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Old 09-14-2011, 08:17 AM   #1
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Reciprocity

On and off through the years I've come across this problem. There are two of us, and I love to cook. But more and more since I moved here ten years ago, I'm finding my friends reluctant to entertain (although most love to cook). It really, in most cases, is because of the cleaning before and after more than anything else. As I get older (I'm 56, husband, 64) more and more of our friends are single and most of us live in old homes than generate dust bunnies and cobwebs. I still have hubby around who is willing to help make things presentable. So I DO understand.

As fall approaches I'm thinking of the cassoulet he didn't make, the coq au vin, boeuf bourgoignion, suki-yaki, fondue, three courses of soup --- all the things we haven't done in a long time simply because we -- my husband in particular -- was hoping to go to someone else's house for a change.

This fall we had a pow-wow with each other and determined that we're going to go back to doing all those dishes, and invite a core group of six (what my dining room very comfortably seats). We've always been a potluck group, but we're also going to let people know that wine or appropriate spirits are expected.

Anyone else have this problem?

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Old 09-14-2011, 08:58 AM   #2
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Are you going to take turns entertaining?
That seems the fairest for everybody.
Of course, depending on who is in your core group, there's usually somebody that manages to get out of things...

And no, I don't have that problem.
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:23 AM   #3
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We live in a townhouse condo complex. Our neighbors have mostly been the same for a dozen years. During the holiday season we like to have an open house and invite all the neighbors and some relatives. Just about everyone comes and brings stuff (including booze).

The problem is that no one ever volunteers to take a turn hosting. In 2009, during the open house, SO mentioned it would be nice if someone else took a turn. Two families said they would be willing. When the time came, we brought the subject up with one of the couples - they were going to be traveling in December. I emailed the other couple and never heard back from them. 2010 passed without a party.

I don't know what will happen this year. Maybe just our families...
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:57 AM   #4
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Hopefully that sent a hint to the other couples, Andy, having a year come and go without a party, but you know how that goes.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:02 AM   #5
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I've learned over the years not to wait for "it" to happen. It seldom does. I host birthday parties for my friends, and I also host them for myself.

After a few years of disappointing birthdays (and a birthday that sits halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas) I figured I'd better just throw my own party and not feel bad if some folks have "other commitments" at that time of year.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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ChefJune, that is what we concluded. The fact is, these folk are not selfish. We originally had a group of five who did monthly brunches. A few of our friends found out about it and wanted to join. Then some of the later joiners didn't say, Oh, it is March, it's our turn. Even some pretty broad hints didn't do it. The hosts dwindled down until it was just us. Some understandable, some not so. Illness, ongoing kitchen renovations .... OK. Suddenly having to take custody of grandchildren ... well, none of us hate children. But it is just too much to clean the house by myself? But, really, I like these people and I like to cook these dishes that are way too much for two (the various big stews; cassoulet, coq au vin, boeuf bourgonion) or just more fun with a group (suki yaki, fondue). One time this summer one of the friends asked if she could "host" a dinner at our house! We did it, but my husband was disgruntled, which is why we had a talk before the winter cooking season starts.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:29 AM   #7
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Someone else hosting a party at your house? How is that different from your hosting the party? Does the other person send out the invitations/make the phone calls? OR Does she come over and clean your house and do the clean up afterwards?
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:41 AM   #8
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Someone else hosting a party at your house? How is that different from your hosting the party? Does the other person send out the invitations/make the phone calls? OR Does she come over and clean your house and do the clean up afterwards?
ROTFL. but it wouldn't really be very funny.
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:07 PM   #9
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Claire, I say if you enjoy the cooking and hosting then go ahead and be generous. I know no one likes to be taken advantage of but if this is something you like to do, do it! If you decide to invite people over, expect that the pleasure of their company and sharing your meal, hearing them rave over your cooking skills to be your "payment" whether they return your hospitality with an invitation or not. If you want them to bring something, be specific. "I'm making cassoulet for our get-together. Some nice crusty bread would be wonderful with it. Would you be so kind and bring some with you? I'm sure everyone would enjoy it."

