I volunteer as an apartment group leader at my apartment complex. Every Monday, I'm in charge of organizing an activity (up to $20) for my fellow roommates and neighbors.

Recently, we had an ice-cream social (get to know the new people at the apartments). We ran out of ice-cream for people who arrived later, after everyone had finished eating and started mingling. Portion sizes weren't regulated, so most people probably took seconds.


In these situations (where I'm given a limited budget and resources), how should I handle guests who arrive late and miss out on whatever was being offered to those who arrived on time/earlier? I don't know what to do or tell them - after all, I want them to come the next time something is organised. I need to make them aware, in a nice way, it's their own fault they didn't get anything and if they want what we had they need to arrive earlier the next time.

Let me know if I need to get more specific.


6 Answers 6


What about "sorry, but we ran out of ice cream"?

Fact is, these people would have wanted ice cream, and there wasn't any. You can't pretend there is ice cream. You can only tell them the truth, apologise, but not accept complaints because the limited budget is not your fault (or possibly anyone's fault).

The only alternative if there is some decent shop nearby that sells ice cream is trying to get a spontaneous money collection and then someone goes out and buys more ice cream.


To piggyback off of Gnasher's point, limited budgets do suck, but that also does not mean you are limited to strictly the budget! "sorry we have run out" is certainly a great way to respond. You can also mention to the group who has gathered: "Hey guys! Quick announcement here. We are about to run out of ice cream. I have spent the budget given to me to purchase more, but is anyone willing to throw in a dollar each so we can go buy more?". I have found in my experience of having parties and get-togethers that people are generally willing to throw in an extra buck to restock on the party goods.

This can also help keep the party going if you wish for them to go later! I have also found that people tend to leave once the food/drinks have gone as well, so asking people to pitch in a dollar might help to re-energize the social.

  • 6
    Or, if you're out of icecream, and people still want to stay, maybe it's time to go for a beer run...
    – corsiKa
    Jun 12, 2018 at 4:59

The other answers are great, but this is one of those problems that could potentialy be solved ahead of time.

This activity is obviously well received, too many people are turning up for the amount of "entertainment" that the budget provides for. So for a more longer term solution it may be best to:

  1. Talk to the group outside of the activity and see if it's worth raising the budget
  2. If the budget can't be raised, think about highlighting the fact that latecomers are likely not to get the food. This means either everyone will turn up half an hour early, then you can reiterate point 1
  • Perhaps more cheaper ice-cream next time. Give away or sell any left over icecream at the end of the function, put money in the kitty for subsequent function.
    – KalleMP
    Jun 12, 2018 at 16:14
  • 1
    Rather than late comers not getting anything, it seems that portions should be determined.
    – MaxW
    Jun 12, 2018 at 17:16
  • 4
    “First come, first served.” When it’s gone, it’s gone.
    – M.Mat
    Jun 12, 2018 at 21:42

As the other answerers have stated, you can apologize to people who show up after the food has run out. Mention to them that due to limited funds, you weren't able to get more food.

In addition to that, you can let people know ahead of time of the possibility that food will run out. In the invitation, let people know that food will be available, but that it will be on a first come, first served basis. That way if people show up late and there's no more food, they will only have themselves to blame.


You volunteered to be the party organizer. You gotta own that. The more people you can get to come to your party, the stronger your community will be, and the more pleasant everyone's lives will be when they see each other around. Don't let them down. Community is important. So you need to be able to handle everyone, if you can. Isn't that why you volunteered?

Now I'm not saying kick in your own money. There are lots of ways to raise the cash. The simplest solution is to put out a tip jar; this is a lot less awkward than asking around. Or people could donate a pint of their own favorite flavor (you could call it BYOIC). Or maybe a locally owned ice creamery has some overstock they will donate. One recent trend is crowdfunding (e.g. GoFundMe). Whatever you do, keep the idea clear and simple; if you put out a tip jar, label it and suggest an amount; if you ask them to bring ice cream, tell them what size. A lot of people who don't participate just don't know what to do, so spell it out, and more people will come through.

Here's a site that claims to have 131 fundraising ideas.


You could just stick to the budget. That would be well within your rights, and your event would be, well, an event.


Simple response: "Sorry folks, we actually run out of food" and if you can't foot a bill to order food you just go "maybe we can all pitch in to order a pizza"

Ultimately if it is an organized gathering or event then I believe a number of attendees should've been taken in order to deduce how much food to make or order. Anything less is poor planning on the hosts side. If it's a closed event then the rules must be enforced

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