Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bad guest or bad hostess...?

Wow. I got some hate mail.  It appears these people don't know that I co-author a blog about mean comments!

I did a post called How NOT to set up a buffet & 5 things to make your next potluck more successful.  In it, I showed pictures of a really bad, really tacky buffet table set up.  I made it very clear that this was not about paper plates vs fine china, or a casual get-together vs Tea with The Queen... this was about hospitality and making your guests comfortable and welcome... (and not like they were an inconvenience for the hostess).

Not-So-Anonymous Said:
Wow. I am so incredibly shocked at how tacky you and Connie are. 
Hey about a blog about this..."How to make fun of your host." Oh wait you just did that. How about, or "How to eliminate friends." Oh, you did that too. Dang.

Anonymous Said:
This made me sad. I usually love all you blogger gals for your sense of humors but this just seemed mean. Who knows what the circumstances were? I love hosting parties and preparing evertything just so, but I would never be this cruel to someone else who doesn't. Why so be harsh and judgmental? If you want to be totally Type A good for you, but don't penalize other, more laid back gals, because they want to get together with friends and family without getting the shakes! I hope the hostess reads your blog also...and remembers to strike your names from any further get-togethers, for fear of offending your delicate sensibilities. I mean really! Some people like the whole "idea" of entertaining, while others just like to get together without it being a "big deal". Take a deep breath, move away from the oh so offensive buffet, and just enjoy the company (if you can find it in yourselves to do that either).

Viv (The Slammed Blogger) Says:
hospitality (noun) - Cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests.

Geez people!  Really?!  
It's harsh and judgmental to think a hostess should put out a serving utensil for chopped fruit?  
I'm cruel because I want a spatula or tongs to pick up a hamburger patty?  
I'm tacky because I think it's gross to have trash and half eaten food dumped on the serving table?  
I'm Type A because I think the number one goal of a host/hostess should be to make their guests feel comfortable and cared for?  Seriously?!

Given the fact that one of these commenters has a blog with the words "Paper Cup" in the title, I figure I offended her paper product sensibilities.  Not my intent.  In fact, I clearly stated that I had nothing against paper plates, etc.     I never said things had to be all snooty and formal. You can have a casual get-together and still make your guests comfortable.   By the way, we did know what the circumstances were: it was an annual BBQ/pot-luck.  What bothered me here was a person who has been "hosting" a party every year since 1994 and couldn't care less if her guests were comfortable... put some care and love into it, or stop throwing the party.

In summary: if the fact that I don't want to pick up a hot, greasy burger patty with my bare hands, or pick up chunks of melon or pineapple with my fingers means that I am Harsh & Judgmental, Cruel, Tacky and Type A.... well, then,  I guess I am all of those things.   I will proudly add those titles to my Hostess With The Mostess resume` and will walk a little taller when I wear my Party Goddess Tiara.

Mandi Says:
I thought Viv's post was so hilarious.  I mean I of all people have all the reason in the wolrd to get offended when it comes to the paper products seeing as how I live in Utah's Dixie. 

Ok that was a bad joke.

But back to the post. I didnt see anything wrong with it.  If you have read Viv's blog or Hate Mail or any of her tweets or FB posts AT.ALL. you know that she is the queen of sarcasm.  Posts like this need to be taken into the context of the blog.

And I have to agree with the bare hands comment that Viv shot back.  Especially with the fruit. Cause you know people are totally more inclined to lick their fingers after picking up fruit than a greasy patty. And that my friends is not awesome.

What Do You Say?


Judy C said...

I don't get it. Why would someone take the time to fuss about that blog? Good manners are good manners no matter whether the plates are fine china or paper. I would think a hostess would want to know when she can make something better for the guests. It seems to me that not-so-anonymous is feeling the burn of familiarity. What do you want to bet that someone has put down her hostessing skills? Otherwise why respond at all?

Maggie @ Midwestern {Sewing} Girl said...

I completely agree with Viv...and, if you don't enjoy throwing parties, if you don't want to put even a little thought into them, don't throw them. Plain and simple.

Ali said...

I totally agree with you ladies.

People are too sensitive - God forbid someone have an opinion about something, right? Sounds like it has more to do with their own insecurities and experiences being a hostess than actually reading the post and getting the useful information from it.

Amber said...

I loved that post. I mean if you're going to host a get together, pot luck or otherwise you have some responsibilities to ensure that your guests are having a good time, able to get the food they want and are in a clean environment. Nobody likes to eat their food next to a garbage can, and no one likes to eat food with garbage sitting right next to it (that was my biggest thing with that picture).

