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Thanksgiving Etiquette

This year my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for both sides of the family for the 2nd year in row. Everyone in the family was incredibly supportive, pitching in sides, desserts etc. One of our siblings came with offered side and without letting us know brought.....his wife's stuffing?! She claimed that he just couldn't go without her homemade stuffing on Thanksgiving. My stuffing was homemade which I politely let her know. This is the 1st time they have ever come to my home for Thanksgiving. Do I have a right to be offended? It makes me feel like they didn't trust that I was going to make stuffing that would be good enough to their standards. Also I did a ton of work to prepare a sit down dinner for 23 people. I woke up early to make the turkey and stuffing. If they wanted to have their own...couldn't they have eaten it at home or hosted and done all the work themselves! To top it off it came in a large casserole dish which they proudly placed on the table. I politely asked to them to remove it. I did not want my stuffing to go to waste or for there be any confusion. Was I wrong?

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  1. No, you're the host so you can make the rules. I'm confused about why the stuffing was a problem if others were bringing sides and desserts. What would the "confusion" possibly be?

    9 Replies
    1. re: Hobbert

      I had absolutely no problem with everyone contributing but everyone knew I was making the turkey and stuffing. Why would they need to bring the same thing? Their stuffing was large enough for the entire table and she placed it in the middle of the table. I did not want to make it a competition between stuffing and like I said I didn't want my hard work to go to waste.

      1. re: Thanksgiving14

        Eh. I would've let it go. I imagine she felt pretty humiliated when her contribution was removed and everyone else's was left on the table. I'd call her to discuss this if I were you. Sure, you can be offended but is this really the hill you want to die on?

        1. re: Hobbert

          Her green bean casserole was not removed. I did not do it in front of everyone but asked her personally. I have no plans to take this further then this thread. I just needed to get it off my chest. I am offended but I am also moving on.

          1. re: Thanksgiving14

            It sounds like you seriously dislike the woman and there was no way she was going to get out of there unscathed. It's only a competition if you participate. She might've looked ridiculous in front of everyone with her stuffing centerpiece but you seemed rather petty to remove it. I don't think you can have different rules for different family members- Cousin A can bring a side but if SIL does it, it's horrendously offensive. On the other hand, if you truly believe you would've reacted the same way if your closest, dearest relative brought the stuffing, I guess you don't have anything to worry about. Good luck next year!

             
            1. re: Hobbert

              I guess it would come off that way but I do not hate her. I care for her as I do for all members of both sides of our family. It would do no good to hate her and I would feel terrible doing so. However, when someone treats you a certain way for many years, I think it is natural to be on the defense. I don't have other friends or family members who seem to repetitively try to one up me. She didn't just bring a side, she knowingly brought what I was making, no one else did that. I have established that I should have made better judgement with not asking her remove it. I don't believe I am the one doing the scathing here so while I appreciate your feedback I a respectively disagree. I do love your little picture and quote. It is a good reminder to me that although I feel a certain way about how she treats me at times, I have to be careful that I be fare. Also that I keep trying to make things better. I have honestly never given her the cold shoulder or been mean to her. Even after dinner we sat and talked with no tension. I just feel a certain way at times and need to get over it and ignore her comments.

              1. re: Thanksgiving14

                I know you're long gone from this thread but I'd give you one bit of adviceā€¦

                Don't react. Next time let her place the dish in the middle of the table (she'll pull something again, no question) and just sit there with no reaction.
                Some people just do things/say things to get one.
                Sounds like she's one.

            2. re: Thanksgiving14

              You were right, and SIL (and goofball husband, who knew exactly what was going on) were wrong. That said: Thanksgiving is for lots of complicated reasons probably the most widely observed, intense, emotionally fraught, memory laden holiday we celebrate in the United States. We have a friend who will tell you that it's not "really" Thanksgiving unless she has everything on a list of about two dozen things, including three kinds of cranberries, and three different pies. And the squash pie has to be square.

