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Guest and Host Etiquette - Is This Rude?


mylolita
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Hi all,

 

Just a quick question as Google doesn't ping any offering up to me regarding this small but curious matter!

 

I host a lot, we have many people over at many times due to my husbands business. These people are sometimes friends and sometimes strangers, sometimes customers and sometimes a bit of both you could say! Something that strikes me the most is this; I always offer anyone coming into the house (whether a close friend or a stranger), a drink of something. Usually something light to eat or a piece of cake etc, you know the usual thing.

 

I've noticed lately, especially with friends, and especially with younger friends (anyone over 40 doesn't seem to do this), that I will offer say a coffee or a piece of cake and they will reply, "Not now, but I might have it later", which I instantly take as being rude. Before you jump on me hear me out! Firstly, this is implying they are okay to help themselves at a later date, orrrr, that they can summon me to make the coffee at the time of their liking. Maybe I am getting this all out of whack, but I find it very rude. I always think when you offer a friend or guest something to eat or drink it's a bit of a take it or leave it now or never offer. Them deciding when they are going to take your offer, especially since friends are normally in and out of our house all day, throws me off a bit.

 

It got me thinking - we have a friend who is doing a bit of photography work for my husband in the house two or three days a week. He is newly vegan and I always offer him a vegan lunch option and even buy in oat and almond milk and special types of milk and egg free cakes and biscuits. My parents also happen to be vegan, so they often come with these speciality biscuits, leave them and I have them in the cupboard for people like our friend (I mean, we do eat them now and then but not over a normal biscuits or whatever). This morning, I offer our friend one of these vegan biscuits with the coffee I'm making him and I hand him the unopened packet so he can check the type and ingredients. He says "Not now but maybe later", and I notice he puts the packet to the side of the kitchen where his own bag is. I find this a little odd as I haven't given him the whole packet and also I am finding the "I'll help myself if I feel like it later" mentality a little rude. Maybe it's because I'm British. We are weird I suppose.

 

The day goes on, he leaves late, about 6pm, and I notice my husband has eaten the whole packet! Oops! Our friend comes in the next day and says, "I was just settling down for my tea last night and thought I'd tuck into those biscuits at home and realised they'd been moved! Are they not here today?" And I laughed and said, "You have to get your paws on biscuits then and there in this house". I thought it was so cheeky he was going to take the packet home with him and felt the need to kind of tell me off that they had been moved from our own kitchen!

 

Is this just me being too fussy or are these people being rude?! And taking advantage?!

 

Your opinions matter! Anyone who hosts or holds regular dinner parties as well, let me in on this, what is your take?

 

Many thanks,

Lo x

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I think the "thought I'd tuck into those biscuits at home and realised they'd been moved!" is extremely rude!!!!

 

However, as for the "Not now but maybe later" I would say that is more of a polite way to say no. They don't want to insult you by turning down what you are offering...

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Hey Camber,

 

Thanks for the reply, I appreciate your input! I know it's a totally trivial matter!

 

I thought that was pretty rude too! This is after weeks of getting very comfy at our house - maybe I should take it as a compliment but my honest reaction is no!

 

Lo x

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It is a trivial matter, and you may be misinterpreting their meaning.

 

My guess is that they really don't want what you're offering, but instead of saying they don't want any, they think it will make you feel better if they say 'maybe later.' I'm positive that there is no rudeness meant on their part. Even if they DID truly want it later, how difficult would it be for you to get them the previously offered items?

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My thoughts on this are - being raised in the states (east coast if that makes a difference) I was taught when hosting, the guest's needs always comes first.

 

So when offering them something and they reply “not now but maybe later,” I would not be offended in the least, and would respond “sure let me know.”

 

I have had guests later in the evening tell me they’re ready for that coffee now (in a polite non-demanding way) and I would say sure, and get up to make it for them. Often times they would ask if they can help.

 

I have had clients do this in long meetings too at our offices. I would ask if they want water, coffee or soft drink and they’d initially say no, perhaps later, and then later during the meeting (an hour or so later), they would request it (nicely and politely).

 

I see nothing wrong with this, again how I was raised.

