Ask The Salty Waitress: I've Run Out Of Excuses To Avoid My Friend's Pampered Chef Parties

Dear Salty, I have a friend who hosts Pampered Chef parties at least once a month. I've been to one so far, and I thought that would take care of my obligation, but she continues to invite me. She'll send out a Facebook invite, but she'll also text me and ask me about it in person. Our kids play basketball together and we have mutual friends, so it's not easy for me to avoid these conversations. I'm sympathetic in a way, because I know she's doing these parties to make extra money—I get the sense she needs it—but I really don't want to spend money on kitchen stuff I don't need. I've used every excuse in my book and she's just not taking the hint, even saying stuff like "Well hopefully you can make this one since you've been busy for the last few!" Why do people insist on forcing their friends into this stuff, and what's the secret to weaseling out of them?

Thanks,Has Enough Spoons

Dear Spoons,

People have been guilting their friends in multilevel marketing schemes since forever. Before there were leggings parties, there were Tupperware parties, and it probably goes all the way back to cavemen. ("You come to bone necklace party! Or else!")

The cooking parties aren't the worst of them, in my opinion, because I can usually find at least a spoon or something that I could use to replace an old, cracked version in my kitchen. But I get it, it's not just the price tag, it's the time you're wasting pretending to be interested in a turkey baster or 2-in-1 food grater/vegetable spiralizer. And it's the principle of the thing. A friend is trying to make money for themselves by guilting you into buying stuff—over and over. You're a doll for going to one of these parties, but you can draw the line. You'd buy popcorn to support a friend's kid's scout troop even if you didn't like popcorn, but it's not like that kid hits you up every month.

So I have two suggestions, depending on how nice you are. (You know which of these I'd go with.)

Option one: Go to the next one and buy your stocking stuffers. Kitchen basics like spatulas and tea towels are actually practical gifts, so maybe you could use her next party to get some holiday shopping done. Then tell her right after that party you're all stocked up for a while and she won't have to invite you to any more for a while. This might not do the trick, so...

Option two: Tell her to buzz off. Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but be direct. Your polite excuses haven't worked on this woman, so it's time to say what the whole rest of your friend group is thinking: We're sick of your spoon parties. Next time she invites you via text, say this in response: "Hey Melissa, I'm not going to be able to make it that day. I'm full up on kitchen stuff as it is, so I'll be skipping the next few parties, too. I'll let you know when I'm ready to resupply, though!" Having it in writing might help the message sink in for her. If it doesn't, you have Salty's permission to just not respond to her texts or Facebook invites. If you she asks you about it in person, say, "Oh sorry, I meant to text you that I couldn't make it." Leave it at that. The more excuses you make, the more she'll think you really do want to come to her parties.

And if this really causes a rift in your friendship, that's not on you. I doubt the rest of your social group will think you're the one who's wrong for not shelling out $50 every month out of guilt.

Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: