Etiquette Faux Pas, I think...

Tell me what you think about this:

When I invite people over for dinner and they ask what they can bring, I tell them, "Don't worry about it. Don't bring anything. I've got it covered."

It came to my attention that this makes people feel uncomfortable. Guests do not like to go to a place and not bring anything. This has been made clear to me a number of times. For example, when a friend brought flowers, and again when another friend brought fresh fruit. I wasn't bothered by the flowers or the fruit, I always enjoy fresh foliage and with fresh fruit you can't go wrong, but it got me to thinking. I need to start telling people to bring something.

Last weekend we had guests and they brought dessert. I asked them the very question I ask you, "Do you feel uncomfortable going to someone's house and not bringing anything?" Their answer was yes. And now it is clear. I am changing my ways. I will no longer tell guests they don't need to bring anything if they ask. Case closed. Unless I hear otherwise via comments or other conversations.


The Jeff Bylund Family said...

Interesting. I often tell people not to bring anything as well. I must admit though, I do prefer bringing something when I am invited to someones house (especially if it is someone I don't know well).

At the same time, I once was talking to a LDS convert, and she said she thought it was strange that Mormons tend to want to bring things. She understood that it was because we generally are people who like to volunteer and help... contribute. However, she said that she thought it was unique to Mormon culture. I am not sure I would agree with that or not, but I found it interesting. She felt impolite when she asked someone to bring something.

Bottom line- I don't know. What do you think? Do you think it is an LDS culture thing, or a general rule of courtesy? Hmmm... still don't know. (Please excuse the length of this comment.)

jo said...

This is such a good question. I have wondered the same thing.

I used to be just like you and tell people they didn't have to bring anything, and inevitably they would show up with desert or something else. I was just as confused as you and likewise decided to finally ask them to bring something. However, when I invite people over, I like providing the full experience: dinner and desert. So I them to bring a beverage since we normally drink water with dinner. And I must say this is also met with mixed reactions. The most recent reaction came over the phone when I said they could bring a beverage, "Oh! I've never been asked to bring a beverage. Interesting."

Bottom line-(following The J. B. Family's format) I like not being asked to bring something when I'm invited to dinner (way more relaxing), however, I find that most people don't... and they also don't like bringing the beverage.

kel said...

there's a Northern Exposure episode where Dr. Fleishman invites a few folks from the town over for dinner and everyone asks him if they bring something. he says yes and gives them different assignments. turns out in Cicely, AK it's custom to ask if you can bring something but the host is always supposed to say no. so everyone ends up thinking Joel is a jerk. how's that for some help?

as for us, we do the same as Jo and say, bring a drink only if you'd like to. but i'm liking the idea of fresh flowers... i think i'll add that to my list of options.

and so, we find it is not a clear cut situation. hey, you could write in to the etiquette guru in Real Simple. she's always got the answers. :)

Natalie said...

Feel free to tell me I don't have to bring anything! haha. But really, either way works for us. We'll just reciprocate. :)

Chap said...

I've thought on this a lot and this is my conclusion: it depends on who you are inviting! If there are rambunctious children in the group (ours or theirs) I wanted water only to be served. If it will be a hardship for a family to bring stuff-or if we trade off a lot, then no "assignment" is given. For a new friend, yeah, I think of something, but you have to have your meal sort of visualized to do that. I usually offer for them to bring a salad (you can never have enough of that in my estimation!)