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Hostess tried to return my cake?

w
WickedWit May 7, 2008 02:56 PM

This is such a weird one.

My family was invited to a "party," really more of a dinner. I asked the hostess what I could bring, she said she didn't need anything. I'd normally bring a bottle of wine anyway, but since this was a "little kids included" party, I decided to make and bring a bundt cake.

The hostess seemed glad to get it and only had storebought cookies otherwise for dessert.

But then! She let me know about an hour after I got home that I "forgot my cake," and she would bring it to me the next morning. (Via email.) I didn't get the email until the following morning, was in and out, and didn't worry about it -- I don't *want* the cake back, it was supposed to be for them. But she called twice that morning and (I think) tried to stop by, too.

Am I crazy? Isn't it poor etiquette to try to return a dessert someone brought to you? I'm just baffled by this, and don't quite know how to take it.

  1. r
    Rick May 11, 2008 02:27 PM

    I could understand if you left behind a nice serving dish and she was trying to return that, but the cake itself!? She should have thrown it out if she didn't want it.

    I guess it all depends on the host, but in my family a "you don't need to bring anything" does not mean the host will get mad/upset/insulted when you actually do bring something. It's more of a way for the host to say don't worry about it, just come and enjoy yourself.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rick
      d
      dolores May 12, 2008 03:28 AM

      Good point, Rick. Same way with mine.

      If, at the end of the dinner, there were too many and mine wasn't cut into, the host might ask if I wanted to take mine back. If I say no, they've never chased after me.

    2. trolley May 10, 2008 03:50 PM

      very grey areas. when she said do not bring anything, you shouldn't have brought anything. perhaps as other suggested something non-food related such as flowers would have been more appropriate.

      HOWEVER, for her to try to return the cake the next day seems pretty passive-aggressive and totally crazy. i mean c'mon! if you have a party and someone insist on bringing something even though you asked for them to not you just accept it. if you don't want it, you dump it or give it away and write the person off as someone who doesn't listen. what if it was a casserole? would you return half eaten casserole the next day? wine? "hey, you forgot your chardonnay you left at my house..." i mean it's not like you left your purse or shoes there.

      i think it's just this person's passive aggressive way of saying "screw you for not listening". it's not poor etiquette. it's just crazy.

      1. o
        Orchid64 May 9, 2008 06:58 PM

        Perhaps she forgot to serve the cake and felt bad about it. Rather than "selfishly" keep your cake all to herself, she feels it's appropriate to offer to return it to you.

        That being said, I can't understand why people insist on bringing things when told not to. It's as if you're substituting your values for the host's. If they don't want or need anything and they tell you that, then respect what they said. People keep talking about not wasting food on these boards then they do things out of a forced sense of propriety that ends up wasting things (be it food, flowers, or wine).

        8 Replies
        1. re: Orchid64
          HillJ May 9, 2008 07:43 PM

          Orchid, do you think people bring food to a party when told not to because they don't believe the host really means no?

          If I had a dollar for every time I heard double talk I'd be rich. It's a pretty common practice that people send one message, but often mean another...for all sorts of reasons. Leaving many of us unclear...did the host REALLY mean no....who knows :)

          1. re: HillJ
            d
            dolores May 10, 2008 02:54 AM

            HillJ, I think this was discussed elsewhere. If a host doesn't indicate bringing any particular item -- side dish, dessert -- a guest who feels the 'need' to NOT come empty handed (me) can bring something like wine. Not flowers. Candy. Or something clever.

            Wicked Wit, how did the cake exchange turn out?

            1. re: dolores
              HillJ May 10, 2008 05:04 AM

              d, it's always a judgement call...i'm clear,...just curious like you. WWit already answered that the gal served the cake upthread.

            2. re: HillJ
              The Dairy Queen May 10, 2008 03:33 AM

              I live in a region of the country where people simply will not accept "no" when told they don't need to bring anything to a party. I don't need 20 variations of plates of "bars" to find room for on the dessert table. And, if I'm hosting a party, as lovely as receiving a hostess gift is, I don't need 20 bottles of wine/bouquets of flowers/boxes of chocolates either.

              Something that has worked for me lately is this: when I ask people over (borrowing an idea from a friend), I invent something easy for them to bring in order to channel their good intentions. Mittens or socks to donate to the homeless shelter. Cans of food to donate to the food shelf. That sort of thing. They're happy because their intense need to contribute something useful is met. I'm happy because I don't have extra food disrupting my menu plan or 20 boxes of chocolate sitting around my house. The charity of the moment gets a small boost.

