Metro-East Living

Here’s the proper etiquette for Labor Day parties and barbecues

Pork steaks
Pork steaks Provided

Q. My husband and I have planned a Labor Day pool party just like we have done for the past four years. It is always a fun party with lots of our family and friends attending. Our son’s in-laws have decided to have a party as well, same day as ours. We’ve been invited to their party and of course, so has our son and his wife and children. We can’t be two places at the same time, nor can our son and his family.

Naturally, my husband and I are a little upset because we feel they are being very inconsiderate of us. I almost asked why they picked the same day for their party when I called to tell them we would not be able to come, but I held my tongue. Shouldn’t they have asked us if we were having our usual party before they scheduled theirs? We’re already thinking about next year, do we have to be the ones to change our party date?

A. Yes, this is an unusual situation wherein your son’s in-laws scheduled their Labor Day party on the same day you have traditionally had yours, to which they have been invited in the past and attended — very unusual and yes, inconsiderate. It was very polite of you to “hold your tongue” for the overall benefit of your family relationships; otherwise a family feud could have erupted causing all kinds of hurt feelings and estrangements.

Rather than arbitrarily changing your normal party date for next year, I suggest you call them next year in early spring and ask them if you could discuss coordinating your Labor Day party dates so they are not scheduled on the same day. Based upon the results of that discussion, hopefully, you will not have your parties on the same day in 2019.

Q. Please tell my wife that it’s OK to have a Labor Day BBQ party without five different meat entrees. I am the one who has to do all the barbecuing and with ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, pork steaks and chicken, and it takes me totally forever and by the time I am finished, I am one sweaty, tired mess. Seriously, is there something written that says how many to have? I would think ribs, hamburgers and hot dogs would be plenty. What’s your professional opinion?

A. Oh my goodness, I totally agree with you. Five (meat entrees) is definitely a little overboard and makes the decision process for guests a little overwhelming. I can only imagine what your wife feels is an appropriate number of side dishes — again overwhelming, no doubt. She sounds like a super hostess but she, too, is probably tired by the time the guests arrive. I agree with you in limiting the entrees to three.

Q. My daughter is going to be in a wedding coming up very soon. I am invited to the wedding but not the reception because they can only allow so many people. My question is: do I need to buy a wedding gift if I was not invited to the reception?

A. How considerate of this couple to invite you to their wedding, not only to witness them exchanging their vows, but also to be able to see your daughter participate as a part of their wedding party. As a member of the wedding party, your daughter will no doubt be giving them a wedding gift; therefore, unless you know this couple extremely well, it is not necessary for you to feel obligated to give them a wedding gift. You might, however, consider sending them a congratulatory wedding card.

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