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What Is Too Much To Ask Guests To Bring?

5196 Views 34 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  EvilMel
In an attempt to make things a little easier for both my husband & myself, I've considered asking our guests to each bring a finger food to this year's party. I worry that asking them to wear costumes, possibly bring a carved pumpkin for a pumpkin carving contest & a finger food is probably asking too much. What does everyone else think? Do most of you provide all of the food for your guests every year? Other than asking your guests to wear costumes, what have some of you asked them to bring to your parties (either food wise or just for fun)?
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We don't really ask anything. Costumes are encouraged, but we mostly just want our friends to show up and have a good time.

We keep our invite list to under 30 (with about 80% showing up) so we can buy everything we need - food, prizes, drinkables...

We do provide a decent beer, but tell folks that if they want some other brand or hard stuff, to bring their own.

We have a couple that are good friends and they were told that anything they wanted to bring - food, drink, party stuff - it's all welcome. The guy should open his own restaurant, and loves to cook, so I told him the first year we had a party that I would be honored with anything he cared to make. :D

If I was you, I'd think over the folks on the guest list and see if there are any that LOVE to cook or bake... and ask them to bring a dish - that you'd be flattered to have something they made at your party - but don't ask ALL of the invitees to pony up... you'll not only end up with a ton of food that may be duplicated (20 bags of chips??), but some might see it as an imposition.

Put on the invites and spread by word of mouth that you'd love for folks interested to wear costumes (do you do a contest? The parties where there is a contest and prizes tend to have more in costume) and that you'll be doing a prize for the best carved pumpkin... (although to me having guests lug a large or ornate pumpkin seems like a pain too). ;)

Strictly my opinion, tho. You know your group of friends, so do what works for you. :)
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When we first started having our parties, I wasn't working so finances were tight.
One of our friends suggested having a donation box. We didn't really feel comfortable with that though. I did however feel comfortable telling our friends that we could use help with props, supplies, food etc. The offers started flooding in. Most of the women wanted to try their hands at creepy food and a few of hubby's male friends helped with setting up the tent and building some props etc. Now that finances aren't tight anymore and I'm working, they still continue to do it. They've gotten the bug too lol
Only problem with letting guests bring food and drink is that you have to set up as you go and they arrive. One year the guy who offered to bring soft drinks showed up late forcing hubby and another guest to have to run out to the store to get some at the start of the party :(

We don't really ask anything. Costumes are encouraged, but we mostly just want our friends to show up and have a good time....We keep our invite list to under... folks on the guest list and see if there are any that LOVE to cook or bake... and ask them to bring a dish - that you'd be flattered to have something they made at your party - but don't ask ALL of the invitees to pony up...

I agree with Frankie's Girl. Good suggestions. I must admit, for me, it would seem strange to invite someone to my home as my guest, and expect them to supply the food, drinks, or decor.

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I try to have a party of some type every year. Often it's for kids when it is for adults they are required to bring their own alchol if they want any. I also have a friend come over and help me cook the night before usually and we have a lot of fun. It helps alot honestly. I usually don't require people to bring extra food, but I let people know that if they want to bring something they are more than welcome to. If you're doing pumpkin carving contests let them know you're having one and if they are interested in participating to bring one if they would like this way they don't feel obligated to.
Thanks for the suggestions. We've always provided the food in the past so I think we will probably just continue to do so. I don't mind spending the money. It just crossed my mind that having guests each bring a dish might be a good way to make getting ready for the party easier on both my husband & myself. I'd rather foot the bill & provide everything so that guests can just worry about having a good time.
Bizzare food contest?

