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Bringing home what is left over from a potluck?

This warranted its own thread, as I just read over 250 responses to the dilemma of a Chowhounder who was planning a baby back rib birthday dinner, only to have to deal with an rude guest who insisted on bringing his wife's version of the main course, in spite of being told "No."

A while ago, we hosted a luncheon that was intended to be a catered BBQ affair with some friends. We were new in town and most of the friends were my husband's. My husband, unbeknownst to me, was receiving e-mails from well-intentioned guests offering to bring dishes. He pretty much told them to bring desserts, chips and dips, etc., without my knowledge. Largely because he had never been placed in the position of social coordinator of our home, he thought he was helping, and I was horrified when I found out what he had done on the day of the party (This never happened again, BTW. The lack of communication about this could be blamed on too much business travel, so we got past it quickly). There was just too much food because I didn't expect any. Well, one woman showed up with a crock pot full of Bush's baked beans, straight out of the can. As I had extra catering trays to keep food warm, I politely put her beans in a warmer and let the guest help themselves. Some six hours later, during cleanup, I noticed that she had scooped the remaining beans out of the tray (about half of what she brought) and was carrying them back home in her newly washed crock pot. I was amazed, but didn't say a word. First, who would want old dry beans, and second - is this typical? It got me thinking -- what is the custom in this part of the country when it comes to leftover potluck food? I am a native New Yorker who has taken up residence in the South, so I'm still learning the ropes here :)

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  1. I think she was doing you a kindness- having seen the amount of excess food at your party, and your looming leftover problem, she thoughtfully spared you from having to dispose of her contribution.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gin and It

      i hope you're being sarcastic. too hard to tell on the screen. it would never occur to me to take back food i brought. then again, i'm a northerner, living in the north, so what do i know? ;)

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        No, I'm serious. As a frequent hostess, party leftovers and no extra refrigerator space are a recurring problem. I try to foist doggie bags on departing guests. I wouldn't be offended if, on her own initiative, a guest cleaned her own potluck dish and took the leftovers home. Well, maybe if it was jumbo shrimp, but canned baked beans....?

        1. re: Gin and It

          i host frequently too, however i never do pot-lucks. i never want people bringing food because i'm too much of a control freak about the synchronicity of the menu. that being said, i always make too much and encourage people to take stuff home. that's different. taking back what you brought just seems cheap.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Maybe there is a different set of expectations and behaviors for potluck guests as opposed to party guests. The hostess threw a party, which the bean lady thought was a potluck (or bean lady was compelled by culture and upbringing to bring a dish. Some people are like that). Potlucks, as group efforts, require that
            participants are responsible for their food to the bitter end? And at parties, food items brought by guests, whether wanted or unwanted, are gifts to the hostess, and so become her responsibility and property? And where do the rights of hostesses bleed into potluck contributors' responsibilities? Does the venue (church basement or back yard) enter into it?

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Ironically, this wasn't intended as a potluck, as I had ordered from a caterer, but DH managed to turn it into a partial pot luck -- hence my question. I've never actually hosted a pot luck dinner because I too like to control the menu at my own house, as well as the temperature of the food so that we don't all go to the hospital with food poisoning. I have no experience with pot luck etiquette because I have never been to a pot luck dinner -- even as a guest.

            2. re: Gin and It

              Trying to foist it off (i.e., asking guests to take leftovers) is completely different from a guest taking it without asking, IMO.

              I was just at a friend's 40th b'day BBQ on Sunday and had brought potato salad and fruit salad. Someone else brought fruit salad as well, and as I left, the host asked if I wanted to take some of it home, as there was going to be too much. In that situation, I gladly took it. But I never would have taken it without asking. I made it to contribute to their party. If they wanted to keep it to eat it (or even end up throwing it out) that's their prerogative. It was a "gift" of food, so to speak.

        2. I would say don't worry about it. This was still technically a catered event, right? Even if the event was a potluck, there is some room for movement as far as taking home food goes. The woman in question brought the baked beans to be nice, or at least polite. If a dish isn't polished off by the end of the party, I would think it's fair game. Events like this aren't really about the food, they are about the people. As the host of the event it is your obligation to make sure guests are comfortable and attended to. If taking those baked beans home so they don't go to waste is important to that lady, then let them go. Those baked beans are a non-issue.

