Dear Julie: Advice About Ditching Home Sales Parties and Difficult Dinner Guests

DAME’s Friendkeeper has a few words for feeding all those friends with so many food issues, and helps a woman extricate herself from 21st-century Tupperware parties.

Dear Julie,

I hate those home sales parties. Like really, really loathe them. I think they’re intrusive and awful and just generally icky. I don’t want to be invited into someone’s home for anything other than a purely social occasion. I don’t need jewelry or tote bags or dermatology products, and if I do, I’ll buy them when and where I want to, without being pressured. But I want to be supportive of my friends who have such parties. Not attending seems rude and unfriendly, yet attending seems like an implicit condoning of the enterprise. Is there a way to navigate that fine line politely?


Party Pooper


Dear PP,

I’ve only ever been invited to one of those soirees—my old super’s wife’s Tupperware party, and guess what I’m drinking my water out of right now? A TUPPERWARE CUP! It has a cover! I also got a cupcake caddy! See, so you’re wrong! Nah, just kidding. Here’s what I think. If I were invited to a jewelry party, unless it was by Harry Winston and he was giving me something, I would hate it. And tote bags? Is there anyone in the world who needs a tote bag? Doesn’t everyone have 8,000 of them? And they give them out for free! I think if you are really invited to so many of these parties, it’s okay to have a quiet policy. You blanket don’t like them, that’s your right. Don’t go. I think, though, that unless you’re willing to say that you joined a new religion that doesn’t allow you to attend home sales parties, you need to just say you can’t make it. The people who have these parties must understand that they aren’t for everyone—finances, personal taste, etc. Don’t be specific, just say you aren’t able to go. It’s okay, but don’t come crying to me if you have nowhere to put your cupcakes.





Dear Julie,

I love having friends over for dinner. Nothing pleases me more than gathering my people around the table and feeding them a delicious home-cooked meal. But lately it’s gotten incredibly complicated.Suddenly everyone has all of these food issues: gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, raw food–only, ovo-lacto vegan…the list is never-ending. It used to be that you’d invite everyone for dinner, and the worst restriction might be that someone was allergic to eggplant or shellfish, and you’d cook from there. But now it’s like you either have to put out a bowl of hot broth with a single carrot in it, or spend a million dollars at Whole Foods and make a smorgasbord of highfalutin dishes. When did friends become such high-maintenance children and is it okay to hate them all?I only want to feed them! Why won’t they just eat my food? They can’t all have celiac disease, can they?

Please help,

Kitchen Nightmares


Dear KN,

Of course it’s okay to hate them all! I wish you could just do that and call it a day. Alas, as you say, you love to have friends over for dinner so we need to find a way for you to do this without wanting to poison them. Interestingly enough, I have given this issue a tremendous amount of thought. Interesting because I have approximately three dishes that I make, so pretty much, if someone doesn’t eat turkey burgers, shrimp and pasta, or roast chicken, they’re shit out of luck at my dinner parties. But I go to a lot of dinner parties and see this phenomenon quite often. I’ve watched hostesses scrambling through their freezer for a Boca burger or running out for a bean dish, and I have to say, I think it’s wrong and you put it right when you said “high-maintenance children.” We all know if we are having kids for dinner, unless they’re my squid-eating niece, it’s probably good to have some plain pasta or chicken nuggets on hand. They are little and we forgive them and all their ketchup. Or we don’t invite them. And obviously if a person has an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, we don’t make chicken and cashews. But the rest of the list is different. Here’s the thing: I, myself, though a woman of the world, have the palate of a six-year-old. It’s much easier for me to list the foods I do like/eat than the ones I don’t, but I live in a home with food and in a city with grocery stores and restaurants, and it’s highly unlikely that I will ever die of starvation here. That said, more times than not, I go places where they make something I’m not going to like, but I promise you this, they will never know that. Mainly because by the time the food comes I’m so drunk, no one knows what I’m eating, they just hope I don’t break anything…KIDDING!! No, it’s because I take a few things, even a small bit of the hideous grilled salmon, and I nibble or eat the other stuff. And talk and laugh and what have you. It’s just not the hostess’s problem. I think that it’s reasonable for you to make what you want to make, everyone can eat vegetables and generally there’s something they like. If they aren’t filled up, they can make themselves some gluten-free pasta with soy cheese when they get home.




Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.


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