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Do you give everyone Thanksgiving leftovers to take home?

Just wondering if you do this for all or any of your guests.

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  1. We always do and thank heavens other family members do also. This is especially true of leftover turkey. Certain relatives Must have their Day-After-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. But if it's my carcass I get to keep it... I usually like to give the pies, or pieces, away too. I'm not much of sweets lover. The relatives can take away anything they want - just leave the bones to me.

    1. Yes, but I don't share everything. I'll gladly share the white turkey meat, ham, sweet potatoes, au gratin potatoes and veggies, rolls and sweets. There are things I won't give as leftovers - the dark turkey meat (I also keep the turkey carcass and ham bone for stock), gravy, stuffing, pearl onions au gratin, cranberry chutney and red velvet cake. Those are MINE!

      1. Great question, I've wondered the same thing. Last year, I made a triple batch of cornbread and sent my guests home with a nice serving along with a special batch of dark chocolate & raspberry bark. But the dinner fixins, leftovers are for me and mine :)
        We enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner sandwiches thru the week...you know the ones with turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy and sweet potatoes piled high between freshly baked bread! Gotta have those!

        9 Replies
        1. re: HillJ

          Dark chocolate and raspberry bark? That sounds amazing! Please tell us how you make it.

          1. re: DaisyM

            DaisyM, here you go!

            White or Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bark
            (this basic recipe makes a small batch which can be doubled or tripled)

            8 ounces white or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

            2 tablespoons Raspberry Purée, at room temperature
            (here's the recipe for a batch of puree: http://www.joyofbaking.com/raspberryp...)

            Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

            Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of hot water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the pan. Stir until smooth. Watch carefully as chocolate burns easily. Remove from heat, and using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate into a 10 inch square on the prepared baking sheet. With a spoon evenly drizzle the raspberry purée over the surface of the chocolate. Using toothpick or bamboo skewer swirl the raspberry purée through the chocolate to create a swirl design.

            Let the chocolate bark set at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours or until firm. Cut the bark into the desired shape and size pieces and then peel the parchment paper off . The raspberry puree is slightly sticky, so handle carefully. Then store in the refrigerator until you are ready to individually bag the bark.

            You can add chopped pistacho nuts or coconut shreds for crunch and color. Enjoy!

            1. re: HillJ

              I made peppermint bark last Christmas in much the same way: I used melted almond bark then I marbled it with melted chocolate bark. I sprinkled it with crushed (red & white) peppermint candies and let it harden. I broke it into pieces & served it with the other candies on on my candy tray. Everyone enjoyed it...

                1. re: HillJ

                  Thanks; I only make candy at Christmas and it was super easy!

              1. re: HillJ

                This sounds so super good! Thank you. Your guests must just love you.

                1. re: DaisyM

                  We take good care of each other! If you give the bark or bread recipe a try, let me know how they worked out for you. The bark is super easy and very adaptable. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!

              2. re: DaisyM


                Now, pie pops are a new twist for me. Very interesting. I might consider these for Christmas. Sure are cute.

              3. re: HillJ

                I'm going to try this cornbread this year as take home treats.

                The combo really appeals to me.

              4. Yes. Always. In fact, my sister always brings a hostess gift and empty tupperware. Everybody needs those day after sandwiches!

                1 Reply
                1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                  My bachelor brother in law always brings his Tupperware too, it's so cute. But I've already been saving up sturdy leftover takeout containers for everyone anyway. I just ask what do you want and make up a to-go platter for each person, one meals worth. This is the one holiday that they ALWAYS say they want leftovers.

                2. We cook two turkeys one in a turkey roaster and I smoke one. DW doesn't like smoked turkey and most of the other folks do. So we have lots of leftover turkey (more of hers is leftover though :)).

                  We have lots of to go containers ready for the after dinner leftover sharing. I even have a few containers that I can put ice in for those that travel a bit.