          1. At the potlucks we go to, a departing guest (who obviously wants their dish back) will offer leftovers to the party at large to take home. Anything left after that goes home with them.

            This is of course not feasible when there's a big guest list. In that case, I don't want to burden my host with figuring out what to do with the leftovers or the dish. I will offer the leftovers to the host and take what is not wanted.

            3 Replies
            1. re: lora

              Oh to be clear, I wasn't at all offended. Actually, she did me a service -- I was going to toss the dried out beans anyway. I had just never seen this before.

              1. re: lora

                That's how potluck works in this New England area too -- offer leftovers and take what's not wanted. The real etiquette point for me is not leaving the hostess to wash the dish(es) I brought.

                1. re: GretchenS

                  Have lived in CT, MD, an PA and this sums it up. Offer to host and anyone else and take leftovers in fish. The fact that the dish was refilled after cleaning is a bit odd but not unheard of.

              2. If it's leftover, sure the person who brought it is perfectly entitled to take it home with them when they leave, if they want to. Usually I wouldn't bother, because it's easier just to leave it behind but if it was something that I REALLY liked (or that the other guests didn't seem to enjoy particularly, and there was a lot left) I'd probably take it home with me.
                I went to a potluck just this weekend and I took a huge crockpot of chilli. We had to go home early and half of it was left, so I asked the hostess for a bowl to put it in so she could keep it. (and we got the best of both worlds... it didn't all quite fit into the bowl she handed me, so I left the bowlful and took home enough to enjoy myself later!) I also took the bag of cheese home because nobody had even opened it and the table was absolutely bulging with food so it seemed highly unlikely that anyone was going to miss it.
                The only reason I asked about leaving the chilli behind was because we were leaving three hours early (it was a six-hour event) and I thought that people might still want to eat it later. If it had been the end of the night I'd have just automatically taken the pot home, with whatever happened to be left in it.

                1. Personally, when I bring food to a potluck I leave it up to the host, as to how or if, the leftovers should be given out. The food you contribute to a gathering belongs to the host as far as I'm concerned.
                  At my bf's family parties the aunts frequently rip open tupperwares at the end of the meal to gather leftovers for themselves. While it's not considered rude within his family, I find the behaviour rude unless they ask first or the host asks them the take food. It's probably an unneccessary formality (should they ask the same ppl the same thing every time?) but I think it's wrong to make assumptions.

                  1. This is a tricky one... on the opposite side, I was invited to a potluck in which each person was bringing a dish, but since a lot of people were bringing "just cookies" etc... I was encouraged by the host to bring multiple main courses. She said many people were coming so I made two large pans of one dish and another large dish of a second entree. Three people showed up to the whole thing, so barely anything was consumed. I wanted my pans back as well as maybe some of the food since there was a lot left and I had put some work into it... alas, it was not offered to me, so I just left and said I'd pick up the pans another day. I didn't want to be that person who took back my food.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: foodandscience

                      I bring dishes to potlucks frequently, and always ask my host/hostess at the end of the party how the dish should be dealt with. Sometimes it gets scooped out and stays at the host's house (I always do want my dishes back *now* as I have had too many go missing); sometimes the leftovers come home with me. FandS, you get to take your pans home with you, so if there is not anyone with Tupperware at the ready to clear out the leftovers, I think the leftovers can go home with you along with your pans.

                      Still, every group that has potlucks seems to have different rules. It might help to find out what the norm is for your group. AND: label your pans if you're going to be leaving them!

                      1. re: foodandscience

                        Wow! That really would have hurt my feelings! I'm imagining spending a couple hours over eggplant parm or something only to leave it behind to who knows what fate.

                        But you did the polite thing. Isn't there a song that says the right thing and the hard thing are usually the same thing?

                      2. Generally the host(es) will either make up "plates" or ask people to take home whatever is left of what they brought. In any case, the host is responsible for deciding what should be done. If no "announcement" is made, then, pretty much anything goes.

