to think that if guests stay for longer than 2 nights, they should contribute to food costs?

(93 Posts)
marfisa Mon 31-Dec-12 19:53:13

We have just had some guests stay for 3 nights, a family of 4. They are friends but not particularly close friends. My DH was cross with them (although he didn't say so) because they didn't offer to take us out for dinner while they were here, or shop for food and prepare a meal. They brought us some modest but thoughtful gifts, and also bought us some chocs. We went sightseeing with them on the 3 days (our city is a tourist city) and I noticed that when we ate lunch out each day, they didn't buy sandwiches for themselves, only for their 2 children. They then ate their children's leftovers. The only time they ate heartily was at our house in the evening, where food and wine were plentiful. They never once offered to pay for any food or wine. Our house is also not large, so having 4 extra people to stay isn't exactly comfortable IYSWIM.

We are not badly off financially but do have to watch our pennies. So do they.

My DH says that if we stayed with someone for 3 nights, we would pay for a meal. In fact, we stayed with these friends for a few nights a couple of summers ago, and while staying with them we took them out to a restaurant once and also paid for one communal food shop. Part of me thinks DH is being a little too obsessed with tit-for-tat, but another part of me thinks that he's right: if you're getting free accommodation, you should contribute to food costs.

There is also a Part 2 to this story. Our guests are still on holiday in our town, but have moved to visit another friend of theirs. She has a bigger house and they're staying with her for 5 nights. I saw our friends again today, and they are very unhappy with their new host. She keeps the heating of her house turned down so low that they are cold. She also fed them such small portions at dinner last night, apparently, that the children left the table hungry. Then for tonight's dinner (NYE!) she asked them to shop for food. Furthermore, she specified which shops they should purchase the food from: gourmet butcher, gourmet delicatessen and so on. My friends were quite irate about this. The husband said to me that they would not be buying the food "on principle", because (according to him) if you are staying with someone, it is a rule of hospitality that the hosts should pay for everything. He said that if guests stayed with him, he would not expect them to pay. At this point I couldn't help recalling that he had been happy to let us pay for 2 meals when we stayed with them. grin And we didn't mind paying at all TBH; we thought it was a normal gesture.

My DH is now evilly delighted with their discomfiture and thinks that it's a case of karma: tight people meeting tighter people. I am a little nervous though that they are going to want to return here now instead of spending the remainder of their stay with their less generous friend. Argh.

OneWellAndTrulyCrackeredMummy Mon 31-Dec-12 19:59:00

I would say that they have pennies to watch tbh & tried to contribute by buying you the modest gifts instead, as they can't afford the food shop. If they didn't buy themselves sandwiches its suspect. Did you invite them or did they invite themselves?

I perhaps would expect guests to pay for a meal out at the end of a stay but I wouldn't be annoyed if they didn't. I can see your dp's point but maybe this is the end of staying over at each others houses?

FreudianLisp Mon 31-Dec-12 20:00:22

Must admit it wouldn't occur to me to expect a contribution from guests, however long they stay. If I didn't want to cater for them, I wouldn't invite them. It's difficult when people have different expectations and rules for behaviour.

hermioneweasley Mon 31-Dec-12 20:00:55

3 nights isn't an excessively long stay and they brought some gifts. I woukdn't expect them to pay for food shopping, bu the offerif a meal might have been nice. Given they didn't eat during the day, maybe they are on a very tight budget.

If they want to come back to yours just say "I'm sorry that's not convenient"

I would not expect any contribution from guests, nor would I expect to be taken out for a meal. When we have guests, they are just that and I like to host them. However I don't think I would like to have guests for that long and would want my home back after 2 nights. Obviously I say this from the point of view of someone able to afford to feed another family and if it was a struggle then my pov would be very different.

If I was the guest I would probably want to contribute and offer both to pay towards groceries and take the hosts out for a meal.

debka Mon 31-Dec-12 20:02:11

I would take our hosts out for a meal if I could afford it.

However I would never expect that from a guest, and I certainly wouldn't expect them to pay for food.

I think your DH is being mean.

peggyblackett Mon 31-Dec-12 20:02:39

There is no way that I would expect guests to pay for a meal or contribute costs (unless they were staying for weeks at a time). I think it'd be quite rude to expect that.

However, I would expect them to reciprocate by hosting us when we go to visit them. Isn't that generally how it works between friends confused?

NinaHeart Mon 31-Dec-12 20:02:41

I wouldn't expect guests to contribute to food costs but would probably be a bit surprised if they didn't offer to take us out for a meal or similar. Or at the very least bring lots of wine and goodies.

KellyEllyChristmasBelly Mon 31-Dec-12 20:05:07

I wouldn never expect a guest to contribute unless we were getting a takaway one evening then its normal everyone would chip in.

