Life Advice



Ask Amy: A guest waffles on potlucks and raffles

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My girlfriend hosts birthday parties for her grandchildren every year, and on the invitation she asks that we bring a dish in exchange for a raffle ticket.

She has a raffle at the end of the party for something that is not of great value.

So, along with bringing a birthday present for her grandchild, I also bring a dish.

One time I did not bring food. She asked me where it was, and I said that I didn't have time to prepare something. She told me I wouldn’t get a raffle ticket.

When she was pulling the raffle ticket for the winner of her door prize ... she looked at me and said in front of everyone that I was not to be included in the raffle because I did not bring food.

I feel that if you are having a party, the guest should not have to bring a dish. She is now having a graduation party for her oldest grandchild and once again on the invitation she is telling guests to "bring a dish.”

Am I wrong to assume that when you host a party you should also provide the food?

– Annoyed with Parties

Dear Annoyed: Your friend hosts “potlucks” to celebrate these grandchild milestones and – from your account – she is completely transparent about the transactional nature of the events.

The fact that she has added a raffle component to these celebrations makes them seem less like personal parties and more like tournaments, but I must admit that I think it’s a cool idea – especially since she is obviously expecting her guests to feed one another.

However, publicly calling someone out for not bringing a dish is just plain rude – unless the comment is delivered thoroughly in the spirit of communal good fun.

There is no one rule about how to host a gathering, but guests should always feel special, welcome, and valued – and not just for their three-bean salad.

That’s where your friend has faltered.

Dear Amy: I’m asking about an aggressive version of a familiar issue.

I am in my mid-20s and at the age where I am being invited to weddings of friends. Some are close friends, others not so much.

I work in local media, and, as you may know, make a measly wage. We in local media work on short-term contracts and tend to move frequently.

One of my friends in the field, who often shares my financial woes, is likely getting married early next year. (We do not live in the same part of the country.)

This friend has made it clear that they do not want to hear anything about guests not being able to attend their wedding due to living too far away, or not having enough money.


This friend quite literally (and aggressively) stated this over a text message.

This person has been OK as a friend, but is not my closest.

I am really turned off by this approach.

I have a feeling they will sever both personal and professional ties with me if I don’t attend this wedding.

Our line of work does not give the time off or the financial ability, and this particular friend should understand this more than anyone. I will not go into debt in order to attend every wedding I'm invited to.

How should I approach this?

– Frugal & Frustrated

Dear Frugal: I assume you are tempted to shoot back a text: “Sorry, but I am unable to meet your demands at this time,” but I suggest waiting until you receive a “save the date” or actual invitation, and RSVP your regrets promptly and politely.

My basic point is that it feels better to be polite – even when others are rude. It also makes you feel as if you’ve “won” the exchange.

If you send your polite and prompt regrets and this person comes back at you aggressively, implying or stating that your friendship is on the line, you could then respond, “This sort of aggression doesn’t really inspire compliance, but I hope you have a wonderful and joyful wedding.”

Dear Amy: “Trying to be a Good Neighbor” was a professional landscaper concerned about their neighbor’s invasive lesser celandine plant taking over the property. I liked your answer, but you offered replacing it with two other non-native plants, which are also invasive!

– Plant Lover

Dear Lover: Several people pointed this out, prompting me to rethink my own garden’s ground cover. Gardeners should always check with their state’s agriculture website or garden center before planting.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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