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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.

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.

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