If you don't enjoy entertaining, if you don't want to put some heart and effort into your gathering, then let someone else do it. Whining on a blog also means that you're the person who doesn't find enjoyment out of entertaining and that's fine, but don't take it out on people who do.

The Answer Is Chocolate said...

I think for some people being negative on blogs is some form of self prescribed therapy.

I love reading these as a constant reminder of what kinds of comments NEVER to leave. OK I wouldn't anyway...ever...sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Because really, a serving spoon IS too much to ask. Yeesh. If desiring serving utensils and a trash-free table makes on tacky and rude, please sign me up for that club.

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

Viv and Mandi,

You guys know I love you. You are some of my go-to blogs, and I'm a huge fan of this blog as well.

That being said, this post really was pretty mean. I thought the point of this site was to complain about mean nasty comments, especially from anonymous people. Instead, you flamed a blogger who posted in her real name, then went on to make fun of her blog name. Now you are the one being mean.

Instead of taking pictures of the bad potluck and flaming the hostess on your blog, you should have offered to help the hostess to make a better buffet. Ask her if she needs help getting the serving spoons on the table, or offer to bring out the garbage can.

A party is one thing, but this was a potluck. They naturally are more laid back. I thought the potluck was gross as well, but your post had me feeling very sad for the hostess who might have been reading the post herself.

Again, I really do love your blogs. Please don't take my difference of opinion as being mean towards you. I just want you to know that just because someone disagrees with you, doesn't mean they are leaving a nasty comment that needs to then be made fun of.

Just this... Alice said...

I think it's time to bring Ms. Manners back to the daily, weekly, Sunday papers distributed all over the world. There is such a thing as "It's A Given" when we think about using manners. There are many do's and don'ts associated with entertaining. And let's face it when we have guests over for a back yard barbeque in the summer, or a New Year's Eve's party incl. any occasion in between, there is certain protocol associated with having people dine at our homes. I would not eat at a party that did not have utensils to serve the food to the guests. I don't want anyone elses germs going in my mouth when I eat. "Slop"iness" should remain at a pigs trough. I would think the hostess felt forced into having a party to reciprocate and is punishing the guests. I would question the safety of the food in this setting. Sorry to sound so brutal, but I feel like if you invite me into your home then make me feel like you want me there by showing you care about my comfort. Then there's the matter of the "trash" on the table....For the love of peace who in their right mind would endanger party guests with contamination like that. Why not just throw it all in a slop trough to begin with and say "Have at it".

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

In response to Allison's Comment:

I can totally respect that your take on this is that we're being mean. However, no one's name was posted. The "hostess" of this party was offered help with buffet set-up and apparently she waved it away, her attitude being that the buffet was fine.

People are missing the basic point here: whether the occasion is formal or completely laid back, it is NEVER acceptable to have trash & half-eaten food on your buffet table, or to make your guests pick up food with their bare hands. EVER.

Additionally, you are totally correct in that just because someone disagrees with me, doesn't make their comment a mean one. I know that not everyone will get my sense of humor or share my opinions. No problem. However, both of these comments contained plenty of name calling and snark. In other words: mean.

Totally cool here. I am and remain a big fan.

Lyss said...

I love reading 'how to' or 'how not to' posts. It helps remind me of what I'm doing right and what I could be doing better. The post was totally spot-on.

clearness said...

That could have been MY buffet table. I have a problems organizing and such. Yeah, I'm a terrible buffet setter upper. But oh well.....I only do it two times a year. (Each of my kids birthdays) I do serve beer so hopefully the beer goggles makes everything look better.

MiMi said...

See, I understand both sides of it. I can see why the commenters thought it was mean...it was exceptionally snarky. But I expect nothing less from you, that's why I read you.
That being said, chances are huge that the person hosting the buffet had NO CLUE that she needed help, NO CLUE that anything was wrong with it. Maybe she just felt SO comfy with these people that it never crossed her mind...maybe she is a little bit "dirty" (if that's even the right word) in her lifestyle and home...she may have never even thought of it, never crossed her mind. I dunno.

Tallulah Eulallie said...

Oh, Viv, I thought you showed remarkable restraint in your original post, as you refrained from using the words half-azzed and lazy! My mother always stressed that the comfort and enjoyment of one's guests should always be the primary concern of every hostess. The food needn't be fancy, as long as there is plenty of it. The table settings don't have to be lavish, as long as everyone has a comfortable place to sit, and somewhere to put their plate and glass while they eat.(Smart woman, my mom.) Unfortunately, not everyone remembers this. I was at a party where the hostess served Chicken Kiev on flimsy paper plates. There were no tables, so everyone had to eat with their plates balanced on their laps and their glasses on the floor. As soon as people cut into their chicken, all that melted butter oozed out, soaked through the paper plates and into their clothes. I never did get the stain out of my dress.