              There is usually a small number of people who will bring the requested donation to charity PLUS a hostess gift, but that's such a small number of people that it works out fine. 3 boxes of chocolate I can deal with.

              Also, when inviting people, I make a point of asking if they have any special dietary needs so that I can accommodate them (and sometimes I sketch out my menu for them so people know in advance whether or not they might need an accommodation) . I was taken aback at a gathering I hosted recently where a person showed up to a party with his own food--turns out, he's a vegetarian. I would have been happy to accommodate him if he'd mentioned he was a vegetarian. And I had asked about special dietary needs. My feelings were a little hurt when he brought his own food and shunned nearly my entire meal. I noticed he did something similar at a gathering hosted by someone else about a week later, so, I've decided not to take it personally.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                nofunlatte May 10, 2008 03:42 AM

                TDQ, your suggestions of contributions (mittens, etc.) is brilliant! I might use this idea the next time I host a bigger event (though I usually host smallish dinner parties, on the order of 6-8 peo0ple). But your idea makes dinner contributions a win-win situation for all!

                1. re: nofunlatte
                  The Dairy Queen May 10, 2008 03:44 AM

                  Thank you! I stole the idea from a friend and it works very well for bigger gatherings. Small gatherings, as you say, are less problematic!

                  ~TDQ

                2. re: The Dairy Queen
                  HillJ May 10, 2008 05:03 AM

                  DQ, wonderful suggestion as always! Thank you.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    ArikaDawn May 10, 2008 08:49 PM

                    Great suggestion about bringing a charitable contribution, but I cannot relate at all to the notion that any gifted amount of chocolate, wine, or flowers would ever be too much =) Sign me up for the excess bliss.

              2. d
                dwilde May 8, 2008 10:54 PM

                In your posting, it doesn't sound like you really know this person that well so asking her is probably not an option. If I were in your shoes I think I'd be hurt just not knowing why she is returning it. But really - who knows what her intentions were so don't over think it. If you like this person, let it go. I think a standard of etiquette is something you're better off holding yourself to, not necessarily others. Otherwise you'll just wind up chronically offended.

                2 Replies
                1. re: dwilde
                  cheeseguysgirl May 9, 2008 05:55 AM

                  I don't think the OP is offended, as she stated up somewhere in the middle of this thread. I think she was mystified as to why such effort went into attempting to return a simple cake, an djust wanted some of the hounds' opinions. I think all the posters here have given some illuminating reasons, and I bet WWit has already "let it go."

                  1. re: cheeseguysgirl
                    HillJ May 9, 2008 10:22 AM

                    ..and w/a fabulous screen name like Wicked Wit...I bet she's smiling.

                2. HillJ May 8, 2008 08:11 PM

                  WWit, life's too short to judge intentions over cake.
                  Try to find the humor in a small slice of life!

                  1. r
                    ricepad May 8, 2008 01:16 PM

                    Are you crazy? Is it poor etiquette to try to return a dessert someone brought? Well, no, I don't think you're crazy. OTOH, as many have already pointed out, the cake as DESSERT was out of line. The hostess said to bring nothing, and you brought something anyway. So yes, it was poor etiquette to return the dessert, but also poor etiquette to have brought it in the first place. While two wrongs do not make a right, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle 'black'. When you cross the bounds of appropriate behavior, don't be insulted when others cross, as well.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: ricepad
                      a
                      anzu May 8, 2008 09:59 PM

                      Wow. Either this is a regional thing or a generational thing, but whenever I have friends over or friends invite me over, we do any number of things. Maybe b/c some of them are living in post-grad-school mode-- I dunno. We usually ask each other if we can bring anything, though if it is a weeknight impromptu dinner, I might just show up. Sometimes the answer is yes, but most times it is no.

                      -Sometimes, I don't bring anything, and ditto with my friends.
                      -Sometimes, I've made something, and I'll ask, oh, I made x. Can I bring? The answer again might be yes or no, but if I bring it in spite of my friends saying no, my friends never seem to mind.
                      -The reverse has happened too. I make a dinner, invite people over. My friend says, "Oh, I made this thing, x. I'll bring it over." I always tell them they don't need to (and they don't!), but if they do, I never mind. Sometimes, it might not fit with the stuff I'm making, but this doesn't really bother me. (Nor does it bother them when I offer to bring a Japanese dessert to an Italian meal) If we run out of room before we get to try x that my friend made, I might keep some to try later if offered, or offer it back to them (especially if they have little mouths to feed.)

