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Graduation party debacle

Hello all, I have a social/family dilemma, help would be SO appreciated!.

 I'm graduating from med school in two weeks. It feels like a big deal for me, and I wanted to have a party to celebrate. I mentioned that to my family, and my husband and mother offered to plan it all. Very sweet of them.

Some weeks pass, they decide to have it at my Mom's house after the ceremony, order in food (appetizers and a casual main dish and dessert, some wine and beer), and have about 26 close friends and family. (Of note, most of these will be my husband's family, as mine is very small. I am close with them though, and glad they're coming.) Many are coming from adjoining states, and a couple good friends and an aunt all the way from NY (we live in WI). I feel grateful and honored that they want to come.

Problem: my lovely but occasionally very cheap mom has recently decided that she no longer wants to order in, she wants make "a lot of Zaitarains jumbalaya" (sp?) instead and make it BYOB, as it is cheaper. (to answer the question, no-one hosting is any monetary troubles) My husband felt this was sorta cheap and rude to the nice guests, given all their trouble, and my husband offered to order the food himself and pay for it (aiming for casual but good food/atmosphere). She insists that she'll just make the mix when we all get back from the ceremony (~6PM) and it'll be ready in 1/2 hr and it'll cost something like 50 cents per person. She's very proud of this. (I don't think it'll take only 1/2 hr to fix that much food, even if it is just a mix, so I also worry that guests will just be sitting around.) She is also already making noises about how much trouble this will be for her.

My mom does like running things, but rarely entertains and has never had to do big family get-togethers (small family). She also usually gets her way, and does fixate on what she thinks are good ideas. She has been known to pout/complain/yell through parties/celebrations if she feels she didn't get her way.

Now...I don't wanna sound snooty, or ungrateful for the party, but I feel this is kinda mean to the guests working so hard to get here. I get that she gets a thrill out of spending so little, and she really thinks there's no difference between the two plans. I admit I cringe thinking about how rude it seems, and what I was really looking forward to as a BIG day seems pretty cruddy now.

 So... 1) Does it seem weird/rude/unreasonable to serve Zaitarains mix at a gathering like this?

2) Husband is working on wearing her down abit, but any suggestions on what to do? (We're happy to pay for it all ourselves and have said so.)

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Re: Graduation party debacle

  • Is it too late to say that you have "already placed the food and drink order and paid a deposit" ?  Even if you haven't, just say it's already taken care of and she can relax.  
  • Can you have it at your place instead?  Or can you rent a small hall or park or something?  That's the route I'd take if possible.  She can't control a party that she's not hosting. 

    If not, be very firm in telling her that you will be bringing in food and drinks for the guests.  You can say it's fine if she also wants to make her dish, but that it's not negotiable that you're providing more than that and don't want guests to be told to bring their own drinks.  Perhaps you can get her to agree to her dish being the main course while you provide a variety of appetizers and drinks. 

    If she's still refuses to go along with it (which is her right as hostess in her own home), you will have to decide if you're going to be okay with it or want to cancel.

    Oh, and to answer your question about it being rude to serve just her dish:  No, it's not rude so long as a reasonable meal can be made of it (since it's dinnertime and the guests will need something to fill them up).  It's a casual party consisting of close friends and family, not a black tie affair.  An inexpensive meal made of casual food and non-alcoholic drinks is fine (but I wouldn't ask people to bring their own drinks for this kind of party).

    And about your mom pouting, yelling and complaining at parties when she doesn't get her way, I think you should ask her not to ruin this party for you by doing those things.  Perhaps she doesn't realize the effect this has had in the past.  She should be made aware of it so that she can (hopefully) control herself at this party.  But if she still does it, you're just going to have to suck it up and try to enjoy yourself anyway.  We can only control our reactions to others, not their actions.

  • image jinksd1:

    Can you have it at your place instead?  Or can you rent a small hall or park or something?  That's the route I'd take if possible.  She can't control a party that she's not hosting. 

    If not, be very firm in telling her that you will be bringing in food and drinks for the guests.  You can say it's fine if she also wants to make her dish, but that it's not negotiable that you're providing more than that and don't want guests to be told to bring their own drinks.  Perhaps you can get her to agree to her dish being the main course while you provide a variety of appetizers and drinks. 

    If she's still refuses to go along with it (which is her right as hostess in her own home), you will have to decide if you're going to be okay with it or want to cancel.

    Oh, and to answer your question about it being rude to serve just her dish:  No, it's not rude so long as a reasonable meal can be made of it (since it's dinnertime and the guests will need something to fill them up).  It's a casual party consisting of close friends and family, not a black tie affair.  An inexpensive meal made of casual food and non-alcoholic drinks is fine (but I wouldn't ask people to bring their own drinks for this kind of party).

