Friend Invites Group to Dinner and then Charges Everyone Money at the End Without Discussion. Should They Pay Her for the Food?

The original poster (OP) is seeking advice from the reddit community about a dinner party they attended. A friend invited OP to dinner at her house a few weeks ago, and the dinner was last night. OP asked her if she could bring anything, but the host said it wasn’t a potluck. She said she would be making dinner for everyone. There were seven guests, and OP said the food was good.

The friend that hosted made a salad and either made or purchased chicken skewers as an appetizer. For the main course, she made smoked gouda mashed potatoes with beef short ribs. She also accommodated a vegan friend and made vegan mashed potatoes and vegan ribs. OP can’t remember the dessert’s name, but she believes she purchased it from a bakery.

During the meal, OP says everyone was laughing and calling the host a chef because she made a big dinner for everyone and said how much she appreciated it because it’s hard to get everyone together at the same time.

At the end of the dinner, everyone helped clean up, including the dishes, and then had some wine. It started getting late, so people began to head out. On their way out, the host said, “don’t forget to send cash to her via Venmo or Zelle cash app.” The friends were confused and had no idea what they had to send her. So OP asked her, “what am I sending you money for?” She replied that it was for cooking dinner.

OP immediately asked her why they should pay her. The friend said she spent her money and hosted and cooked the meal. OP told her that nobody had asked her to host and that she had volunteered to do it herself. She also said that she had never mentioned anything about payment until they ate the meal and were leaving the party now. The host replied that she wasn’t doing this for free.

OP told her that she should have informed everyone that she expected a payment when she invited them. She doesn’t think bringing it up as people leave and expect them to pay is fair. OP doesn’t mention if anyone else in the group said anything to the host. The friend called OP a bad name and said again that she didn’t spend hours grocery shopping and cooking for free. OP says she has never heard of this type of arrangement. After some more arguing, OP sent her the $40 she requested. Some of OP’s friends agreed with her, and some said it’s ok to pay for dinner during a dinner party at someone’s house.

OP also says she wouldn’t have brought anything if she knew she was paying. Even though she said not to bring anything, OP brought rum cake from a local bakery. She also says everyone invited brought something small. Two girls also brought a charcuterie and cheese board. Some girls brought wine, and one girl brought candles to set the mood.
OP doesn’t believe asking for payment after hosting is part of American etiquette. She spoke to everyone after, and they were all surprised that the friend asked them for money on their way out. Everyone in the friends’ group is in their 30s.

Many readers jumped in to say that what the dinner host did was not normal.

No, no this is not normal. It’s normal at RESTAURANTS but at one’s house? This ain’t normal and it sure isn’t normal to wait until after the food was eaten and everyone helped clean up”

“She is dishonest. She should have told you before the dinner at least to check the cost per person was ok for everyone. Specially when you asked what you could bring to the dinner. “You don’t need bring anything as you have to pay me”. Personally, I wouldn’t have paid.”

Some readers say they should ask her for money for the things they brought to the party, not knowing they would be paying more.

“OP, you all need to send her a message asking for her to Venmo for your clean up labor AND for the treats you each brought. Make sure each of you request more than you paid her.”

What do you think? Was her friend justified in charging everyone even though she invited them to her home for dinner? Should OP have paid the full $40?

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Source: reddit.