As for some one else hosting at your house, my sister does that all the time. She lives in a condo so when she wants a family party, she uses my other sister's house. Sis #1 goes over and cleans, plans the menu and buys all the stuff. Sis #2 helps but only on the day of the party by pulling out her baking dishes etc. Of course we all help with the clean up.
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:59 PM   #10
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Someone else hosting a party at your house? How is that different from your hosting the party? Does the other person send out the invitations/make the phone calls? OR Does she come over and clean your house and do the clean up afterwards?
It actually worked out OK, although at first I felt "huh?" She did literally all of the cooking. Our other friends brought all the libations. So for us it was literally only the cleaning (and we used disposables for most things, she brought serving pieces and took them home with her to clean). Sort of like if you're sick or grieving and people bring you food. Wound up being fun. That's why I'm working towards finding a way to make this work. One friend even brought all the glasses.
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Old 09-14-2011, 04:55 PM   #11
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no people that i know that are my age, entertain at all. i think that is sad. they say it is just to much trouble. my family hardly ever cooks for me. they say they can't compete. i think that is a cop out. on the rare occasion, that they do host, they always want me to bring something big. no rest for the wicked i guess.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:16 PM   #12
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Few people are willing to step up. We were going to have an office pot-luck. I suggested to one of my co-workers that we could both bring our own versions of a particular dish. I wanted to taste someone else's idea of the dish. But the co-worker refused because she said she couldn't compete with me. I wasn't looking for competition and told her so. She still refused.

It seems that when you build a reputation for something, everyone relies on you for that dish, and won't make it themselves.

I had to be impressed with my eldest son last July when we were visiting with him and his wonderful wife and our grandkids. We had a night planned where I was to make egg rolls with pineapple sweet and sour sauce, and crab rangoons. My wife and I ended up at an activity much too late (she's slow), and it was too late to make the egg rolls. My son took it upon himself to make them, from what he remembered of my recipe. They came out every bit as good as if I'd been there cooking. It was his first attempt. I made and introduced the rangoons to his wife's grandparents, who had never had them before. They demanded that my DIL learn to make those wonderful rangoons. But my son had stepped up and took my place, and did a wonderful job of it.

That's the only time it's happened though. Usually, if I want something for my birthday, foodwise, I'd better be prepared to make it. Knowing how to cook well is both a blessing and a curse. People come to expect you to do what you know how to do, but usually aren't willing to put in the time or effort to learn how to make whatever it is themselves.

I do have to say that my daughters are the exception to the rule. They love to create new and interesting dishes as much as I do. But with kids, school, and jobs, they have less time to do it.

Claire, keep being a great host, but on your own terms.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:31 PM   #13
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I used to enjoy home entertaining and I was almost never invited to my guests homes in return.

A couple of close friends told me that it was because I went overboard with the fancy china, silver etc... and or because I am such a good cook. The general idea was that I intimidated them.

So I stopped!

Now I have one or two close friends in for a "drink" or "coffee" or I take people to a restaurant.

I still do not get invited out but, now its a lot less work and a lot less expensive.

Do what you are comfortable with and enjoy yourself.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:04 PM   #14
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I suppose I should certainly be thankful for our good friends. Most of them invite us to their homes as much as we invite them..which isn't as often as when we were a bit younger. Many of them are happy to have a quick meal with us whenever we ask and some do have fancier china, crystal, etc than we do, but we all have at least as much fun at our house. Dh has invited his entire SS class and their spouses out for sometime in October. We will probably have a cookout but about 50 people can really eat some food. We enjoy it as much as they do and I have everything prepared ahead if possible.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:15 PM   #15
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We used to entertain ALOT. Then a few times people backed out at the last minute with some pretty crappy reasons so we cut way back. We are still good friends but the only time we dine together now is at a restaurant or a larger party one of them is having for an occasion. (usually catered). I did throw a Mexican BBQ party this summer but it was at the request of my SIL and she invited half the people.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:59 PM   #16
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Gosh, this seems to be the problem across the board, I am only 51 and my wife is all together a kid of 40 something, but our friends, majority of whom even yonger, do not want to make parties. I have giving up on them, but in all the truth am not willing to shell money out on my own every time. So we cut down our parties by at least 75%, at least.
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:03 PM   #17
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Few people are willing to step up. We were going to have an office pot-luck. I suggested to one of my co-workers that we could both bring our own versions of a particular dish. I wanted to taste someone else's idea of the dish. But the co-worker refused because she said she couldn't compete with me. I wasn't looking for competition and told her so. She still refused.
If you are truly interested in just trying their version of the dish, perhaps you could suggest an exchange on your own, without all your co-workers weighing in on things. Some people are put off by judgement, comments or voting. The office party might be too big a stage for them. Especially bringing the exact same dish as someone else... People around here try not to bring the same dish as someone else to the same gathering.
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:17 PM   #18
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If you are truly interested in just trying their version of the dish, perhaps you could suggest an exchange on your own, without all your co-workers weighing in on things. Some people are put off by judgement, comments or voting. The office party might be too big a stage for them. Especially bringing the exact same dish as someone else... People around here try not to bring the same dish as someone else to the same gathering.
Well said, Pac.
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:48 PM   #19
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Few people are willing to step up. We were going to have an office pot-luck. I suggested to one of my co-workers that we could both bring our own versions of a particular dish. I wanted to taste someone else's idea of the dish. But the co-worker refused because she said she couldn't compete with me. I wasn't looking for competition and told her so. She still refused.