    And about your mom pouting, yelling and complaining at parties when she doesn't get her way, I think you should ask her not to ruin this party for you by doing those things.  Perhaps she doesn't realize the effect this has had in the past.  She should be made aware of it so that she can (hopefully) control herself at this party.  But if she still does it, you're just going to have to suck it up and try to enjoy yourself anyway.  We can only control our reactions to others, not their actions.


    Ditto to all of this.

    I would be as horrified as you are-- that's not being ungrateful for the party your mother is throwing, it's being a good hostess to your out-of-town guests.

    image
    Are you serious???
  • OMG.

    Is there anyway you could grab her shoulders, shake them and say "Mother, this is med school. Don't I deserve better than Hamburger Helper? Don't people who come from WI deserve something nice?"

    Probably not. This event will end at a quiet time of day, host it somewhere else and ask her as a guest.

  • There is no point in your mom throwing you a cheap-o party when someone else has offered to chip in. BYOB to a medical school graduation party just sounds kind of tacky and I would not want that either.

    Your husband should just go ahead and plan the party somewhere else without your mother's input. When you invite her to the party just say that you knew she was concerned about the costs and that you didn't want her to have to worry about it, esp since a lot of the guests will be from DH's side anyway.

  • She has been known to pout/complain/yell through parties/celebrations if she feels she didn't get her way.
     

    And you knew this about her when you asked for the party....

    If her dish is one of a couple, thats really o.k.  but there does need to be other food than just that dish.  Also - it will take morethan 30 mins to make it.

    Absolutely rude to make it byob.  do not cave on this at all.  just tell her you and dh will "byob" for everyone.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • At this point, I'd just say to her, "Mom, we do appreciate your offer to host this party, but it sounds like it's going to be a stressor for you and we really want you to be able to enjoy and celebrate this day with us, so we're going to handle it," and either take care of all the food and drinks yourselves or move the party from her home to an alternate venue.

    Just a dish of Zatarain's and BYOB are not appropriate for this sort of party where people are coming from long distances in honor of your achievement (and BTW, congratulations, doc!  That's something to be proud of!).

    Do you have siblings or other relatives who could corral your mom if she starts in on the pouting/whining/yelling/fussing? 

    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
  • Let her make the jumbalaya but bring other food & booze. I wouldn't even bother to continue to argue or try to wear her down about this. Just drop it, and bring the food & alcohol... let the guests know on the side that they don't have to BYOB. But continuing to fight her on it is just going to ruin your party for you. GL
  • image ibis:
    Let her make the jumbalaya but bring other food & booze. I wouldn't even bother to continue to argue or try to wear her down about this. Just drop it, and bring the food & alcohol... let the guests know on the side that they don't have to BYOB. But continuing to fight her on it is just going to ruin your party for you. GL

     I would go this route.  I think your mom will get stressed the day of, making the food as guests are waiting, and she will actually be relieved when she sees the other food.  So, she may react positively instead of negatively.

    Congrats!

  • My mother and I fought about the food at my graduation party from law school. ?(note: I was paying for it) ?She kept telling me that I couldn't serve this or that. ?I finally told her that it was my party and I could serve what I want. ?She responded that this party wasn't all about me. ?To which I said, "Actually mom, this is about me. ?It is all about me. ?My sacrifice, hard work and the student loans that I will be paying back for the next 20 years. ?This is the probably the one time in my life that it is utterly ALL ABOUT ME!"

    I wore an "It's all about me" tshirt at the party. ?I will be happy to mail it to you if you want.

    ?

  • Everyone has already given great advice. I just want to add - CONGRATS on graduating from med school! You should be so proud of yourself!?
  • Congrats on your accomplishment and yes you are 100% right. Tell her you'll be either 1.) making other food, or 2.) ordering other food - and do it. If she asks why - tell her. Your guests are coming to celebrate your accomplishments and should be entertained properly. My MIL is like this - she once served two smallish casserole dishes of baked ziti on Christmas for 15 people because that's what was in her pantry.. I have noticed though that now that I've taken over most of the family holiday cooking - she is more inclined to put food out when people visit etc. - because that's what I do.

    There are a number of easy dishes that you and DH can make in advance that people will love. And you can also just order some nice platters from your grocery story. Whatever works best.

    Good luck!

     

  • and no BYOB .. Good grief.

    People will likely bring along wine or beer and you can serve that - but have a reasonable amount of wine/beer and NA drinks for your guest.

