Dear Salty: Recently I was hosting a dinner party and decided the weather was nice enough to grill outside. I’m not the most proficient griller, but I can hold my own. My brother, however, who considers himself a master griller, came over for the party, and was basically hovering over the Weber the entire time. He was offering tips and tricks, not in an intrusive way, because some were actually helpful. But as his sister, I can’t help but feel territorial. My inside voice is screaming: “It’s my grill! My domain! Leave me alone!”
When I have a crowd of people around, how can I stop my backyard from turning into the grilling peanut gallery? Especially when my brother is over?
Get Offa My Grill
Did I ever tell you guys about my Aunt Fanny? A hundred million years ago, Fanny worked for a catering company for a couple of months. So whenever she comes over to the Salty condo for family dinners, she starts setting up “dessert stations” on top of the kitchen radiator, even though I tell her every time that that’s where I keep the broken TV remotes. Honestly, with all the Salties under one roof, sure, sometimes I could use a hand. But I like to be the one calling the plays, knowwhatImean?
So I hear ya, GOMG. Sometimes people have nothing but the best intentions when they step all over your toes. If I start going off about your brother mansplaining you about grilling in your own home, I might be in danger of filling the entire internet with my increasingly angry words. So let’s remember—speaking for both of us—that (hopefully) he means well. Just like Fanny, bless her heart.
Still, I think we could both do with a little of assertiveness training in our hostessing styles. One thing I’ve decided to do with Fanny and other well-meaning yet annoying guests is to distract and redirect. I think these types of people feel best when they feel needed, and as their host, you want them to be happy in your home. So I started shunting Fanny off on the (many) jobs I hadn’t gotten to yet, like stocking the napkin holders and opening all the bottles of wine Salty family gatherings require. It may have been when I asked her to take down my Christmas tree in April that I took things a step too far, but having her happily arrange crudités on a platter keeps her out of my beehive for a while.
If you really want to learn grilling tips from your brother, do so at his house some time, not in public at your house in front of all of your friends. For future parties, he seems like the type who might make for a great makeshift mixologist, hanging out behind the bar. Or if he wants to do some prep work, like chopping onions or seasoning burgers, tell him to feel free. But manning (sorry) the grill is a tough-enough job, as you’re cooking a variety of meats and trying to get everyone’s doneness preferences properly. The last thing you need is a fraternal pest hanging over your shoulder.
In that situation, you could have put him to work by handing out your burgers and brats, which would also have the advantage of making him walk away from the grill as he gets to present the food with a flourish. But when you’re about to lose your top in front of the grill due to his incessant commenting, instead of yelling “Get offa my grill!” cry out, “Chad! Joyce’s drink is empty, can you get her a refill?” Even better if Joyce is one of your single friends and Chad is just getting over a breakup.
If all else fails, get him to refill your drink. Sounds like you’re gonna need it. Good luck, hon.
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