.
And these have to be friends we can trust to forgive us for an utterly
unattractive atmosphere, and food that's not great.
You are right. We should invite people over. I just don't see how I
can ever do it. And I don't know how you manage, either. I would guess
that at least some of your friends and family are in the same boat.
Perhaps they are intimidated by your clean house and excellent food, and
don't dare reciprocate because they simply can't manage to do such a
It would seem to me that you have 3 choices: Continue as you are, if
you enjoy it. Scale back on the parties you give, if it's costing too
much, and do something smaller to at least enjoy the company. Or give
up on those of your friends and family who are as hopeless as we are.
But at least accept that they're probably not doing it to be ungracious.
It's funny. I just had a very similar conversation with my husband this
past weekend (as we were preparing for yet another get-together at our
house). Some of our friends don't reciprocate equally, either. But we
have come to realize that they each have their reasons. In particular,
some still have small kids at home and we figure that it's hard for them
to get it together enough to host very often. Or some have very small
houses, or have so many other commitments...The upshot? You can't force
people to behave how you want. Decide how important it is for you to see
these friends. For us, it's very important. So to make it easier for us,
we often make it potluck or we'll order take out and share the expense.
But try to figure out what will make it worthwhile for you. You
shouldn't feel put-upon but don't let yourself be taken advantage of
Inviting friends over for an evening in your home is a lovely gift, and
it should be treated as such-- by you and your guests.
In other words, you should not feel the need to give, give, give to the
point of resentment, but your friends should reciprocate too. I can
completely understand how imbalanced it may seem to always do the
inviting. However, as someone who, until recently, felt completely
unable to have people over, I thought I'd give a perspective from the
other side: your friends may feel they can't reciprocate with the same
entertaining that you offer, and default to doing nothing. It
could be that you manage to pull it together more easily (or seemingly
so--I know it's a ton of effort) than your friends.
After having children, it has taken years for me to get to the point
where I am not so overwhelmed or embarassed to have people over. I
think one of the things that helped us is having friends who were
willing to make some ''we really want to see you- -let's get together on
this night'' plans, without specifically inviting us over. When the date
got closer, they might say ''could we get together at your house? We'd
love to have an
evening out.'' We also did more ''meet us at the park, we'll
pack a picnic for everyone'' playdates, because we truly could not deal
with having people over. I slowly came to realize I couldn't entertain
the way my mother, the consummate hostess,
did. And that my true friends didn't really care how crazy my
house was, but really wanted to maintain our friendship. I have friends
over more, and worry less about presenting the picture- perfect evening.
And it helped having friends who made it clear they didn't care.
i could be one of your friends!
I am one of those who don't invite people over to my house.
Why? Oh honey, where should I start? One is because I am clueless when
it comes to hosting - my mother never entertained so I didn't learn how.
Secondly, I have a very small house, a pack-rat husband, and a
rambunctious toddler with toys and books everywhere - where would I put
everything so guests have a place to sit? Thirdly, I am one seriously
challenged cook. Just thinking about cooking for guests will give me
hives! And lastly, the introverted part of me simple doesn't want to be
I have a feeling that you make it look super easy and your friends don't
realize it's a lot of work for you. And/or, you may simply be a hard
act to follow since you don't do "hamburgers on the grill". If you and
your family enjoy having people over and enjoy watching your children
play with other children, and you value the time spent around the dining
table with friends, then continue hosting. But I don't think you should
keep a tally.
I'll Entertain in my Next Life
I'm totally with you on this....it amazes me that some couples never
invite us over after they have eaten repeatedly at our house. And these
couples are not ''too busy''!
I fume about it for a while and vow to never invite them over
again....but then I can't carry a grudge for long and I attempt to feel
pity for their social ineptness!
Since I want to have other families to come over because it's fun for us
and for our kids...I just make it as easy as possible for US. We may
staighten up a bit but we never clean. We often pick up take and bake
pizzas (cheap!) and throw together a salad. I find it easy to ask my
guests to bring wine, dessert, or something else. If pizza doesn't work
for someoone I have no problem asking them to contribute towards take
out...as long as they are warned ahead of time and they get to help
order the food I think that's an ok option. Yes, there is clean up
involved but we can handle that and every once in a while we get
surprised by a return invitation. I think people are hesitant to invite
families over because they get overwhlemed about the idea of preparing
for it, etc. (I'm trying to think the best of
people) We just don't attempt to be the supreme hosts and no one seems
I didn't see this reason mentioned for non-reciprocating
friends: When I am going through difficult times, I do not like to
entertain. We often don't know when others are having personal
difficulties or troubles - maybe they have stress you are unaware of.