                        1. I'm always amazed at what I learn here! I've never given this whole potluck food dissemination thing a thought. It always just works out on its own. I didn't know there were rules or that the food belonged to someone. I think it's because my initial potlucks were for organizations, such as our church or lunch at work... where at the end of the meal, we needed to clean up after ourselves, which meant we brought our own food home.

                          I also think it depends on your friends... although I don't know if this a regional thing or not. I'm in the San Francisco area, and I've never set up home anywhere else. In my group of girlfriends, when we do our annual Christmas potluck, if there is food leftover... we beat each other to it! :-) If I am bringing food to an acquaintance (co-workers house or a new friend's house), and it's not in my container, then it MIGHT occur to me to ask the host if they want the rest of the food or not. If it's something I want... umm, if I brought 50 custard tarts from Golden Gate, and there were only 10 guest, and I saw about 25 leftover... I'm thinking I'm taking most or all of it home if I had to leave early. If the party ended, I would casually ask but would probably take most of it home as well if no one else wanted it.

                          OK, if the food is in my container, no matter whose house I'm at, I'm taking the leftovers home to deal with. I think it goes with my not being a confident cook (that's another thread) because if you haven't eaten it by then, I'm guessing it's not all that good, and I don't really want to hear the rejection. "Would anyone like to take the rest of the potato salad?" Awkward silence. "OK, I'll bring it home with me then."

                          I just never thought that I'm bringing the food for the host. If I had to give this more thought, I think of it as I'm contributing to the potluck (as in for everyone including myself), and at the end, I just take it all home (again, to deal with ... wash, throw out, eat as leftovers). Think I'll bring this up at our next potluck!!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: boltnut55

                            this is how i feel about it. amongst my friends (also in SF), no one would think it odd if one of us wanted to take our own food home. or if we wanted to leave it. no big deal either way. helping each other clean up is another story, and we all offer to do that.

                          2. At potlucks I've been to, we just try to divvy up the spoils according to who wants what.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Oh! That drives me crazy! I've had hostesses say to me"oh, take the rest of your dishome, we'll never get through all the leftovers" Yippee! I think and then some jerk comes over and says"Oh! I want to bring some of your dish home with me" and lops off a giant potion for herself when she neither brought it or hosted! Bloody nerve!

                              1. re: dianne0712

                                that calls for a cute white lie. "if you take some, i won't have enough for dinner. so either take all of it, or none."

                            2. jfood doesn't give a hoot who takes home leftovers from a progressive dinner. the last thing jfood wants is a fridge full of food that's been sitting on a table and was picked over by a bunch of guests. Please be my guest. take and enjoy.

                              but the bringer is entitled to a clean serving piece if they are not taking home what they brought

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jfood

                                Ah. interesting comments from jfood and boltnutt about the role of the serving piece and whether the food is sitting in your dish at the end of the dinner. What was strange to me about the baked beans episode was that I put the baked beans in a catering steam tray, to be served with the catered food, AND, (of course to be polite), washed the crock pot while my guest was at the luncheon. What I found strange was that she actually emptied the steam tray and put it back in her crock pot, so none of these clues were available to me to pick up on. I have enjoyed this thread and am learning a lot from it. As I said, I wasn't upset or offended, just mystified. Like jfood, I wouldn't want a fridge full of food that has been sitting out on a table and picked over by a bunch of guests either. Maybe it was just the nature of the contribution that made the behavior odd to me. After all, she said it was the undoctored, large warehouse-sized can of Bush's baked beans, not something she actually "cooked". Still, it was nice enough for her to bring it, and it was hers to take home, and I did serve it in a way that was appropriate for the luncheon. It just seemed a little strange to me at the time. I had never seen anyone do that before and didn't think to offer.

                                1. re: RGC1982

                                  I should have read your post a little slower. Yes, it is strange that she took it out of your container and put it back into her crock pot - even I, with all my faux pas, wouldn't have done that. The only thing I can think of is that she had another potluck to go to!

                                  1. re: RGC1982

                                    let's start with she brought a Costco sized can of beans in a crock pot. not exactly the normal run of the mill bring-dish. So the crock put the beans in her crock. sounds perfectly logical to jfood. but jfood REALLY likes the comment of her bringing this to another potluck dinner on the way home. As little jfood says, "NICE!!"

