HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Thanksgiving relish tray?

I was just curious...

How many of you have a relish tray at Thanksgiving dinner? This is my husband's first Thanksgiving experiencing my family's traditions, and he thought the relish tray idea was bizarre. Olives and pimento cheese-stuffed celery have always been included on our Thanksgiving buffet! What about you?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We do that- olives, celery with cheese and with Peanut butter, and the sweet pickle/relish mix. Also, have a fruit bowl as a centerpiece and bowls with assorted nuts ( in their shells)

    1. must. have. relish. tray.

      pickles, (cornichon, dill, bread 'n butter), olives, celery with peanut butter, celery sticks with pimento cheese. little tomatoes. carrot sticks. new addition, hot pickled okra.

      i grew up in the south, and mom always insisted we have a relish tray. is it an american thing? southern thing?

      3 Replies
      1. re: alkapal

        My Southern Virginia mom always has a relish tray. One for the adults and one that is kid friendly. Adults get the same as yours with the addition of homemade watermelon rind pickles & pimento cheese is served separately with a variety of crackers. Kids get the celery with PB or cream cheese, carrot sticks, raisins, dried fruits and pickles. She breaks out special trays for any relish worthy occassion!

        1. re: oldbaycupcake

          Oh yes! The special relish tray dishes! I have inherited many over the years, so I have quite a collection. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only times they get washed and used, unless there is a bridal or baby shower in between.

        2. re: alkapal

          Purely American. We had them in the northwest.

        3. Always had a relish tray. My grandmother has special dishes that she gets out every year. Ours has been pretty basic: dill pickle spears, homeade bread and butter pickles, black olives from the can (best eaten off of fingertips :), pimento stuffed green olives, and sweet gerkins.

          1. Wow, lots of people really do have a relish tray! As for me, never heard of it. Seriously, I've never seen one. Is this a Jewish tradition? With all the pickles and such, it would make sense... ?

            12 Replies
            1. re: HaagenDazs

              Well, my family's Catholic in Cleveland. No Jewish or Southern influence there.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                May be a Jewish tradition- but we are Irish Catholic from Boston!

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  Methodist, SW PA background (neither apply any more!) - always have one - celery hearts, black and green olives, pitted, if doing a traditional Thanksgiving.

                  1. re: HaagenDazs

                    Polish Catholic in Detroit- always part of a wedding as well as 'fancy' meals.

                    1. re: Cathy

                      Catholic, Northern MA, Mom always had one for any fancy meal, especially Holidays.
                      We also had the pickled cauliflower mix, and we always fought over the pieces. Bread and butter, mini gerkins, black and green olives. Brings back wonderful memories, Thanks!

                      1. re: HaagenDazs

                        Cathluthlipalian - grandma made a relish tray for all important occasions. Carrot, bell pepper, radishes, pickles, celery, broccoli & cauliflower tops, green onion, olives (black, green,pimento &non) I'm sure she would now include grape tomatoes as well.

                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          *practicing this brilliant new word: cathluthlipalian, cathluthlipalian, cathluthlipalian*

                        2. re: HaagenDazs

                          I think this is a "female" tradition unrelated to a specific religion or culture. In my family I believe it evolved from a need to keep the men and children out of the kitchen while we finished cooking. If we don't have something for those not cooking or preparing to snack on, they are constantly asking when dinner will be ready or trying to steal a bite here and there.

                          1. re: Niteowl

                            I think you are on to something. It is a pretty simple thing to put out, especially when you are swamped with other tasks. In my family the kids who wanted to "help" were kept from being underfoot with the job of stuffing the cream cheese into the celery, spooning out the olives, pickles and such.

                            1. re: Niteowl

                              Wow. This may be so obvious I don't even know what to say. What a brilliant conclusion!

                              Keeping men and children out of the kitchen is absolutely the root of this. Just keep them busy.

                            2. re: HaagenDazs

                              Scots Irish protestants from upstate NY. :)

                            3. Dried apricots with a dollop of soft goat cheese piped on top...with a candied walnut on top of that...

                              Tasty and very nice visually. I just put the goat cheese in a sandwich bag...nuke it for 30 seconds and pipe through clipped corner of bag.