              My husband's list isn't that long, but he has his list, too. So those are the things I offer to bring. And if the host/ess turns me down, so be it. What your folks should have done was keep their mouths shut, and have their own itty bitty turkey feast on Friday, with the things they particularly love.

              But they didn't, and now they're gone, and you can forget about them for a whole year.

          2. re: Thanksgiving14

            A stuffing competition!? Where can I buy tickets??

            1. re: Thanksgiving14

              Ya know, at our thanksgiving table, I offered to make 2 kinds of cranberry sauce, and my SIL somehow misunderstood and made a big batch herself. So I ended up throwing out a good bit of what I'd made since there was so much left over. $*&$ happens.

          3. <She claimed that he just couldn't go without her homemade stuffing on Thanksgiving.>

            Too bad. Most likely she's the one who doesn't like him going without her homemade stuffing.
            I make the stuffing in my home because I'm the one who roasts the turkey. Maybe other people do it differently but my stuffing (dressing) goes in the turkey when it's roasting.
            She could always go home afterward, or before and make him his stuffing if he's so hell bent on having it.

            40 Replies
            1. re: latindancer

              I agree. My stuffing was inside the 25 lb turkey that I made for the family dinner. They was plenty for my guests.

              1. re: Thanksgiving14

                So could it be that she's one of the now many people who find it worrisome to cook the stuffing inside the bird and rather than say something to you, she brought her own? Still not the best choice, IMHO. The best choice, if that was her reason, is to simply not eat your stuffing and if she was jonesing for stuffing, eat hers at home later.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Now that's an interesting point. Maybe she learned last year that the OP did this and, very clumsily, tried to have some stuffing she and others would actually eat this time. Personally, I'm not wild about stuffing in general but I'm completely weirded out by eating something that's been cooking inside a carcass. Even my super traditional mom stopped doing it years ago.

                  1. re: Hobbert

                    <stopped doing it years ago>

                    Thankfully my French grandmother, with her incredible culinary skills, taught me how to cook.
                    She was adventurous and one of the finest cooks and bakers I've ever met.
                    I'd never make dressing any other way.
                    Of course there will always be naysayers when it comes to preparing food but I pay them no attention, usually their skills aren't all that.

                  2. re: Just Visiting

                    No the stuffing was from a turkey breast,

                    1. re: Thanksgiving14

                      Above you said it was inside the turkey. Can you clarify this?

                      1. re: Thanksgiving14

                        So was your stuffing inside the turkey or not? I'm confused.

                        1. re: Jerseygirl111

                          Both her stuffing and my stuffing were made inside of a turkey.

                                1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                  That's really odd. It would be great if you could point her to this thread and ask her to post her view.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Not looking to start World War III. I just wanted to know if people thought I was in the wrong and how I could have handled it better.

                                    1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                      I think what she did was odd from the way you described it. You could have taken the high road, served it and complimented her on her dressing. Nothing takes the wind of the sail of a blowhard than that. But, that's also seeing it from your view which is why I wondered what her take on it was. It could have been as innocent as she said ("Dear CH, I was invited to my SIL's house for dinner where everyone brought sides. My husband loves my stuffing and he hasn't had it in years so I decided to bring that. When I placed it on the serving table w/ the other dishes, my SIL removed it and put it in the back so people could only have hers. She's always felt competitive with me so I wonder if she was afraid people might like mine better. I worked really hard on that dressing, even cooked a turkey because my husband requested it. Am I wrong to be offended?"). Family baggage colors our views.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        You could be right. I am sure she would feel differently then me. However, no one was asked to bring sides. She asked what I needed, which I appreciated, I did not say stuffing as she knew I was making it. She let me know she brought it 5 minutes before serving dinner. I personally would not bring one of the main components of a dinner if not asked or if my offer had not been accepted. Everyone is acting like stuffing is just another side. Lets face it, it is part of the main course & in my case it came right out of the bird, so I am not getting the argument that is just another side. How is this different from Mr. Rib?

                                        1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                          Mr. Rib didn't refuse to serve a guests' dish.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            Didn't mr. rib have to ask his guest to not bring the dish repetitively? So because he was given the chance before the actual event that makes it better. I handled it the best I could 5 minutes before serving a dinner to a large crowd.