                                2. I often offer to take home other people's stuff that didn't sell or remains in too great quantities for any one person to deal with. Reduces waste. I've made next day vegetable curries and other rescue dishes. I don't take any of the "good" leftovers unless offered (three times).

                                  As to my dish--of course there aren't any leftovers (just having fun...)!

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    for those less used to customs of far off places, you might want to elaborate on the two refusals before you accept. as a haole, took me a while to catch on to that one.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      My goodness, your sensibilities always made me think you were one of us--or at least a hapa haole!

                                      More seriously, I think most Asian--even Central Asian and probably more--cultures have you strenuously refuse while the host strenuously insists. Japanese culture is particularly problematic and stressfull--guests try NOT to be okaksan, attempting to do all the clean-up and bringing much more than they consume; while hosts try their absolute best to make sure that guests have everything and don't lift a finger. Stress on both sides is enormous (Or at least it used to be. My Japanese friends in Japan say that times have changed. I don't believe them).

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Sam F;

                                        Have you found that there is a "best of both worlds" with what you describe? Those of us caught in the American pot-luck tangle might appreciate the insight.


                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          I am honored to have misled you... hahahah. I always ask 3 times, and expect a no at least once, I wouldn't return a plate empty, i never come back from a trip empty handed, and when I am talking with my local friends, I sure don't look them in the eye. Another 20 years or so here and I may qualify as kamaaina.
                                          (and my SIL-from Barranquia-says my spanish isnt too bad either)

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            Too funny -- my German-Jewish dad and his sister grew up in NYC with the "rule of three" too. There's a family legend from their childhood about them being at somebody's house at lunchtime. Hostess asks aunt if she'd like a hamburger. Aunt politely says, "no thank you," expecting to be asking two more times and accede on the third. Hostess says "okay" and asks my dad if he'd like a hamburger. He says "yes please." The debate still rages over who suffered more: my aunt because she went hungry or my dad for facing my grandparents' wrath.

                                          2. re: KaimukiMan

                                            I thought offering stuff three times was typical for Minnesota as well. Just ask Garrison Keillor. Of course, Minnesota might be far-off as well for our posters.

                                          3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            Sam! I'm so Americanized that if I ask once and you decline, then I'm assuming you're really not interested! :-) I'm cracking up imagining the scene. "Sam, wanna take my baked beans home? No? OK." To self: see, you can't cook... shoulda just taken it all home instead of asking!

                                            1. re: boltnut55

                                              b55, I volunteer to take home food that might be wasted because I always enjoy everything and anything that others have cooked. How could one not: potluck foods are expressions of community, friendship, and love (albeit I've never run across canned beans). The "best" stuff always has takers, so I generally refuse those unless someone insists.

                                              Cay, your practice of following or asking the host(ess) is perfect. Our potlucks are usually with people from different parts of Africa, Europe, Latin America: so we all try to figure out the host family's preference.

                                              The Japanese thing has no answer. One of my ex-PhD students from Nepal was able to stay with a family in Japan for a conference. He said something about the wall-to-wall carpet color in the room in which he was staying. By the time he got back the next day, the carpet had been replaced by the hosts.

                                          4. Where in the south are you?

                                            I know alot times around here if someone throws a potluck, it is rude NOT to bring something.. so especially those who dont cook will usually bring something like the canned beans.. or something prepared from the supermarket, just so they wont show up empty handed.

                                            I also agree she was probably trying to be polite by not leaving her mess for you to clean up.

                                            I'd just call it Southern courtesy. She was probably thinking more about you than herself... even though it might have not come across right. ;-)

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: littlelea

                                              Dallas, but the circumstances are not what you suggest. I sincerely appreciated that she brought a dish, simple as it was. I took it out of her crock pot and put it in a catering warming tray for all to eat, and washed her crock pot carefully myself. What was mystifying is that she emptied the foil steam tray, put the stuff back into her clean crock pot, and took it home without a word. Yes, it was hers to take, but I have never seen anyone do that before. That's why I asked what everyone else's experience was. I was as polite and appreciative as I could be, just surprised!