                      -As for returning things that people made for me-- I guess I'm lucky that with most of my friends, I can say, "Thanks, but acutally, I won't be home much this week, so I don't think I'll get a chance to eat it much. Why don't you take it with you." and it's fine.

                      Wow. I am surprised to hear that bringing things when the hostess says no is considered out of line and/or bad ettiquette.

                      I know things are a bit more formal in the east coast, though.

                      In Japan, people always say "don't bring anything", but it's ingrained in people's culture to bring something when you're invited over. Even among family members-- my mom invites her sister over and always says "just bring yourself" (and knowing my mom, she's not being insincere when she says this), but her sister always brings something over when she visits. Usually, it's something yummy, so we never mind.

                      1. re: anzu
                        r
                        ricepad May 8, 2008 11:10 PM

                        You're missing the distinction between a hostess gift and a food course. In Japan, you're *supposed* to bring a hostess gift...that's being polite. And if you were raised right, it'd be wrapped in a colorful furoshiki, too.

                        1. re: ricepad
                          a
                          anzu May 9, 2008 09:47 AM

                          Well, the stuff my friends and I bring to each other is definitely more like a food course than a hostess gift. And actually, with my mother and her sister, it's a grey line, though granted this is family. It's more of a food course, I think. If this were friends or strangers, then yes, definitely a hostess gift. Though I was raised in that generation that doesn't do furoshiki. . ..

                        2. re: anzu
                          d
                          dolores May 9, 2008 02:54 AM

                          >>In Japan, people always say "don't bring anything", but it's ingrained in people's culture to bring something when you're invited over.

                          It is here in Westchester too, with my family and friends.

                          I think the new word for all of this is a 'snivet'. I.E., much ado about nothing.

                          1. re: dolores
                            r
                            RGC1982 May 12, 2008 09:44 AM

                            In the US South, bringing food is a big part of the culture. So is taking it home again, and if fact, I often have to insist to my hostess that I really can't take it back because I will be out of town, etc. No one gets upset about however it is resolved and most people are fairly flexible.

                            In my Italian family, everyone can and will be flexible PROVIDED that it does not involved home made baking. If Grandma slaved over a Ricotta pie, you can't say no. She will be greatly offended, having considered that you will be taking this home to your family when she decided to bake six of them instead of the one required for the meal. So, these rules seem to be a little different when the giver has invested the time to prepare something rather than just stop and the store and pick something up. It seems to be more of gift in this instance. Why? I have no idea, but this is the way it works.

                            I guess my advice is to not take it personally and to consider a different kind of gift next time if that is your intention. As others have suggested, perhaps wine or something else that can be enjoyed later. If the intention was a meal contribution, such as "I'll bring dessert" , whether or not the hostess agreed, sending back leftovers is okay, at least in this region.

                            What's funny is when you don't expect the giver to take something back and they do. This happened once when one of my guests actually packed up their baked beans (Bush's, to be exact, and I had not asked her to bring anything). They had been out on the buffet for hours, and really were going to the trash at the end of the night because they had dried out in the warming trays. We found that a little surprising.

                      2. d
                        dty May 8, 2008 10:54 AM

                        You are being gracious for bringing a gift to a hostess; she's being rude for returning it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dty
                          j
                          Janet from Richmond May 8, 2008 12:29 PM

                          I don't see the cake as a hostess gift. The OP brought the cake basically to ensure her kids had dessert.

                        2. MMRuth May 8, 2008 06:08 AM

                          My guess is that she just thought that since you went to the time and effort of making the cake, and there was some (all?) leftover, that you might like it back. I'd take it in that spirit, and not think that she was being rude. If someone brought a cake to my house (regardless of whether I asked her to bring it or not) and there were leftovers, I'd ask, as she was leaving, if she'd like to take some pieces home with her. I do that with my own cakes too, for that matter, since the last thing I need is extra cake lingering in the kitchen. Maybe she meant to do that and forgot .....

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MMRuth
                            j
                            Janet from Richmond May 8, 2008 06:11 AM

                            One source of stress for me with hosting functions is the leftover food. I hate having it around for a variety of reasons and often will pitch out food that isn't sent home with someone just to keep it out of the house. In this instance, I would have thrown the cake out (unless Dh wanted it) and would not have called but this host may have problems throwing out food (something I have struggled with myself but am getting better about letting go of that type of guilt).