I have an idea for you on that... we go to a party every year that gives a prize for the most bizarre food and for the best carved pumpkin ( a little ribbon usually is plenty for the prize)... The thing about the bizarre food is you just put some basic rules around it that it needs to be edible and that it will be part of the food for the night. The guests can all vote on the best food and its a nice way of getting supplimental food to the party. Its also lots of fun to see what folks come up with. OH... another rule the party has is no "Bodily function" food....like Kitty Litter cakes...LOL... although I think its fun to have those too.
when me and my sister have our halloween haunts we have our guest dressed up and (try) to bring a dish of their choice. just like pot luck. in the long run it helps out tons!! but every year when we plan it and make sure we stick with finger foods instead of a BIG meal.
my sister and I always tell our guest to wear a customes and bring one dish or soda to share. This also helps big time with our budgets.
you dont want them to bring a dish and a pumkin. that really get to be too much when it comes to the funding. You can only choose one. bring a dish or bring a carved pumkin... Budget, budget, budget.
I don't ask guests to bring anything, but I think it's a control issue for me =) I like to have complete control of the menu & table layout. I also had someone last year ask what to bring. I asked them to bring the plastic cups and they were 3 hours late. We provide one or two themed beverages, and people usually bring their own beer.

This year we are going to try a donation jar though, as I'm sure we'll be spending near $500 on food & drinks. Completely voluntary though.

We ask the kids to bring a bag of chocolates to share. They consume massive amounts of chocolate candies, rather than just candy. To feed that many kids chocolate can get expensive. We have a huge turnout that do bring chocolate to share. We have also asked in the past for either chocolate to share or a 6 pack to share...

I have to say one of the first parties we had asked people to bring a pumpkin for a pumpkin carving contest. This is what usually happens. I send out all my invites, and my closest friends (I like to refer to as my peeps:)) always ask me is there anything I can bring. They are usually eager and willing to bring something. So I dont mind asking my peeps to bring. Sometimes I give them all desserts, because they can make something really fun. I use to not ask but they know how much goes into a party and dont mind so now when they offer I say sure I would love it. Last year I gave them appetizers. They all made something halloween looking and it was great. It really helps out on the cost when everyone brings a little something and again like i said your closest peeps:) wont mind.
this is kinda funny, and the comments on their forum could be a good indication of whether or not to ask, :3

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I don't think the arrangement that you've described is asking too much. Perfectly reasonable.
Asking that guests wear costumes isn't too much at all. After all, this is a Halloween party! And if you're going to all the trouble to have the party and invite them, your guests should, at least out of courtesy, wear costumes to your party.

As for bringing anything else.. Just make sure the wording is nice. Something like "Feel free to bring a spooky snack" or, instead of Bring Your Own Beer, you could suggest to "Bring Your Own Pumpkin".
I like what
'Shawnodese' said. awesome ideas. and I always write on invitations "BYOB" bring your own boo's
We ask them to bring a dish and their own drinks. NEVER have we gotten a complaint. We give out great prizes and supplement the food and pass out about 300 jello shooters along with a couple of punches.

The decision to allow them to bring a dish was a hard one, I am a control freak and wanted all my food to have a theme, But having them bring a dish freed me up to have so much more fun at the party. No more running back and forth to the kitchen making more food.

I think most people are plenty happy to bring something when they see how much work goes into the parties we thow!
I think a carved pumpkin is a lot of work - if you have a group of friends who already has the tradition that is amazing, but I know when I try to carve a pumpkin it's several HOURS of set up, work, and clean up...that's a lot to ask someone to decorate my house. I'm happy to do the food because that is half of my fun - finding yummy things that meet the theme. Plus I'm weird about eating pot luck, it just creeps me out. My only expectation is that people show up in costumes. Most people still bring or offer to bring something, this year if they do I'm going to ask them to bring a bottle for the bar - that stuff gets expensive, but it's easy for someone to stop and grab something on their way and they are usually more than glad to do a little something in exchange for all the work I do.
We host several different dinner parties throughout the year and typically would not ask anyone to bring a thing. However, our Halloween Party is a different story.

We provide a full top shelf bar with bartender and the spirits are flowing til dawn. And do they flow! We ask our guests to come in costume and bring a "horrordevour" to share. Prizes are awarded for costumes and creepiest food concoction. Not everyone creates a bizarre dish to share so there are plently of appealing foods too. With the amount of money we spend on alcohol, prizes, games and decor -- we would never be able to provide the fabulous spread we have every year. No one has ever complained and always look forward to our party. Many of them spend several months researching new recipe ideas for our party and everyone starts discussing what costume they are wearing months before the party.
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