The Aussie Culture of BYO

8 Jun

One thing I have noticed in Australia is that BYO (bring your own) is pretty common here.

For example, many restaurants advertise themselves as BYO, which means you can bring your own alcohol. Sometimes they serve alcohol and sometimes they don’t, but you can almost always bring your own and just pay a small corkage fee. That’s pretty cool. I don’t drink, but if I did, I’m sure I’d take advantage of it. I’ve never seen that anywhere else on my travels, so far.

(The reason for this, if you are interested, is that it used to be insanely hard to get a license to sell and serve liquor, but a bit easier to get a license for customers to bring their own.)

But there is a darker side of BYO that I thoroughly disapprove of…

About a week or so ago, one of H’s acquaintances invited us to a barbecue. Even though it was going to be freezing cold and rainy. So H mentions it to me and asks if I want to go, but says he doesn’t really feel like it.

I asked him what was wrong with him, as what kind of idiot turns down an offer of free food that someone else is going to cook for you.

“Uh… I think it’s BYO,” he said. “So we’d have to bring our own stuff to grill.”

WHOA! Wait! What???

At that point, I was then no longer interested in going. Where I come from, if you invite someone to a barbecue at your house, it’s generally understood that the inviter provides all the meat items and the other guests may or may not bring side dishes or chips or drinks or whatever. But commonly, the inviter provides everything. It’s kind of like if you invite someone out to dinner at a restaurant, you should pay.

I mean, really? What is the point of inviting someone to a barbecue, but saying they need to bring their own food and cook it themselves? I can stay home and use my own grill for that without the hassle of fighting through traffic to get to someone else’s house.

Call me antisocial (I am), but the only reason I go to functions like that is for free food, not to hang out with people I only marginally like. Give me a free hot dog and I’ll chat with anybody for 20 minutes. Give me two free hot dogs, and you might even get an hour out of me.

When I lived in a place that had a nice fire pit and a big yard, I once invited a bunch of people down for a cook-out/camp-out event and I provided all the food (including condiments that I don’t even like!) and drinks, PLUS I even set up extra tents of my own for people who didn’t have any. Now that’s how we do hospitality.

I think for a people so famed for their barbecue culture, Aussies really should reconsider their off-putting ways of BYO when they invite people around for a cook-out. I think they should be more generous and should go out of their way to share their culture with foreigners like me who haven’t had a decent hot dog in six months.

12 Responses to “The Aussie Culture of BYO”

  1. tennizzlle June 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    People do that? Seriously?

    I love BYO – as in BYO drinks to a restaurant and found it hilarious when I was living in London and a friend was like ‘you won’t believe this restaurant I found, they let you bring YOUR OWN WINE!’ Haha!

    BYO meat to a barbecue at someone’s house is seriously stingy and I assure you that this is not standard procedure. If you’re going camping with a group of people or to a picnic where there will be barbecue-ing facilities, it’s fair enough, but even then I always take enough to feed a small army!

    If I were you, I would not only boycott this ‘BYO barbecue’ but probably all future occasions with the tight ass who invited you 😉

    • housewifedownunder June 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      This isn’t the first time I experienced this. Someone else invited us to a pizza party a while back and everyone was supposed to bring their own toppings and drinks. The only things provided were the pizza crust and the oven to cook it in. We were even asked to bring our own utensils and plates, if possible. I assume that was because the host either wouldn’t have enough to go around or didn’t want to do dishes, but in America, if that’s the case, the host will normally just provide paper plates and such. Rarely, the host will put out a jar for people to drop in a dollar to help cover the costs, but I’ve only seen that done at intimate gatherings where everybody knows everybody else very well (like family). You would never see that at a party where people don’t know each other that well.

  2. keepingiteasyandsimple June 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    We call them a BYOB, Bring Your Own Beef party. Usually they are a group that is getting together, not someone hosting a party. It is a little odd to invite as if you are throwing a party, hot dogs are really cheap to buy.

    • housewifedownunder June 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      I still think the host of the gathering should provide most everything or else just call it a potluck and ask everyone to bring something to share.

  3. astimegoesbuy June 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    If you are invited to my house, I provide everything!
    The only time you ever bring anything is if we decide a group of us will get together and everyone will make stuff and it just happens to be at my house.
    I’m with the comment above, boycott…forever!

  4. Cosette June 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    I’m with you on this one. While I was in Melbourne, Theo and I were invited to a party and I wasn’t that surprised to discover that people bring their own drinks, but then nobody shared them. Everyone drank their own, whatever they brought. And then, they took whatever was left of what was brought. They didn’t leave it with the host. This is definitely one of the odder cultural practice for a people that are usually pretty generous.

    • housewifedownunder June 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      That’s what I find odd, too. I wouldn’t mind so much if it were more like a potluck and everyone shared what they brought so you could have some variety. To bring your own and only be allowed to eat what you bring is weird. Why not just stay home, then? Being from the midwest, I’m a big fan of the tradition of potluck dinners.

  5. maggiemyklebust June 9, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    They do this in Norway too. Except when they’re invited to my house 🙂

  6. keepingiteasyandsimple June 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    You will love this! Ann Lander had a woman write her last week about something similar. When the lady called to see what she could bring to the potluck she was informed the “menu has already been decided” and proceeded to give her the recipe for the dish she was expected to bring. Now bringing your own meat doesn’t sound quite so bad anymore I bet! LOL

    • housewifedownunder June 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      I’ve heard of that happening, rarely, from etiquette-impaired hosts. I wouldn’t go to that gathering, either!

  7. UK_to_Oz July 12, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    Oh my! That is bizzarre! That explains the behaviour of this chick at work who invited me to a housewarming dinner at her place, and then asked me to BYO my own alcohol. Usually in the UK or even India (where I am originally from) ppl invite you home, and tell you just bring yourselves….You as the guest will bring something along whether its chips or drinkies, but never had anyone asking specifically to BYO alcohol. And then a few days later she says BYO food. (It was not a potluck dinner). Ummm almost didnt go. But by then had already committed to going.



  1. Bizarre Australian Behaviour « Housewife Down Under - June 27, 2012

    […] and the “bring your own food to a barbecue” habit annoyed me to the point of writing a whole post dedicated to the subject. (I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who finds this both weird and rude.) I’m […]

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