                  1. Yes! I plan for enough so anyone who wishes will have enough for sandwiches later in the week. Dressing and gravy too. Other dishes, well, just depends on how much there is. I try to encourage the sweets to go home with others too. Leftovers are a major part of Thanksgiving IMO!

                    1. I don't hand out leftovers automatically, but I always invite people to take anything they want home. Everyone usually raids the dinner and desserts for the next day....

                      1. NO, The entire guest list is invited back for a Saturday late afternoon leftover buffet and family get together.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bagelman01

                          This was similar to my approach this year: now that I've moved to a small town in the middle of the state, all of my relatives and invitees live between 1.5 and 8 hours away. Most of them spent at least one night in the area (our local hotels and black friday sales got a nice boost from my family :-)) So, while there were plenty of leftovers, I used most of them to pack turkey sandwiches for the road for those travelling long distances, and we had a great dinner for those still in town the next night (with turkey soup and homemade croutons from leftover rolls). Even with that, there was enough turkey leftover for sandwiches for me and hubby last night, and soup to take to work Monday, and that is how it should be...with all the travelling to get here everyone had to do, I did do most of the cooking and shopping, so having at least some of the leftovers truly left over are my reward!

                          I did bake an extra pumpkin pie just for my son in college: he was happy to take home almost an entire pie, minus the piece he enjoyed at the Friday after dinner. Son could and does eat pumpkin pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

                          On years I don't host, I happily make my own dinner a week or two later, for the sake of having a few leftovers of my own....

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            And we appreciated those turkey sandwiches, eaten at a rest stop near Barstow under the stars! I felt a little guilty about helping myself to your leftover turkey...but I knew there would be plenty! btw, I too have been known to cook a second turkey dinner just for leftovers and soup.....

                        2. In my family, To the Host Go the Leftovers. Period. I host the whole meal, with no one bringing anything. My elderly father gets a full complement of leftovers, as does my college son, but the rest stays put. It works for everyone - all the others who really don't want to host or bring a dish to pass and willingly make the trade-off, and for me, who gets to keep her carcass and vats full of gravy and stuffing! If my sister's boyfriend or husband's brother-in-law get a powerful hankering for a turkey sandwich the next day...well, I'm sure they'll manage somehow. All parties agree, miraculously (since some holiday drama or another seems to make its way into most everything else...)

                          Most of the year I irritate myself by getting my nose out of joint being the "perpetual host" for family gatherings, but not at Thanksgiving.

                          And that's ALL because of the leftovers!

                          - Cay

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cayjohan

                            cayjohan, I agree.

                            Tomorrow I'm going to make a truncated thanksgiving dinner because I miss the turkey and dressing so much, having had a great dinner at relatives' house, but no leftovers to speak of.

                          2. We to to my husband's family's celebration every thanksgiving and they NEVER give out any leftovers, it's very disappointing. We usually end up having our own, 2nd thanksgiving just the 2 of us on a smaller scale the next day just so we can have leftovers.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              If I was ever fortunate enough to be a guest at Thanksgiving (last time that happened was in the mid 1980's) I'd happily go without leftovers. We give leftovers to my brother (who brings two items to the feast) and generally send home some turkey with our daughter since she loves it. But we are the ones with the work, the expense, and the stress of hosting and with that comes at least one priviledge. Also, dolling out leftovers is more work than many people realize.

                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                I agree completely. Unless it's a potluck or the host's duties are fairly minimal, I don't see a reason why the guests should expect leftovers. I've been lucky enough to go to Thanksgiving dinners hosted by friends for the past 2 out of 3 years and did not expect leftovers either time. I did bring some food to contribute to one of the dinners, but in terms of the expense and effort that the hosts put into the dinner, it was nothing.

                                1. re: queencru

                                  The OP mentions nothing of expectations - just a query as to if you, as host, provide them or not....

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    My response was to rockandroller1/Janet who were talking about expectations of leftovers when they go as guests.