  • Yes, it is cheap and tacky to ask guests coming to your graduation party to BYOB.  And it would be very odd to serve nothing but Zatarans as food.

    Order some party trays or casual catering, tell Mom it's already been handled and you can't get your money back.  Maybe approach her like this "Mom, I am SO appreciative that you're hosting this party for me, and that on top of that you want to cook ALL the food!  It's just too much!  You're such a charming hostess and I really want you to be available to greet and entertain our guests!  So we went ahead and ordered some party trays, of course it won't be as yummy as your cooking but that you and I can enjoy the party together!"

    Good luck and congrats on graduation!

  • to be diplomatic, I would tell her that

    1. not everybody likes cajun food/jambalaya and

    2. just serving one dish and nothing else is just not enough even for a casual get-together.

    Who knows what people are allergic to, what they hate, etc. Anything beyond Thanksgiving dinner needs to take that into account, and even for Thanksgiving, there's more around than just turkey and mashed potatoes. Besides that, box food just doesn't taste that good, including zatarains.

    BYOB is for strip clubs, not entertaining.

    Congrats on med school!  

     

  • I think it's a little weird, yes.
  • image DaringMiss:

    My mother and I fought about the food at my graduation party from law school.  (note: I was paying for it)  She kept telling me that I couldn't serve this or that.  I finally told her that it was my party and I could serve what I want.  She responded that this party wasn't all about me.  To which I said, "Actually mom, this is about me.  It is all about me.  My sacrifice, hard work and the student loans that I will be paying back for the next 20 years.  This is the probably the one time in my life that it is utterly ALL ABOUT ME!"

    I wore an "It's all about me" tshirt at the party.  I will be happy to mail it to you if you want.

     

     

    LOL..thats so funny..good one! i prob would of done the same thing!

  • Congratulations first! thats an awesome accomplishment, and you deserve the best..its freakin MED SCHOOL! no matter what money troubles people have (which my mom is expereincing now) there could be other ways to have your graduation party. like you said, no one really has monetary troubles, how about your mom, in laws, and husband plan it...and you all just come up with the best party you can...this is a med school graduation and it should be fabulous. you're not being ungrateful this is a big deal.

     kinda similar....im getting married in vegas at the mandalay bay in 2 months...people are coming from california (not vert far to begin with) but they're all traveling and spending the money for gas, food, a hotel, etc....... plus family/friends from out of state too are coming and we're going to make sure that our guests have an AWESOME time! so i understand that you want your guests to be happy. we're people pleasers at the same time. i worry if people are having a good time or not.....godd luck and congrats again!

  • the PPs have all given you great advice. ?NO BYOB, and have your husband proceed with ordering food in so that the jambalaya isn't the only offering. ?

    a huge congratulations on your achievement!?

    <img width=100 src="http://tinyurl.com/6q2woyb">
    <a href="http://www.wanlifetolive.com">[the bliz-og]</a>
  • I don't know why you have to convince her and get her approval to have food ordered, paid and delivered to her house.  Same with the beer, wine and drinks.  Obviously, you WANT her to be in agreement with how she chooses to host .. but since you seem to take ownership that these are your guest, and not just your mother's, then you should make appropriate accomodations. 

    Getting a thrill out of spending 50 cents per perosn is irrational.  It's a party.  Some for OOT guests, surely she can see that.  There IS an expectation that people will be served more than boxed rice.  There is.  If she can't (or won't) meet that expectation, then move the party to your location (or a restaurant) or order what you want and have it delivered 

    If you are really conserned that she will throw a hissy fit embarrassing herself, you and your guests - then you have NO business accepting her invitation to host.  Decline now.   

    Sorry this is happening to you.  Congratulations on the medical school graduation.  You earned a big day.  I hope you get a lovely, stress free celebration.

    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • Thank you everyone, I appreciate all the great ideas. We'll definitely use them! I think the "Oh Mom, we found a great deal on some great food, so we just popped in an order. We'll just have it delivered that day for you, since I know this is stressful, hosting a party." Maybe I'll steer her into making the salad or dessert so she still feels like she's helping. And I do have one lovely, savvy sister who can assist the day of with trouble, should it occur.

    I think I really needed to hear that I wasn't being petty or selfish. My mom has a way of making me feel unsure of myself and powerless, so I often second-guess myself with her.

    And thanks SO much for the congrats! I really do feel like this is a big day, it's been a long road.

  • I would start telling some white lies and hope they work:)

    1. Husband can say--"oh I almost forgot we have tons of cases of beer and bottles of wine left from whatever made up excuse" and he can just bring that over so no BYOB.