                          2. w
                            WickedWit May 8, 2008 06:02 AM

                            Okay, I feel compelled to mention that I also brought it as a "safe" dessert item to eat, for my kids, because although she knows they have food allergies, she has never accomodated them in the past. Although it was allergy-friendly, however, it wasn't a weird or funky or health-food gross dessert.

                            Point taken on the bringing something that wasn't requested. However, I still think it's over the top to try to give it back.

                            Edited to add: she did serve the cake.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: WickedWit
                              cheeseguysgirl May 8, 2008 06:27 AM

                              Maybe since she knew they had the food allergies, you would want it as a dessert for them? Sounds to me like a lot of effort put in on her part, but as so many people have said, it takes all kinds.

                              1. re: WickedWit
                                vvvindaloo May 8, 2008 06:30 AM

                                Aha- so there is another possible reason why she might want to give it back: she knows that you made it with your children in mind. She most likely had intended to send you home with the remainder, but forgot. I do think it is strange to insist on bringing a person's cake to their home, and I can understand that it might feel insulting, but she probably doesn't intend to offend.

                                1. re: vvvindaloo
                                  jfood May 8, 2008 01:39 PM

                                  Jfood is with VVV and CC on this. She served it and knowing your children's allergies and was trying to be helpful by offering to return so they could enjoy something that they could enjoy.

                                2. re: WickedWit
                                  ccbweb May 8, 2008 01:23 PM

                                  Oh yeah, that seems to me to add an extra dimension to the whole thing. 1) makes a lot more sense for you to bring something along you knew your kids could eat and 2) makes a lot more sense for her to think you'd want it back if she felt like that was a lot of effort for you to make. As many others have noted in different ways, it sounds like two people with good intentions just not quite ending up on the same page. I hope its sorting out ok!

                                  1. re: ccbweb
                                    chocchipcookie May 8, 2008 02:46 PM

                                    Yes, I agree, she probably thought you wanted it back since you made it in case your kids could not eat the desserts she had. I can see her point, But, she still should have offered it back THAT NIGHT, not the next day and especially not anytime after that.

                                    1. re: chocchipcookie
                                      Kajikit May 12, 2008 08:40 PM

                                      The allergy thing puts a different light on it... she probably thought you brought a 'special' dessert just for your kids because they couldn't eat hers, so you'd want the rest of it back for them... if you want her to keep it just tell her! It's not the same thing bringing something special for food restrictions as bringing a hostess gift or 'bring a plate'... (if you made special gluten-free vegan cupcakes with carob icing so that your kids could eat them while everyone else was having their egg-and-dairy-filled chocolate cupcakes, it would be downright rude of the hostess to hand the 'special needs' food out to everyone else at the party unless you specifically told her to.)

                                3. b
                                  Bite Me May 8, 2008 01:04 AM

                                  I have never heard of such a thing! I wish you had told us if she served it and is trying to return the remainder of the cake, or if she did not serve it and is trying to return the entire cake. It would have been interesting to know, though knowing may not make this any easier to figure out. Why not just ask her why she's returning the cake and see what she says. Then, you can tell her that you made and brought it as a gift for her family and that you do not expect it back (or the dish, if that is true too). I am very eager to hear what you learn about this, so please report back. I am not inclined to say that anyone in this situation was rude.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Bite Me
                                    d
                                    dolores May 8, 2008 01:53 AM

                                    >>You brought something when she asked you not to, and she obviously does not want the cake.

                                    So? Deal. Give it to a homeless shelter.

                                    >>Isn't it poor etiquette to try to return a dessert someone brought to you?

                                    It's just plain weird, yes. It takes all kinds. How is she otherwise?

                                    1. re: dolores
                                      l
                                      Linda VH May 8, 2008 05:59 AM

                                      I'm with Torty on this!!! I'm lucky enough to know a single Dad with 2 young boys who would devour the cake, otherwise it would go to waist! And I mean WAIST and I don't want it in my house. I don't think I'd bring it back to you but my trashcan would see it quickly if I didn't have the kids to eat it! I don't particularly like cookies (unless they were my late Mother's lol) so that is probably what I would have served as well.

                                  2. ipsedixit May 7, 2008 09:41 PM

                                    Faux pas on you.