Edited by katrina1980
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You didn't say whether or not you had to circle back after the fact and serve them. Has that happened?

Going forward, expect it and let them know they are welcome to help themselves when they are ready.

What other options do you have? Telling them `now or never'?

 

I can maybe understand your frustration had to had to wait on them again at a later time, but I didn't see where you had. Be annoyed after you've been inconvenienced.

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Well, I think her husband is a very useful participant. He ate all the biscuits last time so it sort of is now or never if he continues eating and drinking the supplies.

 

I think you handled it very well too but there may be a tad of frustration there with people overstaying their welcome. I'd be a bit more honest with yourself about how frequently you're up for hosting dinners or entertaining guests. Remember it's your home and you're the host. While I'm sure you're mindful of your husband's clients/business partners and the guests' experiences it might be helpful to make your snacks and beverages available in a more meaningful way.

 

If he's newly vegan he might like talking about his vegan lifestyle more. Why not engage in some conversation with him instead of giving or immediately offering him the same items from the pantry? This is just a suggestion - directing the focus from the food and beverage items to more meaningful conversation with your guests. Wait for him to ask for your famous vegan snacks. I think this might come down to level of comfort you have with your guests overall. I'd offer water or some drinks but draw the line at food. Nobody wants a case of dehydration. Get to know your guests more. You might also get to know each one more intimately and understand when they want more than just a beverage.

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Interesting! I definitely respond this way re: the coffee. It never occurred to me that it could be construed as rude.

 

So... here are my questions to the “now or never” etiquette...

 

If I am not thirsty at the moment you offer me coffee, do I need to assess how long I will be there and whether I will become thirsty later? Kind of pre-plan my thirst?

 

If so and I say “yes” to the coffee in anticipation of being thirsty later - but the meeting is short - am I obligated to drink the coffee that I don’t really want since you went to the trouble to make it?

 

If I say “no” and the meeting is longer than anticipated and I become thirsty, am I required to sit in my thirst in silence?

 

It’s a weird rule. To me, saying “not now, maybe later” does NOT imply that I would simply help myself without asking. It’s simply stating that if I become thirsty later, I will ask if I might have something to drink. (Although in this case, I would usually ask for something simpler such as a glass of water). I don’t think it implies a subservient relationship at all.

 

Edited to add: Actually, in thinking about it more, I think it might be MORE polite?! It’s saying “please don’t go to all that trouble for something that I’m not sure I want. If I am thirsty and a drink becomes necessary, I will ask - thanks”. Isn’t that better than having you make coffee just in case?

 

I think you are being over-sensitive.

 

For the vegan cookies, though - yes - that is absolutely rude. The only thing I can think of is that a vegan diet is somewhat non-traditional. I would venture to say that most people don’t “stock” vegan cookies at home - so maybe he thought it was a gift? Although, if the package was open... Yeah. This one is rude. Who takes other people’s food home?!? Very odd and very rude. I would call him out on it in a humorous way, personally (ie: “you were going to take my cookies home?! Lol! You can have ONE...”) just to hear what he had to say about it - because it was very very odd, IMO.

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Thinking about this some more, I love to entertain. I've done it plenty.

 

If I am entertaining, then I am providing entertainment to my guests, right? Does it need to conform to my convenience and schedule or am I going to be accommodating to my guests comfort? If I don't want to accommodate or veer slightly off of my schedule, then I probably shouldn't entertain, because then it would be more about me.

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Thinking about this some more, I love to entertain. I've done it plenty.

 

If I am entertaining, then I am providing entertainment to my guests, right? Does it need to conform to my convenience and schedule or am I going to be accommodating to my guests comfort? If I don't want to accommodate or veer slightly off of my schedule, then I probably shouldn't entertain, because then it would be more about me.

 

Yes this and I agree with the others you are reading too much into it. I typically will say "no thanks, I'm good!" if I decline - it wouldn't really occur to me to say "maybe later" but if I did, no biggie -it wouldn't mean I expected my host to make coffee "later" -it would mean that if she made it anyway I might have some "later". Or "later" I might take a glass of water. What I do is offer right away and then if there is a "later" I'll offer again especially if I'm about to get something for myself or for someone else.