HecatePropolos Mon 31-Dec-12 20:06:13

If I had invited someone to be a guest in my home I would not expect them to pay towards food, or accept it if they offered.

The fact that they only bought food for their children and ate their leftovers sounds more like people who are really struggling than it does stingy people.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 31-Dec-12 20:06:25

Well I wouldn't expect a contribution from guests in terms of paying for shopping, or taking us out for a meal.

When I've got guests coming I menu plan and shop accordingly.

When we stay with friends or family, we normally take a couple of bottles of wine and some other gift - nice chocolates and/or other treats depending on how long we are staying. And they do the same in return.

3monkeys3 Mon 31-Dec-12 20:08:01

Did you invite them to stay? If yes, YABU. If they have come specifically to visit you then YABU too. However, if they are staying at your house as part of a 'holiday', instead of staying in a hotel/self catering accommodation then they are a bit cheeky and YANBU!

maxpower Mon 31-Dec-12 20:09:22

agree with hecate

HildaOgden Mon 31-Dec-12 20:09:49

I think they definitely should have brought you out for a meal,especially as you had set the precedent when you stayed with them.

I personally don't agree with short term guests literally chipping in money for the grocery shopping though,for the sake of a few days I would rather treat them as guests and not room-mates on a short let.

chandellina Mon 31-Dec-12 20:10:27

It sounds like they behaved entirely suitably at your house and best to stay out of any issues going on with the other hosts.

When I have guests then I don't expect them to pay for anything towards food costs, they are my guests! Generally, they would do the saame if we went to stay with them.

I certainly wouldn't give them a list of food and where to buy it from!

Plus the fact that they were only eating their childrens leftovers would probably make me want to feed them more and send them on their way with a massive pack up as well

NotMostPeople Mon 31-Dec-12 20:12:32

I wouldn't expect it but I would notice if they didn't bring say some wine or offer to get a takeaway. Having said that we often stay with friends at their holiday home and always do an online shop which we split the cost on. It wouldn't be reasonable to stay in their place and expect them to pay to feed and water us.

SantasENormaSnob Mon 31-Dec-12 20:13:26

I wouldn't dream of imposing on people for 3 nights and not contributing some nice things. Wine, beers, nice food etc. I would also pay for a meal out/in.

I would never have guests for 3 nights so no contribution issues from guests grin

Why are they staying if they're not close friends?

I would never expect guests to contribute unless they wanted too, sounds like the pennies are tight for this family. It was nice that the bought thoughtful gifts instead of any old tat, they must like and appreciate you.

Ilovesunflowers Mon 31-Dec-12 20:15:46

I wouldn't expect guests to pay towards food costs unless they were staying a pretty long time. YABU.

If they wouldn't even buy themselves a sandwich this suggests they are struggling financially. As a host you are supposed to be hospitable.

AnnaRack Mon 31-Dec-12 20:18:38

Wouldnt expect guests to pay for food or buy a meal out but its nice when they offer! If truly skint its considerate to offer to cook, wash up etc.
The sandwich incident suggests they really were skint, but i wonder why friends cant be honest with each other? Would it have made any difference if they'd said, "Look, we'd love to buy some food but were really strapped for cash at the moment because..." Its a bit odd that they didnt cancel their visit if that was the case.
The other people sound a bit mean tbh, its one thing to ask guests to pay their way vut quite rude to insist they buy from certain (expensive) shops. If they didnt want the guests to stay they should just say no.

I wouldn't even think about staying with friends for more than one night without contributing something to the food budget .
Whether bringing a hamper of goodies or bringing a few bits already made .
You're right , they're mean .

EggRules Mon 31-Dec-12 20:19:19

I think it depends on how often you have guests and the circumstance of their visit. We have regular visitors and I think they should contribute with wine and I would very much appreciate if they offered to pay for a takeaway or brtought something with them.

I would never stay in someone elses house and drink bottles of their wine night after night. If I go to someone elses house for dinner I would take wine, choc, flowers etc.

Your friends have essentially been on holiday at the expense of others. A family of four staying for 8 nights and possibly 10 days without making a contribution is tight imho.

ledkr Mon 31-Dec-12 20:22:34

I would certainly provide the wine and desserts plus suggest and buy a takeaway. These days a lot if people are struggling financially and feeding a whole extra family for days can upset the budget.
I'm obviously in the minority here though.

ThePathanKhansWitch Mon 31-Dec-12 20:29:34

I would never expect guest's to contribute tbh... but I know we are all different.