                              2. re: rockandroller1

                                i vote for making your own leftovers at your own house if you have to have a turkey sandwich afterward.............. and i know people who do just this. i sometimes have. i send home plates with all the elderly people who come, take a couple to those who could not come, and would share as long as i had plenty to not have to cook for several days. what i do not like is people who come in the kitchen to 'help' put away and pick, pick, pick at the food. i do not allow people to pick at my food! maybe i'm just strange this way, but sit down like a normal person and appreciate all i put into it.................... is this just me?

                                1. re: lil magill

                                  I guess your cooking is just so delicious that they just cannot help themselves.

                              3. Sadly, there is nothing left when our holiday is done. We go to my sister's beach house, which is hundreds of miles away from anyone's primary residence. We enjoy our feast and then intentionally figure out how to eat up all leftovers in the next few days before we depart. With 12 or so people, that isn't tough. Crowning glory is mulligatawny stew on Friday, made from the carcass, which serves as dinner that night or Saturday lunch/breakfast.

                                I often buy another turkey when I get home so we can enjoy a second feast plus enjoy leftovers.

                                1. You'd all be pretty disappointed with my sister-in-law's husband. They had a huge 24 pound turkey. Afterwards when everyone left my wife and I helped them clean up and they had ton's of leftovers and the cheapskate husband didn't offer a morsel of food for us to take home.
                                  That was the last time we went to Thanksgiving at their place.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: monku

                                    To echo the comments above, unless this was a potluck where guests contributed major components of the meal, I don't see how inviting friends over for *just* a lavish feast (as opposed to a lavish feast + leftovers) makes somebody a "cheapskate"... I suspect they'll be just as glad to not have ungrateful guests at their future dinners.

                                    1. re: emmo42

                                      I must be in a minority....not one person in this thread ever said they left empty-handed.

                                      The guy is a "cheapskate".
                                      This was immediate family, 12 of us and we brought dessert. Helped them clean up and put the goodies away in their refrigerator. Wasn't a lavish feast, just the usual Thanksgiving components.

                                      Sorry, but he's a cheapskate in my book and I've never been to anyone's Thanksgiving dinner where they haven't offered leftovers.

                                      Sorry, but my mother taught me Chinese tradition is no one who brings something ever leaves "empty handed". He's also a believer in 10% tipping at Chinese restaurants.

                                      1. re: monku

                                        If that's traditional in your culture, then I understand your feelings. However, it's NOT traditional anywhere I've been in the US. Helping your host clean up is simple good manners, not a job you take on with the expectation of being paid with turkey. I'm not saying it wouldn' be NICE to offer leftovers, but by no means would I consider it rude if they were not offered.

                                      2. re: monku

                                        Wow only one 24 pound turkey for 12 people monku? I guess this is a topic for another thread but there are usually only three of us at my place for thanksgiving and I try to get at least a 24 pounder. I'm disappointed when I can only find a nineteen pound turkey or so. Did they have ham too or lasagna or something?

                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                          Believe the formula is 1 1/2 pounds of uncooked turkey per person will yield plenty of turkey to eat plus a generous amount of leftovers.
                                          12 people=18 pound turkey

                                          Forgot if there were any extra entrees.
                                          Brother-in-law had a whole half a turkey not even carved left over plus the carved turkey we didn't eat. He had 12+ pounds of turkey leftovers.

                                          1. re: monku

                                            I've heard that too. As you can tell I'm not much for formulas. Plus I think a big bird is so much easier to cook. Better taste, more of what really matters, the gravy and filling. Obviously I agree with you that he was being skimpy. Were there a lot of yummy sides and desserts or was the turkey just really dried out or something. That's a lot of leftover turkey for 12 people.

                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                              Turkey was fine, lots of sides and figure half were kids under age of 12 so how much turkey could 6 adults eat?
                                              Bottome line the brother-in-law is a cheapskate.
                                              Testament to the generosity at Thanksgiving is every post except mine leftovers are given in every case except mine.

                                              1. re: monku

                                                Sounds like you don't like your brother-in-law much anyway. I wonder if that had anything to do with it.

                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                  That was maybe the 6th year I was in the family when I first realized how selfish he was and 7 years later we don't have any contact with them. My whole life the only place I've left empty handed.

