Mom's take: Proper Etiquette of a Host and being Hosted?

It’s interesting when you read an article, blog post, twitter comment, or even listen to an audio report and what you’re expecting to hear is not anywhere near the subject matter that you thought was described in the title. While Haley’s blog post, Proper Etiquette of a Host and being Hosted?, does start with the conversation that we had this past week, I’m actually kind of surprised at the direction that it wound up taking. Nothing bad, but at the same time, perhaps it does show a little bit of a generational gap. Or perhaps just plain “Millenial-ness”. And wow, how I know that it is going to start a fire-storm of discussion or arguments!!

First things first, though. Our discussion started after I went with her brother and sister-in-law, to see her and her husband at their apartment. I was really tired, which isn’t an excuse, and, was going to partake in the watermelon that she had so graciously provided for us, but I didn’t. I was pretty mad at myself afterward. It was rude; Haley had taken the time to prepare something for her guests and even though we’re family, we were guests in her home. She took the time to fix something that was universally liked and had beverages that were be agreeable to all. To me, this is a wonderful host. It doesn’t need to be expansive or expensive; it’s quite simply the thought and care behind the act that matters.

Etiquette noun
et·​i·​quette | \ ˈe-ti-kət  , -ˌket\
Definition of etiquette

the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life


What I didn’t expect, was her reaction and I really do welcome the conversation! I was raised one way – and probably truer to the “old south” way of etiquette. When you visit someone, you normally take something as a hostess gift (which by the way, I totally screwed that one up on this visit). Yet, you also know that you are going to be expected to eat, drink, and have some conversation. Whether either of those things is pleasant or confrontational, it doesn’t matter. After all, you are a guest in someone’s home. You chose to accept the invitation, and you were expected to appear at the appropriate time and date. You are responsible then to behave in a proper manner.

For instance, if you are invited to a pool party, wouldn’t you think you are expected to swim? How about a birthday party… bring a gift. A wedding shower, a baby shower, a retirement party. No biggie; it’s pretty obvious and most of these activities you wouldn’t have a problem attending because you are important in some manner to the host and or hostess. If the date won’t work with your schedule, you’ll probably send regrets when you RSVP.

How about a funeral, or even a wedding? Both of these events can be uncomfortable and cause stress to the attendee for any variety of reasons. But generally, people appear on these occasions because of some type of relationship with the host family. Maybe they won’t be the easiest or even the happiest of times. But generally, it is out of pure and unadulterated compassion or family requirements that rule. This is etiquette as well. Suck it up and go.

Being true to oneself is a poor excuse for being rude to others.

Miss Manners: Be true to yourself, but avoid rudeness

Perhaps another, entirely different way of looking at the etiquette of attending or hosting an event could be this: as a host or hostess, normally, we don’t invite people that we don’t like or those that don’t have any relation to us in our lives. Furthermore, if you’re going to go to the expense and effort of hosting a party or event, why don’t you have the right to expect someone to either RSVP yes or no, and if it’s a “Yes” , they why would you not have the right to be a little hurt if the party-goers fail to appear on time and or partake in the festivities? You cared enough to ask or invite, then why can they (the invitees) not care enough to participate?

While I see your point, Haley dear, that the food choices are yours to make because it is your body and your health, I just don’t agree completely when it involves an event that you have actively chosen to participate. If you were diabetic or were following a particular diet, then I, as a hostess, would most definitely do my very best to provide you with items that would not hinder your ability to enjoy the party or event. That’s what a good host or hostess does out of respect for his or her guests.

Perhaps I don’t normally drink wine or beer. But if I know that the event I am hosting would generally have the same, I will do my best to provide something within my means and that is appropriate. Making that effort and wanting to make sure that my family or guests are going to have a good time brings me joy.

By the same token, I believe that the above word, respect, is actually more about etiquette than most people will give due credit. Yes, you may go to parties or other social gatherings because you were invited, but more often than not, you are attending out of respect for the host or hostess, and that you will do your best to attend when invited, and again, act appropriately.

Psychologist Jean Twenge, the author of the 2006 book Generation Me, considers millennials, along with younger members of Generation X, to be part of what she calls “Generation Me”

 Twenge, Jean M. (2006). Generation Me. New York: Free Press (Simon & Schuster

I’m afraid that when I mentioned the “Millenial-ness” of the post, Proper Etiquette of a Host and being Hosted? , I was referring to the fact that most young people (not all!!!) but a good many are so consumed with only what is in their own personal universe, day in and day out, that they fail to understand or accept that there are a lot of other people revolving around in this world as well. It’s hard to think of others, and harder yet to have respect or even civil discourse with those that we don’t see eye-to-eye with. Yet, it is crucial for us all to understand this and try, if only for a short while, to think about something other than ourselves occasionally. Take a quick time-out and open our eyes. Maybe another word for this could be, respect. Or even, etiquette.

I realize that we don’t agree on many ideas. Yet I do believe that we, as Mother and Daughter, do have some good measure of respect for one another. I think we can continue to have discussions when we don’t agree. And even discuss when we do agree. I will generally have a different take-away on a subject, learn something new, or even occasionally, cement my original reasoning on an idea after we talk. It’s all okay, and perfectly acceptable. As long as I remember that the same goes for you, Haley – Daughter Dear. Respect.

Now as for your husband; if he weren’t your husband and came to my party so late that the dishes were already put away, then he would have been expected to eat before he arrived. He would still have been required to give many many apologies for his tardiness to our dinner party! Unless of course, he had an urgent and dire emergency that left him completely incapacitated in order to communicate with this hostess….

Considering the fact that he is your husband, he should know better 🙂

Mom / Laurie