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After a holiday dinner do you give leftovers?

And do you give them to everyone or just certain people.

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  1. I always cook too much holidays or otherwise and I give leftovers away. I do have a priority list. My folks are in their 80's and live on planned overs from my sister and I. Next left overs go to anyone who contributed to the meal. They go in ziplocks or plastic dishes I have saved for that purpose and don't want back. I do keep back enough for lunch the next day as I enjoy the food more the day after.

    1. I do not have a "special class" for those with whom I share my table or my food. We are all equal and we all share.

      I cannot imagine in any nightmare, not sharing food with "certain" people but doing so with other "certain" people; the meal or the leftovers, holiday or not.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Quine

        You have enough to send home with everybody?

        1. re: wekick

          If there are leftovers we share, yes to all. The idea to exclude someone is repugnant to me. Not everyone always wants to take something home, some folks only wish to have a bit of one or a few items, that is how it goes, But if all want all that is left, equal shares, yep.

          And the idea of not having enough food to feed everyone comatose is equally unsettling.

          1. re: Quine

            We have 30-40 family and friends once a month. I make most of the food but people also bring dishes and sometimes there is only a little left of one dish and quite a bit of another. The idea of parceling a teaspoon of this and that or cutting leftover hamburgers into thirds for everyone when it could make a meal for my folks would be across purposes for all of our way of thinking. I fix a box for them and sometimes a close friend who is disabled and may or may not even be present. I also send plates home to those who couldn't be there for one reason or another. I then offer what is left to everyone else. We've never really had a situation where we didn't have some leftovers for those who wanted them. Everybody is pretty sensitive to where the needs are in the group so it works out well. But if I have a hambone and my sister who brings a big part of the food consistently, wants it--she gets it. I'm not sawing that baby into 20 pieces.

            1. re: wekick

              I am glad you have your certain people figured out in a way that you feel good about, so do I, those ways are just different. That is also OK. As long as we feel good about how we share our love and concerns so that all feel that love and concern, we are all doing a good job, no?

              1. re: wekick

                Wow, 30-40 people once a month! And I bet you are super organized.

        2. If there are enough leftovers to make giveaways feasible, I simply ask if anyone would like to take anything home. Many folks don't, regardless of how good the meal was. And people like the elderly are a given. I simply force them to take leftovers home - lol!!

          1. I agree my father in law gets his choice first. He too is in his mid 80's and recently widowed. I don not see this as a slight to anyone else. I see it as a matter of respect and all that he has done for our family over the years. When it comes to other guests: because my husband, daughter and I did all the cooking, supplied all the alcohol and will be doing the clean up we get first dibs. There is always plenty more left over for everyone else. After the mess is somewhat cleaned up in the kitchen the remaining guests/family are told to help themselves to take leftovers. I do not get involved with that aspect other than supplying paper plates, baggies etc. If someone chooses to take half of pie and leave only one piece or cleans out a particular dish and leaves nothing for anyone else it is a matter between those guests. I have played referee before and it is a no win situation. I disagree that we are all equal.

            1. I like to share the leftovers with anyone who eats with me. To me it is a complement that people want to take what I make. Generally, I tend to cook extra for my small family as well, making enough for another meal or two.

              1. Christmas at home leftovers were always divided up - in fact our family our gluttons, we over-cater to make sure that there are piles of ham, turkey, stuffing, roast pork etc to hand out for sandwiches. They were offered to anyone at the meal and beyond that - my mother has to make two trifles, one to be eaten on the day, one to be sent away with my uncle for him to divide up with his friends.

                In London we have an orphan's Christmas that leads to a lock-in, so leftovers don't usually leave the house, because neither do we!

                1. We always send leftovers home with guests, and almost all of our extended family does the same.

                  The only exception is my elderly grandmother. She loves when we hold the gatherings at her house — leftovers that can be packed up and frozen stay with her. Anything else is sent home with guests.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: odkaty

                    My husband so stingy about holiday leftovers that I accuse him of being a food hoarder! The reality is we always have more holiday meal leftovers then we could feasibly consume because he always buys the biggest turkey or ham he can find. The excess borders on obscene.

                    I do designate, in a way, and everyone in the family follows the same line of thinking.