                              1. Irish Catholic here and it's just not Thanksgiving without the relish tray. Ours just has plain celery, carrot sticks and black olives (I'm the only risk taker in a family of picky eaters), but it's a must. Also have a bowl of fruit and a bowl of mixed nuts (in shell) on the table.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: CeeBee

                                  we must be related somewhere along the line! Sounds like my house! And I would place a bet that you have a bread stuffing with the bird!

                                  1. re: macca

                                    My mom's is exactly the same - carrots, celery, black olives. And the black olives are always those canned black olives. It's the only time I ever eat those.

                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                      Canned olives here, too! Maybe I will live dangerously and buy a nice variety of green and black ones this year. Did that a few years ago with the cranberry sauce- made my owne, but still offered the canned variety, too. Was pleasantly surprised to see that everyone preferred the home made- no more canned on the table now!

                                  2. re: CeeBee

                                    Relish trays! These all sound like my mother-in-laws..and our house too, growing up--and I'm just plain ol' Protestant Nondenominational!

                                    Considering ourselves foodies (right) in the early eighties, we upped it a little; added small thin slices of cold beef, ham, and/or chicken with cocktail bread--those tiny squares? That and a little horseradish mixed with mustard and mayo. We'd do sliced fruit and pickled things--garlic; okra; asparagus; stuffed olives; sometimes smoked clams or oysters. Anything you could pick up with a tiny fork. Smoked fish--nothing was off limits. These days..every now and then we'll do one for dinner over a movie just to clean out the fridge, but..when the holidays come around? I make sure I'm stocked up for it.

                                  3. Interesting - we've always had snacks and stuff like chips & dip and plenty of beer but never a designated tray or display of items like you all are describing... Atlanta native, Lutheran raised

                                    1. Always have a relish tray with cornichons, pimento stuffed celery and several types of olives. When we were little, my aunt had a clear plastic olive "tree" that the green olives with pimento were served on. My sister was in charge of the tree. One olive for the tree, one for Sue. I wish I could find one for this year.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Pampatz

                                        i remember the olive tree! i love your sister's m.o.! ;-)

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          We had an olive tree as well. I've used a gumdrop tree for my olive tree, substituting the olives for the gumdrops. I found it in the Vermont Country Store catalog. The kids in the family adore it!

                                          1. re: lrostron

                                            Thanks for the idea. I wanted to get an olive tree for my sister for Thanksgiving but couldn't find one. Gumdrop tree it is.

                                      2. Yes, always a relish tray. Something to snack on while waiting for dinner. Veggies, ranch dip. We always have to have a fruit salad too. Although it rarely gets eaten.

                                        1. We always have one, it must contain at the least - black olives, pimento stuffed green olives, small sweet gherkins, clausen pickles, celery sticks.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: LisaN


                                            That sounds like our relish tray as well. Sometime we add some carrot sticks, and when my FIL was alive there was always a glass with tall stalk of green onions on the table.

                                            Lutherans, Houston, Tx.

                                          2. Relish tray in Idaho, too. I have vivid memories of stuffing celery with the weird Kraft cheese from a glass jar. Canned black olives for eating off your fingers. Carrot sticks, I think. Little pickles.

                                            Definitely no Southern or Jewish influences in my family.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: cyberroo

                                              Yes, always Kraft pimento cheese! And my mom kept the jars as juice glasses.

                                              I think I might break tradition this year and make my own pimento cheese, since I'm living in the South now.

                                            2. I come from mongrel New Mexican Evangelical stock and my wife's clan are Catholics from Southwest Ohio; both families have a relish tray every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some ingredients are optional; crudites with ranch dip, celery stuffed with peanut butter and/or pimiento cheese, green olives, etc. But canned black olives and sweet gherkins are mandatory.

                                              1. Add cocktail onions to the crudites, pickles and olives (black and green). My father's family (Northern California by way of Nebraska) instilled the tradition, which carries over into our Pennsylvania Thanksgivings. I had no idea this was such a common tradition.

