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My Friend Invited Me for Dinner, Then Charged Me for Groceries. Is That OK?

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“Welcome to my home. May I take your coat? How about your wallet?”

As all who have thrown a dinner party know, hosting friends for a home-cooked meal costs money. Even for a small gathering, by the time you’ve hit the supermarket, the liquor store and the bakery, your tab is all but assured to be in the triple digits.

Given this expense, some folks believe it’s only fair that guests chip in. After all, if these same individuals were dining in a restaurant, they would not flinch at paying their fair share. Stories of hosts attempting to recoup their investment sprinkle the internet.

(Mealtime with Mister Manners is a column that delves into a smorgasbord of modern-day dining dilemmas.)

The Indian parenting website Mumsnet shared a recent tale of the host who sent attendees a thank-you bill for 2,000 rupees ($25). “Am I being unreasonable to be a bit annoyed?” one of the guests asked, noting they had brought a bottle of good wine to the gathering.

And then there is the gourmand friend who cooked up a feast that included smoked Gouda mashed potatoes with beef short ribs. A lovely time was had until the end of the evening, when the host bid adieu to one and all with a reminder to Venmo her. The tab? Forty dollars. The blowback on Reddit has been universally negative.

In March 2022, Twitter user Amber Nelson hit a nerve when she asked what others thought about her being charged for eating pasta at someone’s home. Suffice it to say, the 374,000 likes represented a very starchy reaction.

Whether their plan is a down-home barbecue or a seven-course plated extravaganza, when hosts hit up guests for money, it’s not just tacky, it’s the antithesis of hospitality.

In many ancient civilizations, at the very heart of the concept of hospitality was extending goodwill not to buddies but to strangers. In Ireland, for example, Brehon Law dictated that households provide food, drink and entertainment for passing travelers with no expectation of compensation.

The very thought that a present-day host would invite guests to break bread and then request everyone break out their cash in a sorry attempt to break even would surely have our ancestors shaking their heads in disbelief.

We invite others to our homes knowing full well we will be shelling out funds to do so. A host should hope only that each guest brings no more than their best self, contributing camaraderie — not currency.

This story first appeared on More from TODAY:

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