    2.  Also he can say "NowWhat had her heart set on food from her favorite place and will really be so sad if she can't have it."  And just get food from there.  OR your DH can just order some nice sandwich trays and some other sides that work reasonably well with jambalaya.

    Your DH should probably make sure there's a cake there too.  Cake is the best part of graduations in my opinion:)

     

  • "oh I almost forgot we have tons of cases of beer and bottles of wine left from whatever made up excuse" and he can just bring that over so no BYOB. "

     This made me laugh and would work great on her. She'd be thrilled by the savings! Done.:)

  • image NowWhat?:

    Thank you everyone, I appreciate all the great ideas. We'll definitely use them! I think the "Oh Mom, we found a great deal on some great food, so we just popped in an order. We'll just have it delivered that day for you, since I know this is stressful, hosting a party." Maybe I'll steer her into making the salad or dessert so she still feels like she's helping. And I do have one lovely, savvy sister who can assist the day of with trouble, should it occur.

    I think I really needed to hear that I wasn't being petty or selfish. My mom has a way of making me feel unsure of myself and powerless, so I often second-guess myself with her.

    And thanks SO much for the congrats! I really do feel like this is a big day, it's been a long road.

     

    this is a huge accomplishment! and i can imagine how long the road has been. i just finished my bachelors and i thought that was a long road, and i was burnt out of that...graduating from med school is major and i honestly dont think i could ever do what you did...its not for everyone. your mom shouldnt ever make you feel this way! but you'll have your party and go on with your life and be a doctor! awesome! =)

  • Your problem comes from the fact that you are blurring the lines between "hostess" and "guest of honor."

    The host and hostess of the party are your mom and DH.  You are the guest of honor.  The lines got blurred when you asked mom and DH to throw you a party, because that puts you partially in the role of hostess.  You feel guilty for asking for a party that has caused all the relatives to travel.  You want to be able to reward them for their efforts, but you can't because you're not the actual hostess!  For future reference, next time just throw yourself a celebratory party and ask all the friends and relatives to join you.  Then you are in charge of the party.

    But, as it is, I think you have to let your mom, as hostess, fix Zatarains.  Maybe an appropriate way for DH to contribute is to order in nifty appetizers that can be nibbled while your mom whips up the main dish.  FWIW, I agree that her idea to just whip up some food after returning from the graduation sounds unrealistic.

    Do not be concerned or feel guilty that you have asked people to come all this way and then they will only be fed homemade jambalaya.  Let that fall on your mom's shoulders as hostess.  Your job as honoree is to graciously express your thanks to the people who traveled to celebrate with you and write thank-you notes to anyone who came.

  • Oh -- I forgot about the BYOB thing until I read the replies.

    You and your DH should supply the drinks as well as any food over and above zatarains that you want to have at your party, I guess is my point.

    But since you ASKED mom to throw you a party, you have to live with her ideas of what makes an okay party -- in this case, homemade jambalaya from a box.

  • At this point you should know better. Don't ever ask for help with a party from your mom. Luckily it sounds like your husband can handle it.
  • I agree that you should just go ahead and order other food.  She can still make the Zatarains if she wants, but you should absolutely have other options there (for main courses, not just apps).  You should also supply all the drinks.
  • Congratulations!  What  an amazing accomplishment!!

    As for the party, I love cajun food, but totally HATE jabalaya!  Yucky!!!  I think you should offer something else to go with it.  I would think somethin that strong as a main dish would have many avoiding it.  Bring that up to her as well.

    Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone
    "Don't marry a man unless you would be PROUD to have a son exactly like him." ~ Unknown
  • First, congrats on graduating med school!

    Second, as a Louisianan I really must say that Zatarain's isn't even all that good jambalaya.  Homemade is much better...  But anyway, that's not the point.  I don't know why she's determined to fix jambalaya from a box for your graduation party, but it doesn't seem like you're going to change her mind on that.  So, I see your options as:

    1) Just bring along drinks for the guests, and have food ordered/delivered... Anything you would want in addition to the boxed jambalaya.  Don't ask permission -- just let your mom make the jambalaya, and then bring other things.
    2) If you don't want jambalaya served at all, rent a picnic pavilion and hold a party at a local park, or hold a party somewhere besides your mother's house.  Say something like "Mom, I really appreciate you being willing to host the party.  But this seems like it's causing you a lot of stress, and I don't want to add stress to your life.  So we'll just rent a picnic pavilion at the park for the party."
    3) Hold the party at your mother's house with jambalaya and BYOB.

    My suggestion would be options #1 or #2.

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