                                                1. My mom's relish tray always included olives(black and green) and several types of pickles....She was from North Carolina....and the relish tray came out at every special dinner and sometimes even for an ordinary family meal.....I have inherited her dishes and think I'm going to do one this Thanksgiving with olives and pickles for me and carrot and celery sticks for my DH(hates olives and pickles).

                                                  1. Yes to the relish tray. No southern or jewish roots. NW PA to California.

                                                    Canned black olives used to be OK., and would do in a pinch I guess, but they really like sicilian and kalamata and oil dried these day.

                                                    They also love any kind of green olive, but for the celery I use pimento stuffed olives, chop them up and mix with cream cheese thinned with a small amount of olive juice then stuffed into the celery.

                                                    Last year I introduced marcona almonds and they went wild.

                                                    Carrot sticks, jicima sticks, radishes, all have made it onto the tray.

                                                    I don't put out pickles and no chips and dips for Thanksgiving.

                                                    The relish tray is 'light" nibbles before the feast.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: laliz

                                                      oh, right, i forgot to mention radishes!!! and this year i need to add cocktail onions and jicama sticks, too.

                                                      how many of you have the specialized relish tray? i have a couple of the old-fashioned large round divided glass trays, and some smaller half-divided oval dishes, a couple of other configurations, and probably would get another one at a yard sale if i came upon it -- if it is "special" somehow. i guess i'm (way) past the "gateway" relish tray stage! ;-)

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        yup- we have lots of reish trays. most of them are depression glass- both green and cranberry. Worth a few bucks, I guess-and they have been on the family table smy mother was a child- not her grandchildren are enjoying them- and it is funny- they all notice every special item each year- we have four ceramic S/P turkey shakers, and the kids look for them each year- alkong with the HUGE platter with a turkey on it.

                                                        1. re: macca

                                                          that picture makes me smile, macca. thanks! hunting for the turkey salt and pepper shakers -- and the preparation and anticipation in general, is (more than) half the fun of thanksgiving!

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            Love thanksgiving.Have already started my list and will start shopping for the staples this weekend. Also am trying a gluten free bread stuffing for two of my guests. Bought some tapioca bread last week and will see what happens. On WEdnesday, it is now a family custom for some of my neices and nephews to come by and help with making the bread stuffing. And my oldest neice comes by a bit later, and we make the pies. Such a fun time of the year.

                                                        2. re: alkapal

                                                          I have a wide variety of relish trays. One is large with 6 separate partitions, but they are odd shapes, and not the same sizes. The entire dish is an odd shape actually, and has a gold edge . I should take a picture of it. I also have the standard half and half ones, and then there are the small flat ones that used to go into a metal base, but I just use the as individual dishes, since certain picky people don't want the black olives to mingle with the pimento ones!

                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                            i DREAMED about relish trays last night! many were handling a tray in a succession of vignettes. then one dippy young lady gets flustered and it goes up, then down to the pavement. that part even replayed on demand! LOL. i must have relish tray anxiety -- or i recall the one in its box that i just threw out after the sealed box fell in the basement. ;-( at least i didn't have to look at the shattered glass!

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              Oh my! I didn't know what I was starting!

                                                      2. My husband is a New York Italian, and they always had an antipasto tray. Various cured meats, olives, pickles, grilled/marinated peppers, and always walnuts roasted in the shell. :) I try to do that. :)

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Morganna

                                                          The Buffer family has its roots in Naples via New York and the Hudson Valley, so the classic Buffer household antipasto (pronounced antipast) consists of:
                                                          bottom layer of the platter lined with genoa salami
                                                          on top of that alternated rolled up slicing pepperoni and more genoa (rolled so tight you could pick your teeth with it) in a wheel pattern
                                                          On top of the cold cuts goes chunks of the smelliest provolone you can find at the Italian deli
                                                          Over the top you pour two jars of marinated artichoke hearts in olive oil, marinated mushrooms, Kalamata and green stuffed olives, and roasted red peppers. It is important NOT to drain the jars.

                                                          Serve with Stella D'Oro Sesame breadsticks accompanied by Breakstone whipped salted butter.

                                                          No Thanksgiving is complete without the antipast. Talk about carrying on the tradition: My son and his friends have a Thanksgiving dinner together on the weekend after the holiday. John makes the antipast and the baked ziti. They've been doing this since they graduated from high school eight years ago...

