I have been consumed by Mad Men madness. I think what’s so compelling about the show is witnessing a way of life that is so foreign from our lives today. A way of life that included a three martini lunch followed by a scotch on the rocks afternoon meeting; cigarettes being smoked everywhere including the doctor’s exam room, by the doctor, nevertheless; and a diet of meat, potatoes and canned vegetables.
Today, a one martini lunch is extremely rare, smoking anywhere inside is pretty much verboten and more and more people are watching their diets. In fact, many have food restrictions. In the 50s and 60s you didn’t have to worry as a host about food restrictions or people not drinking. This made me think about today’s host and the challenges we face meeting the diverse dietary needs of our guests. With Labor Day weekend coming up, there will be a lot of parties. So, let’s talk about what a host should and shouldn’t accommodate and if the guest should expect to be accommodated.
Even in today’s enlightened, politically correct time, the host does not need to go out of his or her way to accommodate a guest. However, it is polite to ask your guests if they have any dietary restrictions when they reply to your invitation. If the restriction is not too difficult to accommodate then it would be nice to do so.
I always ask my guests if they have any food restrictions well before the party so I have time to plan. My husband and I eat meat, but we have many vegetarian friends. So, when we are hosting even just one vegetarian guest we will make a vegetarian meal. No big deal.
Now, what if you are the guest with the special diet? Do you say something or just hope there’s something you can eat? You would only say something if you are asked. If you can usually find something to eat at a dinner party, then eat what you can and don’t say anything about the restriction. If your restriction means you probably won’t be able to find something to eat then either bring your own food or decline the invitation if you’re not asked about a restriction. It is not fair to expect a host to go out of his or her way to accommodate an unusual dietary restriction. But again, a polite host will ask his or her guests if there are any dietary restrictions.
What about alcohol? Unlike in Mad Men, many people don’t drink alcoholic beverages, so be sure to have non-alcoholic drinks on hand. It’s surprising to me how many people don’t do this. My husband and I often bring seltzer to a party so we have something to drink.
The bottom line? As a host, don’t go mad trying to accommodate everyone, but do make an effort to ask about and accommodate easy requests. Guests should not expect special treatment. If you are asked, great, if not either bring your own food or beverage or stay home.