How miserable it would be to put on an act or think of entertaining when
in that situation.
I am guilty of being one of those people that gets invited out more
often than I entertain, and I've been known to order takeout when having
friends over. The real reason is that I am entertainphobic. When I
have people over I find it VERY stressful. On some level I feel like my
home is never clean/big/equipped enough, my food will never be
delicious/prepared ontime/abundant enough, etc. I love and appreciate
when friends invite me over and make it all seem effortless. I suspect
for some it is, for others it's a good cover. I also just recently
bought my first house and find it easier to entertain there for some
reason (our last two rentals were nice houses).
My recommendation if you find yourself entertaining more than you'd
like, is to sometimes take it easy and order takeout. I am more than
happy to chip in (or treat), especially when I'm at the home of a friend
who entertains more than their share (this of course requires that you
be willing to accept money when offered). I am not sure why you don't
approve of your friends ordering out when you are over, unless that's
just a monetary thing (you say you pay your way). I think many people
are just not capable/willing to buy/cook/clean a ''real'' meal.
Don't take it personally and be glad you don't suffer over each
get-together like many of us do.
More Relaxed as a Guest
I've been a bit mystified lately at the spate of recent questions on
this theme: ''I always do xyz (arrive on time, call and confirm, invite
people over, control my children, etc.) and my friends never do xyz and
it's really upsetting me.'' It seems to me there are only a couple of
options in this situation. My experience is that when a friend behaves
in a way I don't approve of or appreciate, the only thing I can do is
set limits so that the behavior no longer affects me. Alternatively, I
can accept the behavior. In practice, this means having a conversation
with the person and giving them an opportunity to do things differently
or tell me that they don't want to do things differently. For example, I
could say, ''You know, it seems to me that I am the person who usually
[fill in the blank -
- plans outings, arrives on time, whatever] in this friendship and it
bothers me. Can we change this?'' (Note this is different than having a
conversation in which you say, ''You always do xyz and I think it really
stinks.'') Sometimes the person will say yes, sometimes the person will
say no, and sometimes the person says yes and does the same thing all
over again. Then it is up to me to decide if I want to maintain the
relationship or not. For example, I have several friendships that would
end if I did not make the effort to maintain them.
I've made a conscious decision in each case that it's worth it to me. I
guess what I struggle with is the need to make the other person's
behavior ''wrong.'' Maybe people have different values, different
commitments or different priorities? Maybe people don't feel
comfortable having people in their homes, for whatever reason? It's not
really up to me to change other people; it's up to me to set limits
around what I will accept.
If other people can't respect those limits, then I have to accept them
the way they are, or end the relationship. Yes, it is really frustrating
and painful sometimes. But I have appreciated it so much when a friend
has told me when something I do is troubling or irritating, and gives me
a chance to change my behavior or explain why I'm not going to change.
It is honest and respectful. What I did notice about your post is that
you don't say that you've ever actually spoken with any of your friends
about your resentment. It's not about what's right or wrong. It's
about what works or doesn't work for you and whether your friends are
interested in reciprocating the way you'd like them to. It also sounds
like you're giving and giving what you'd really like to get, and it's
making you mad.
On the other hand, it sounds like you have a lovely social life. Maybe
they contribute in other ways? Good luck with this issue; it's a hard
I just want to thank all of you who gave really insightful advice about
this subject for me. In many ways I really came to peace with our
situation and realized (from the many pieces
written) that it is my destiny in life to entertain and have people I
love/want to be with over to my house. I accept that there are people
who don't entertain, and that is okay. For example, I have a sister who
is really great at remembering everyone's birthday and mailing a lovely
wrapped gift every year. I think wow, she really has it together, and I
wish I could remember everyone's birthdays and special events that
consistently. I appreciate that she does it and thank her profusely, but
have come to realize that I cannot do that(as much as I would like to).
Interestingly enough, many people made the wrong assumptions about me
from my post. So I thought I would clear up some misconceptions of one
who entertains a lot...my house is very small, and my yard smaller; my
house is not clean(I wish it was), and although I do ''clean'' it really
means pushing things under the bed, wiping down the bathroom and putting
toys away; my dishes don't match and my napkins are folded paper towels;
my house smells like the dog; I love to throw hot dogs on the grill as
much as I love to make a nice dish; I generously accept if people want
to ''bring something''; and for some who mentioned the price of
entertaining you were right - it really costs me between $80-150 when I
started to watch the dollars.
Thank you again for your generous and open comments/advice, I really
took all of them to heart and feel really good about entertaining
without further hang-ups!
Will continue to entertain
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