                                              1. re: littlelea

                                                OK this may seem unkind but it's rude to come empty-handed to a potluck because everyone is expected to contribute. But I think it's more rude to turn up with a pot full of canned beans than to show up with nothing. That seems to indicate some sort of disdain for your friends and a clear decision to spend only a few pennies on your contribution.

                                                If a person 'cannot cook' and wants to attend a potluck, she should go to a caterer or gourmet shop and buy something decent. Otherwise it is just as rude as turning up with nothing. Perhaps more so because there seems to be an element of 'getting over' on the rest of the guests. It's sad to say but some people love these sort of gatherings because for the cost of one giant can of Costco baked beans they can enjoy a wonderful feast provided by the remainder of the participants.

                                                1. re: Kater

                                                  I disagree. I have a group of friends that does not cook, and they wouldn't step foot in a gourmet shop. If I ask them to bring something, I can count on a block of cheddar cheese with Ritz crackers, prepared cole slaw and potato salad from the local cheapo grocery store, and vienna sausages in a crock pot with bottled BBQ sauce. To them this is good potluck food. They are bringing things that they like, and it would be rude of me to look down upon them for it.

                                                  1. re: mojoeater

                                                    Kater & mojo, maybe its about who we and our friends are. Like Kater, I would be surprised (but probably wouldn't think "rude") if a friend who really enjoys good food brought cheapo potato salad. On the other hand, I would very much enjoy any offering that non-cooking friends brought--especially if it is what they like. The sincerity of the gesture gives the food its taste.

                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                      I agree, Sam except that I do find that even my well loved friends who bear this fault have no problem enjoying the high quality food that others have provided! But you're right that even if they love the good food they are still bringing what they continue to buy and make for themselves.

                                                      (But one note, at very large potlucks where most people are not 'friends' I've heard people actually explain how great it is that they brought something super cheap and effortless and got to eat all the good things that people make - now THAT is just weird!)

                                                      1. re: Kater

                                                        Kater, gads! Now THAT is RUDE! And disgusting.

                                                        1. re: Kater

                                                          my supercheap and effortless comes WITH recipe, and is delish.

                                                        2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                          My potato salad rocks! No sneering! LOL !

                                                  2. I just had a potluck dilemma! My concern was getting my bowl back from a host that I had never met and would likely not see again anytime soon (we were celebrating a mutual friend). I didn't know if it was rude to ask for my bowl when there were still people at the party. Following someone's lead, I asked if she had a tupperware I could put the leftovers in She actually requested that we leave some (because she liked it) and take some (because there was far too much for she and her husband to eat). I was happy take leftovers. I didn't know how many people were attending so I made a huge portion for what turned out to be a small party. However, I acted on the assumption that the host was going to keep the food. I think that's polite and I would have happily scooped all of the food into a huge tupperware for her to keep had she asked.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: GAT

                                                      Asking for you container back is not rude. I think you handled it exactly right.

                                                    2. I just went thru this over the weekend. The event was our Co. picnic at a State Park where I'd had WAY too much bbq catered(with all the fixin's). We're in Georgia, mind you.Our office manager saw how much food was left & quickly went about gathering everything up, loading it in our lrg coolers and took the works back to our office. It was gobbled up the next day. I was able to persuade him not to keep the mayo-based potato salad.At our home get-togethers in these parts-(I sound like a hick, don't I?) no one blinks an eye if you grab your half-eaten casserole or basket of rolls and head home. Now, a good dessert like red velvet cake or peach cobbler-you may have to leave a good helping behind for the hostess:}

                                                      1. Growing up in a small country town in VA, I was taught that at potlucks the host/hostess should insist that everyone take home leftovers since the food belongs to everyone. If it is a catered event, you paid for the food, therefore the guests would be rude to ask for leftovers. That is the discretion of the host/hostess.

                                                        1. In my experience (some Chicago, mostly the Twin Cities), when it comes to a potluck, if your dish has leftovers, you take them home. Most of the time, people ask if the host or other guests want some to take home. In my circle, we are so comfortable with each other, we will ask if we can have some of your leftover dish because it was so good.
                                                          Parties that are not potluck but people bring dishes often happen the same way. I always ask the host if she wants me to leave the leftovers or take them off her hands. the offer has always been appreciated.

