Thoughts on a couple of family "invites"

I’d appreciate input on a couple of recent “invite” situations we’ve recently encountered. My wife and I may be too uptight or formal, but something seems a little off to us.

First - my son is getting married next weekend. We are flying into town on Thanksgiving Day, and my son told us we were invited to his future in-laws for T-day dinner. That’s great - love to meet them. But the in-laws have never so much as sent us an e-mail or text to invite us themselves. OK, eventually, we ask our son and learned their names and address. But then our son asked my wife and me whether any other of our immediate and extended family who are traveling for the wedding intended to come for dinner. I really don’t feel it is appropriate for ME to invite someone to someone else’s home. I appreciate the intended hospitality, and am not going not this with my nose out of joint, but I just don’t feel comfortable playing this role, especially when I was not asked to do so by the hosts.

Second - when in town, one of our niece’s invited my wife and me to see her new house. We gladly accepted. The niece’s mother - my wife’s sister - asked us which of our adult children and their SOs would be joining us. Our response was to forward her our childrens’ contact info, so that she or her daughter could invite them. She said in doing so, we were making things too complicated. Similar to the first situation, I’d prefer not to extend and coordinate invites to someone else’s home.

Third - my sister who lives in the same town as me is having a few houseguests over x-mas. We thought we’d offer her a change of scenery, so we asked her if she and her houseguests would like to come over the Sunday before x-mas and we’d cook up chili and have beer and wine. My sister then sent an e-mail to other relatives, saying we were having an “open house” to which everyone was invited. Potentially doubling or tripling the number of people we had expected to host.

I just thought it odd that in the last week or 2 we encountered situations where invites seemed different than we thought they ought to go. Whaddya think? Are we completely off base by thinking that in just about every situation the invite to a person’s home ought to come from the homeowner?

“Son, I don’t feel comfortable going to someone’s house without an explicit invite from them. If they want us to come, please tell them to invite us. Also, I didn’t mention the dinner to anyone else, since I don’t feel comfortable asking other people to somebody else’s house.”

“I don’t know who else is interested in coming to your house. I didn’t mention it to anyone. Do you want me to ask them to come to your new house?”

Buy extra stuff and welcome anyone who comes. It’s a once a year thing. Enjoy it.

Times change. Often life and events don’t unfold as we anticipate. Happy humans usually are adept at going with the flow.

I get that it’s all just a titch too informal for your liking. But the truth is you don’t have to care about it.

I expect they were making a kind offer, perhaps to make it less awkward for yourselves, or in the event you know some who might enjoy being included. Seeing it in any other light is a choice. And seemingly misses the point entirely.

As for the ‘open house’, some one has felt you are more open in your hospitality, how is that not a compliment to your good nature? Yeah, yeah, it’s not what you expected.

But sheesh, it’s a wedding weekend, how can it be entirely shocking that there will be folks on both sides that might tag along to events. It’s the mingling of the family and friends that’s important.

In my opinion, unless you think these people are being purposely malicious or rude, then you need to relax your expectations a little. Maybe just for the weekend you could try just going along.

Just a suggestion, but you’d have a much better time, I think.

Good Luck!

No, man - no way am I suspecting a HINT of maliciousness or rudeness. And believe me, my mantra for the weekend is going to be to smile, be pleasant, and be flexible.

Situation #1: Assuming your son isn’t prone to misinterpreting invites, I’d go but decline to invite anyone else. I might talk to the son, though, just to make sure I understood how the invitation was extended. If all else fails, ask for his FIL or MIL’s number and call, saying your son had invited you to dinner and you wanted to know if you could bring anything. (Anything, not anyone. :). )

Situation #2: If it’s just a visit, no harm in inviting others. If it’s dinner, I would just say you guys are coming by yourselves. Alternatively, wife calls sis and asks what the deal is.

Do people not talk on the phone these days?

Situation #3: You can’t disinvite those relatives, so assume you are now hosting an open house. A few days after the event, talk to sis and ask her why she thought it was an open house. Maybe you said something to give her that impression. If she says something like “Oh, I just though it would be a good idea”, I’d probably tell her not to do something like that in the future without talking to me first. I’d say that I"m not averse to having an open house, but I’d like to make the decision as to when to have one. Then tell her how much you love her and hope this doesn’t cause any kind of issue.

This kind of situation seems to me to be the mirror image of the way some/many people don’t bother to respond to invitations and either show up or don’t, and the host has to just handle it somehow.

In your first two cases, the putative hosts don’t seem to want to be bothered to actually issue invitations. This could mean they are open to any number of people showing up, or that they are feckless loons, or perhaps something in between.

So I am with you in thinking that these are all weird, and I would not be comfortable with any of them. But that seems to be the way of things these days, and I think you’re doing the right thing by just going along.

You’re not exactly wrong in thinking almost every invitation should come from the homeowner - but there are two of them that I think are the reason for the “almost”. I don’t think it’s odd that your son’s soon-to-be in-laws invited you to Thanksgiving dinner through your son - that doesn’t seem any stranger to me than them inviting your son to previous events through their daughter ( which I’m sure happened) But expecting you to invite/coordinate extended family to a dinner in someone’s home is another story.*

I also don’t think it’s odd for your niece to invite her cousins through the parents - I know my kids don’t have all of their cousins’ contact info and I don’t have info for most of my nieces and nephews. There’s nothing wrong with you passing on the the contact info but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with your wife’s sister asking you to passing on the invitation - although she shouldn’t have just assumed you would without being asked to.