 

The biscuits thing - very strange! One time when I invited a guy to my apartment after a date -we'd gone out two or three times - he immediately helped himself to a bowl of cereal (my cereal boxes wree on top of the fridge ala Seinfeld). I was practically offended but just found it really weird. I would never ever think to do that in someone's home in that context.

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Etiquette varies so much, right?! I try to follow the lead of where I am. But I'm sure we all fumble a bit on not hitting the mark for all our hosts expectations ?

 

I don't host nearly as often as you. When I do, and it probably has to do with how I was raised, whatever I offer is for the duration of when people are coming through. And it's not uncommon for me to offer for people to take food or drink home. It's odd to me your guest just assumed it was his to do with as he pleased, but only because you didn't specifically say so.

 

You sound like a gracious host. Since you host so much, there are bound to be times people step out of your idea of politeness.

 

My one major pet peeve when hosting is complaining. Last Thanksgiving I hosted a chunk of my partner's family, and his sister and her son made negative comments about not liking certain foods and wanting drinks I didn't have. And I had tried to be as thoughtful as possible with variety and choices they would like. It did hurt my feelings,though I kept that to myself. Luckily my partner's dad was super kind so that helped a lot.

 

We all have our things we just will find rude. Your may be different than mine but I get it. I get it that you try very hard to make people comfortable and sometimes something may run you the wrong way.

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I will speak as a guest. For you, don't take it personally whenever a guest declines your food and beverage. Whenever I politely say, "No thank you" to the host or hostess, I'm not being unkind. I have the right and personal preference to eat or not eat, drink or not drink. Many times, I too am offered food or beverages and I simply don't want it. I'm not hungry because I ate at home or if I'm hungry, the host offers me food I normally do not eat nor do I want it. At parties, I tend to nibble on anything healthy and I take small portions for dinner. Even then I'm very picky as well. As for liquids, I prefer water. I don't want coffee, I don't drink coffee nor do I want cake. There is nothing rude about politely and gratefully declining your gracious offer. You need to respect other people's preferences and choices. They aren't doing any harm to you.

 

As for your considerate vegan offerings, every vegan or vegetarian has special requirements for their daily diet. Your version of healthy offerings may not be what they consume habitually nor do they want to eat / drink at your party or for home entertainment. Don't feel offended. It's nothing against you personally. Guests appreciate your gracious invitation into your lovely home. You were gracious enough to offer food and beverages to your guests and if they don't want it, it's a free country. No one wants to force themselves to consume your food and beverages in order to be polite, appease and pacify you.

 

Some people are on strict diets due to high cholesterol levels in their blood tests yet they will not explain this to you publicly, privately or ever. People have their own personal health reasons.

 

Some people are trying to watch their weight or lose weight. They're exercising self-control by not eating what they shouldn't eat or refraining from unhealthy beverages (sugary drinks or alcohol, for example). Some people are teetotalers. Some people avoid carbs / sugars.

 

I like your retort for your biscuit loving guest! :D

 

Yes, you're being too fussy. You need to back off and rethink. You can still offer your warm hospitality and part of that hospitality is to respect and honor other people's preferences and wishes. It's nothing personal!

 

I home entertain and I realize you can't make everyone happy all the time because you're not a restaurant. Everyone is fussy and picky about what they like and don't like. You do the best you can when you host and if guests don't want to eat and drink whatever you've graciously provided, that's their problem, NOT yours! That's my take.

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My thoughts on this are - being raised in the states (east coast if that makes a difference) I was taught when hosting, the guest's needs always comes first.

 

So when offering them something and they reply “not now but maybe later,” I would not be offended in the least, and would respond “sure let me know.” [...]

 

I see nothing wrong with this, again how I was raised.

 

I agree. I would consider it a compliment that my guests would trust that I keep staples such as coffee and snacks available for the duration. This could mean ongoing refreshment of a coffee urn. If I were to offer someone a packaged food, I would consider it spent, regardless of whether it was eaten in my company or stored for later. (I doubt that I'd notice.)

