When I was growing up, and in the society I lived, one would not invite someone to a party or dinner and ask the guests to contribute.
If one couldn't afford to pay for it, then one didn't have parties or dinners.
Also, whoever did the inviting, made the payments. So if guy kept asking me out, he kept paying. I would actually never go out with a man who expected me to pay anything. I didn't even realize there was such a thing as a woman contributing to the cost of anything.
I have always felt extremely uncomfortable when asked to bring food or drink to a party, and while I did, I never really wanted to be there. I felt taken advantage of, because now I would be obligated to spend money on food and drink that I wouldn't normally spend. It never occurred to me to decline (I'm not sure why).
I just started reading a book called "The Gif" by Lewis Hyde. So far it's an interesting book that tells about the power of the gift. A gift that should not be consumed by the receiver but shared or given away to a third party. Lewis Hyde talks about the economy of the gift, which allows creations and ideas to circulate freely, rather than hoarding them as commodities. It's an intriguing book full of insights and food for thought.
When we moved from Amsterdam to Spain, we decided to marry, as this would be a much more fun party than a goodbye party..
It was also one of the few possibilities to bring my wife's family and friends over from the UK and join them with the in the Netherlands based family and friends.
We did not have a home anymore, as we had sold it, and bought one in Spain. And we were sleeping in my rented studio on a mattress between the packed boxes that would be picked up the next day.
As we moved to Spain, we didn't want more stuff. (like the classic cutlery and salt and pepper stuff...) So we asked people not to bring gifts. But we asked people to bring food. And as we are vegetarians, nobody brought sausages, and it wasn't even an issue. We heard later on, that the wedding was for most people the best wedding they had ever been to. The preparation of the food, for this special occasion, the sharing of the food. Made it into an event that everybody was involved in. As a bonus, I gave away lots of paintings, (like 20 ore more, some 1.80-140 meter paintings went to the UK) As I did not want to bring them to Spain. And as a remembrance to us. Now every time I visit the homes of friends in London or Amsterdam I find some work I made that people still enjoy on a day to day bases.
People also contributed to the wedding by making music (the advantage of having a violinist as a wife and a lot of professional musicians as friends), theater, and other acts.
It was probably one of the cheapest weddings ever (we only bought the drinks and hired the room, which was the exhibition space of my studio building.) But according to the guests it was one of the best weddings ever...
The next day we helped with a grandmother of a hangover the boys from the moving company carrying all the boxes in the truck. And a couple of days later we were in Spain unpacking the stuff in our new home on the countryside.
Interesting anecdote, because I've never felt good about bringing food. I'm a really lousy cook, hate preparing food, and I really don't want to eat as I put on weight, and then I do eat because I'm always so anxious at any event (except when I'm dealing casino games at a function).
For me, when people invite me somewhere and ask me to bring food, it's difficult because I sort of resent paying for things. If I wasn't going to the event, I wouldn't have bought the stuff. I'd do without.
I am, however, from reading these responses, seeing different cultural aspects, and seeing how normal people function.
Yes, I guess customs a different everywhere. People were not obliged to take anything with them. But most did as they loved to participate in the party. Being actively involved. It felt that they were celebrating too.
Not everybody is a good cook or loves to do it, so they bought something. (as well as for the guests who came from afar).
It's more the spirit that you share things. Like Wilderness wrote about his Potluck (never heard about the tradition, but sounds great). And that it is not a one-way thing. One person gives, the other receives.
I feel the other way around if I go to a party or dinner and everything is paid for by the host. I would feel uncomfortable. The minimum to bring is a bottle of wine (a good one), with you to share.
Yes, it's quite interesting to read the different responses from different cultures. Good topic.
Pot-luck is American. Lots of traditions in the US that I didn't find in other countries. Then, again, when living in London, everybody met at the pub which was different to my native South Africa.
Strangely enough, I felt quite comfortable paying for a round, and I even feel comfortable when going out to eat with girlfriends falling in with whatever the tradition is. Never felt comfortable paying if a male asked me out.