I also think any more than 3 days in someone elses home is too much, I am a home-bird, love my own bed, my own bathroom etc.

defineme Mon 31-Dec-12 20:31:55

I can't think of a visit I've made without either arriving with food or paying for meal out/take away/food shop because I do believe that's polite. However, I have no idea if all the guests I have have reciprocated -I think my Aunt paid for a take away when she stayed for a few nights and I can remember a friend bringing a lot of cakes, but I don't keep a check on it. Think I'd be happy with gifts tbh.

tharsheblows Mon 31-Dec-12 20:32:37

Did you invite them? That's what matters. If you did, then you don't have much right to complain. If you didn't, then they were freeloading.

I hate people who invite themselves. If you accept an open invitation at any point, you're not inviting yourself, btw. It's when you use someone's house instead of a hotel.

<mutters darkly>

inchoccyheaven Mon 31-Dec-12 20:34:00

I would never expect guests to contribute to food or even take us out for a meal while they stayed. If they wanted something extra to what we provided they would be welcome to buy it but I would always make sure we had enough for everyone.

We have only ever gone to stay with my dad and his family and we did buy any extra snacks we wanted to eat and pay for us to all go out for a meal but didn't contribute otherwise and it wasn't expected.

Flatbread Mon 31-Dec-12 20:38:39

Hmm, if I went to visit, I would take the hosts out for a meal, to thank them.

If they are struggling, perhaps they could have offered to cook a meal for you? Wouldn't need to cost more than fiver for ingredients, if they make a chili or a curry, so not a strain on their budget. If a guest offered to do that for me, I would be very touched.

digerd Mon 31-Dec-12 20:38:45

We had relatives visit - DB and SIL and we lived abroad - 1hour20mins flight. We paid for everything for a week.
Then my Sis, BIL and 2 DC came for a week, and paid for everything, again. They took us out for a meal in a restaurant and paid as a thank you.
We didn't expect them to pay anything, and we had no money to spare either.

ledkr Mon 31-Dec-12 20:39:02

Scared to admit this but I sometimes feel irritated with pil who often come for days and literally eat is out of house and home but eat like birds at home so when we visit are starving.
They eat huge breakfasts expect cooked lunches with cake and biscuits endless tea then dinner and pudding with wine.
I guess it annoyed me more because I was on mat leave so skint and they knew it but didn't even buy any wine.
I did think that was a bit odd but I'm now thinking I was wrong.

SnookieSnickers Mon 31-Dec-12 20:39:47

I think it sounds as if they are really struggling TBH but given that they've been with you and the other family- it sounds like they are pushing their luck.

susanann Mon 31-Dec-12 20:40:49

I think your guests probably do have money problems, but if they could not afford to treat you to a meal or make a bigger contribution than they did they should not have come to stay with you. If you cant afford to do something then dont do it.! Why should you subsidise them? When I was a child we used to go stay with relatives for a week for a holiday. My parents always gave them some money when we were leaving at the end of the week to cover food etc. It was gratefully accepted and my parents were pleased to do it. We could not have afforded a holiday any other way. So a win-win situation.

LovesBeingAtHomeForChristmas Mon 31-Dec-12 20:47:50

I can certainly see why your dh is taking delight. I think they must have less money than you believe.

Re next time just refuse to let them stay.

floweryblue Mon 31-Dec-12 20:49:31

I think invited guests should bring wine (but that's the people I know, who know me, we all like lots of wine, it will be different in other groups). As a guest, I would also make sure at least one evening meal cooked/paid for by me.

If asking to stay as a favour, I would bring wine, and ensure I had provided most of the meals in the form of shopping/take away/meal out.

SuperChristmasScrimper Mon 31-Dec-12 20:50:13

I don't really think 2 grown adults eat their childrens left over sandwiches as their only lunch unless they really have to tbh.

It sounds like they are much worse off than you think.

MudCity Mon 31-Dec-12 20:50:18

If you invite people to stay with you, then, in my opinion, you are agreeing to cater for them. However, people have to take me as they find me...I cook the things I would usually cook and don't buy expensive food or wine.

Of course, them bringing a gift is a nice gesture, and very appreciated, however, I wouldn't expect it. I expect nothing, then if they bring something it is a bonus. I invite people because I want to spend time with them...if there is any chance I am going to resent it then I don't invite them.

It sounds as if they are hard up, or being very careful, rather than mean or tight. From what you say, they have a different set of values from you in terms of hosting visits. Neither way is right or wrong, it is simply different.

And you did say their gifts were thoughtful...that counts for a lot more than the price of them surely?

Hulababy Mon 31-Dec-12 20:53:40

If I invite people to stay at my home I would expect to pay for, and shop/prepare any food we eat at home. Eating out we generally pay our own way.
Maybe if they were staying for their convenience rather than having been asked by us to visit - then yes, pay their own way.

