8 Entertaining Tips for Picky Guests

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I’m a picky eater.  There, I said it.  I’m embarrassed to admit it but it’s the truth.  I’ve been a picky eater since I was a kid.  And going over to someone’s house for dinner is a little scary since I don’t know if I’ll like what they serve.  I can force myself to eat certain foods but there are a few that are non-negotiable.  In case you’re wondering which ones are non-negotiable, here’s a list:

  • Mayonnaise, unless it’s cooked and I can’t taste it
  • Sour cream, again unless it’s cooked and I can’t taste it
  • Mushrooms
  • Gravy (I could eat it if I had to but I really don’t like it)
  • Anchovies
  • Olives
  • Salad dressing
  • Yogurt
  • Probably more but I can’t think of them now

Because I’m a picky eater, I’m more sensitive to people’s preferences when I entertain.  I try hard to provide a meal that even the pickiest eater will be satisfied with.

So if you’re thinking about having guests for dinner, here are some ideas for providing a meal that everyone, even picky eaters, will enjoy.

1.       When you issue the invitation, ask your guests if there’s anything they don’t like or can’t eat.

2.       Keep it simple.  Keeping it simple makes it easier on you but it also tends to result in a menu that most people will like.  Picky eaters tend to like “simple” food.  Actually, most people are fine with simple food.

3.       Unless your guests are “foodies”, avoid odd or gourmet-type recipes.

4.       Have a lot of variety.  If you have plenty to choose from, even the pickiest eaters will be able to find something they like.

5.       Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like something you made.  And don’t be offended if they eat part of it but pick out the things they don’t like (like mushrooms, for example).  It doesn’t mean you did a bad job, it just means it’s something they don’t like.  Be assured they probably feel really bad for not eating it.

And if you have a guest who doesn’t eat much or anything, don’t feel the need to find something else for them to eat.  As a picky eater, I take full responsibility for my pickiness.  If someone serves something I don’t like and I can’t make myself eat it, it’s my problem and I don’t expect any special treatment.

Years ago we were having dinner with friends and I noticed they made bean soup.  Bean soup isn’t my favorite but I was going to eat it.  Then I noticed it had mushrooms – lots of them!  That’s when I panicked.  I’m not opposed to picking out things I don’t like, but there were so many mushrooms there was no way I could eat around them.  So I decided I wouldn’t take any soup.

When we sat down to eat, I was all set to pass on the soup and eat whatever else was on the table.  Unfortunately my friend filled my bowl and set it in front of me.  Oh, boy.  I was in trouble.  I sat there and swished my soup around in the bowl trying to come up with some brilliant way to handle this nightmare.  I finally realized there was nothing I could do.  So I told them I didn’t like mushrooms and would they be offended if I didn’t eat the soup.  They were surprised but fine and I filled up on cherry salad.  It was my problem, not theirs.

6.       And that brings me to the next item – don’t put food on people’s plates.  Let them get their own.  That way they can get what they want and in the amount they want.

7.       Buffets work really well, especially with mix and match menus like tacos where you can build your meal using whatever ingredients you like.

8.       Avoid foods that people tend to dislike like mushrooms, onions (by the way, I do like onions!) and mayonnaise.

Are you a picky eater or will you eat anything?  Have you ever been in a situation where you had to eat something you didn’t like?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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10 thoughts on “8 Entertaining Tips for Picky Guests

  1. I complain about my picky family but I’m also a picky eater (I just like different things than they do so that makes them super picky, right? ha!). I’ve had to use the “I’m just not very hungry” line a few times when questioned about why I wasn’t eating very many of the offerings. I do think that being a picky eater certainly tends to make us better hostesses. I always try to make sure I know guests preferences and offer up a few kid friendly (i.e., picky adult friendly) options like bread, fruit and veggie trays (no strange things done to the fruits or veggies), and maybe a cheese and cracker plate.

  2. I married a picky eater and became sensitive to what people may or may not like through him. He dislikes cheddar cheese in general, and broccoli. I don’t know how many times we got invited to people’s homes and were served a dish with broccoli. We have friends who can’t eat gluten, milk, eggs or soy. My husband and I have been eating vegan for the past two years (at restaurants we’ve decided to at least be vegetarian when we eat out with friends because it is so hard to find truly vegan dishes.) Definitely ask people what they can or will eat when inviting them over. Great article!

  3. These are all excellent tips, especially offering variety and not putting food on your guest’s plate. I have a stomach condition that prevents me from eating a lot of common foods, including anything acidic. Tomatoes are the hardest thing to avoid. Spaghetti with tomato sauce is a nightmare for me to eat, as is lasagne and those are both common foods served at other people’s houses. Also I can’t eat anything spicy or greasy. And red wine hurts me too. And, I’m trying to avoid wheat which is in just about everything.

    These tips are also good when meeting other people out at a restaurant. Try to go someplace with a variety of foods so that everyone can find something they like. For example I have a hard time at Italian restaurants, for all the reasons listed above.

    1. I hadn’t thought about it in regard to choosing a restaurant but definitely true! I went to a restaurant a while back that only had one kind of food and I was miserable. It wasn’t my kind of food! I hated paying all that money for something I didn’t like. Yes, variety is awesome!!!

  4. I don’t have much to add, but I want to say I am SO HAPPY I read your post today. I don’t like mushrooms, sour cream or yogurt. I eat sour cream in dip and other dishes, but not plain. The other two? Just no. I feel so validated. 🙂

  5. I am a very picky eater. Most of the things you mentioned would be on my list. Truly, the fewer ingredients, the better. I have a really strong sense of taste and get overwhelmed by multiple flavors. I am also quite sensitive to textures. Honestly, I tent to try to avoid dinner invitations. If someone really pushes, I make sure they know ahead of time that I’m quite picky and to not take it personally. Plus, with my chronic illness, I am often nauseous. Sometimes I use that to explain why I am not eating, if I feel like I need to protect feelings. Generally, we only do dinner with close friends who know very well that I don’t eat much of anything. They are used to me and it just makes it easier. And, yes, it has made me a more sensitive hostess. Glad I’m not alone.

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