My husband and a number of his buddies-through-the-ages get together regularly for sports, blatant BSing and food-food-food. With recent relocations and a marriage, their longtime go-to host-house is no longer an option, leaving our home the logical gathering place geographically. No problem - I’ve known these fellows for years and absolutely enjoy their company. I love to cook, and don’t feel put out in the least hosting them in our home for their get-togethers. We had a wonderful dinner party together a few weeks ago and I couldn’t have asked for more gracious guests or more engaging conversation. I will happily continue the tradition without batting an eye.
But. I am also very aware that these gatherings are about their core group of The Guys. In preparing for the latest party, it occurred to me that I didn’t know whether to join the table, or bow out. My lovely Hub assured me that they wanted me at the table, and indeed it was an evening with no negatives whatsoever. Except for the niggling idea in my own little head that my presence did skew the dynamics of the group by more than a little bit - conversation tending toward general mixed-group topics, rather than, say, the usual sports and high-school reminiscing and well, stag talk (no sexism intended).
Hub has assured me that I am more than welcome (and I know that to be true), and that he appreciates the hospitality and definitely wants me to continue to cook for their dinners. He cites “no one saying *anything*” as evidence that all involved are in accord with my being part of the regular gang. Still, just as I would never serve up my teen and her tribe of friends a pizza party and then plant myself in the middle of it as a full participant, I feel like it might be a better party for all The Guys if I were not a *full participant* in these evenings. I'm happy to contribute my kitchen labors and then retreat to my study while they dine.
So how does one politely bow out? To cook and serve and facilitate, but fade into the background for the bulk of the socializing? To happily be a Ghost Host? Is doing so in any way a dereliction of host duty? Is it an affront to guests to play such a role? I have no experience with this unexpected little twist on hosting etiquette and would like to get some firm idea (at least in my little head) of how to go forward before the next dinner coming up next month.
So have any of you negotiated your way through this type of hosting situation? Hub’s friends might “not say *anything*”, but I hope CHers with some helpful perspective might!