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Hostess with the Mostess

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It’s just the way I grew up. You make sure that if you have guests coming, that you have the right food for your guests. If you have a lactose intolerant person coming over, then you make sure to have something non-dairy for them. That goes the same for vegans, vegetarians, gluten free peeps, people who only eat meat, people who just don’t like meat, people who only drink lemon tea, or like coffee, or whatever. You don’t have to break the bank and buy them the most expensive item they will eat, but it is your job (you invited them over, after all) to make sure that you have something to serve them. It needn’t be fancy, but you have to serve them the right thing.

I actually love doing that. I love thinking ahead and planning a menu around foods I know the invited person or persons will love. I generally (but sometimes forget) to ask people what their favorite drink, etc, is so that I have it on hand. I can remember one time when I didn’t think of it and the person who came over literally didn’t like a single thing I had in my fridge. I felt so bad. Mistakes lead to experience though, and experience means that hasn’t happened again.

So, since I am the type of person who will trip over myself to make sure that I have the right food for whoever is coming over, I am always sort of surprised when people ask “What can I bring?” I mean, the other thing I was taught was to make sure that when you go to someone else’s house, you never ever arrive empty handed. You could be bringing something really small – a bottle of wine, or some fresh bread. You don’t have to bring anything fancy or crazy – even a small plant, etc, for the host of said party, dinner, celebration, etc. So, naturally whenever I go to anyone’s house I don’t usually ask what they want me to bring (I figure they would tell me if they needed me to bring something). I just think about the celebration at hand, and I bring something. Simple.

But, when people ask me what they can bring, I somehow always feel guilty. As I mentioned, I grew up thinking that it is the job of the host/hostess to have all that stuff ready and waiting for the person when they get there, so I always am at sorts and usually just wind up telling them what I am planning on serving, and then throwing in the “If there’s something else you want, feel free to bring it, but you don’t have to bring anything if you don’t want to,” line. I mean, I think it’s great when people bring things, but I never feel like they have to. Which, I guess, is contradictory to the way I was raised.

What do you do? Do you always tell your guests what you want them to bring? Do you expect them to bring anything? Do you bring anything on your own without being asked? Maybe times are changing, and I should expect my guests to bring over part of the meal (but I still won’t, even if you make me. Dammit! I’m the hostess, and I will make sure my friends/guests are comfortable.) ::clears throat:: Anyway, tell me your thoughts. I wanna know.