                                                          1. re: mrsbuffer

                                                            Our family celebrations are too small for us to do huge platters and baked pastas like this. We have a very traditional midwestern Thanksgiving (I refuse to give up having my mother's stuffing and the sludge from the leftovers). For Christmas eve we have something Italian my husband makes (baked ziti, calzone, lasagne... what have you). Christmas day (or the closest day to that we can gather up our orphan friends for a party) we have a "theme" dinner. Last year was "southern holiday", year before was a medieval feast. We've also done Holland, and other ethnicities. I haven't chosen this year's theme yet. Might be Indian or Pakistani. :) It's my new kick. :) Then New Year's my husband does another Italian meal to die for. :)

                                                        2. Pure Southern roots here, and the relish tray is a must. Instead of a single tray we have several cut glass dishes with 2-3 partitions, they are placed on the table, filled with pimento stuffed olives, sweet midgets (thank you Mt. Olive!), and baby dills. A few years ago we started experimenting and now have dill beans, okra, and artichokes.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                            1. re: mpjmph

                                                              Our bowls sound just like yours- only taken out at holidays. We have lots of them, and use them for the relish trays, as well as the after dinner mints.

                                                            2. In KY we do the relish tray too...carrots, celery, black olives,pickles,stuffed celery and beer cheese.

                                                              1. I grew up in NE Ohio and we always had a relish tray. It would have stuff like:
                                                                black olives
                                                                green olives
                                                                sweet gherkins
                                                                also always had a nut bowl with nuts in the shell and a seasonal type of candy bowl with stuff like chocolate orange, jelly filled candies etc.

                                                                1. Always had a relish tray ! or two ! Black olives, green olives - from jars. Various pickles - homemade if we had them - bread and butter and olive oil . Jarred pickled onions, mustard and sweet pickles. And homemade relishes like picalilly . A separate tray with cut up veggies - cdelery sticks, radishes cut like flowers, scallions, carrots.

                                                                  1. :)

                                                                    green/pimento olives, black olives, sweet pickles, dill pickles, homemade vegetable pickles (usually carrots, sometimes garden beans, sometimes little pickled onions too), sometimes a couple other things, but these things above never changed. also, most importantly, and i can't believe no-one else has mentioned--the essential and all important PICKLED BEETS?

                                                                    i always thought it was a midwestern thang.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                      My mom was from Ohio and she always had the pickled beets! I had forgotten about those. Gosh, I need to get some this year in her memory. Those and cocktail onions. Thanks SK.

                                                                      1. Midwestern catholic. Relish tray for holidays, bridal and baby showers. I love everything about them!

                                                                        1. My family too! Pickles, olives, celery stuffed with cream cheese and sprinkled with paprika. Other aspects change depending upon who is putting it together.

                                                                          Perhaps all of us share the ever popular nibbler gene?

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                            and it's the perfect weekend to do some home quick-pickles for Thanksgiving. a jar, some brine, some mild (as in sea or Kosher) salt and a coupla weeks.

                                                                            my Grandmother always liked to throw in a curveball or 2.

                                                                          2. And I always thought this was a Lutheran family thing?! Definitely have the relish tray - it's my favorite thing to contribute to! Typically we would have carrots, celery, radishes, green onion sticks, olives (lucky if we have both the black canned and green!), sometimes a dip, tomatoes... who knows what else mom/grandma would come up with. Now that I come to think of it, the relish tray is present at most holiday meals for our family.

                                                                            1. North of Boston Italian Catholic here...
                                                                              celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese and chopped green olives, dates stuffed with cream cheese and orange marmalade, sweet mixed pickles (and we fought over the cauliflower), black olives, nuts in the shell in a separate dish. We had a big odd shaped relish tray with different sized sections and a gold rim too. I'm kicking myself for letting it go in my mom's estate sale, but I don't really have a use for it now.
                                                                              The antipasto came out on Christmas eve, a huge turkey platter covered with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, rolled salami, provolone, prosciutto, canned tuna in oil from Italy (bought just once a year), mom's marinated mushrooms and good olive oil over the top. The main course was huge shrimp in garlic, butter and oil over angel hair pasta. Oh how I miss those days!

