Monday, December 10, 2012

Manners Monday: Responding to an Invitation

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, you may have begun receiving invitations (both formal and casual) to spend Christmas Day with your extended family, for holiday parties and other events including New Year's Eve parties, etc.

For some, the question of food and other invited guests come to mind, especially food if there are allergies or dietary restrictions but even so there is always an appropriate way to handle it. A perfect example of this is what my husband and I experienced just recently over Thanksgiving. Every year we get invited to spend Thanksgiving Day with my in-laws and we always bring a few dishes to contribute and lighten the burden on cooking. This year however, hubby's Aunt & Uncle invited us, they happen to live right around the corner which was nice as it made cooking and transporting food very easy for us.

Over the past year Paul has made some dietary changes and is now mostly vegan but still indulges in some wild caught fish here and there. I'm much more flexible and always make exceptions for holiday meals but typically eat a mostly vegetarian diet 5 days per week and have a bit of fish, poultry or meat as well. We also both work hard to make sure that almost all of our produce is organic. We make these choices because optimal health is our goal. Upon getting the invite, my first thought was what hubby would eat? Knowing that his family really loves meat, poultry and southern style dishes. Since we live close by he and I discussed what we could do to prepare to make his meal enjoyable and still feel included at the same time while not making anyone else feel uncomfortable. One of the options was for him to eat a meal before we popped over so he wasn't starving.

We knew we would make it work and most of all it was family time that we were most looking forward to so food was secondary. I replied and let his aunt know how much we appreciated the invitation and really looked forward to seeing everyone. Knowing what an undertaking it can be to host a large dinner, I offered to bring some dishes of her choosing. She was planning to provide the main course as well as the dessert and everyone attending was asked to bring 2 dishes to share and a list was provided. I volunteered to bring a few veggie dishes because we love healthy veggies and it would ensure that any veggies that hubby could eat would contain olive oil and not butter or any other dairy. His Aunt asked me at one point if Paul would be making an exception by eating turkey for Thanksgiving and I let her know that he would not be. Since she asked, I took the opportunity to let her know not wot worry or be at all concerned about him and that what I would be bringing would be perfect for him and everyone else. I wanted to put her mind at ease as a hostess already has many others things to consider.

On Thanksgiving day I brought over roasted turnips & apples, roasted red beets as well as a mixed greens salad with my own homemade dressing and goat cheese on the side so that it would be suitable for those who cannot have dairy, and other could use the goat cheese on their salad as well as beets or as they wished. The meal was a huge success and there was such a lovely variety! Hubby ate a large share of veggies and salad but was careful to make sure everyone has some before he went back for seconds. It's more about being creative than about making others work around what will work for you. In the case of food allergies, if a close friend or family member is the host, they'll likely already be aware and be sure to get more details from you. Upon accepting the invitation, if it is a potluck you may want to bring a few of your own things so that you can customize them to your requirement. If it is not and the menu is fixed, you may have to bow out gracefully.

Currently, I know of a couple friends right now who have family members that are not on good terms with another family member or sibling and it's making the planning of Christmas dinner difficult. While everyone has their reasons for not getting along with another person, it's so important as a classy woman to rise above and be the example. It's not always easy but sometimes one must tolerate others who they do not wish to be in the presence of. It shows great maturity and is so ladylike to put differences aside and just see the good in people and enjoy the company of everyone else. Sometimes people don't make great decisions or treat others poorly, but it's usually the very time when such people need love and kindness the most. What I know for sure is hurt people, hurt people and if we can remember that we can recognize that others are not always as we seem them on the outside, perhaps their anger or lashing out comes from a deeper place of heart and they really just need a friend. When it comes to providing an RSVP to an event, it's not appropriate to ask the host who will be attending in an attempt to avoid a particular individual or group of people. If you already know that a particular person has also been invited and you just cannot muster up the ability to make it pleasant experience, it's best to politely decline.

I find people entertain less today than they used to. Many are just so busy with day to day activities that they cannot seem to make time for it. For some who like to run the show, it can be a lot of work not to mention a financial burden when hosting a larger party if it's not a potluck-style event and there is no delegation involved. For others, they just don't enjoy it. Entertaining is such a wonderful opportunity though to bring many people together and create wonderful memories. For these reasons as well as  proper etiquette I think it is so important to respond properly to an invitation to encourage the very hosts who do enjoy entertaining to continue doing so and making it worth their while.

When were are invited to an event or party, it should be considered an honor not something to dread and it is not the time to make our preferences known, the bottom line is that it should not be all about us. When we are invited into someone's home or to a particular venue, we are a guest to someone else's function. A good host knows that if the guest who is attending is not someone they know well, that they should ask about dietary needs and food allergies. If they have forgotten to do so, be a gracious guest when the event date comes and make the most of the experience.

Have you ever experienced a demanding behavior upon inviting a guest to an event? Maybe you've been the invited guest who is unsure of how to respond given one the topics we discussed above? Please begin the conversation below in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!



  1. As one that deals with dietary restrictions, I, too, try to make sure that I'm not a "headache" to a hostess. Usually, I'll eat something before I attend an event where there is a meal and then limit myself to those things that are acceptable for my situation. If a hostess asks me what I can eat, I'll give her some ideas/suggestions based on what she wants to serve....maybe g/f corn tortillas for a Mexican dish as opposed to flour tortillas, or a salad or grilled meats. There is a friend in my circle that is forever making sure that she "educates" us all on her condition. She has been somewhat rude and demanding, as well as teaching her children to do the same when it comes to their diets. While I appreciate her desire to remain healthy, her methods have been a reminder to me that the world doesn't revolve around my diet and I need to be the one to graciously work with any hospitality extended to me and my family.

    1. I hear you, Uptown Frog! I have seen this a few times myself, I understand when parents have children with allergies that it's tricky but for a parent to become rude and demanding is setting the example for their children to behave in the same manner, as you described. Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Would like to have the recipe for the beet salad.

    1. Hi Anonymous, the roasted beets and the mixed greens salad were two different dishes I prepared, although funny enough I often put roasted beets on top of my salad and add some goat cheese and eat that as my dinner sometimes-I just love them!

      I'm going to start sharing my favorite recipes soon, I'll be sure to include the salad dressing I'm famous for along with the salad itself and then roasted beets.

      The roasted beets are very simple. Cut off the beet tops (greens) and compost or save them for another meal. Cut up 3-4 raw beet roots into 1" by 1" pieces (bite-sized pieces) and place in a shallow glass baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Add about 1/4 inches of water and bake at 400 degrees for 40 mins.

      Take them out to cool. When they have cooled a bit,drain the water away. To eat them as is you can place them in a glass mixing bowl or use the same dish and drizzle extra virgin olive oil, add a few pinches of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. You can top with fresh goat cheese also.

      This makes a great side dish on its own or add on top of a salad. The dressing needs to be a vinaigrette that is a bit sweet (as mentioned, I'll share the perfect vinaigrette for it in a future post). They are quite full flavored on their own though. :)


Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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