                                    Graciously accept the cake and pretend like nothing "weird" happened.

                                    1. m
                                      miss_bennet May 7, 2008 09:24 PM

                                      There are many threads on this basic topic. Here is a recent one, as well as a story.
                                      http://www.chow.com/stories/10904
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/503879

                                      My take is that, yes, it is very weird that she seems to be persisting to return the cake to you.

                                      However, you asked if you should bring anything, she said no, and you brought something anyway. I find that to be rude, and the majority of the posts on the subject, as well as the story, agree that it is unacceptable. If I, as a guest, wanted to bring a dish and would not accept "no" for an answer, I would not allow that answer to be given by simply not asking in the first place. (Of course, that would never happen as it is deceptive, which I am not. Really, the only "dish" to bring is a nice serving platter as a hostess gift.)

                                      1. jfood May 7, 2008 06:40 PM

                                        Very gray area:

                                        - As others have said, she asked that you bring nothing and if you felt inclined to bring something. it should have been either a hostess gift or something that was not part of the dinner, i.e. maybe a bottle of wine. The cake could have been viewed as an intrusion by the hostess.
                                        - It is always the host(ess) choice whether to serve any item that is brought but not requested. In this case the cake. A bottle of wine or a hostess gift could have been kept for another time.
                                        - At the end of the evening, this was the appropriate time to offer the cake back, although it might have been viewed as a slap in the face. a good phraseology might have been, "WickedWit, we really do not eat cake and it would be a waste for us to keep it, so why don't you take it home and enjoy it. And thank you so much for your kindness in bringing it." But the appropriate time passed without.
                                        - Next day - Host(ess) should not have called/e-mailed. She should have just thrown it out or send it to jfood. She may have felt she was being nice in sending the email and offering to bring it over since she forgot to offer the night before; or, this could have been an "in your face." The last answer needs a lot more information on personality and friend dynamics.

                                        If jfood received the email he would call and tell her it was a present for her so enjoy, but thank you for the offer.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: jfood
                                          o
                                          onthelam May 7, 2008 07:36 PM

                                          WickedWit, I know how you feel. I once brought a - requested - sour cherry pie to a July Fourth diner party, the hostess served it after dinner, everyone raved, and the next day she drove over and brought me the remainder of the pie! I didn't know what to think, but frankly, the minute she pulled out of the driveway, we ate the rest of it!
                                          Bottom line - everybody has their wierd-ness. Who can know what or how she felt about it, but you just have to smile and figure you're off the hook for desserts at her house from now on!

                                          1. re: onthelam
                                            l
                                            Le Den May 7, 2008 08:19 PM

                                            Very well said onthelam. Answer here is: If the host says, "Bring nothing." Then bring nothing.

                                            Sometimes being a good friend, is letting someone else be generous.

                                            1. re: onthelam
                                              lisavf May 8, 2008 11:19 AM

                                              "everybody has their wierd-ness."

                                              Or maybe their own rules of etiquette hammered into their brains by their mother or heaven knows who. We all have our own quirks!

                                          2. babette feasts May 7, 2008 06:35 PM

                                            Was some of the cake eaten at the party? You said the hostess 'seemed glad to get it, as otherwise only purchased cookies for dessert'.

                                            Is she trying to let you have the leftovers, or did she never serve it and is trying to give the whole thing back?

                                            1. p
                                              piccola May 7, 2008 05:46 PM

                                              I'm taking the middle road. Yes, she said not to bring anything and the OP did anyway. But the gracious thing to do in that situation is to not let the guest know that they've messed up - so, the host shouldn't have tried to return the cake.

                                              If you really don't want it, bring it to the office.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: piccola
                                                Sarah May 7, 2008 06:37 PM

                                                Sad to say, "the office" is no longer a natural repository for all such items. Seems most people are more discriminatory these days. My "door stop" coconut bread lingered on the conference table until the cleanup crew mercifully shredded or otherwise disposed of the offensive item.

                                                1. re: Sarah
                                                  p
                                                  piccola May 8, 2008 07:05 PM

                                                  I dunno, my office will polish off anything - once, three people each brought in loads of cookies, and they were still all gone by the first break.

                                                  But my point was, you can always dispose of the offending gift without returning it.

                                                2. re: piccola
                                                  Miss Needle May 8, 2008 04:33 AM

                                                  I also saw the situation you did. It is kind of rude to bring something food-related when the hostess said not to bring anything (flowers, etc. not included). But it's also rude to return the cake to the host as well. If she didn't want to waste the cake, there are ways not waste it other than making the OP feel awkward.