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: PrincessBakesALot

                                                                                From Boston too. Black olives right out of the can. Celery with cream cheese. Only on Thanksgiving. This tradition goes way way back with my family of hearty New Englanders.

                                                                                1. re: Mayflour

                                                                                  Also a NE MA guy. Grandfather always put out canned black olives, celery with Cream Cheese, sometimes with raisins on top, and usually nuts or peanuts in the shell. It's very traditional Yankee- I.E. there is an inherant fugality to us New Englanders.

                                                                              2. We always have a relish tray too. We have this at every big meal/holiday where we entertain. Pickles, black olives and green olives. I love relish trays! A coworker of mine thought this was strange too. See our Thanksgiving meal from last year here: http://chewonthatblog.com/2007/11/07/...

                                                                                1. I've never seen one at Thanksigiving, but it is an interesting idea. Is this strictly a buffet item?

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                    Not at all. Since the family has grown it is now in separate dishes, but the different components are on the table alongside the turkey, potatoes, etc., and it is served with dinner, in our home, and not as an appetizer.

                                                                                    1. re: danhole

                                                                                      We always have it for nibbling on before the meal...

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          Yes, we nibbled before the meal. It was always the first dish to be put on the table. Often times it was there before the guests arrived. As a kid I would be reminded to not 'fill up' on the black olives and cream cheese stuffed celery.

                                                                                    2. re: RGC1982

                                                                                      Every family gathering my Aunt Lois brings assorted cans and jars of olives, pickles and fresh veggies in a picnic basket and assembles the tray when she arrives.

                                                                                    3. I'm including "the best" from my summer canning: spiced peaches,pickled cauliflower/carrot mix, watermelon pickles, little pickled beets, apple rings, bread & butter pickles, apricot & cherry jam, along with stuffed celery, black and green olives. Served on clear glass plates and bowls (on white table cloth)so they steal the show and look like jewels. Swedish Lutheran

                                                                                      1. We always have had a relish tray, since the beginning of time. Our's includes celery and carrot sticks, radishes and olives. When I think about it, our relish tray is primarily a delivery-device for olives. It must have black, pimento-stuffed and, most importantly, Graber Ripe Green Olives. In fact, we usually get two cans of the Graber's, and eat one while preparing the meal.

                                                                                        Along side the relish tray, we have watermelon rind pickles, spiced peaches, and two types of cranberry sauce.

                                                                                        For the record, my relatives are predominantly protestant and have been in Southern CA for close to 100 years.

                                                                                        1. Polish Catholic.
                                                                                          Just finished canning the last of the garden's green tomatoes. They will go alongside the pickled cauliflower and the czwikla - that's grated beets with horseradish. Also a pickled mix of cabbage, radish and carrots.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: phofiend

                                                                                            OOH- grated beets with horseradish sounds wonderful.

                                                                                          2. Mother was from Kentucky. Relish tray at Thanksgiving was di rigour. It went as follows: celery stuffed w/ pimento cream cheese, celery stuffed w/ almond or cashew butter, black olives, green olives stuffed w/ pimentos, tangerine slices, red radishes, baby green onions, cocktail onions, tiny pickles (dill and or sweet), cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, marinated button mushrooms, several types of cheese (cheddar, chevré, brie), artichoke hearts, and a sour cream based dip of some sort (onion, spinach or ranch). Stiil keep up with this tradition (keep hungry men and kids from pestering the cooks) and can't imagine Thanksgiving without it.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. italian american from NJ and always, always a relish tray ~ ditto on the nuts, too

                                                                                              celery, scallions, carrots, artichokes & peppers w/bagna cauda dip on one tray and asst'd olives, roasted garlic cloves, breads and crackers on the other

                                                                                              yummy stuff

                                                                                              1. Yum,tangerine slices. Thanksgiving 1938 my husband ate 55 olives and won the contest when he was 10! Nuts with a relish plate is new for me. Do you put the nut cracker in the bowl and then have another bowl for the shells? Bondost cheese with caraway seeds is a nice addition too.

