In hosting events, from casual get-togethers to formal gatherings, the art of invitation often hinges on what not to ask your guests to bring. Etiquette experts agree that while it’s customary in many cultures to encourage guests to contribute to a gathering, there are specific requests that can be deemed as rude or inconsiderate. Here are the top five things you should never ask your guests to bring to your event.
Expensive Wines or Spirits
Requesting guests to bring high-end wines or spirits puts a financial strain on them and can come across as taking advantage of their generosity. It’s one thing to have a BYOB (Bring Your Bottle) policy for casual events, but specifying expensive brands or rare finds crosses the line of good taste. It indirectly sets a standard for what guests should spend, which is a major faux pas in the world of etiquette.
The Main Course or Key Dishes
While potluck dinners have their charm, there’s a significant difference between asking guests to contribute to a shared meal and asking them to bring the main course or critical dishes. As a host, it’s your responsibility to provide the central elements of the meal. Offloading this responsibility can be seen as cheating on your duties and may leave guests feeling used rather than welcomed.
Extravagant Dish Ingredients
If you’re planning a menu and realize that a recipe calls for a particularly expensive or exotic ingredient, asking a guest to bring it is inappropriate. This places an undue burden on them and makes it seem like you’re using the dinner as an excuse to stock your pantry. A good rule of thumb is to plan a menu within your means or simplify the recipe to avoid such requests.
Personal Items for Overnight Stays
For overnight or weekend stays, asking guests to bring bedding or towels is a no-no. This suggests a need for more preparation and hospitality. A good host should ensure that their home is well-equipped for overnight guests, including having clean, fresh linens and personal care essentials available.
The most egregious is asking guests to contribute financially to the event. This can be seen in requests for money for food, decorations, or entertainment. It’s one thing to split costs for a group vacation or a shared experience where costs are understood upfront, but it’s entirely different and quite rude to ask for money for a party or dinner you’re hosting.
Navigating the Delicate Balance
The key to being a good host lies in balancing generosity and practicality. It’s okay to ask guests to contribute in small ways, especially if it’s customary in your social circle, but always be mindful of what you’re asking for and how it might be perceived.
A good approach is to give options rather than directives. For instance, if you’re hosting a potluck, let guests know they are welcome to bring a dish but that it’s optional. Provide a range of suggestions – from appetizers to desserts – so they can choose something that fits their budget and cooking abilities.
Hosting is as much about making your guests feel comfortable and appreciated as it is about the event itself. Avoiding these five rude requests ensures your guests feel respected and valued, which is the cornerstone of good etiquette and memorable gatherings.