                                                3. m
                                                  Muskrat May 7, 2008 05:03 PM

                                                  Anybody remember that thread a few months ago where someone brought his own entree (ribs?) to a party, despite being specifically asked not to?

                                                  Don't know why that suddenly came to mind.

                                                  As my date said the other night: "'No' means 'no',"

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Muskrat
                                                    l
                                                    Leonardo May 7, 2008 05:33 PM

                                                    Agree with ccweb.
                                                    You asked, she said no, you ignored her answer and burdened her with an unwanted item that you expected her to serve, thus circumventing her wishes and plans.
                                                    She was not obligated to serve an unsolicited item. Her reasons. Her right.
                                                    And it being perishable and she didn't want it in the house for whatever reason, she didn't want it to go to waste, and tried (somewhat awkwardly I admit) to get it back to you.
                                                    So no, I don't see the hostess as rude at all. If anyone is rude it is you.

                                                  2. s
                                                    smartie May 7, 2008 04:54 PM

                                                    I am also with ccweb on this. Had you brought some chocolates or something that would not have gone bad or stale within a day or 3 then it would have been rude of her but it was a homemade cake and maybe they just don't eat cakes or someone has a gluten allergy in the family and it would be a temptation. It's kinda odd but I guess she felt your family could use it more than hers.

                                                    1. livetocook May 7, 2008 04:42 PM

                                                      Yeah, I'm with ccbweb on this too. You asked, she said nothing, then I'd bring nothing. I may on the phone say, "oh are you sure." I could bring this ?? If she says, "no worries. I've got everything covered" then I'd bring nothing.

                                                      I do find it strange how insistent she is about trying to get it back to you. Emailed, called twice, may have stop by. Crazy. If I were in her situation, it be going straight to work. Food disappears in an instant when you take it to work and feed the masses. A cake would be like gold to my co-workers

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: livetocook
                                                        lisavf May 8, 2008 11:15 AM

                                                        "If I were in her situation, it be going straight to work."

                                                        That's what I was thinking, too, but perhaps she doesn't work, or perhaps, like me, she works in an office where there's only two other people, and it still won't get eaten.

                                                        I'm in agreement with ccbweb on this, too.

                                                      2. t
                                                        torty May 7, 2008 04:13 PM

                                                        Some people can not have cake in their house or they will hear it calling all day, yet they have been taught not to throw things away. She probably means well. Maybe just a lesson not to repeat the experience with this particular person. Personally I would have thrown it away if I could not have it around, but we all come with baggage.

                                                        1. ccbweb May 7, 2008 03:22 PM

                                                          You asked what to bring, she said nothing, you decided to bring something anyway. She didn't want it and wants to bring it back to you (ie, she's not asking you to make another trip or do anything additional). I don't see anything to get upset about. She clearly didn't understand that you intended the cake as a gift. I'm not sure that I would either given the situation you describe.

                                                          I'd take it as she was being honest and sincere when she said she didn't need anything. I'd get back in touch with her and explain your intent.

                                                          edited to add: as I've thought about this, it seems pretty clear to me that she's not intending to be rude. She doesn't want the cake but doesn't want to waste it. For whatever reason, she thinks its better to try to bring it back to you. Ends up in the same place for me: no reason to be upset, either let her know you don't want it, or accept it back and do what you like with it.

                                                          12 Replies
                                                          1. re: ccbweb
                                                            scubadoo97 May 7, 2008 03:34 PM

                                                            I'm kind of siding with ccbweb on this. It's strange that she offered to bring it back to you. Maybe she doesn't feel right wasting food and really has no need for the cake. If I was the host I guess I would have dumped it if I didn't want it to avoid the awkward situation that you feel you are now in. I would not over think this and get upset. People are weird and social graces have gone by the wayside. If you like this person, don't let this get in the way. Brush it off as it is really an insignificant incident. Too many real problem in life to deal with. Don't sweat the little things.

                                                            1. re: ccbweb
                                                              m
                                                              mojoeater May 7, 2008 04:01 PM

                                                              I'm with ccb on this. You brought something when she asked you not to, and she obviously does not want the cake. A lot of people see tossing food as a huge waste, so maybe she figures you can enjoy it.