                                                                                                1. If there are young children in the family, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without a relish tray is simply unthinkable. Without pitted olives from the relish tray, how else would the children make finger puppets! Did you explain this to your husband?

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                    Hehe, I turned my nose up at olives when I was young so I never touched them, let alone stuck them on my fingers. But now that I love olives...you're never too old for olive fingers, right?

                                                                                                    1. re: buckeye.mary

                                                                                                      for the uninitiated, olive puppets are only made with the rubberized jumbo pitted black olives from the can.

                                                                                                  2. You mean there are people who DON'T have a relish tray before their Thanksgiving dinner? Unthinkable! Born and raised a southerner, ours had the jumbo black olives, marinated mushrooms, artichokes, pickled okra, sweet and dill pickles, black olives, carrots, grape (formerly cherry) tomatoes, and pickled shrimp! Oh, and we don't stuff the celery...plain is fine!

                                                                                                    1. I'm in charge of my family's relish tray this year. Its going to include all of our favorites: celery, black olives (can't wait to see my 2 1/2 year old nephew get those on his fingers,) pickles, radishes,carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. And I'm making the dip. Rather than just plain old Ranch. As amazing as Ranch is, I want to have a change this year.

                                                                                                      1. I'm glad I saw this. I'm doing T-day this year for a small group of us. I might've forgotten to do the relish tray if I hadn't seen this post.

                                                                                                        This post also reminded me of yet another thing I forgot to save from my parents' house before we had the estate sale: the cut-glass relish dishes. Those dishes came out for every childhood Christmas and Thanksgiving meal (and New Year's Eve, too).

                                                                                                        We always had celery and carrot sticks, radishes, black canned olives (yeah, I admit I like them), bread & butter pickles, sometimes cocktail onions. The few times I did it for the whole family I recall buying a whole bunch of different specialty pickles including watermelon, okra and cauliflower, to put in the relish dishes.

                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                          """ I might've forgotten to do the relish tray if I hadn't seen this post."""

                                                                                                          -------- CHOWHOUND to the rescue!

                                                                                                          (ps, shaogo, everyone loves those black rubbery olives).

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                            Especially when stuffed with 2-3 toasted slivered almonds each. Just the kind of thing you want to get involved in doing on Thanksgiving (but which we do every year).

                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              or garlic and herb cream cheese, or other strong cheese piped in.

                                                                                                              but i love your crunchy idea, bt! hmm, cheese and almonds! ? !
                                                                                                              maybe a little anchovy paste with the cheese, now that i'm thinking about it.

                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                It really is very good. I think this comes from the famous great-aunt who was a very good cook and quite the gal in general (despite the frightening shrimp and deviled egg casserole). Liked to make things fancy. She even used to make butter balls with those little paddles for holiday meals - remember those?

                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                  yes, indeedy -- at fancy places. at our house, i don't ever recall any fancy butter curls. http://www.recipetips.com/glossary-te...

                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                    Wasn't my mom's kind of thing, she was a butter in the butter dish (a fresh slab on a plate for fancy) kind of girl. Relish tray at home was carrot and celery sticks, green olives, and sweet gherkins. The amazing thing about my husband's family is that there are 6 kids, and while he was growing up, there were seldom fewer than 10 at table, usually 11 or 12 (family + uncle, great-aunts, and grandma) - annd my mother-in-law put 3 meals a day - including such furbelows as the olives on the table, and always served homemade breads and rolls and desserts. Every day was the equivalent of a good-sized Thanksgiving. And she was - and is - a 1960's size 10! (I get exhausted just thinking about it.)

                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                      yum! he was lucky! (and yes, a fresh stick of butter on a cut glass butter dish was the fanciest we got).
                                                                                                                      and a size 10 in the 60's -- what's that today?

                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                        Maybe a 4 or a 6? Think Betty in Mad Men, little tiny waist.

                                                                                                            2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                              I nearly forgot it to!!! Got to rush off to the store.........what happened to the spiced crab apples???/

                                                                                                              1. re: logould

                                                                                                                oh right!!!! the spiced apples in the jar!!!! i'd forgotten about those. they always tasted too strong for me. i have to see if they're still sold. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/470818

                                                                                                          2. Rural eastern Missouri background. Yes, relish tray. I can remember it from being a wee kid in the Truman Adminsitration. Always was on the table rather than put out beforehand; My grandmother ran things with an iron hand and would have tolerated none of this eating between meals, which would have been how she defined nibbling on things before a meal. Pickles and olives and perhaps carrot sticks; in later years the items were expanded slightly in my mother's reign.

