Service of Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?

October 25th, 2018

Categories: Etiquette, Holidays, Manners, Party


I asked our hosts who are giving a Halloween party this weekend whether Frank and Mary [not their real names] were coming. They weren’t invited this year because Frank had been such a pain before last year’s celebration.


In addition to decorating their house with fantastic collections of goblins, ghosts and grinning jack- o’-lanterns and treating guests to a delicious dinner, they show a frightening flick in their home’s movie theater. Frank told them that he didn’t like chilling movies and asked if they could show something else. And he didn’t say it once, he kept bringing it up. We all enjoyed the movie and company of good friends last year, and expect to again on Saturday, but without Frank and Mary!

And one of the best reasons for striking someone from your dinner list happened to friend and colleague David Reich. One of his guests sat down and put a loaded gun next to his plate. David quietly asked him to remove the gun.

I had a friend who’d ask what I was serving for a party and would remark, “I don’t care for that, can you make something else?” Irritating.

The first time I invite someone for dinner I ask if they are allergic to or despise anything. There’s no reason to serve a strawberry dessert or a mushroom soufflé if you know that one of your guests will break out in hives or faint simply by sharing a room with the offending food.

Have friends or relatives tried to impose their druthers on you, expecting you to change your tradition or menu when they are your guests? Did they win? Can you share examples?



10 Responses to “Service of Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?”

  1. David Reich Said:

    Jeanne, when I asked my friend to remove the gun from the dinner table, he made a big scene and threatened to leave. The scene made everyone else uncomfortable. I convinced him to stay, but to keep the pistol in his pocket, which he did. In hindsight, I should have let him leave when he offered to. That was a major step in the friendship dissolving, and I had no regrets.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Really unusual behavior to say the least! You must have been so shocked when it happened–who could think clearly? Plus, given the discomfort of the others, you wanted to have the whole thing go away ASAP. I can’t imagine inviting the person to anything again. Imagine if he was provoked by another guest!?!

  3. BG Said:

    Wow, was the gun person a cop?

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Nope, a citizen who liked to do target practice.

  5. Anonymous Said:

    I know someone who has a deadly allergy to nuts and has encountered impatience and even what I would call hostility. She’s had people bring nuts into her house! I’d advise her to not invite these people back but one is a relative!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    My goodness, why would anyone want to offend or harm another person like that? Could memories be that poor?

    I’ve written before about my mother’s friend who was deathly allergic to all things citrus and when she came for dinner my mother would scour ingredients of anything that was going into any of her recipes. Turns out that one of the things had an infinitesimal amount that wasn’t listed, which she found out after the woman fainted at the dinner table.

    As for impatience over someone’s allergy–goodness. I’d be grateful to know.

  7. Protius Said:

    I suspect how we go about eating our meals is a more intensively personal experience than most people realize. Not too long ago my wife and I had my doctor cousin and his wife, also a doctor, for dinner. Before we started to eat, she suggested that we hold hands and say a prayer. We did.

    After being startled by the request, I began to think about it. There were just the four of us for dinner, but what if there had been others there? How did she know whether or not my wife or I might take badly to the intrusion of religion into the delightful and hedonistic business of eating? Wouldn’t I have said grace if it were the custom of our house?

    The more I thought, the more I was annoyed. I believe strongly in the four freedoms, and for me freedom from religion is a worthy goal. I have no problem if others wish to worship something, but when their desire to pray compels me to join in, that’s going too far.

    In this case no harm was done, and I know that my cousin’s wife meant well, but still there is a nagging resentment of her taking religious charge of the place, if only for a moment.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I immediately thought of “Blue Bloods” when reading your anecdote, and how when the daughter in law, the Linda Reagan character, suggested they hold hands when they said grace–which someone does before every meal–the Frank Reagan character said, “We don’t do that in this family.”

    Saying grace was not something we did in my family growing up nor that I do now but I don’t mind the idea if someone else wants to say it. When our family gathers for holidays we raise a glass and remember those who aren’t with us today–either because they live elsewhere or have died. I like that custom. My father used to say “aux absents,” to the absent. Now my sister says it.

  9. Anonymous Said:

    Jeanne: You would think it was a memory lapse but no. When the visiting relative was told (again) that she was visiting a nut-free, peanut-free home and that the host has a deadly allergy she responded that she brought the nuts because her children like them. Oh ok, so people need to risk death in their own home because you won’t say no to your children? And how will the children feel if their visit is interrupted by EMT’s whisking the host off to a hospital all because they couldn’t have something else for lunch? There is all kinds of cross contamination that can occur. When this friend visits my home we take a brand new sponge and re-wash by hand the clean dishes she will be using.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    One of my friends is allergic to a bunch of things among them vinegar. I made everything from scratch when she came for dinner including guacamole and realized, after I’d made it, that I’d tossed in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce for a bit of zip. I grabbed the bottle when it was too late and sure ’nuff, there was vinegar it that sauce. I had no more avocados and as I wait for the last minute to make it so it doesn’t turn black, no time to go anywhere for more. I wouldn’t let her touch it and was furious at myself.

    There are limits even for relatives. I am sure that the woman’s kids eat more than nuts and this would not be a good excuse to bring them. Were this my allergy and my relative I’d invite the person only for dessert and maybe she’d get the hint. If not, I’d stop inviting her.

    How thoughtful of you to wipe off your friend’s dishes specially. How lucky we are if we don’t have such allergies.

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