                    Elderly guests/family members that don't get the opportunity for nice homecooked meals on a regular basis get first dibs. When my grandparents were still with us, they got nice plates of several full meals to take home.

                    We occasionally have guests that might need/appreciate leftovers far more then other family members so I will package a take home bag for them. I offer it along the lines of "would you enjoy this later?" and they are free to accept or decline.

                    After the first to tiers take what they want, leftovers are open to everyone else.

                    Like someone else mentioned, my circle would rather see someone get a nice, full meal than divide a cup of mashed tatters between 5 different households. I have friends who tell stories about fights in their families about who got more of what and that just blows my mind.

                    1. re: cleobeach

                      It is interesting to know how everyone's family functions differently.

                      1. re: DaisyM

                        A close friend of mine said her husband's family is just awful, there are actual verbal fights if anyone feels slighted in leftover distribution.

                        She said the funny thing is that the people who bring the least expensive dishes are the ones who try to take the lion's share of the "good/expensive" stuff.

                        She has shared stories of SILs sneaking into the kitchen during the meal to steal meat and secretly take it out to their cars! And this family can well afford to buy their own food.

                        1. re: cleobeach

                          I have a SIL like your friend's ... I do my best to ignore her. It's not worth getting worked up about. But it does provide for great amusement later.

                  2. My sister and I always arrange to have roughly double of what we really need for the holiday dinner, with the specific intention of sending home care packages with everyone who wants one. The kids are now contributing to these dinners by bringing dishes, but all food goes into a single cache at the end of the meal with respect to divvying it up. We have toyed with the idea of either asking everyone to bring their own "to go" containers, since we are always left scrambling for containers to pack up the food, but so far have just made do with what's on hand. Since I like to make soup, I have dibs on the turkey carcass and the ham bone, but everything else is share and share alike.

                    Interesting story: last year my daughter & SIL threw a huge summer picnic & invited family, friends and co-workers. My daughter was thrown for a loop when some of her husband's African American co-workers asked if they could "make up plates" at the end of the party to take home for their mom/aunt/grandmom. She complied, but thought they were very presumptuous to have asked. We had to explain to her that the practice of "making up a plate" is common at many African American family parties/affairs in this area. Also seems to be a common practice in some of the old school ethnic Philly neighborhoods (Polish, Italian) -- we attended a big First Holy Communion party in the Port Richmond section of Phiily where there were actually styrofoam take-out containers provided by the hosts so that the guests could "make up a plate" to take home.

                    1. I kind have a problem with leftovers. I always have them and end up serving Must-Go for dinner some nights. I wish there where enough people to take them home. Here’s my theory. I came from a large family and when we shopped it was to feed 6 people. When I got married and had my own family this pattern continued. Now that my children are grown and out of the house I can’t break that pattern. I don’t even look at a package that has a single serving in it. Everything I cook is enough to feed a crowed. When we do entertain, I have the leftover plates setting on the counter and everyone grabs one on the way out. Great post.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Woodfireguy

                        Holidays at my home when I was growing up were completely made by my mother. And when we went to relatives they did all the cooking. A hostess gift of course was always given. So, when I entertain, I'm still cooking everything myself and feel a little strange when people offer to bring food. I always say, there will be plenty of food, please just come hungry.

                        1. re: DaisyM

                          I understand this. I like planning my menu and doing the cooking.

                          With one exception, I prefer people not bring food. My cousin is an incredible baker so his breads are always welcome.

                          1. re: cleobeach

                            On one side of my brain, I like to do all the cooking and have every dish thought out and compliment other dishes on my menu. On the other side, all out kids have their own homes and want to contribute. They are learning to cook and I want to encourage that. Sometimes we have quite the combination of food.

                          2. re: DaisyM

                            Me too. I’m not a potluck entertaining kind of guy. I love to plan the meal and shop for it. I just want the company. If they insist on bringing something I tell them to bring wine. Of course I always open it at the dinner party. I know people that don’t and it bugs me.

                            1. re: Woodfireguy

                              I feel the same way. But when I hear about the more casual and fun atmosphere that most people sound like they have....I wish for that, too. I think we are so much a product of our childhood that we sometimes don't realize that what others do is also "normal".