It seems that when you build a reputation for something, everyone relies on you for that dish, and won't make it themselves.

I had to be impressed with my eldest son last July when we were visiting with him and his wonderful wife and our grandkids. We had a night planned where I was to make egg rolls with pineapple sweet and sour sauce, and crab rangoons. My wife and I ended up at an activity much too late (she's slow), and it was too late to make the egg rolls. My son took it upon himself to make them, from what he remembered of my recipe. They came out every bit as good as if I'd been there cooking. It was his first attempt. I made and introduced the rangoons to his wife's grandparents, who had never had them before. They demanded that my DIL learn to make those wonderful rangoons. But my son had stepped up and took my place, and did a wonderful job of it.

That's the only time it's happened though. Usually, if I want something for my birthday, foodwise, I'd better be prepared to make it. Knowing how to cook well is both a blessing and a curse. People come to expect you to do what you know how to do, but usually aren't willing to put in the time or effort to learn how to make whatever it is themselves.

I do have to say that my daughters are the exception to the rule. They love to create new and interesting dishes as much as I do. But with kids, school, and jobs, they have less time to do it.

Claire, keep being a great host, but on your own terms.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Plus every time I've offered to make dinner for your birthday you've said you'd rather try an experiment and see what we can come up with together.

The hubby and I rarely entertain. First because we couldn't afford to (for a while we lived off of ramen, hamburger, frozen vegetables and the occasional supplement from mom and dad when they could afford it) and then because we were both working full time and I was going to school full time. When I took a break from school I started my current job and a lot of times the fact that I work thirds and don't have weekends off made it difficult. Most people just aren't on a compatible schedule. I'm hoping once we get down state the hubby and I will have time to invite people over.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:06 AM   #20
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Plus every time I've offered to make dinner for your birthday you've said you'd rather try an experiment and see what we can come up with together.

The hubby and I rarely entertain. First because we couldn't afford to (for a while we lived off of ramen, hamburger, frozen vegetables and the occasional supplement from mom and dad when they could afford it) and then because we were both working full time and I was going to school full time. When I took a break from school I started my current job and a lot of times the fact that I work thirds and don't have weekends off made it difficult. Most people just aren't on a compatible schedule. I'm hoping once we get down state the hubby and I will have time to invite people over.
That is why potluck was invented. If what you can afford is noodles and a can of tomatoes, that's what you do. Another person can only afford a bag of flour and some eggs, and likes to bake, so they contribute a cake. Everyone brings their own hootch or pop. It is an excuse to get together. My only problem has been that it seems to be only at my house, not the cooking involved, because that's why I want people to be here. Husband and I have determined that, screw it, we'll clean and get people here. WE've never had a problem assigning people to certain dishes/jobs. But we want to keep socially active.

My husband actually tried, and could not find, someone to clean the house before or after. Remember, we're talking a very small town. THAT's the big deal for me. If someone would come in and dust and mop and scrub toilets for an hour or so the morning before, I'd be a very happy girl. I really don't mind the clean up (don't tell my husband that), I slug around, picking up glasses and plates (Yes, I'm doing that as I write), wipe up messes. It's getting the house ready for guests that makes me crazey.
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