Connie Weiss said...

I want to thank everyone for their support of the intent of Viv's original blog post.

In the future, I will offer to co-host this party with my friend so that things are set up correctly.

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

Viv, <3

I still love ya too! I'm glad you understood my POV and didn't get mad at me. :D


Kimbo West @ a girl and a glue gun said...

sorry..but i'm with allison on this one.

I was expecting something horrible like flies stuck in the jello salad and hamburger patties half eaten and put back on the tray ...but the trash looked like someone had set down their plates after eating....how is that the hostess' fault?

i dunno... i love you both....and i LOVE hate mail blog....and I really don't mean offense....but not my most favoritest post.

Janelle said...

I've been reading this little blog for a few days and I definitely think there's a place for it--there are lots of mean people who get cheap thrills from saying nasty things out in blog land. I just think you're wrong on this one--not every negative comment is unjustified. Good manners are a two way street, and although I wouldn't serve a meal to my guests in that manner, I don't think it's very nice to accept an invitation to someone's home, take secret pictures of their party, and then blog about how tacky it was. Being a gracious guest is just as important as being a gracious host--and I promise you--that part is covered in miss manners as well. The most important thing is that the hostess thought enough of you to invite you to her home. Do you think she'll want to do that again?

Allison said...

I went and read your post, sorry I hadn't read it sooner by the way. I actually appreciate what you said and the diagram you sat up at the end that shows a great way to set up a buffet. I have never really Had any other reason other than Thanksgiving to set up a buffet, but even then I must say mine didn't look anything like the bad potluck you had photos of. Your diagram was very helpful and I actually saved it to my computer for reference later. So Thank you for the helpful info!!!

Hayley said...

Hello. Hayley, "Not-So-Anonymous" here. I am so relieved that Janelle pointed out that manners are a two way street. I am also thankful for the few others that don't view -poking fun at others-as a fun activity. This is good news not only for myself, who doesn't always do everything according to the standard (that apparently certain bloggers set) but for humanity as a whole. Shew. I was beginning to think all was lost. I realize that the post was written in a sarcastic tone and in all fairness was entertaining. I just don't believe in entertainment at the expense of others. That's all.

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

Hello Hayley,
Manners definitely are a two-way street. That's why when my friend saw the mess of a buffet, she tried to subtly help the hostess. The hostess did not want her help, nor did she appear to pick up the hints.

If by "standards certain bloggers set" means you are ok with serving (or being served) greasy or sticky food with bare hands, then I guess you and I definitely have different standards when it comes to a standard potluck or buffet.

Additionally, I clearly stated that there is nothing wrong with a casual, laid back potluck and buffet. It doesn't have to be all Martha-Stewart-ish... However, it DOES have to have the bear minimum of effort put forth which, in my mind, should include serving spoons and not putting trash alongside the food that's being served.

There is not a single thing in my original post that is untrue. I did not call names. I did not name names. I stand firmly by the content, which is showing people what NOT to do and then offering them 5 tips on how to do it correctly.
Agreeing to disagree,

Catherine said...

I'm with Janelle, Kimbo, & Allison on this one.

Mary said...

I think it's a blog and blogs are about your experiences. You blogged about your experience, and that was that. I think a key point is that the guests understood that maybe the hostess was overwhelmed and offered help. She said no. I have forgotten obvious things when hosting a party. When people jump in and help, I am grateful.

Boulter trouble said...

Late to the game here. But, I am with the minority on this one.
No, there wasn't any name calling in the original post by the authors. But what I got from the post was a general undertone of harsh judgment with the energy of "duh!"

I don't agree with the idea of "If your going to have a get together, BBQ pot luck or anything of the such, you should at least have/do A, B, C and X, Y and Z, or don't do it" (as posted by other commenters)

Your numbered comments felt judgmental. Not constructive criticism.
I love to read your blog, and love that you are open to so many POV.

kimberly.labate said...

have enjoyed this blog, but go with the minority here.

a few things stand out to me in addition to the overall tone of "secret pics to make fun of later"

i havent been reading long enough to "know" who the players here are, but connie says "thanks for the support, next time i'll offer to co host with my friend"...?

im not sure what connies definition of friend is, but i am sure it is not the same as mine.

also, it was said somewhere that this lady has been doing this same thing since 1994...? did i read that right?...if so, that begs the question...why does this secret picture taker continue to go?

funny blog, im english, i understand sarcasm, but this is the blog where mean comments go to die, yes?...i just think the wrong mean comment was sent here.

