swampwitchSeptember 27, 2006

I believe many misunderstandings in entertaining (and elsewhere) can be avoided if we realize that what we do in particular situations isn't the same as what others do.

It sounds simple, but it isn't.

If we take off our shoes at home/leave them on, then we expect others to do the same. If we arrive on time/fashionably late, then that's when we expect our guests to arrive. If we invite people to dinner with the expectation that they will reciprocate, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Even something as simple as asking a question (if we have a certain answer in mind and don't get it) can lead to bad feelings.

But what if we turn it around? What if you always bring wine to your friends' parties because that's what you feel you should do, but you absolutely don't expect them to bring ANYTHING to yours. What will happen? You will be pleasantly surprised by those who bring wine! Isn't that better than being disappointed with those who don't?

I believe there are two reasons we invite people to dinner or parties. One is because we want their company, and the other is to give them a type of gift (dinner). In either case, all we should want in return is a "thank you."

How do you feel about this? I'm open to friendly discussion!

Cheers, from


p.s. The above doesn't necessarily apply to relatives... they are different...

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Well... I can agree with what you've said, to a point. I do expect some things from people I invite to my home.

I expect an RSVP when I invite people to a party. I know full well there will be some who won't bother, but it's a courtesy to let the hosts know if you're coming if it's requested on the invitation.

I expect someone who's said they're coming to give me a call if something comes up at the last minute preventing their attendance.

I expect people to be reasonably on time if it's called for -- meaning you can come any time for an open house or casual party but you need to be on time or within maybe 15 minutes for a dinner party.

I expect people to ask me first before bringing someone along whom I didn't invite. I've never said no to someone who wanted to bring a visiting relative or a friend who might also enjoy the party or whatever, but I want to know to expect that person in advance.

To be perfectly honest, I don't continue to invite people to my home who can't display the above simple courtesies unless there is some reason why they absolutely could not at that time.

I agree that inviting people to your home is a way of giving them a gift, but I think that the courtesy of a thank you involves more than the words, it involves a certain level of behavior in response to the invitation. The material thank you - wine or flowers or whatever - are an added bonus if they come. But the behavior, IMHO, is required.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 11:45AM
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lowspark, I feel that your expectations are really low. Sigh, if only more guests would actually meet them.

I would say that my expectations are in line with yours. I'll also confess to harboring some secret wishes, that go above and beyond my expectations.

I wish that people would return invitations or offer to bring something (even if I might decline the offer) or otherwise balance the work of hosting. But I don't necessarily expect it and it won't leave a bad taste in my mouth if it doesn't occur.

But it is really the common courtesy that lowspark mentioned that will make or break whether I invite you over again.

Here is a link that might be useful: craftfetish blog

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 1:16PM
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I agree with all the above expectations (for myself). I know that most people have at least these minimal expectations. The problem is that the list could go on forever. I could add:

1) I expect to refrain from drinking to embarrassment, then trying to start an argument with the host about his/her music.

2) I expect to leave the bottle of wine I brought, even if it is unopened because I have chosen to drink the host's wine all evening.

3) I expect to NOT pee in the back yard because someone is in the bathroom when I suddenly have to go.

The above things happened to us after we invited an acquaintance and her husband for dinner one night. Did this couple meet all of the previous post's expectations? YES! Did we ever invite them again? NO WAY!

We have a dear friend who would never pass the "minimum" expectations. She's usually 1/2 to 1 hour late. Sometimes she calls, sometimes not. She's warm kind, intelligent, funny, and a pure joy to be around. Do we expect anything from her? No. Does she get invited back again and again, and we're always happy when shows up? YES! We wouldn't have this friend if we'd put her through the initial expectations... nobody's going to be perfect and the good in her far outweighs the "bad."

My point is, it's not worthwhile to impose our expectations on others. My husband and I have found that LIFE IS *MUCH* EASIER if you don't expect. Inviting someone back or not is another issue... We like to give our guests a blank canvas to be themselves. At the end of the night, if we enjoyed the evening, we'll have them over again. But we get to know them, without going through the night ticked off from the start because they already "messed up."

Cheers, from

p.s. Expectations can be a real relationship-killer with our children, too. Many times, we expect things from our kids because it's what we want, and not necessarily what is best for their personalities. How many times do we roll our eyes because our parents disapprove of our job, friends, spouse, hair, clothes, music etc.? How many of us wish our parents would drop the expectations and get to know (and accept) us for who we are?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 12:46PM
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Interesting reply swampwitch. I guess the above are my minimum requirements, it didn't even occur to me to say something about unacceptable behavior at the party like peeing on the grass etc. Clearly, offensive behavior is grounds for not extending return invitations. I don't remember anyone ever doing anything that offensive at my house, honestly I'm not sure how I'd react!!

As far as the good friend whom you like well enough to overlook her idiosyncracies, that of course is your perogative and we all forgive faults in those we love. In general however, I am disinclined to invite people to my house if they can't observe what I consider to be basic courtesies.

I agree that my expectations are low. I do not expect return invitations and many people don't extend them. But I have to look at it from the point of view that I have parties for my own reasons, because I enjoy having them. I won't quit just because many people do not see the need to return the invitation. Oh well! I would love it if they would, though!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 4:59PM
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Thanks, lowspark (and craftfetish), for the discussion. Yes, the peeing outside was a real surprise. We thought he was joking as he walked out of the house! I believe our jaws actually dropped when he didn't turn right around. We kept wondering WHERE he had peed, too, because our daughter plays outside a lot! We had a parade of people in our home the summer we moved here; I think we saw the whole spectrum. We laugh now about the funny stories of those we didn't invite back.

Cheers, from

p.s. Maybe we should start a "weirdest guest" thread...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 5:22PM
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