                            2. re: DaisyM

                              I'm not a potluck kind of person. I like to plan and cook the meal without anyone offering to bring something. I like having everything planned and ready ahead of time without worrying about what others are bringing, are they going to get here on time, etc. We like to have people over and enjoy the company. When we have my parents or in-laws over for dinner, I usually try to send something home with them. If I have a larger party then all of the leftover food stays here.

                          3. No, we get them packed up for us - and we always much appreciate my in-laws' generosity!

                            1. I, too, always make way too much food for holiday dinners and when I entertain in general. I always make sure to have plenty of disposable containers on hand for people to take home leftovers. But, as others have said, not everyone wants leftovers. My in-laws will take anything that I pack up for them, literally. They love leftovers. My sister, however, is not a leftover person and will usually only take a small portion of things, like some matzoh ball soup and brisket from Passover for her kids.

                              My husband hates leftovers so I am usually glad to send home much of the food with guests...otherwise I eat it all.

                              1. With my family, leftovers are usually divided among the younger members including my cousins and me (28, and currently the youngest). My mom and aunt seem to enjoy sending us home after Thanksgiving with enough food to stock the freezer for a while. My mom does keep the turkey carcass for soup.

                                With friends, there's always a ritual dividing of the leftovers. Most things get split more or less evenly, with some trading and negotiating.

                                1. Yes yes yes. I always have waaaaaaaay too much food. I generally plan with the intent of having way too much, because it's not wasteful--we have a meal for the next day (or later that night!), the rest of my family has an extra meal, or sometimes we have unanticipated guests, etc. Always have leftovers! Keep in mind, these are not posh dinner parties, just family gatherings.

                                  1. no one leaves my place empty-handed. ever. i always prepare far too much food, and since i live alone there's no way i'm going to finish all the leftovers (i have precious little space in my freezer to store them).

                                    i've gotten so used to sending my guests home with care packages that i think it would feel wrong if i didn't!

                                    1. I don't really ever do giant holiday dinners, but I like to throw dinner parties now and again. I love to give away as much as I can but I don't enjoy leftovers that much myself, and don't want to push them on people. I just keep it casual and tell everyone that there's plenty left that'll never get eaten here, so please tell me what you'd like. I'm usually able to unload almost everything that way. Thank god for those cheapy little ziploc containers!

                                      1. Wow, after reading everyone else's replies, I realized how inconsistent I am in my approach to leftovers.

                                        We often invite people over who don't have local family, and our guest list and party size often evolves up until the time of the dinner. I make sure I have enough food to well feed all the possible attendees, with some leftovers. Depending on who actually shows and how hungry everyone is, my leftover volume varies.

                                        If I don't have a lot of leftovers and they are things my family will eat (my parents and bachelor brother live with my husband, daughter and me), I don't bother. If there are a lot of leftovers or if they are items that my family isn't passionate about, I get out disposable containers, plastic, etc., and let people have at it.

                                        I have one (former) friend who was on our "orphan's list" for just about every holiday. She used to literally sob about how they never had anyplace to go for Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. I used to notice that my idea of how many leftovers I had was off, but never gave it a lot of thought. I found out from another guest that when I was in the kitchen preparing dessert, she would go out to her car, retrieve a cooler and multiple tupperware containers, and proceed to load them up at the table, while I was in the kitchen.

                                        I am still shocked at the nerve. No way do I consider that flattering. I consider that stealing. She is also the guest who could always be counted on to never offer to bring anything, not even a beverage, nor offer to lift a finger to even clear her own plate. I don't expect my guests to do that but I am accustomed to people making sincere offers to help.

                                        Turns out that her peculiarities with leftovers were the least of her problems and that is why she is a former friend. Odd behavior indeed!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                          wow. i've known some bad guests in my time, but yours takes the cake...literally and figuratively! i'm glad she's no longer taking advantage of your generosity.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Me too! Because she was the wife of my husband's very close friend, I tried to like her, make her feel welcome, etc. It just never really worked because she is wired differently than most women I know. I hated feeling so frustrated by her behavior so am happy to have her out of my life.

                                          2. re: jlhinwa

                                            Oh, what a dreadful person and a con. Hopefully, you didn't have any other household items or jewels come up missing.