 

However, I'm far from a perfect host, and some things strain me now and then. I consider it in my best interests to find any reason that works to move myself beyond taking offense. I start with the premise that rolling past it is the gracious thing to do, and I work myself into seeking and finding some private benefit to aligning my perceptions with my behavior. Then I thank myself later.

 

Head high, you can do this.

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I think the “maybe later” is just a way of softening a no. I sometimes feel bad saying no if I’m offered a cake or something more special that the host has prepared: I don’t want them to think I’m snubbing their cooking. I don’t think it implies people expect you to serve them at their whim, although if a friend at my home were thirsty I would personally hope they would tell me even if they’d initially not wanted a drink.

 

As for the cookies, my guess is that it was a misunderstanding. Perhaps when you handed him the entire box to look at the ingredients, he thought you were giving him the box, or perhaps he assumed you wouldn’t eat them as they were vegan. I wouldn’t think he was rude unless it’s a part of a pattern of rude behavior.

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you're being too picky and fussy. The world is diverse, with lots of diverse teachings and cultures, customs, and beliefs.

don't assume everybody was brought up or brought up to think like you.

don't assume that the way YOU were brought up is the only and right way.

 

As long as they're being respectful and good guests and not tearing up your house and paying on time and being respectful to your property - yo dont' owe them anymore than that, and they don't owe you anymore than that. This is passive-aggressive behavior and that's not healthy.. To do something to initiate a specific reaction back and anythign else is wrong - that's passive-aggressive. LOSE IT. I could even tell you, "yeah.. maybe not even offer them anythign specific"... just ask them "is there anythign i can get for you?" instead of offering specific things. Why? Offering coffee and cake - what if they're gluten intolerant or a diabetic? what if they are tryign to kick a caffeine habit or its' bad for them? See?

 

They are your GUESTS! it hould be up to THEM , not YOU as to what works for them and what, if anything, they may need or want. It is YOUR job, as a host, to accomodate that, NOT dictate that.

 

Now.. I nkow you mean well and i don't fault or critizize you for that. But remember... if you are doing your job right - ITS THE GUESTS being accomodated, not teh HOSTS. The Guests job is to be respectful, not dictated to.

 

Hope this helped.

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oh and if you don't agree with this then you need to be more specific and honest in your postings.... "hosts that provide coffee and cake only - and only when offered take it or leave it" so you can get the exact clientele you want to do business with - which i YOUR EVERY RIGHT to do so and nothign wrong with that. BUT BE UPFRONT about that.

 

(I say the above in exagerration to make a point.. please dont' take that seriously... but defintiely be more clear about what the house rules are in general and what the expectations are that you have or want to maintain for your business if that's what you seek)...

 

Congrats and continued success on yoru business by the way!

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oh and if you don't agree with this then you need to be more specific and honest in your postings.... "hosts that provide coffee and cake only - and only when offered take it or leave it" so you can get the exact clientele you want to do business with - which i YOUR EVERY RIGHT to do so and nothign wrong with that. BUT BE UPFRONT about that.

 

(I say the above in exagerration to make a point.. please dont' take that seriously... but defintiely be more clear about what the house rules are in general and what the expectations are that you have or want to maintain for your business if that's what you seek)...

 

Congrats and continued success on yoru business by the way!

 

I see your point and I don't agree. If you really mean that "maybe later" isn't ok with you and comes across as rude/annoys you then offer nothing in the first place because offering a "now or never" drink or food item will make your guests feel that they have to accept it and then feel awkward if they don't partake (other than a glass of water -no one really notices if the water is untouched).

 

The other thing you can do - tell them where you've put whatever it is and invite them to help themselves should they want something now or later - feel free to grab a la croix or beverage from the kitchen, and there are chips in the ____.

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I think everyone's saying the same thing - it's ok to offer whatever you want but just keep in mind not everyone will respond in the way you may like them to. They're guests and part of being a gracious host is about making your guests feel welcome. Richey has another post on page 2 at the bottom, by the way. I usually like providing a lot of food and overstock so my general worry is "how the heck am I going to finish all this if they don't eat it all as it will spoil....must put in containers and insist they take home" lol!

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