                                                          Also, when there is someone in the group underemployed or still in grad school or whatever, we are always happy to send as much home with that person as she/he wants to help supplement the food budget.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: NewSushiFiend

                                                            I made a 4 lay lemon cake w/scratch lemon curd filling and lemon butter cream frosting for a bridal show (i volunteered since they didnt have a cake) there were only 12 people at the shower so only about 1/3 of it was eaten, When the shower was over the 3 bridemaids had taken the remaining cake and split it between them. I thought it was rude and thought that they could of least asked if I minded if they took it all or at least asked to see weather I wanted to bring any of it home with me. I have asked a few friends and im getting a split vote on this...typically in my neck of the woods (wi) if you bring something to an event you take home the leftovers or you can offer it to others if you want ....can i get some feedback. its not a big deal but this has never happened to me so I am a little surprised.

                                                            1. re: cakecrazy

                                                              They were rude. It explains why they were bridesmaids and not brides.

                                                                1. re: cakecrazy

                                                                  it was fun re-visiting this old thread!

                                                                  In your case, I think the person with first dibs on the leftover cake is the hostess (the person in whose home the shower was held.) After that, maybe the bride to be. Otherwise, yeah...i think it was fairly rude. (but flattering!)

                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                    Well, the bridesmaids probably planned the shower and shared expenses, even if the shower was at someone else's home. This was typical in my circle as the bridesmaid generation didn't have homes big or nice enough to host, but we (the peers/friends/bridesmaids) still arranged everything, handled RsVPs, paid for supplies and handled set up and clean up. So they may have felt they were the hosts :)

                                                                  2. re: cakecrazy


                                                                    most of my potluck experience has been in Hawaii. Whatever you bring becomes community property, with the host having ultimate responsibility. In most cases a good host will have either clamshells or paper plates and foil so people can take home leftovers (and in Hawaii when you go to a potluck you plan for people to be able to take home lots). If there are any leftovers of your dish after the distribution of leftovers, it becomes your obligation to take it home so that it doesn't become a burden to the hosts to either dispose of it, clean it, eat it, whatever. Most people are disappointed that whatever they brought isn't all eaten or taken, even though most things arent because of the quantity of food available.

                                                                    I'm sure the understandings vary from place to place, but if you brought something to share, then I fail to see how it is rude for the end result to be that all your food was taken, it seems to be more of a compliment.

                                                                  3. re: NewSushiFiend

                                                                    About the last paragraph. It is understood at my boyfriends's family's dinners that his mom and stepdad get first dibs on leftovers because of economic need. While they are packing up everything in sight the host or other members of the party can chime in about wanting a particular item or a plate made for someone who wasn't there. Every family/gathering has different rules.

                                                                  4. I've lived in a few places in the south and the "rules" I follow are to offer what I bring to the hostess and then take the rest home, even if I just plan to trash it (like a big salad). If it's something in a disposable container, I leave it for the hostess to decide what to do with. Generally, that means a batch of brownies or a big cake, which no one has ever complained about being left with ;>

                                                                    1. Note: You have a lot of replies already, but since you asked about the South, I thought I'd chime in.

                                                                      First off, "potluck etiquette" may not be an oxymoron, but it's getting there. Seriously, I think the informal nature of any potluck dinner (I understand your's was accidental) means that etiquette is not particularly formalized. General rules of politeness should work pretty well.

                                                                      That said, I tend to consider my contribution to a potluck as being in lieu of a hostess gift. Therefore, I'm not going to take back the gift unless the hostess suggests it, or some other special circumstance applies (for instance, if the hostess is a close friend , I might say "is it OK if I take a few of these home to DH, he loves them so?"

                                                                      For instance, tomorrow night, I am taking 4 bottles of Champagne and a pitcher of belini mix to a party. If everyone drinks beer instead, a tiny cheap voice might whisper in my ear "take home the leftover Champagne". I will resist. I will transport the mix in a plastic jug, but bring my own crystal pitcher to serve from so I don't have to bother the hostess for a pitcher. At the end of the evening, I'll pour any leftovers back in the jug, stash jug in her fridge, wash my pitcher, and take it home. (unless I left early in which case the pitcher would just have to stay and take it's chances)

                                                                      Side note: my Mom has her name written in sharpie on the bottom of most of her tupperware so it makes it's way back after going to the homes of the bereaved. (another Southern tradition you may not be aware of) My husband thinks that's tacky, but as much food as my Mom takes to "deaths", she would go broke buying tupperware.