SoupDragon Mon 31-Dec-12 20:54:17

I would never expect my guests to pay for anything.

Hulababy Mon 31-Dec-12 20:54:48

Mind, if I visit someone I always take wine/beer to cover the time we are there.

SoupDragon Mon 31-Dec-12 20:55:01

Does your DH think you should have charged them for their lodgings too?

ImperialSantaKnickers Mon 31-Dec-12 20:59:25

I've never not taken my hosts out for at least one meal during a weekend type stay. I love to make it brunch on the Sunday - usually fairly cheap from the sponndulicks point of view, and very much appreciated as we all tend to have massive hangovers from Saturday night!

whistlestopcafe Mon 31-Dec-12 20:59:34

I think your husband is being mean but perhaps he suspects that they are freeloaders. It is very bad form for them to
moan to you about the lack of hospitality at their current hosts. Three nights at yours and then 5 nights at another friends makes me think they are looking for a cheap meal ticket.

I am so glad that I am too anti social to be a host/guest. Saves on all the awkwardness!

Hulababy Mon 31-Dec-12 21:00:04

Seems like others on here also thing people should contribute if visiting a friend for a few days, so maybe OP is not that unusual.

But it is definitely not the norm between us and our friends. Wine is brought and people pay their own way if eating out, but the host pays for food at home.

Maybe it depends on how close you are to visiting people and how often you visit/have staying visitors. I suppose if it a one off or something you are not used to then you would feel more like the need to contribute. If it is fairly regularly and relaxed between friends - then generally not, as it is reciprocated later in the year anyway.

pigletmania Mon 31-Dec-12 21:02:03

Don't Have them again. Really if you have invited them you ave to host them. Don't buy too much alcohol, you don't have to have it. If you cannt afford to host a family of 4, don't do it

Yamyoid Mon 31-Dec-12 21:05:43

You/they should've made sandwiches to take for a day out.

Agree with many others, if we have guests, alcohol contribution is all that's expected, unless it's a long stay and a takeaway or meal out's involved, then split the cost.

IfNotNowThenWenceslas Mon 31-Dec-12 21:07:20

I would never expect my guests to pay for anything, although when my friends stay, they always bring various food treats and wine, unasked.
I really wouldn't expect them to do a shop for everyone. I am practised at feeding the 5000 on fuck all, and always make big stews etc and bake cakes when I have people staying.
I wouldn't invite people if I couldn't afford to feed them.

BridgetBidet Mon 31-Dec-12 21:09:47

The way you say they ate the children's leftovers instead of having their own meal I suspect that they might be in real financial trouble. Perhaps this is the only way that they can afford to give the children a holiday this year?

Ideally they would buy you a meal but bearing that in mind I might be a bit more sympathetic.

What the other host has done is absolutely totally unreasonable and extremely rude. I don't think you're unreasonable to expect a meal out or similar but perhaps there is a reason. Also at this time of year a meal out for 6+ would be prohibitively expensive, they genuinely might not be able to afford.

ellee Mon 31-Dec-12 21:12:37

I would never expect guests to but anything, never mind a food shop when they're only there for 3 days! Gifts are nice etc but when I have people to stay I expect to feed them. If they wre staying long term, that would be different but you're dh is miffed he didn't get a food shop or a meal out in return for a 3 day visit? I'm shocked!

And that's without taking into account they are clearly quite hard up if they didn't order a sw when out. Not even one between them?

marfisa Mon 31-Dec-12 21:12:51

Thanks for all the responses! I am interested to see how many people think that it's normal to come for a visit and not pay for food. I will definitely tell my DH this as he thinks I always err on the side of being too generous and get taken advantage of. I like the mum a great deal (her DH isn't bad either; I just find it harder to warm to him) so I don't want to think of her as 'tight'.

They did invite themselves, BTW, not the other way around. They are from another European country, not the UK, so maybe cultural norms there in terms of hosting are different. I do think that what they are comfortable with is different from what we're comfortable with - we don't particularly like cramming into a small space, and for that reason we probably wouldn't stay in their home again, whereas they don't seem to mind putting up with cramped accommodation.

I don't think this family is particularly skint. Maybe they are, but if I were too skint to buy food, I wouldn't go on an international holiday. I do have the strong sense that they're using us for a cheap holiday, but because I like them, I don't mind.

I am crystal clear that their new host is out of line - there is no way I would send guests out to purchase expensive food items, especially not for a NYE dinner that I had invited them to in the first place! I also think that the host has invited a couple of other people and is expecting this family of 4 to buy posh food for the other guests as well, which is unbelievably cheeky.