                                                              1. re: ccbweb
                                                                w
                                                                WickedWit May 7, 2008 04:07 PM

                                                                I don't know; I thought it was standard etiquette to bring something, either flowers, wine or an edible, to a dinner/party. I've never encountered anyone either taking something back afterward or trying to give a person back their contribution.

                                                                I'm not upset, I'm trying to understand what the proper etiquette is.

                                                                1. re: WickedWit
                                                                  ccbweb May 7, 2008 04:13 PM

                                                                  I think its the distinction between a host/hostess gift and something that can be interpreted as being for the meal itself. Wine or flowers or what have you would almost always (or should be) interpreted as a hostess gift. Attempting to return something like that (barring one of those uncomfortable "I'm a recovering alcoholic" moments) would certainly be something I'd qualify as "rude."

                                                                  If you ask what you can bring, that implies "for the dinner" and the host declines anything, I think it safest to avoid bringing anything that would be interpreted as being for the dinner or taking a moment to explain that you don't intend her to serve it, its just a thank you and for her and her family later on.

                                                                  I do agree, I'd bring _something_ as a hostess gift but if I've asked what they need for the meal and they tell me "oh, don't bring anything," I avoid food and only bring wine if I know they drink.

                                                                  1. re: ccbweb
                                                                    Will Owen May 7, 2008 06:41 PM

                                                                    Yes, bringing something that by implication would or could be part of the meal is out of line. I'll offer to bring a maybe a salad or dessert, but if I'm asked not to do that then I'll bring flowers or wine. Choosing one appropriate to the menu (if you know its main constituents) is acceptable, but if they're serving a fish mousse and you've shown up with a big Bordeaux, assure your host or hostess that it's for the cellar.

                                                                    1. re: Will Owen
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                                                                      Lizard May 8, 2008 12:21 AM

                                                                      May I also point out, as has been pointed out in the boards many times: Bringing food as a hostess gift to someone who has held a party is not always a help: It requires space that is not always available.

                                                                      We've also had significant and lengthy discussions on this board about guests who insist on bringing food after being told 'no'. Given the way the OP referred to the hostess dessert (without the cake) as insufficient ('only store bought cookies, otherwise'), I wonder about the mood of the entire encounter.

                                                                      Also, if she offered the cake at dessert, perhaps she thought you might want it back. And yes, perhaps she didn't want it for any number of reasons but why stress? Why not think the best of someone who is ostensibly your friend (she invited you into her home for meal)?

                                                                      There is a lot of talk of etiquette on the boards as well-- the word comes up again and again. Sometimes it's there as a guideline for behaviour (why we like it, so we know how to act in a number of circumstances) but all too often it is raised as some kind of bludgeon of excoriation. As Miss Manners has pointed out on a number of occasions: pointing out someone broke social rules is possibly the greatest breach of etiquette, whose purpose is to facilitate encounters and interactions-- not make them even more fraught with potential for offense and unhappiness.

                                                                      Do not listen to those who advocate icy, stern, or hostile responses couched in the pretence of politeness. It is not polite to make someone feel bad about how they are behaving. Do you not want the cake? Simply tell the person not to worry, that you hope she might enjoy the leftovers, but if not, accept the cake back if it makes her feel better.

                                                                      Goodness, the way I've written here, you'd hardly know that I am one of the grouchiest misanthropes around!

                                                                  2. re: WickedWit
                                                                    d
                                                                    dolores May 8, 2008 12:17 PM

                                                                    WickedWit, did you end up getting the cake back?

                                                                    Did you try a 'no that's okay I don't want it back' response?

                                                                  3. re: ccbweb
                                                                    ChefJune May 7, 2008 06:53 PM

                                                                    < I'm not sure that I would either given the situation you describe.> what is it you don't understand about the civility of bringing a hostess gift when you go to someone's home?

                                                                    In fact, the gift would still be appropriate if the hostess HAD requested the OP to bring something specific. It's just the nice thing to do!

                                                                    imho trying to return a cake like that is the height of gauche. not to mention hurtful.

                                                                    1. re: ChefJune
                                                                      ccbweb May 7, 2008 09:41 PM

                                                                      Point being that given the exchange and the way the OP described the event/situation, I don't think it was clear that the cake was intended as a gift. If that were made clear, I agree that it would be impolite to try to return it after the fact. If it seemed to the hostess that the cake had been brought as an unnecessary addition to the dinner, then perhaps she was trying to keep the cake from going to waste.