Your sister is another story though - if my daughter invites me to her in-laws house for Thanksgiving , I can safely assume that the in-laws have told her to do so. If my sister invites me to her son’s house for Christmas, I can safely assume that her son has told her to do so. But I think that perhaps your sister adding people to the guest list without your knowledge may have colored your perception of the other two situations.

  • I would think differently if it was a wedding specific event held at a restaurant - my daughter’s in-laws hosted a dinner the night before the wedding and my husband and I hosted a breakfast the next morning- and each couple family extended both invitations to their own guest lists. It was just easier that way.

I sometimes host “dinner parties” and sometimes host “open houses”. On Thanksgiving, I will host dinner for the family. There will be exactly as many chairs as I am expecting people, and I would like to know (and vet) who is coming. On New Year’s I will host an open house. There will be food on the kitchen table, many guests will bring contributions to that food, and while I like to know in advance who is coming, I’m fine with guests inviting guests. (and I often get someone unexpected.)

I think it’s good to have clarity as to which kind of event it is, though.

As to who actually extends the invitation… I agree with doreen that sometimes it makes sense for an invitation to go through extended family. My son was recently married. Before the wedding, his intended asked if her parents could come to our Passover. I said I’d be delighted to have them, and she conveyed the invitation. (Which I think they requested.) They did later touch base directly with me to ask what they might bring. But it felt quite natural to me for her to convey the information.

They are sort of lazy and find it awkward to invite people they really don’t know - so they do it by proxy. The invitations are more comfortable to the recipient coming from someone they know.

My mother still does it with my mother in law “your mother in law is welcome to join us for Thanksgiving.” Which means, I’m supposed to bring it up to my mother in law. And honestly, it makes sense - I talk to my mother in law - my mother doesn’t. My mother in law would never accept the invitation from my mother - but she might (or might not) from me. The same invitation from my mother to my mother in law feels “I supposed I have to invite this person” and from me feels like “we’d like to have you if you don’t have other plans.”

I tend to lean towards your take - I hate my husband’s annual (happens two weeks from now, oh God) birthday because I don’t like that many people in my space and its a little too much of a free for all event where people I don’t even like get invited to my house by people I tolerate for my husband’s sake. I had to lay down the law on that one when we had several guests who I had - in the Regency parlance - “cut” for behavior I wasn’t willing to accept. (Gay bashing, wife beating, racism, sleeping with your friend’s husbands when there was no open relationship, bringing your kids to my house and not supervising them and then when they were in the basement going through boxes of stored crap, not taking responsibility). But other invitations, delivered through family (my mother is far more likely to talk to my baby sister than I am) works fine.

And this year I’ve noticed that when the invite went out is was open again. I feel a migraine coming on and may have to check into a hotel.

I just read the first one and didn’t read the other responses yet.

Call the in-laws and say how delighted you are to meet them and to share Thanksgiving, which you hope will be the first of many, hope to host them sometime in the future, can you bring anything, even flowers or something, blahblahblah. IOW make contact YOURSELVES. During that convo, if the in-laws are equally gracious and friendly, you can mention, “Son asked if any other family was in town for the wedding and hinted that they might come to T-giving, too…?” Or something like that. Let them say, “Oh, yes! We have tons of space and food!” or “Uh… well…maybe some other time” whereupon you step in and rescue them.

This isn’t hard.

Speak up. Don’t read people’s minds.

I haven’t lived with my parents in 20 years–and they’ve had at least 5 different addresses in that time–but I still feel like a technical resident. I mean, they are my PARENTS. I am not a guest in their house. I would never invite anyone to their house without permission, but if I had it, I would consider an invitation from me to be effectively from the “hosts”.

Within family, I don’t think “host” carries nearly the formal weight that it does in other circumstances: the whole point of family is that you don’t have to play by host/guest rules. It sounds like your son’s future in-laws are treating you like family–take that as a compliment.

Yeah - we probly shoulda reached out to the T-day hosts ourselves. I wish we had asked for contact info earlier.

Re: the second situation, my eldest dtr has repeatedly observed that in such situations she would like to be treated individually, as the adult she is, rather than as one of our kids. She is 30, married, and has a kid. I think she has a point. I have contact info for all our our nieces and nephews. Really isn’t rocket science - or excessive effort - to extend an e-mail invite with a string of addresses… And they are all on facebook - easily findable. And I’m at a point where I would like to respect my kids’ wishes to make their own plans - including accepting or declining invites on their own, rather than coordinating such things.

  1. I have been married for going on 15 years and although our parents get along just fine, social arrangements between the families are always made via me or my wife. I don’t find it all that awkward.

  2. Annoying that your niece expected you to coordinate, but forgivable in the name of family amity.

  3. Fuck your sister. If I had been expecting 6-8 people and now had to deal with an unknown number of guests arriving at unexpected times, I’d be pissed. You can suck it up and have a talk with your sister later, or call her NOW and tell her she completely misunderstood and it’s up to her to disinvite these people.