I think it must be great to be able to feel close to people. I don't. Too much harm done to me for too long a time.
Every country has it's own traditions. If in Rome do as the Romans do.
I know three countries pretty well. UK, The Netherlands and Spain, all three have different social rules. And yes they can lead to misunderstandings in the beginning. I remember how we were greeted with kisses by the notary when we had to sign the contract for the house! Something unthinkable in the Netherlands! But you go with the flow. Now it's normal to kiss people you have never seen before. (not today though....)
With paying it depends a bit on the situation. If somebody asks me to go out for a concert I take it automatically that I have to pay for my own ticket. Unless it is given to me as a present. With drinks too. Normally everybody pays it's own. Maybe as you don't want to be in debt by the other person.
When people pay for my drinks I always really appreciate it as I see it as a gesture of goodness, a gift. It's not about the money, it's more about somebody is giving something. And somebody is receiving it. Both are important and should be acknowledged by the act of the gift (The beer, the meal, the bus ticket..). It's in a way an act of bonding. (And perhaps that's why you find it awkward to pay for a man's drink)
It's interesting to hear about your experiences in South Africa.
" If somebody asks me to go out for a concert I take it automatically that I have to pay for my own ticket."
I take it for granted as they have asked me out, they would be paying.
The exceptions are if someone I know well asks me.
I think I'm beginning to see a pattern here - if someone who is a friend asks me, I automatically share.
If someone I don't know asks me, they asked me, so I expect them to pay.
This is where there may be a deep divide - or not.
America I found hard to adjust to.
Spain not so much, because most people I knew were ex-pats like me. I also have lived several times in Spain so, also, was used to the culture.
"America I found hard to adjust to"
Yes, I would make and made a lot of social blunders too. Giving tips in a restaurant, what I'm only doing to give a compliment. In the US it's a must as it is an important part of the wage. And thus the tip has a different meaning and function. All those small things.
In the UK I remember asking for two beer with two fingers in the air. Not knowing it was a pretty rude gesture. The waiter could have killed me with his stare....
"The exceptions are if someone I know well asks me." - I think this is the key. The relationship between the person and the situation.
Interesting, how it all works, if you think about it a bit longer.
That was an interesting read, thanks for sharing.
Totally concur. It is only common courtesy that if one has a gathering, one does provide everything from food & drink to entertainment, if need be.
Well, as a kid all the parties we hosted everything was on us and that is still the norm in India. When you invite someone, you provide. The only exception is if you organise a kid of pot-luck or a picnic where people decide what each one is going to get.
I have since moved to Germany and I have seen a mix of both. If it's a party, it is usually on the host, but if it is just someone organizing a get together it's going to be a bring your own stuff to share with others kind of thing.
What's the difference between a get together and a party? It's the same thing, isn't it?
One person is still inviting others.
A party is usually when someone invites you to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or some other occasion. A get-together is when someone organizes a meet up of friends.
Someone who is better located or has the right place for hosting a lot of people would typically invite a group of friends over. It cannot be expected that this person bears all costs if they are the one inviting all the time. Some friend groups work by moving to another persons place every other time and then it's usually all on the host.
In South Africa, we tend to have 'braais' which is an Afrikaans word which means barbecues.
We may or may not be asked to bring our own meat.
That's probably equivalent to the American potluck.
I grew up with potlucks (usually after Sunday church, but not always) and birthday parties. Party bills were footed by the parents of the birthday kid, but everyone shared in the cost of potluck dinners. Some guests always arrived early, at least to larger functions, to help the hosts setup and there was help to tear down and clean up as well. Semi-formal dinners, with a host paying for everything from food to drinks to effort were unknown. Later, as a college student, even "parties" were BYOB (or wine or liquor, whatever your taste was).
Seems to me that if you are unable, or just too cheap, to participate in the cost, whether by bringing something or reciprocation by holding your own dinner, you probably should not participate. No one likes a perpetual bum that just assumes someone else will pick up the cost for them.