Portobello said...

I was expecting to read the post and think that the commenter was overreacting, but I too felt a little offended by the post. And I love me some sarcasm and wit, so it wasn't that. It just felt really judgmental.

Usually at a potluck that is done banquet-style, things end up wherever the person who brought them put them. Its normal for some things to be on the table which never even get opened, like the cake. It's common for people to put down their used plates on open surfaces and forget to throw them in the trash. If anything, that is a testament to the plate holder, not the host.

There may not be serving spoons everywhere, but it is easy enough to serve yourself with your utensil. At least less waste is generated that way.

In the past, I tended to hover over people during parties, getting them drinks, making sure their every need was met, cleaning up after them. The party was meticulously orchestrated, but I would dejectedly realize that I hadn't really connected with anyone at the end of the night.

Now, I still clean like a crazy person before the parties and try to anticipate needs ahead of time, but I've taken on a more laissez faire attitude during the party. I sometimes give in to my inner type A personality and wash and put away something before I realize it's still being used, but mostly I am hands off and I find that I am actually connecting with people and enjoying the party. Which is the point having a party, I think.

Also, I have found that my friends who are less self conscious about their messes and the appearance of their houses during parties, generally have the best parties. There is something about a laid back attitude that feels warm and welcoming. I can appreciate all of the comments you made after the pictures about tips to make your guests feel welcome, but the categorized pictures with snarky comments felt a bit hateful. That's it, my two cents. And before you write back with another comment about how unsanitary the conditions were, I should warn you, I am a doctor and I don't necessarily agree. Use the plastic fork and get over it. And by the way, a few germs are good for you...

K.A. said...

Hmm... this is a toughie. I think the original blog post by Viv was kind of mean (sorry Viv, nothing personal). I also think it's a bit hypocritical to get your panties in a bunch over the commenters expressing their opinion when that's exactly what you have done in your post - express your opinion. You don't like disorganized potlucks, they don't like what you wrote. You bash said potlucks, they bash said post. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. I don't think anyone was in the wrong here, but I don't think anyone was in the right either.

Of course, these are just my own thoughts on the matter and I mean no offense!

Laura said...

I agree with the previous commenters that the original post seemed kind of mean. When I go to a pot-luck, I would NEVER expect the hostess to have 20 serving spoons or have platters for everyone. If I have to transport something in a cupcake carrier, I bring a platter to put it on when I get there. That's fine if that buffet wasn't how you would do it, but it's not your house, all the essentials were there, and I honestly have never left a potluck/BBQ wishing the buffet had been more organized. You leave with fun memories of good food and time with friends. That's what it's about, not cutting people down behind their back.

Katie Johnston said...

I also agree that the original post was mean-spirited and uncalled for. Because the pictures were taken after everyone has eaten (it appears), there's no way to judge how things were originally set up. And it's a potluck. On top of that, Connie seems to have a bad attitude towards the whole event from the start. If she doesn't like the "cow town" she was invited to, then politely decline.

Bashing the hostess for things like S&P... really? I'd much rather see S&P on the table than have to politely choke something down because it was in desperate need of salt. As a matter of fact, not having S&P available is most certainly a potluck no-no. There's no way to determine if everything to be seasoned perfectly for everyone's different tastes.

"Greasy burgers", "ugly bowl", "bad windbreaker", "crappy winecoolers"? Unnecessary snark and not constructive in any way. Should the hostess send out invites that specifically ask for pretty bowls, no winecoolers, and to leave the windbreakers at home? As a guest at a potluck, I know that I need to bring my own serving utensils, usually "just in case". You cannot control what your guests will or wont bring, and in this case, it appears that many of them did not bring them.

Should the hostess have to be on constantly patrol for where people have left their plates, instead of enjoying herself at this function? Maybe Connie took her secret pictures while the hostess finally got a few minutes to get off her feet and mingle with her guests.

I understand the premise of THIS blog is to talk about mean or vicious comments, but what it is really coming off as is an immature way to attack people who disagree with you, whether you deserve it or not. Uncomfortable comments are part of being a blogger. If you have to have the last word, maybe you should stop blogging.

JoAnna said...

So how hard would it have been to say, "Hey lovely hostess, can I help out a bit? We're missing some serving forks/spoons, I'd be glad to put them out for you!"