                                            The guest dish was not meant to be served. She said it was for her husband. He served himself her stuffing...I didn't refuse anything but the placement on the table.

                                              1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                                I think you handled it well, actually. If the other guests were not made uncomfortable at all, then I certainly wouldn't be concerned about SIL feelings. She clearly was not concerned about your feelings. She knew what she was doing by placing the stuffing "center stage" on your table. You called her out, her husband now has plenty of stuffing to enjoy...so they can both go get stuffed! Win-win. Lol.

                                                1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                                  "The guest dish was not meant to be served. She said it was for her husband."

                                                  Then that's not the impression I'd had from this. I thought it was a competitiveness and she was trying to one up you on making a better stuffing and you were offended because you thought they were saying you couldn't make stuffing that was good enough.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Right said it was for her husband but came in a large enough dish for entire table. She placed on the table after I suggested I dish it out in the kitchen. My meal was planned down to the trivets on the table. If it was just for her husband why did she go a place it on the table for everyone?

                                                    1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                                      Well just to be devil's advocate, one might also say that it is rude to bring a dish with only enough for yourself, and not enough to share.

                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                        She didn't say it was everyone, just her husband. She knew I was making stuffing so there would not be a concern there would not be enough to go around.

                                                        1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                                          as I said elsewhere, stuffing isn't "interchangeable" (for many people) the way perhaps mashed potatoes, or even turkey, is. So to me it would seem *odder* to bring only enough for one, rather than to bring enough to share. That would seem selfish and weird. Clearly people have different views on whether stuffing is the "main course" (like turkey) or a "side" (like a veggie). Personally I see it as a side, with lots of variations and personal preferences. I get it that there's a history and a dynamic with you and her, but outside of that some people just may not see that stuffing is *that much* the prerogative of the host, the way the bird is.

                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                            Maybe it would be weird to bring a small amount. I find it weird & rude for someone to bring something they know the host is making. Stuffing is not the only competent of the meal that could be varied. I would argue there are many variations of many of the sides. Example 50 Variations
                                                            http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-a...

                                                            Let's all have it our way. Let's see, I want instant mashed potatoes, stove top stuffing, I don't like green bean casserole so I will just make plain green beans..I will bring any of the above to another home just because I want it regardless of what the host prepared. I won't let her know I am bringing it either & will let her know 5 minutes before the sit down dinner begins.

                                                            It's not about someone else wanting to do another variation. It was about her bringing the same item that I was making because her husband thinks hers is the best. It was not needed or appreciated. If she would like to host Thanksgiving she is welcome to have the menu be her prerogative. I would not bring an item she is already making. I would give her that respect.

                                                            1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                                              Sorry - this reply is very immature.

                                                              Obviously - you wanted the entire focus on you and quite frankly you were not in the frame of mind to see this as a sharing, family time.

                                                              1. re: Jeanne

                                                                I think you were missing the sarcasm embedded in the comment.

                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                  Not missing the sarcasm - just floored by the immaturity.

                                                                  1. re: Jeanne

                                                                    I dunno hosting a big-ass family gathering is a huge effort even if it is is semi-potluck, sorry I don't see how expecting a little respect in your home that you scrubbed, at the table you set, sharing an understood choice of dishes and being a bit miffed by a last-minute water balloon is immature.

                                                                    it's like your guests all of a sudden decided dinner would be out on the picnic table because that's how Grandma (RIP all these years) used to do it.

                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                      And involving planned contributions from other guests...

                                  2. re: Thanksgiving14

                                    I hope you will not let this thread stop you from participating on other Chowhound threads. This one seems to have sparked a bit of opinions all the way around. I believe what you say about this woman basically treating you is a passive/aggressive manner.