TBH, the main reason I don't want them to come back to our house (on this particular trip) is because my DH and I both work from home over the holidays and desperately need to get some work done. This is hard enough with our own 2 DC but is impossible with 4 more people staying in the house. I don't think our friends understand this although I have tried to explain it a few times. We are academics and have research/publication deadlines to meet at the end of the holidays.

upstart68 Mon 31-Dec-12 21:15:57

I'd be surprised if a guest brought nothing - e.g. I'd think a bottle or two of wine appropriate.

But if I'd invited them to stay for three days, I'd expect to buy the food for three days.

I dont know anybody who'd invite someone for more than a day or two who wasn't close family.

Eating out these days is very expensive. I wouldn't expect a guest to take us all out.

rhetorician Mon 31-Dec-12 21:19:20

I wouldn't expect guests to pay for anything really (girls' dad and grandparents regularly stay for 2 nights), but am pleasantly surprised when they bring generous gifts and preferably plenty of drink. I wouldn't expect to pay for food when staying with others, although I would usually offer to cook a meal for my hosts and take great pleasure in doing so. Grandparents will quite often take us all out for a meal and are very generous to dds. I think this expectation is a bit odd, tbh, you might expect this if they were staying for a week or more, but not over 2 nights.

On the sandwiches front it is worth pointing out in the light of your last post that the euro/sterling exchange rate is not at all favourable at the moment! they might not be skint, but might find the UK pricey on a euro salary (I do!)

festivelyfocussed Mon 31-Dec-12 21:22:01

I feel so sad for your guests, picturing the scene of them eating their children's crusts.
They gave gifts, which i think is a lovely gesture. It was a few days, not weeks or months. I would not expect house guests to feel obligated to contribute to food. Although as i am able to i would probably take a host out for a meal or some such if i'd spent a few days with them.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Mon 31-Dec-12 21:22:44

I live in a foreign holiday destination too and we've had 13 sets of guests in 2012, most staying for more than a week. I can't think of a single one that has taken us out for a meal. The only family who stayed one night bought us a €60 bottle of whisky.
It seems to me that guests expect to be treated while they are with us. To a certain extent that's fine, I am happy if they want to contribute to the shopping costs though.
The main thing is Marfisa that I can't get any work done either while we have guests. It's a full time occupation when guests are staying, it creates extra work, extra expense and takes away from normal life if it happens too often.

WeAreEternal Mon 31-Dec-12 21:32:10

I would never expect a guest to contribute towards food (or anything else) no matter how long they were staying for.

It is nice to be taken out for a meal and I would always appreciate the odd bottle of wine but would not expect it.

complexnumber Mon 31-Dec-12 21:33:23

If you have already visited them in their country why did they have to invite themselves? Why didn't you reciprocate the invitation?

Gryffindor Mon 31-Dec-12 21:45:15

I always take hosts out for dinner, even if I only stay for one night. Plus I always arrive with a present and/or a couple of bottles of wine.

Imaginethat Mon 31-Dec-12 21:47:31

It depends. I've had friends fly from overseas specifically to visit which of course is very costly for them so of course I want to host their stay. But when friends and acquaintances stay because they need a bed while in town for business/concert/sightseeing then it's a bit on the nose to be expected to fund their keep. A bottle of wine or some other contribution smooths it nicely. Personally I think it's better to err on the side of generosity when you are the guest and if you can't afford to then maybe don't go.

marfisa Mon 31-Dec-12 21:55:06

festively: OK, I feel so guilty now! They were so casual about it that I didn't really believe they were hungry, but maybe they were. sad In any case we did load them up with food and we never gave any indication of thinking they were tight, so we didn't behave badly.

accidental: OMG, 13 sets of guests! you are a saint. I agree that guests are a full-time occupation. I think it's partly because we do treat them well that we get worn out more quickly. I love my solitude and get grumpy after a couple of days. blush

complex: they have already visited us once since we visited them.

My DH has now read this thread and says he is glad he has read it. However, he wants to let everyone know that he is not actually tight. grin He is just tighter than me.

marfisa Mon 31-Dec-12 22:01:44

Gryffindor, my DH would like to invite you to stay. wink

Cutiecat Mon 31-Dec-12 22:13:32

My mum expects this when we stay with her! She lives abroad and so we have to fly to see her with 3 DCS and then when we get there we usually stay a maximum of a week. I usually get a supermarket shop, we pay for a meal and she makes comments if I don't cook an evening meal (I do the children's evening meal seperately every night as I would at home). I think she IBU but I am not going to change her. I would not expect it of our guests, my guests are just that. Do you as you would like to be done by.

Iggly Mon 31-Dec-12 22:14:48


they're guests.