                                                  I make sure there's enough turkey and everything so no one will leave empty handed even if I'm throwing stuff out after they leave. How much does it really cost.

                                      3. In our family, usually the leftovers go in three rounds.

                                        Round one, hostess puts carcass and whatever meat is required for soup away, so as to assure meat availability for the soup.

                                        Round two, guests take whatever they want.

                                        Round three, anything that's left the hostess keeps, or gets offered up one last time (anybody want the last of the stuffing?)

                                        1. Everyone in the family usually brings a dish or two. We have zip locks or containers and share the leftovers. That way, no one ends up with a whole bunch of turkey, stuffing or 3/4 of a cake and nothing much else to go with it.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: CyndiA

                                            I don't understand anybody who doesn't want to get rid of some of the leftovers. How much leftover turkey and dressing can someone really eat?

                                            1. re: BellaDonna

                                              I'm sure some people only make just enough, not that I think that's cool.

                                              1. re: BellaDonna

                                                Well, if you buy the right size turkey and don't have my dad peeling the potatoes (Are you sure that's enough? Yes, dad, we're sure), you don't need to have so many leftovers. T-giving dinner (the Cdn one, but it's the same idea) is always at my mom's and we don't usually have tons leftover.

                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                  Your Dad and my husband peel potatoes the same way - enough for an army. I took over potatoes years ago :) We always have just enough leftover for lunch or more if we have guests cancel last minute.

                                                  1. re: Sooeygun

                                                    We're the same -- we aim for as few leftovers as possible. Usually end up with a second meal's worth, nothing more. We only offer up leftovers if we grossly miscalculated and ended up with enough to last a week. I don't get this idea that guests automatically get leftovers.

                                              2. Our Thanksgiving dinners were always at Grandma's house. She was a firm believer in making sure loved ones were well fed, so everyone took leftovers home. We put aside her favorite bits first, then everyone filled containers till she was satisfied we wouldn't starve. :) Gonna miss her this year...

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: scoutmom1973

                                                  Same here. T-giving was always at MaMa's, although each aunt had assigned dishes to bring and MaMa only cooked biscuits and pound cake. Everyone took home "a plate" or three. And plates were sent to various local shut-ins or bachelors. One year my Mom went to visit the next day and realized we had over-zealously given away every last morsel and failed to leave MaMa (then in her 90's) a single bite. So ashamed, but I'm sure she was happier to give it to her family, because she was , of course, a saint.

                                                  This will be our 3rd year without her, it sucks, you have my condolences.

                                                2. Yes, I do the hosting and the majority of the cooking but always make enough for leftovers. It's family after all! I don't package them up though. I buy a few sizes of Gladware, set them out, and everybody helps themselves.

                                                  1. Always. I make enough to ensure everyone can take home leftovers.

                                                    1. Leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving, particularly cold turkey sandwiches.
                                                      So, YES, they are part of the plan.
                                                      Right now, groceries all have specials on turkeys. They are 79 and 89 cents a pound for frozen gobblers and they may get as cheap as 49 cents as they ahve in the past.
                                                      I'll get one of those and cook it a day or two ahead of Thanksgiving, use the drippings and carcass to make stock and gravy, and put the meat away for leftover "care packages."
                                                      I'm happy because my gravy is made ahead, and there is no hassle on Turkey Day. We have plenty of stock to use for other recipes.
                                                      Since I started doing this, it took a lot of pressure off of meal prep, and everybody goes home with a generous package of turkey for the weekend ahead.