                                                                      If you read my other post above, you'll find that I agree wholeheartedly with bringing a nice gift when going to someone's house for dinner.

                                                                      1. re: ccbweb
                                                                        k
                                                                        Kagey May 8, 2008 04:22 AM

                                                                        Based on the OP's statement that because it was a "little kids included" party, she decided to bring a cake, it seems clear to me that the cake was intended to be eaten at the party. I agree with those who say it's bad form to bring a food item to a party that you intend for people to eat at the party, especially after being asked not to. A host/ess gift should be given with the intent (explicit, if necessary) that the host enjoy it at his/her leisure.

                                                                        Still, I think it's a bit off for the hostess to make such a big deal of trying to return it. I can't even speculate about her motives. Weird.

                                                                    2. re: ccbweb
                                                                      r
                                                                      RGC1982 May 8, 2008 12:39 PM

                                                                      I think ccweb is right -- she didn't think it was a gift, but rather a meal contribution. Very often, I am invited to things that require me to bring a dish, and the etiquette seems to be "take it back home with you if it isn't eaten." I don't usually want any of the food back, and sometimes I can get someone else to take it if the hostess doesn't want it, but I would guess that she really does think you might expect it to take it back.

                                                                      BTW, at the last big bash at our place before the holidays, we provided everything -- buffet entrees and appetizers, booze, fruit, salad, etc., and decided to allow guests to bring dessert if they offered. At least six people showed up with cakes and cookies, and there was just so much left over that we insisted on sending it back home with them. It would have gone to waste because we couldn't possibly eat it and most would have been thrown out. I don't think anyone was offended, but it did occur to me that perhaps I should have been a little more specific with my generous guest/dessert contributors rather than allow a situation in which some of them decided to bring two cheesecakes. The problem here was that I did not try to coordinate it, and didn't even know that some people were bringing food.

                                                                      I would call her and explain that it was meant to be a gift, and if it was not eaten at the party, you would love for them to enjoy the cake themselves. I wouldn't take offense.

                                                                      1. re: ccbweb
                                                                        p
                                                                        Panini Guy May 8, 2008 06:34 PM

                                                                        If I've got a cake I don't want, I'll bring it to work. Nobody at work ever says no to cake. If she doesn't have a group at work or church or a club that would enjoy it, yes, I'd toss it and simply say, "It was delicious," if asked.

                                                                        Everyone seems concerned about the receiver's feelings, nobody seems concerned about the giver's feelings. Even if bringing the cake is construed as a breach of ettiquette, returning it simply compounds things, waste or no waste. It's a gift.

                                                                      2. danhole May 7, 2008 03:09 PM

                                                                        IMO that is incredibly rude. I would respond with "I made it for you, but if you don't want it just throw it away." Said in a very sharp way, showing your displeasure. So sorry. Been there myself and it burns.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: danhole
                                                                          chocchipcookie May 7, 2008 03:31 PM

                                                                          I agree, that is just weird. What is up with people these days? Just eat it or throw it away for goodness sake. Returning it is like a slap in the face. "Here's your cake, we didn't think it worthy of our paletes!" If you are on a diet then toss it-trying to return a couple day old cake is just plain weird and rude.

                                                                          1. re: danhole
                                                                            d
                                                                            dtud May 10, 2008 04:31 PM

                                                                            I agree 100%. This happened to me as well. I brought an apple pie to a rather informal dinner and (1) the hostess didn't put it out on the table when dessert time arrived (she favored someone else's dessert) and (2) "remembered" the dessert 3/4ths through dessert that people were eating and then suggested it to folks who were done eating (as if anyone would want a second dessert) and then (3) tried to get me to "take it back" when we were leaving. i was rather curt and said exactly what danhole suggested - "i don't want it, it was for you, throw it away if you don't want it." i was beyond mortified and have crossed her off my future guest lists (other than holidays - where everyone has to be included). it was just so rude and so unnecessarily so. i'm sorry this happened to you - but it sounds (from the repetitive attempts to give the dessert back that this person is just clueless.)

                                                                            1. re: dtud
                                                                              LindaWhit May 11, 2008 06:37 AM

                                                                              From an etiquette standpoint, the hostess didn't *have* to put your dessert out; it's to be considered a gift from you to her...unless she asked you to bring dessert. However, when I read that she put out another dessert brought by someone else - yes, completely rude. And then asked you to take it back? Yikes.

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