Don't invite people to stay if you expect payment.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 31-Dec-12 22:15:46

Gryffindor - if my guests did that I would be offended and think that they didn't like our cooking... wink

yousmell Mon 31-Dec-12 22:18:04

I'll usually ask what I should bring food wise to help out - then bring food (often pudding each day) plus wine/flowers etc.

shesariver Mon 31-Dec-12 22:34:43

They invited themselves? You could have said no...

ThePathanKhansWitch Mon 31-Dec-12 22:34:53

I do know someone who asked guests to bring their own sheets and towels as it would create too much washing after they'd left if they used hers.

MudCity Mon 31-Dec-12 22:58:54

Marfisa, please don't feel guilty. People just have different values and ideas about hospitality. You have indicated they are from another country which implies possible cultural differences as well. I know people who come round for a cup of coffee and always bring biscuits with them because they feel they should. I don't understand it myself...if I invite someone for coffee, I don't expect them to bring food unless of course they are desperate for something to eat!

It sounds as though you ensured they had plenty of food when they stayed with you and I am sure they are grateful for your hospitality and generosity. I know I would be. At least you know now that if you stay with them again, there is no expectation that you should take them out for a meal or contribute to the food shop given that they have clearly said this is not the way they do things.

I guess in these difficult times we have to be sensitive to people's personal financial situations. A lot depends on how many people come to stay too...if it is single friend or a couple then I am happy to pay for everything...including a meal out or take-away if I suggest it (if they suggest it then that is completely different). I am not quite so thrilled if I am catering for a family that outnumbers ours especially if the children have diverse dietary that case, contributions are definitely appreciated!

MumofWombat Tue 01-Jan-13 02:11:48

We have a lot of guests. My DHs family all live in the country, and my family live on the other side of the world.
My PIL tend to buy a take away during their stay (none near them so this is a treat for them!). But it is a pleasure cooking for my FIL in particular, I choose to cook traditional English meals when he's around which reminds him of his mothers cooking. So he is very complimentary and grateful!
BIL and SiL don't tend to contribute anything. But then they are the long pockets type of people....
My parents tend to stay for a number of weeks when they come. They will insist on paying for meals/coffees out etc and will also insist on paying for alternate food shopping. They reckon we'd probably come over for a meal every week or so if we lived close so they say that the meals out are the equivalent of that! They will also come with a suitcase of gifts! (Also rare for PIL to arrive without some gifts).
We've just had a old colleague of mine stay for a week. She presented us with gifts, treated DS and myself to lunch a couple of days when out sightseeing, when we went wine tasting she got a couple of bottle for her and DH (im pregnant!) to drink and insisted on taking us out for a meal as well. We covered all food costs inside the house. We don't feel 'taken advantage' of, and she feels like she's contributed by treating us.
When we stayed with family (no room to stay with parents)in the UK, we took gifts (I got my Aunt some very expensive hand cream I knew she'd get a kick out having for example and wine I knew they'd like), and even though we were only there for breakfast really most days, we all went out for a meal with my parents. But to be honest, the highlight for them (and what would mean that they really wouldn't care about costs!) was that DS was there. They don't have grandchildren yet and my boy does seem to hold a special place in their hearts!
So, after this long post about what happens here, I think one of the factors depends on the length of stay. But tbh, I wouldn't go anywhere without wine etc for an overnight, and any longer than that and I would pay for a meal out/takeaway or some special ingredients for a meal to be cooked at home.
I think when you stay somewhere you should consider how you'd like to be treated and act accordingly - even if its not reciprocated!

festivelyfocussed Tue 01-Jan-13 02:28:06

Marfisa, don't feel guilty. I have form for feeling sorry for ppl. grin
my dh thinks I'm a bit too soft about stuff like that.

FreePeaceSweet Tue 01-Jan-13 03:16:28

I always take hosts out for dinner, even if I only stay for one night. Plus I always arrive with a present and/or a couple of bottles of wine.

That sounds very kind and generous but a bit OTT for one night surely? Be cheaper to stay in a hotel or B&B.

janji Tue 01-Jan-13 04:01:10

If I invite anyone to stay or even to join our family on days out etc I see it as etiquette to pay for their needs. Likewise however I would always offer to pay my way whilst visiting / spending days out with anyone.

expatinscotland Tue 01-Jan-13 04:15:19

Don't have them again.

If they try to invite themselves, say no.

ChasedByBees Tue 01-Jan-13 04:49:55

I think if I had invited myself then I would be paying for a meal. If they invited themselves to their new host, then I can see why she is asking them to contribute, although I probably wouldn't myself. 5 days is a long time to invite yourself though.

Definitely don't let them come back, just say we're really busy working - it's a true and very valid excuse!

kerala Tue 01-Jan-13 08:06:03

doesn't sound as if you like them at all are they friends from school or something who you wouldn't be friends with if you met now?

