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Bringing your own food to a dinner party

I invited my family for Christmas dinner, when asked if they needed to bring anything I informed them all to bring their beverages of choice, as I have all the food taken care of. My sister-in-law informed me yesterday she was bringing a ham - not some ham - an HALF ham. After my initial shock of the what I perceived to be rude (bringing the main dish that is not part of my menu) I thanked her and reminded her we don't eat pork. To which she replied she was bringing it to serve with what I am making and offered a side as well. In channeling my Mother I thanked her and gave up trying to make sense of this woman.

Said sister-in-law informed me this morning she is bringing a potato casserole (with all sorts of dairy products in it that I can't eat). I informed her that her dish will go great with the potatoes I am serving and that they sounded yummy and have since ignored all other text messages (as she doesn't call people she texts them).

If you are invited to a dinner party is it ok to bring the main course and a side dish after you have been informed by the hostess that nothing is necessary beyond your beverage of choice? Or am I being upset unnecessarily by someone's generosity in providing a meal that my family can't/won't eat instead of the lovely (and expensive) meal that I have chosen to serve?

Thank you all for you help - and responses as to how I can 1) prevent this from happening in the future and 2) not shoving that ham somewhere where a polite hostess shouldn't be thinking.

By the way - there are no food allergies or vegan issues in the family and this is the second time she has decided what the whole family is going to eat for dinner when invited to my home. The last time it was bbq wings and she took her children to McDonald's to eat.

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  1. Your SIL is into control. Or she really, really doesn't like your cooking. I am reading between the lines here, but it sounds like these are religious dietary issues? No pork or dairy? Her unwillingness to eat your food sounds offensive.

    Unless there is some compelling reason that you have not mentioned, I would cross her off the list for next year. Or, entertain them some other way for the season, perhaps by seeing a movie together, or eating at a restaurant.

    You have every right to be upset, but the more gracious you can manage to be, the better you will come off. She will be the one who appears insecure and domineering. But why put yourself through this next year. You deserve better.

    What a shame your SIL can't get out of her own comfort zone, and surrender control over this small thing. I pity her. But you still deserve better.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sueatmo

      I can't eat any dairy and hubby grew up on pig farm. I hate not including them for family holidays when sister and dad are there. Yet they don't host at the holiday.

      1. re: countinonit

        You have my sympathy. Just a suggestion: in future host a casual evening get together where she can bring something, and you can make something, and maybe play games, or piano, or whatever your family likes to do together. That way food isn't so much a power struggle.

        I still say you deserve better. I hope you find a solution.

    2. Family ... sigh!! You just have to gracefully ride it out.

      1. I kind of think that holiday dinners are different - people like to bring things - we all have sentimental favorites on holidays and not much can persuade us (meaning me!) that something else will do.

        Even if the rest of the year we're totally open to eating whatever is being served!

        5 Replies
        1. re: harryharry

          So - if I invite you to Thanksgiving Dinner and I am *not* serving a roast turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, or pumpkin pie (let's say these are your sentimental favorites) - you would probably turn on your heels and stalk out? Or just endure the evening and flee at first opportunity never to return?

          1. re: huiray

            I agree -- if you accept an invitation to a holiday dinner, you by default agree to suck it up and enjoy whatever your host is serving. If you just have to have whatever your favorite might be, make it for yourself before or after, and don't be a jerk by insisting on bringing your own food, especially when you've been told multiple times not to.

            1. re: sunshine842

              I agree with you. However, if a family member insists on bringing some food to a holiday meal, let that family member put it out and ignore it. I would not make any special effort for or against it at this point. The following year, if it comes up again, be more emphatic that you would like it if they did not bring any more food. Enlist the spouse of the offender to help you in this matter.

              Once several years ago a family member brought mashed potatoes to an Easter dinner we were hosting. We were already planning on having mashed potatoes. The visiting potatoes were returned to the family member's vehicle for a cool trip home.

            2. re: huiray

              Yup. Good thing you didn't invite me....

              1. re: harryharry

                Glad I got the warning note here. Rest assured, you won't ever be placed in the position of needing to decline an invitation from me.

          2. Can you talk to your brother about it? Maybe he can do something to diffuse the situation for next year. For holiday dinners, I hate to say but I would bite the bullet and just go with it. No one wants tension - especially you as the host - for Christmas dinner. Your best bet is too mentally store her bringing extra food as a funny story you'll relate to a friend after she leaves. Oh, and get extra tupperware for the leftovers.

            Or maybe treat her like a toddler and call her up a week or so before the event and say "I'm going to make either A or B. Which one would you prefer? Once she chooses, you say Great, that's what we'll have. No need for you to bring anything extra.

            1. Do you think she feels funny not bringing something? I have a friend like that. I insist I have everything covered yet she still brings something.

              I'd probably just let it slide & ignore it.