Or maybe we were just in the wrong social strata; our get-togethers were for friends to mingle, chat, and watch children play. The massive parties costing a host thousands of $$ to climb the social ladder of "high society" were not a part of our life style.
There are several parties that come to mind in which people bring gifts, maybe not necessarily to the host but to someone the party is in honor of. Bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays, house warming gifts/parties, to name a few.
But what you are describing sounds to me more like a potluck, which for anyone who may not know, is a gathering in which everyone contributes a dish or a beverage. It's meant to keep one person from the entire cost of such a gathering. It's also a way for everyone to feel included in contributing to the festivities. People can share their favorite dishes with others and then recipes can be exchanged. Usually, a potluck gathering does not occur at someone's home as a house party, though.
Attended an extended family potluck in a campground. About 30 families, or perhaps 100 people.
One couple a huge pot, maybe 20 gallons, and she made stew. Everybody contributed - a can or corn, some carrots, a length of sausage or a pound of stew beef. Some potatoes, some "special" seasoning, some Kielbasa. Anything that sounded like it even might be found in a stew.
And then everybody brought another dish as a side and we all sat down together. One of the best meals, and certainly the best stew, I've ever had! The company didn't hurt either - we had, I think, 5 generations there.
The parties I refer to are simply for dancing. The host provides food and drink. The purpose isn't to eat or, necessarily, to drink. It was simply to dance and chat.
I didn't really grow up in a society where food and drink were that important. It has changed, though, since South Africa opened up since Apartheid was outlawed.
I see now where Wilderness said something similar to my answer and I agree. Potlucks are generally not for the kinds of house parties meant to socially network for climbing social ladders and high society gatherings. They are more common among friends and family or other community gatherings such as church luncheons immediately after service is held.
If someon has invited us from his side then it is entity a diffrent story but otherwise in any contributory fun and get to gather we are supposed to contribute either in cash or kind.
Where I'm from it depends on the invitation. We have everything from pot lucks to dinner where you invite the guest and provide all. Etiquette dictates if it isn't specifically labeled a pot luck don't insult the hostess by bringing something.
I'm in America. I've lived in the south, north, midwest and the west. And I've lived in other countries, albeit my social circles abroad were always mostly American.
I don't know what to say. Everyone appears to be sharing different experiences and expectations of conduct. Maybe birds of a feather flock together? I have, occasionally, stumbled upon social groups where this is not the norm and what we call Karens here get all tiffy if you deviate. I remember a holiday dinner clearly identified as a pot luck where I brought a bread we traditionally eat on that holiday, along with other dishes, and the hostess took particular umbrage to the fact I'd brought that bread. She threw a hissy fit when her daughter asked for a slice to be put on her plate.
Anyhoo. I politely avoid people and situations where I've identified ridiculous drama as a real possibility, or my children would be exposed to behavior outside the bounds of what I can explain away in a positive light. There's too many people in the world to remain in a social circle where what should be simple fun devolves into drama.
Well, I'm glad I asked the question. I'm probably a bit confused about it at this stage because I've lived in so many countries and cultures, and I'm only now realizing that while I've gone along with whatever I've been asked, they've all been different because of cultures and countries!
Thanks for sharing.
Seems to me it all depends on the people involved. When invited to a dinner (outside of a restaurant), we always as "What can I bring?". If the answer is "Nothing" we bring nothing - if it is a beverage or a dish we bring a beverage or a dish.
Can't imagine a hostess that would throw a fit over bringing bread to a potluck.
I have never attended a party here in California that was specifically for chatting and dancing.
No, we have parties because it is fun to see people we know in a fun relaxed setting where if you want to bring food and drink you do. If you don't want to, and don't mind taking chances on what will be available, you don't.
That's just us, here in So Cal.
- where movie stars and the people who work for the Hollywood entertainment industry know how to have, hold and attend parties.
I'm talking about PARTIES, though.
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