If staying for 2 night plus I will bring dinner for one night (chilli everyone likes easy to make in advance) then hostess gets night off. Also pay for hosts lunch/coffee when out and about plus the usual wine contribution.

CSIJanner Tue 01-Jan-13 08:15:16

My friends & I have a longstanding arrangement of if you com to visit, you bring entrance fee - a bottle of champagne. If you're funds are low, then sometimes a good bottle of cava and then eveni they don't have the funds to buy dinner or food, then everyone gets stuck in making the meals or clearing up. Only fair that way the board games, long walks or activities can start quicker.

ChristmasKnackers Tue 01-Jan-13 08:16:22

I would never expect guests to provide food or take us out. Most guests normally bring something though, say some wine, cheese etc...

gettingeasier Tue 01-Jan-13 08:16:54

OK if they invited themselves then they should have taken you out for a meal/produced a very nice gift

You dont go on holiday if you are broke expecting somebody else to effectively subsidise your break

FredFredGeorge Tue 01-Jan-13 08:19:09

I also wouldn't expect meal/food/contribution etc. Yet, I also couldn't personally stay with someone without offering - "Let us take you out?", "The thing I miss most on holiday is cooking, let me cook dinner tonight!", "Should we bring anything?" etc. But as money does sound a little tight for them maybe that's not even really an option.

In any case, they've not done anything wrong, and you'd do nothing wrong if you just consumed their hospitality when visiting. They were okay to accept the offer though, rejecting offers of a meal is not that polite - also remind your DH that quid-pro-quo is about cost to the individual, not the actual monetary value - the billionaire can contribute more actual cash to a situation than the struggling for cash family.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 01-Jan-13 08:20:15

This has been a learning curve for me. Apart from one friend staying a weekend recently we finished having all our guests at the end of September. We calculated that between January and September we had guests staying for 5 months.
It's my own stupid fault, we moved abroad last year and literally gave an open invitation to anyone. I will never do that again.
It was exhausting, expensive and like I said earlier I just got nothing done in terms of work. I also felt grouchy because I needed to spend some time alone.
That was my learning curve for the year but what I've learnt from this thread is how generous a lot of people are compared to my in laws.

My in laws are skint, we pay for them to fly over to us (4 times in 2012), they stay for a few weeks each time. We pay for all their food during this time. They buy their own whisky and brandy - they are heavy drinkers, but we pay for everything else. They might take us out for a light lunch once. They use us to reduce their living expenses and have a free holiday.
Their other son lives outside the UK too and they do the same with him. He pays for their flights and pays for everything while they stay with him.

Basically it's dawned on me that we are complete mugs, yes they are skint but they are immensely tight too. They are awful when they stay too, drinking until they fall unconscious asleep every evening, being argumentative and controlling and expecting to be taken out on day trips all the time.

Sorry I've ranted but its suddenly occurred to me not to let that happen again.

MudCity Tue 01-Jan-13 10:29:36

Accidental, you are quite right...never let that happen again. Set a boundary, say, the in-laws can come out once a year for two weeks or whatever. Stick to it. If relationships are not equitable resentment will grow. If they have enough money to spend on alcohol then they have enough money to buy food / fund their own trips. If they protest, say you are having to watch the pennies and cannot afford it. End of story. No-one can argue with that.

Good luck!

OhyouMerryLittleKitten Tue 01-Jan-13 10:40:17

I am very happy to feed our guests without expecting contributions (though we do try to take our hosts out for a meal and bring/buy plenty of booze)

However we did find it quite startling that when guests offered to bring wine with them they bought one bottle for the several days! Good job we weren't relying on them really!

pleasestopcarolling Tue 01-Jan-13 10:49:43

It all depends on who is visiting and why. When our friends visit it's because they have come to see us and spend time together we have 3 DC so feel it is easier to see friends at our home. It's nice if they bring wine but I wouldn't mind if they came empty handed as I just love to see them. My friends always bring alcohol cos they know me ans we always share it. Where people are visiting for a holiday it's different unless they are close friends or family you have specifically invited for a holiday. It's not fair if their free cheap holiday costs you a fortune and they aren't friends if they don't see that. Y oh can say you're busy.

glitternanny Tue 01-Jan-13 10:55:57

Even if I visit someone for lunch/dinner I tend to take something even if its just flowers/a cake or something for the kids.

hermioneweasley Tue 01-Jan-13 11:13:11

Well, the good news is theaccidentalexhibitionist has had a new year revelation!

atthewelles Tue 01-Jan-13 11:13:23

I would always offer to take people out for a meal if they were putting me up for a few days. I would also buy some wine for dinner, pay for the odd lunch out etc.