                                    There are lot of good people posting about many different topics related to cooking. Holiday threads seem to bring out strong opinions. I'm just glad this isn't another "is it stuffing or is it dressing" thread.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      1st time on here & I am finding it addicting. I am a little surprised at some of the responses but I asked so I have to take in all viewpoints. I was really baffled by this situation. I just have never had someone go out their way like this with me so many times. I know I am not crazy. Other relatives mentioned it to me later that night and next day & I didn't bring it up to them. If everyone on this thread saw her going on about it in my kitchen..they may feel differently. Hey I can't blame them. It always hurts the most when it is happening to you. I just have to stick to who I am and not get caught up in it like I did this time.

                                        1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                          You've been a good sport The one thing I like about CH is that people don't hold back. You want an honest answer, you'll get it. And, you'll find a good variety of responses which is helpful. If we only hear what we want to hear, we never grow.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            I agree. I also think many more of the group would have had a stronger reaction if it were them. People always feel most wronged when are being the ones mistreated. It is easy to claim you would have handled it better. Whether in your home, job, or out on public there are times that you just can't let someone else run the show for you. I met my boiling point with this incident. Right or wrong!

                                            1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                              I've BTDT w/ my inlaws (there are close to 30 of them when we host). I've learned over the years which battles to pick. If someone wanted to cater to her husband, as odd as it seems, I wouldn't let it bother me. As I said below, we hosted and I said I'd do dessert and my SIL brought a bunch of frozen stuff. My niece brought two stuffings, one small for her sister who won't eat apples, one for everyone else. Everything found a way to the table. We just let people know that the small stuffing didn't have apples and was for the sister. In the beginning, things like this bothered me but then I decided they were good people and these were small things. I don't have, however, a history with them like you seem to w/ this SIL so it definitely gives you a different perspective that the rest of here don't know.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Thats great that works for your family. I do agree you are better off being laid back about these things.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              Ldancer - I'd edit that to: "Most likely SHE's the one who doesn't like ... going without her homemade stuffing"

                            2. The "ideal" stuffing is a personal thing. We vastly prefer my mom's stove top to his mom's homemade cornbread sausage stuffing mush.

                              That being said, I feel her bringing the stuffing wasn't rude, it was how she presented the stuffing. IF she had said "this is my late grandmother's recipe (or other similar phrase) and I wanted to share a family favorite" and brought a smaller portion that would have been acceptable.

                              Just out of curiosity, was it any good?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: autumm

                                I appreciate your feedback. I guess it is possible if she presented it in a different way I would have felt less offended. However, since we both married into the family and I often feel like I getting dragged into a competition that I have no intention of entering, I didn't see it that way. I am sure it was good stuffing but since they weren't giving mine a chance, I wasn't looking to try hers. Remember they have never been to my house for thanksgiving. Its possible they might had enjoyed it if they gave it a try. If someone invited you over for spaghetti and meatballs would you bring your own meatballs? If my husband suggested such a thing, I would tell him to suck it up and be a gracious guest. He can eat my cooking any day.

                                1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                  Some people are just looking for a fight, food or otherwise. My MIL won't let me host family gatherings because she seems to be worried my food would be better than hers. Correctly worried;) So she talks one of my SIL's into "hosting" where she shows up and cooks there. We are always assigned to bring beverages.

                                  I feel for you in your situation. Some times a smile and nod, and let them look like the fools they are works the best. Plus awesome food never hurts.

                                  1. re: autumm

                                    That's crazy! Well it should make you feel good that you are that big of threat but its sad at the same time. Things like this just make me appreciate the people in my life that are gracious, humble, and supportive of myself and others. You can't change people and your right a smile and nod is usually the best route. Thanks again for your feedback!

                              2. Was the stuffing brought by the sibling similar to yours? By that, I mean were they both bread stuffing, or both cornbread stuffing? Since it was their first time at your Thanksgiving, and unless sides were assigned by you to the guests, I think you may be overly sensitive. I am not referring to how the stuffing was presented, just about the fact that there were 'competing' stuffings. I would have presented them both and let it go.

                                How karge is your table? We have so much food that passing dishes family style at the table just won't work. The food is set up buffet style.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: John E.

