Dear Alma: Hiding The Guest List, Dealing With Inedible Dinners and More

Dear Alma

Dear Alma,

My wonderful boyfriend surprised me by making dinner last week. It was very thoughtful as I’ve just started a new job and haven’t had much time to decompress. However, it was nearly inedible. He told me he was making a meat sauce so I had an expectation of what it would be like, but it was not quite the bolognese I had in mind. My question for you is what do you do when someone you care for goes out of their way to make you something nice, and you’re very thankful, but just can’t eat it?! I didn’t handle the situation well. I appreciate what he did but don’t understand how he could have messed it up so badly!

The Mean Girlfriend Who Refused to Eat Her Boyfriend’s Meal

Dear The Mean Girlfriend Who Refused to Eat Her Boyfriend’s Meal,

Thank you for your honesty and I’m glad you have a boyfriend who is not only thoughtful but willing to take risks in the kitchen. Your plight is a common one. It seems as though your boyfriend may have what I call a “Creative Cooking Personality”. This is when someone has an abundance of creative ideas, all the confidence of a professional chef, but may lack a solid foundation in the culinary arts. Although you may not have handled the situation well, there is always a way to remedy a situation with an apology and some constructive criticism couched in love and tenderness.

There are a few ways to go about dealing with his inedible meals. I would start by telling your boyfriend how much you appreciate his efforts but that you are a little particular about how you like your food prepared. You can ask him if it is O.K. to show him how to prepare certain dishes and then actually show him. I would not suggest taking over or being a ‘back seat cook” because that can have the unwanted consequence of embarrassing him. The goal is to make him return to the kitchen more skilled, not to chase him away because of discomfort.

Another possibility is to sign up for cooking classes together which can be both educational and fun for both of you. Do as much cooking together as possible so your skills can rub off on him, maybe without him even noticing that you have an ulterior motive of making him more proficient in the kitchen. I don’t know how confident he is overall as a person and you don’t want to emasculate the poor fellow.

One day you will hopefully laugh about the early days of his failed cooking attempts. Unless he kills you first with salmonella.

Keep us posted!

Dear Alma,

I love to entertain. I love to cook. I love to get to know people better by having them over for dinner. My children are in college now so there are fewer instances when I can get together with people. It used to be that I’d see people at school functions and kids birthday parties. My problem: My husband is not eager to hang out with people unless he is crazy about them. He nixes many of the dinner ideas even though I do all the cleaning and cooking (spoiled rotten).  He puts the kibosh on many of my plans. I’d like more “couple dates,” especially when I enjoy the husband as much as the wife (sometimes the husband even more than the wife). What do I do? I’m sick of “I don’t want to.”

Can you give me some ideas?

—Likes to Entertain Rather Than Watch Netflix Night After Night

Dear Likes to Entertain Rather Than Watch Netflix Night After Night,

There are many couples where there is a difference in the desire to entertain. It is very difficult to find those special couples where all four enjoy each other’s company. When it is found, it should be treasured. Because this elusive foursome is as rare as a perfectly ripe avocado, I would suggest having your own get togethers with either just friends or invite some couples and some single people over so everyone feels comfortable. There are many single people who are not asked to dinner parties with couples and maybe they would appreciate the invite.

Lastly, perhaps talking with your husband about how important these social gatherings are to you may entice him to make the extra effort. You can offer him something special after they leave, if you know what I mean. Of course I am referring to watching The Crown with him on Netflix.

Keep trying!

Dear Alma,

Should I include the guest list when I have a party or bcc? I know that sometimes people like to know who is coming and even ask me but I don’t always want to share the list. I don’t want to seem secretive, though.


Dear Unsure,

This is an easy one. Not only should you feel comfortable with a bcc, but I recommend it. Depending on the party size and desired level of intimacy, there are varying friend tiers when considering who to invite. If you leave the invitation list exposed and certain friends cannot attend and then you invite others, everyone may see that some were invited first and others second and third. This can hurt feelings. If your invited friends ask you who is coming and you don’t feel comfortable telling them, you can simply say, “it’s a surprise!”. If they don’t want to come because they don’t know who will be there, then perhaps you need to reconsider these guests for future parties.

Hold your ground!

Need advice? Send your questions, queries or rants to Dear Alma at Questions will be selected and answered in future posts.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.