                                                                                                            I am amazed by how many places this year I have heard people puzzling over the relish tray, being astonished over its very existence. My guess it was a note of gentility in a world that existed before onion dip was widespread.

                                                                                                            1. Olives of course, maybe a few pepperoncini, Grandma's dried beef and cream cheese balls, goldfish crackers....best part of the holidays.

                                                                                                              Bread/crackers and cheese and maybe a spread or some fruit are de rigueur for cocktail hour at my mom's house. As for Thanksgiving, Grandma's gone and I just moved into her house, so this is making me think I should find the beef ball recipe and surprise my family with some on thursday. God knows I have enough cut glass relish dishes packed away in the basement.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                I can't believe this! I was just thinking of how I have to get out Grandmother's "celery dish"--a ceramic dish that is actually shaped like a bunch of celery--for Thanksgiving. We always had a relish tray with any holiday meal, and we are PA German. (So the pickles and stuff includes chowchow). To keep the kids out of the kitchen, the women would put the ironing board across the door. One year my aunt's mother-in-law was coming in with two pumpkin pies, one in each hand and forgetting the ironing board, fell completely over it. No pumpkin pie that year!

                                                                                                              2. I always seem to have the relish tray. One year I got to host Christmas and I assigned the task to my cousin. Because he wanted to be creative, he came with the best I had ever seen. He used a styrofoam cone covered it with colored foil and used toothpicks to adhere, fruit veggies, cheese, meats, cherries... making a Chritmas tree. It was wonderful and a great converstaion piece. So the following Thanksgiving I used a 1/2 a watermelon(body) and a sweet potato(head & neck) to make a turkey. We used different favorites to outline legs, wings, feathers, nest... don't forget the pimento for the gobbler. It was the most colorful turkey and again, great fun! Most anything can be used as a relish tray. A lot may come from your ancestry and what they used for aps and relishes.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: dare2Bdiff

                                                                                                                  The pic does not do it justice, and of course, it may not be formal enough for some, but worked great on the buffet !

                                                                                                                  1. re: dare2Bdiff

                                                                                                                    that's fun!
                                                                                                                    for a recent brunch, i made a "hedgehog" with a cantaloupe half, then stuck with toothpicks of little smokies and grapes. some toothpicks had a cube of cheese with the little smokie, instead.

                                                                                                                2. Always a relish dish, from a 4th generation Californian. Several olives, celery victor, pepperoncini, pickles. Didn't everybody get relish dishes for wedding presents? Or inherit some? I like the acidity to cut all the rich stuffing, gravy, creamed onions, etc.

                                                                                                                  1. Relish trays are most definitely not a southern thing, nor an American thing. Both my husband and I grew up in SW Ontario, Canada and both our families (his Polish Catholic, mine Scottish Presbyterian) had/have relish trays at all big family meals, not just Thanksgiving (second Monday of October). My family's usually has green and black olives, beet pickles, and both sweet and dill cucumber pickles. At his family get togethers, the relish tray is mostly dill pickles, green olives and perhaps pickled beans.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Blush

                                                                                                                      Precisely - I'm from London, Ont., of 1st generation English and 4th generation Irish heritage - and we had them as well. Come to think of it dills and cut sweet pickles and radish roses were a usual part as well as the other things previously mentioned. Never black olives though. (Pickled beets were not included, they were considered too "family meals" - something to get eaten up, not special enough.)

                                                                                                                    2. Try stuffing the celery with peanut butter. Sounds weird, but it's really tasty.

                                                                                                                      1. when my grandmother hosted we always had a relish tray with piles of her home made pickles, and olives. Once I got there she'd have to refill it - I LOVED my grandmother's pickles!
                                                                                                                        lately it's more a crudite platter which does not entice me like a pickle tray. :)

                                                                                                                        now i'm feeling the need to refresh this tradition.