                                                      1. You know you've attended a Filipino Thanksgiving when the five pounds of foil wrapped leftovers in your hands make it hard for you to unlock your front door. Not just Thanksgiving, but for any dinner party it is customary to end the meal by placing foil on the table for guests to wrap up their favorite dishes for "baon" the next day. To not have enough food to feed double your guests would be considered a faux pas.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                          I just had to jump in after this post. I am lucky to have a big Filipino family. My parents love to entertain and it is something that I've grown up with since I was a small child. My father, if I do say so myself, is a wonderful cook. He loves to plan elaborate menus (Japanese theme for my mon's birthday, Carribean theme for my husband's birthday) and is not capable of making "just enough" food. There are always leftovers and it is meant to be that way at our family gatherings. There is always foil at the end (the industrial Costco roll) and guests make up their own leftover plates to go. The culinary events take a lot of work, expense, and effort cleaning and prepping the house. I have never heard my parents complain. Thanksgiving is not always at my parents' house. Everybody contributes no matter where it is. Even if it is at another relatives' house the leftover standards are the same. The key is that no one ever takes ALL of the leftover dish - you always leave some of whatever it is. It is an unspoken courtesy that is known by all. I've tried to emulate this standard of entertaining with our own friends. Of course when I go to a dinner party outside of my immediate family circle I do not expect leftovers.

                                                        2. Depends on who they are. When I invite starving student friends (not just for a holiday but any time) I have something big like a baked ham or a turkey and give them the whole thing to take home. When I invite elderly neighbors who live alone, I provide divided styrofoam plates and have them fix up a couple of platefuls to take home, according to their own taste. But no, I don't do it for everybody.

                                                          1. This is a bridge I'm going to have to cross for the first time this year. I am having 15 family and friends (mostly local friends) for Thanksgiving Dinner, and based on the menu and quantity I have planned, I really have no idea how many leftovers I'm going to have. One of the guests is always very nice about sending home leftovers with us when she makes her Indonesian feasts. One of the couples has never invited us to their home. Another couple are very dear friends who will bring good wine and will just go with the flow. I'm going to play it by ear and see how much is left. I love leftovers, and I'm going to try to not get too carried away, so I'm guessing our guests will go home empty handed.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: cycloneillini

                                                              I think the turkey is the most popular leftover, I always buy one double the size I need so there's plenty left. As long as people can make a turkey sandwich the next day, I don't think there will be any complaints. Then just throw in anything else you don't want to look at anymore that you have left. It doesn't have to be a four course meal!

                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                You are right. All the side dishes can be recreated fairly easily if they desire. The turkey is the main event!

                                                            2. I think offering leftovers is a kindness and a courtesy but not something you should expect, especially if you are not immediate family. In my family, the leftovers went to the kids going back to school or the just out of college group...basically the ones who really do appreciate a free meal.

                                                              I understand that there are cultural differences and have (graciously) accepted leftovers that have been practically forced upon me but I would never assume that I'd be walking away from the meal with a doggybag. Besides, they did all of the work, the leftovers should be part of their reward or serve to feed relatives the next day that are staying in town or spending the night.

                                                              And one last thing, roasting an entire extra turkey just to send home with people? That's a bit...much. (Besides, I don't have the refrigerator space.)

                                                              1. I always buy Butterballs -- 15 lbs or less -- experts have told me to do this because under 15 are hens and more tender than toms. I plan to cook one the day before and carve it up and package it for leftovers to give to guests to take home. (1 15lb is not enough for guests AND leftovers for all!!)

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                  I know lots of people that buy a whole turkey and also a boneless breast, and cook the breast ahead to make sure there are leftovers. Usually families with lots of young adult kids.

                                                                  PS I think Butterball has enough marinade to be tender no matter what!

                                                                2. I have no problem Giving leftovers and would also love to have some. Here is my question how do you go about splitting leftovers when your bringing all the side items except the turkey potatoes, and gravy?

