Tuesday 11 September 2012

Is This Customary For You Too?


     In France, when you're invited to someone's home for a meal or even for drinks, it's customary to bring a little something for your host. It's an unspoken rule and doesn't have to be a big deal, a bottle of wine, sweets or flowers. The idea is to avoid showing up with your hands in your pockets. Recently, I hosted a dinner party for ten people and my guests showed up with a beautiful contemporary composition of flowers and wine. I didn't ask for any of this of course, but I was pretty sure they would show up with something. Another thing about dinner parties over here is that they last for hours and my guests didn't leave until well past 1am. The evening started around 7pm with l'apéro (casual drinks and starters, usually in the living room or outside - I love this part), then we moved to the dinner table around 9pm for the main course, dessert, and finish up with coffee (espresso) and a digestif around midnight. By the time people were ready to leave it was almost 2am. I try to keep this in mind when I'm invited to a friends house for dinner. If it's someone I know pretty well, I'll offer to bring the desert and it's always accepted and expected. However, I rarely stay that late, and have use my kids as an excuse to get home by midnight if I can. (;   Now when I invite close friends over, things can be a little more relaxed but I always get the question, "What do you want me to bring?" to which I reply, "How about dessert?"

So I was wondering if any of this sounded familiar to you where you're from. Do dinner parties last long or do people leave at a reasonable hour? How are you received as a guest and how do you receive as a host? Do you feel obligated to bring something when invited to dinner or are things more relaxed where you're from. 

Just curious. (: 


  1. Here you always ask "What can I bring" Then you bring what they say. Sometimes someone will say you don't need to bring anything, so you don't. Dinner usually doesn't last that long though. Show up, eat a huge meal, talk and digest for a bit then head home. I realize most of the people I know though have kids and jobs and are pretty casual so I don't know what happens in other situations.

  2. For family we would ask what to bring, for friends we don't ask but always turn up with one or all of the following: bottle of wine, pack of four beers, non alcoholic bottle of something (for the unlucky driver), chocolates and flowers. Sometimes we've gone past midnight and sometimes they've left before. If the mood and chat is flowing it can go on later. Great times.

  3. I agree with Sally. If it's a friend, I'll call them and ask what I can bring.... and we'll probably stay later. If it's someone I don't know as well, I'll probably just bring a bottle of wine.

  4. Wow! I'd like to come to a dinner party at YOUR house. Dinners in my neck of the woods is pretty much what Sara said--ask what can I bring, bring it, eat, talk, go home. :)

  5. You guys are all welcome to come! And you don't have to bring anything. (=

  6. No this isn't familiar to me. Here in Utah, people only visit when they have a "reason". For example, this guy I know only comes over to mooch off the fact that I pay for cable and he wants to see "The Walking Dead". So he'll call enroute to let me know he's coming, show up five minutes before the show, crash and watch it, complain about the commercials, and then leave right after.

    I'm actually going to tell him to stop coming by this fall.

    But my point is that people in "America" that I know, have no manners, are crude, crass, expect things and never bring sh*t.

    I love the French way. It shows culture and appreciation for people, unlike the low-class bums I deal with on a daily basis.

  7. i have always brought something, knowing they bullshit you when they say 'don't bring anything'... happened to me... once... that was enough

    a charming custom of some northern europeans: first visit to a new home, like a housewarming [tis de rigueur], everyone brings a bit of salt and some bread; salt to sprinkle around the 4 corners of the home, to keep evil spirits out; bread, to evoke fertility - can you guess the bread's meant for a young couple's new home? :P ...usually a bottle of some kind of booze is included, even for the young'uns ;)

    other things brought are foods/desserts of all kinds, left behind if not all consumed, some unsampled....

  8. Michael: Oh I am LMAO, but also sorry to hear you have to deal with a mooch. Sometimes you just got to be blunt when you invite folks, tell them, "hey, bring some beer before you come over." or what ever. After a while, they'll catch on if they're not too dense. (:

    lawolf: I love the housewarming ritual with the salt and bread and booze. I've never heard of that before but I do like that kind of stuff. I have to remember to do this in my second life... (; And yeah, you do have to be careful of people saying "Oh, you don't *have* to bring anything..." which means you really do need to bring something. Tricky rascals...

    1. indeedy!

      variations: http://www.themostesshostess.com/blog/2-latest/10-the-bread-salt-honey-tradition.html

      of course, no edict exists you can't start your own trads ;)

  9. I've heard of the custom and have seen it on TV, but I've never been to a party where it was customary to do so. I think it's neat, though. :)

  10. I've only been to one dinner party in America that was anything like that, and it was a four or five course meal put on by an Italian immigrant. Far too much food for me. It was nothing like what I was expecting. I think Americans are too much in a hurry for this kind of social activity. We tend to want to get to the point and move on.

  11. I don't often (or ever, really) go to dinner parties, so I can't be positive, but I don't think it's unusual for guests to show up with a gift for the host (which can often be shared with guests - a bottle of wine, maybe a box of chocolates).

    For the Portuguese (and here I have to stress: my family), bringing food/wine to someone's dinner event is an insult. It's like you're telling your hosts you don't count on them to provide you with good or sufficient grub. Though if a couple of families are getting together for an informal dinner, both will probably make/bring stuff (or cook together, even).
    Some Dark Romantic

  12. Cherie: It is a lot of fun especially when you have a good group together. But the clean up afterwards...that's another story. (:

    Richard: It's sad when we get to the point where we can't enjoy the company of others without the itch to hurry it up. It seems like we're in work mode all the time and can't disconnect from our fast paced work habits even during the moments when we're supposed to relax and have a good time.

    Mina: How interesting! Funny how things can be perceived so differently depending on your background. Can I at least bring flowers to your house the next time you invite me over? (;


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