However, I think the second hostess in the OPs post was incredibly rude, sending them out with a shopping list and effectively ordering her guests to buy expensive food. shock

ModernToss Tue 01-Jan-13 11:16:27

We always take people out for dinner at least once if we stay with them, and usually buy groceries too.

We have loads of guests (we live in a holiday place abroad), and by and large they are very generous and either bring a gift or take us out for dinner, but I don't expect it. I'm just as happy if they pitch in and help with cooking etcetera.

Our worst guests came for a week (family of five) and ate every single meal here, so three meals a day. They were very good at telling us what they did and didn't like, so coming up with menus was a challenge. We ran out of booze for them at one point (we don't drink) and the husband went to the shops with my husband and let him pick up the tab for further booze supplies. Worst of all, they didn't lift a finger and I waited on them hand and foot all week - not just meals, but incidental snacks and drinks too. I work from home too, and it was impossible to get anything done.

EuroShagmore Tue 01-Jan-13 11:19:42

I wouldn't expect guests to pay for food or take me for a meal, but when I stay with people, I do offer to pay if we go out for dinner.

ModernToss why didn't you just say "there's XYZ in the kitchen, please feel free to help yourselves"?

Gryffindor Tue 01-Jan-13 11:19:52

I wouldn't say I am overly generous, but I know from my own experience of living abroad and having lots of guests that being a host is stressful. I offer to take hosts out for dinner or get a take away because not everyone likes cooking!

I have had a mixed bag of guests over the years, from those who insist on paying for EVERYTHING while here, and those of the deep pockets/short arms persuasion who turn up empty handed and sit pursed lipped when the bill arrives. This year we put a guest up for 5 days and when we went out for dinner she was happy to let me pay for her. She is a very high earner, had invited herself but didn't even bring a bottle of wine.

marfisa Tue 01-Jan-13 11:29:49

accidental, your PIL are terrible (and the other people who have taken advantage of you are just as bad). It's harder to say no to family, but just do it - they are exploiting your generosity. Issuing an open invitation sounds like the kind of mad thing I would do (and then regret).

I agree with pleasestopcarolling about how it all depends on who is visiting and why. The problem with these friends is that while we like them, they aren't particularly close - they aren't our nearest and dearest. We met them years ago through our DC because they used to live in our city; then they moved back to their home country. We enjoy spending time with them but a whole three days of their company is a bit much to be honest. Two days (which is as long as they stayed with us last time) was perfect.

I have a feeling that their other host is not very happy that they invited themselves for 5 days, and that's why she sent them out straight away to do a food shop, even though it was an incredibly rude thing to do.

My attitude when we go on holiday and visit people is that we would be spending money on food shopping anyway if we were at home. So I am happy to continue spending some money on food rather than just expecting the host to provide all the meals. In fairness to these friends, though, I am sure they would happily reciprocate and provide all meals if we came to visit them again.

The friend they are staying with for 5 days has never been to visit them herself and almost certainly never will. They have very different lifestyles. They are quite family-centred and unworldly, and their home is too modest for her expensive tastes. I think that friendship is doomed really.

marfisa Tue 01-Jan-13 11:35:22

There are some horrible anecdotes on this thread - I am shock at your story, moderntoss!

Onezerozero Tue 01-Jan-13 11:36:09

If I go to a friend's for afternoon tea I take cake or flowers, for dinner- wine or flowers, for the weekend- just wine or flowers again. Most of our friends do the same I guess.
We don't ever really act as or get guests for longer except family, and then we don't swap anything!
I would honestly never think of buying groceries or taking the hosts out for dinner.

HardlyEverHoovers Tue 01-Jan-13 12:18:22

I would not expect guests to contribute anything, but would happily accept if they did. When we stay with people we try and help out by taking some food and cooked meals with us (like a saucepan of homemade soup e.g), especially if we know the people aren't well off.
But I would say that part of the pleasure of having guests is to ensure they are well fed and warm and comfy. We are not well off either but that's not something I mind spending a bit extra on.
In Muslim culture how you treat your guest is very important, but there is also a rule about if you stay longer than 3 days you are no longer a guest, this seems a good guide for how long you can expect or be expected to be provided for!

CharlotteBronteSaurus Tue 01-Jan-13 12:28:22

when we go visiting, we never stay longer than 2 nights
we bring a few bottles of wine, chocolates and flowers
we always offer either to take our hosts to dinner one night, or to buy a takeaway - we have yet to be refused.
we always offer to pop to the shops as well, if things need topping up, but no-one's taken us up on this one yet.

if people stay with us, I am happy to provide all the food, but a token contribution of wine or cake or whatever is always gratefully accepted.

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