                                                                  1. I never realized this was such a hot topic, until a couple of years ago, my brother-in-law to be was heard uttering after leaving our place, "No leftovers, I've never heard of such a thing!" To call a host stingy or a cheapskate after buying, cooking, and hosting a feast (with only a couple of side contributions) seems crazy to me. My husband and I have, by default, hosted family Thanksgiving dinner for some 30 years because no one else would do it. Consequently, we all have some fond holiday memories. If I have worked hard to host the dinner, it seems fair to me that the leftovers belong to me, exception for children living away from home. I buy the largest turkey I can find and our family of four has no difficulty whatever in consuming what remains during the week following Thanksgiving. If I sent guest home with leftovers, there would be virtually nothing left over for us. Anyone who wants the leftovers should feel free to prepare and host the dinner and invite us over. I would be delighted to be a guest and would not expect to go home with anything.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: City Kid

                                                                      That makes sense. Here . . . we try to divide out the cooking so that the host mostly has to worry only about cleaning up and having dishes, glasses, silverware. So, it makes sense to divide out the leftovers.

                                                                      This year, for example, we did a huge ham while my sis did the turkey. By sharing with the host and swaping out on the meats, everyone had some ham and turkey. Same on the sides and esp on desserts. We can't eat a whole cake, so if we have loads of dessert, we just trade out to get some variety and so half a cake does not go to waste.

                                                                      This is Southern and with everyone cooking though and not a host who does all the work and then ends up with no leftovers with everyone taking the food home. Everyone just swaps around so that we have a selection of foods afterwards.

                                                                      And, we all pitch in and clean up for the host too.

                                                                      I think this must differ by culture and also by how "community" the meal is in terms of everyone working together.

                                                                      1. re: City Kid

                                                                        City kid, I couldn't agree more- and you put it very well, too.

                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                          You post make a lot of sense too. It's not fair to host and cook all the food and then folks expect to snag food and coast over the holiday period.

                                                                          I love to cook but have a small fam at my house. My Mom does not like to cook. So, if she will decorate and have the space to host, then I will cook up a storm and then not have to try to keep the kitchen (back door entrance) looking like a magazine.

                                                                          We have a couple of others who pull the cooking load too - much appreciated.

                                                                          Some who don't cook, bring the ice, drinks, or carry in tables and do dishes and such - so they, of course, get some leftovers as well for those appreciated efforts.

                                                                          Sharing around just means we all have a variety and also that our host (Mom) has food after taking the time to be a wonderful hostess.

                                                                          I think this thread really is about what is fair maybe. We do the share thing here and also treats home for anyone elderly or the college kids (Chex party mix and that sort of thing that will work in a dorm). But, it is NOT one host doing all the work and cooking and then everyone taking advantage. That is not COOL. It's a group effort and then what makes sense so that food is not wasted and so that hopefully everyone feels special, loved, and appreciated - plus fed for a day or two.

                                                                      2. My grandmother has always roasted annother turkey breast the morning of Thanksgiving and the carve and divvy it up into tupperware so everyone who whats some can take it home. We usually got through the whole bird (big family) so it's nice to have some leftovers, but not too much. Everyone chips in to cover the dinner and second turkey because my grandmother prepares and hosts (at 82!!!) Additionally, turkey tastes much better roasted rested craved then refrigerated rather than sitting out on the table for hours upon hours... ick!!

                                                                        All the rest of the side dishes go on the kitchen table after dinner and you take what you want, label and throw it in the fridge. What doesn't go goes outside the neighbor's house to feed the cats! (because my grandma doesn't want cats herself ;-) )

                                                                        BUT when we host Christmas dinner, we have plenty of house guests and they often leave with cookies but we keep leftovers of the main.
                                                                        1. It makes more sence: do you really want prepared snapper to ride 3 hours home with you??
                                                                        2. The main cource is usually very expensive and portioned correctly so there's usually not too many leftovers. I think it's approproate to let guests take leftovers home when the main is much cheaper (.90 a pound turkey!!) rather than lobster or filet.

                                                                        Typically if the guest brings a side and the leftovers aren't divvied out, they take it home. (Same with shrimp, cheese and crackers, etc.)

                                                                        1. While you're encouraging your family/guests to enjoy the lovely dinner you've made for them at some point mention that you'll be making soup with the turkey carcass, or pot pie with the leftover meat, or sandwiches the day after..so they understand you've already considered recipes for the leftovers. I can't see a reason to avoid communicating to your guests that you have a game plan.