A woman from South Asia is struggling to adapt to the culture of hosting and feeding guests in North America. The woman, who we’ll call ‘Lea’ recently attended a pool party where the host served only a small platter of kebabs and bread, and later offered animal crackers and toast when the children became hungry. Lea is confused and disturbed by the experience, and wonders if her expectations are the issue or if the culture of hosting is truly different in North America.
Lavish Hosting in South Asia
In South Asia, hosting and feeding guests is a big part of the culture. It is customary to serve a variety of dishes and to make sure that guests are well-fed and comfortable. “Hosting/feeding people lavishly is a big part of our culture,” Lea said.
Different Expectations in North America
Lea’s family attended a pool party where only a small platter of kebabs and bread was served, and later, animal crackers and toast when the children became hungry. “About an hour into swimming they served a small platter of kebabs and bread which was quickly polished off.”
Children Got Hungry
“Towards the evening the hostess told her husband that she heard one of the kids complaining to his mom about a stomach ache because he’s hungry and suggested that they order some food. The host proceeded to go into their pantry and pull out half a bag of animal crackers.”
After the animal crackers were finished, it was clear the children were still hungry. “The host then made each child a toast with peanut butter. The child with the stomach ache ate his entire toast, his brothers toast and half of my daughters but no one offered to make him or any of the other more toast.”
Confused By Stinginess
“I was a bit disturbed and confused by this experience,” the family wrote. “If I were in that position I would have instantaneously whipped up a quick meal for the kids or ordered some pizzas.”
The family also noted that the host did not seem to be financially strained, which made their experience even more confusing.
Lea finished by saying “I’ve had a few experiences like this (attending a first birthday where there was no cake for any child except a smash cake for the birthday boy, going for play dates where the only snacks served are the ones I bring) and I’m starting to wonder if it’s my expectations that are the issue and if the culture around hosting is truly different in North America?
Host Didn’t Expect Party To Stay Long
Others offered their opinion. One person said, “My thought is that weren’t expecting/didn’t want people to stay that long.”
Another agreed and shared their experience. “I recently had neighbors over for a playdate that started around 3. My expectation was that they’d play for a couple hours, leave, and then I’d make dinner for my kids (I did serve snacks). But they were having fun playing and it didn’t seem like they were going to be ready to stop at 5. So I went ahead and started making dinner, doubling the recipe, and I invited them to stay for dinner.”
Be Clear On Timing
Another person suggested, “Next time if you want to manage your expectations, clarify the timing/meals ahead of time, and also offer to contribute. Even if it’s just drinks and afternoon snacks you could bring a bag of pretzels and a thing of lemonade or something. You can ask something like ‘when would you like us to head out? Can I bring anything/throw in 20$ for pizza?'”
Differences In Hosting
A person from the middle-east chimed in. “I’m in US from a middle-eastern country. What I learned is that unless the host specifically invites you for a meal you are not welcome to stay more than an hour/two hours. we even went to a birthday party that didn’t have food for parents. It was at a Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant and their birthday pakage didn’t include adults. It wasn’t a drop off party either, every parent stayed. I personally never host like this but learned to go with the flow.”
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