                                                                      The bean lady, IMHO, is cheap. Some people are just cheap, can't help it, you don't have to dislike her for it, but you can recognize it.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                        Bringing food to the homes of the bereaved has roots in New England culture as well. Now it's fairly common for the bereaved's family to cater the post-funeral spread instead of relying on neighborhood potluck generosity...but many people still arrive with a cake, tin of cookies or a covered dish anyway.

                                                                        (Side note....on Nantucket..the most common food item to bring to the bereaved was a Tar Roof Cake. When my uncle died, my aunt received no less that half a dozen Tar Roof Cakes among all the other cakes and cookies. Hardly anyone brought savory dishes, most brought desserts..there was enough cake to feed an army nothing but cake for a month!)

                                                                        In my family, the leftovers arrangements differ depending on which branch of the family is hosting the event. At my in-law's (I have 9 SILs!) everyone hurries to make up plates at the end of events...any close relatives that couldn't attend have plates made for them first, and then it's a anybody's fair game after.

                                                                        My sister and her family live in a more affluent neighborhood (not in New England) and NO ONE takes any leftovers home........they're always left for the hostess...though others help in the clean up process and leftovers are always offered to the guests.

                                                                        My own mother, when hosting, always did whatever she could to encourage the taking of leftovers. She also wrote her name on the bottom of serving dishes that went to potlucks and other events.

                                                                        1. re: vermontpoet

                                                                          That's interesting. Can you tell me what a Tar Roof Cake is?

                                                                          The cake-overload must be universal. When my grandmother died, we were pretty shamless about a little game we played. All cakes were triaged: 1. scratch cake 2. homemade from a mix 3. purchased. Then we ate them in that order.

                                                                      2. I live on the west coast ,(WA),and it is a given that you take home the leftovers you brought. It had never crossed my mind a hostess would expect to keep whatever I brought. The only exception being an illness or death being the reason for the potluck. So I find it interesting to hear how the rest of the country views the potluck meals. this lady probably never gave it a thought as she may have grown up like I have taking the leftovers home as a given.

                                                                        1. We do a lot of potlucks, it is the standard format when my friends get together for dinner at someone's home. We usually split the leftovers and everyone takes home a serving or two of each dish. The only exception to this would be if there was only a small amount left, in which case it usually goes home with the person who brought it.

                                                                          1. I always bring the potluck dish in one of those inexpensive aluminum containers and leave it with the host or hostess to keep or throw out as they choose. I would not bring food home from a potluck. I'm in the Northeast. There is the yuck factor too. Often the food just dries out by the end or is picked at and torn apart, no thanks. If I bring one of my own serving utensils with the food I do bring that home.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Kat

                                                                              I would not bring food home from a potluck... There is the yuck factor too.
                                                                              I'm not sure why. Most of the gatherings we attend are "bring something" affairs. (Some pot luck, others are, "Can you bring...") In either case, I have never seen food "get all dried out." Whether it was my contribution or someone else's, I am always glad to take some home. If it was good enough to enjoy at the event, then it is good enough to take home and relive the experience.

                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                I guess it s the same reason I don't like buffets. People cluster over the open food, cough over it, etc. The real yuck factor is because a couple times I have seen people use their own forks or spoons to serve themselves food rather than the serving utensil. I can deal with it during the dinner but I just can't bring it home and eat it afterward.

                                                                            2. We don't do much in the way of potluck gatherings.I let the host or hostess be my guide or the weather.Anything exposed to hot weather gets dumped.
                                                                              I am not a big fan of potlucks.A different logistic than I am used to so we don't lean on the format.
                                                                              If it's a wine tasting and or dinner for 12 - 20 here,on occasion someone else will bring an app,side or cheese.I don't think left overs are dealt with the same way twice.

                                                                              1. I had a close relative come for a grilling once, brought a pack of hot dogs and a 6 pack of beer. When she left, she took the 2 dogs and 2 beers with her--we're related so just rolled my eyes privately.