                                          3. When we have big dinners, usually everyone *wants* to bring something. For things like Thanksgiving, I usually try to coordinate it, just so we don't end up with three green bean dishes and no potatoes, or something similar.

                                            I go down to my local Asian supermarket, where I buy 50 foil takeout containers for a few bucks. After dinner and before everyone gets *too* comfortable with coffee, the last of the wine, etc, we go through and everyone just takes what they want.

                                            1. Everyone may take what they want, only thing held in reserve is thighs of the turkey if any left.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                my only reserve is the plump little oysters from the back of the bird. My family doesn't even know that they exist (cook's privilege)

                                              2. Whether for holidays or a dinner party, I certainly want to get the leftovers out of the house before I eat 'em all. I'm known for my decadent desserts, particularly Amaretto Truffle Brownies. When a couple of guests demurred at taking them home, I said I'd run the leftovers down the garbage disposal so I wouldn't eat them. A guest said, "I'd suck that pipe in a New York minute," and she gladly took home a box full of them.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  I'd do the dishes for those brownies!

                                                2. This must be an American thing - I've never heard of anyone giving leftovers to guests at the end of a meal. (But my mother was American, and she certainly never gave away leftovers either).
                                                  When I cook, I take into account what I expect to be left over and what I will do with it - I would expect to live for several days on the left overs of a big meal. I might offer any left over non-frozen desert if someone appeared to really enjoy it because I don't enjoy sweet things - but never anything else.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Peg

                                                    Everyone was offered leftover lamb (my husband's specialty) and all except one couple readily accepted. My husband made two legs of lamb in anticipation of this. But that's all I offered. I didnt want to spend a lot of time wrapping food, when I had so many dishes to deal with.

                                                  2. Perhaps it’s time for the corollary thread – What to do when the host(ess) insists upon your taking leftovers that you know you’ll never eat? I mean how does one get out of painfully overcooked pork roast, nasty over-mayo’ed pasta salad, or even the foul, salty, dried out, instant potatoes that you managed not to really eat when first served???

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      I've been in that situation more than once. I just graciously decline saying that we will not be able to eat them as we have other plans in the next couple of days and our freezer is already full. I always compliment the cook for their efforts irregardless whether the meal was good or not. It takes a lot of planing, money etc. to have a meal that serves many.

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        We declined when my SO's mother offered grocery store birthday cake (very dry, too sweet). She showed up the next morning at 7:30 a.m. delivering it to us....Even the squirrels weren't interested in it.

                                                        Interestingly she had never offered leftovers before, even when I was having a several month recovery from surgery and would have welcomed some help!

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          Depends who is doing the offering. Oh boy, do I know people who are food-pushy.

                                                          To some I can say straight out "it will not get eaten and I WILL throw it out if I take it home."

                                                          Others, I just smile and say "thank you" and toss it in the trash as soon as I get home.

                                                          Within our family and extended family, we have people who actually lived through wars and knew true hunger. Thankfully now, they have the resources to buy what they need and then some. When dealing with these folks, I just feel it is kinder to accept what is offered because the alternative, telling them I won't force myself to eat their gift of food, would hurt their feeelings.

                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                            Me, too.

                                                            If I can gracefully decline, I will. If it's easier all the way around to graciously accept, then I do and drop them into the garbage on the way into the house.

                                                            (Peg, leftovers at dinners where everyone contributes are unavoidable. Since everyone contributed, I figure it's only fair that everyone have a chance at the leftovers. If there's not enough leftovers to go around, I don't bother, but big holiday dinners always seem to multiply somehow. My father has a theory that the miracle of the loaves and fishes was a potluck.)

                                                        2. We know which of our guests 'could use the leftovers' and those you don't. No one ever says anything directly. We just make sure the 'doggy bags' end up where they can do the most good. We always roast an extra turkey and or ham etc, for the above reason. We always try to invite some guests you are struggling. Within our family a relative might mention that their neighbor is out of work. We'll suggest the relative invite those neighbors and somehow they end up with the 'leftovers'.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                            You are a good and generous person.

                                                          2. My mom will stop the party to pack up leftovers for people who leave early, and that breaks up the whole thing. If it were me, you'd get leftovers only if you stay until the end.