                                  I did not assign or ask anyone for anything but like many members of the family they offered to bring something and asked me to let them know what exactly they could do to help. Many family offered specific items so I asked them to bring or green bean or brocelli casserole since that was one thing not yer covered. They knew i was making the turkey and stuffing. Bringing her stuffing was something they showed up with. She announced multiple times that her husband couldn't have thanksgiving without her stuffing. Funny they have never hosted and never brought her stuffing to my mother in laws house when she hosted the pass 7 years. I am not competive at all. In fact i often take the back seat but I felt like she was trying to get attention since I was hosting. I felt like i needed to stand up 4 myself 4 once.

                                  1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                    wow I don't even want to parse that matrimonial dynamic.

                                    since her dish wasn't specifically assigned, ehh. I'd sort of let it slide (put it on the buffet and when packing up leftovers start with hers).

                                    HOWEVER. when they reach their dotage I can also imagine her claiming (pls. forgive me) "only I know how to employ his suppositories the way he tolerates them" etc.

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      Now THAT would be a claim I'd be happy to back off on! The suppositories are all yours, dear.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I know, I went too far, but we've all met the type. "only I ('I' in bold italic) know how to make the iced water he likes"

                                        some might say nurturing, some might say protective with an aggression.

                                2. I don't think you were being overly sensitive..Did they know you were making the turkey & stuffing? If so, they should have contacted you to ask what they could bring, if they wanted to contribute a dish. Trying to overshadow your meal plan is just plain disrespectful.

                                  I would have done exactly what you did, remove it from the table. I would have wrapped it up and handed it back to them on the way out.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Cherylptw

                                    They did know I was making the turkey and stuffing. They also did offer a dish which i of course appreciated. I asked if they could do a veggie casserole. She announced in front of multiple people in the kitchen to me that she brought stuffing because of her husband. He had to have her stuffing on thanksgiving. I have been in the family 7 years she never hosted or brought her stuffing to my mother in laws when she did. They ate their stuffing but i just asked them to move it from the table after the dished it out.

                                    1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                      The stress of the holidays always seems to magnify small things, at least in my experience.

                                      1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                        I find it rude; if her husband absolutely had to have her stuffing, he could have had it at home. I'm a little perplexed about the negative responses to the OP when clearly it was she who was disrespected. I understand overlooking certain things when it's family, but seriously, why should she allow someone to show up & disregard her menu then get a pass just because she was a guest. It was a planned meal...if you don't stick to the plan, next time call it a potluck. Hell, why don't she hang a sign on her back that says "I'm a doormat".

                                        For the OP, I was reading up on personality disorders: on this link, http://counsellingresource.com/featur...

                                        The paragraph on Manipulation Via Overt or Covert Intimidation kinda fits this lady IMO. Regardless, you handled the situation in a gracious manner. I would think about having a talk with her in the event you decide to host future dinners. Good luck.

                                        1. re: Cherylptw

                                          The negatives were about the handling of the situation during the meal, not an endorsement of the SIL's behavior.

                                          One can refuse to be a doormat in a private conversation at a better time.

                                          It's not about giving the other person a pass, it's about making a holiday as enjoyable as possible for all your guests while they're present, and the OP seems to get that point.

                                          1. re: Cherylptw

                                            Thank you. I have felt a wrath of negativity but hey I asked for it. I do believe because this a Thanksgiving meal many posters are bringing in their own past holiday hang ups. Had this been a regular dinner I would have felt the same way. Maybe I would have gotten a little more support on the thread. Who knows?!

                                            While I do find my SIL intimidating at times, I do not think that her treatment is always intentional. I think some people are very focused on themselves and love to make their selves the center of attention. That doesn't always mean she is trying to upstage me. I shouldn't always take it personal.

                                            That said although I agree I would be better off not doing what I did. I do think in this situation she was pushing the envelope with how far she could take things. Everyone is horrified I asked her to move her stuffing. I had only so many trivets. I had planned the meal. There was only so much room on the table & I did not make a scene or try to embarrass her. At that moment she got the point that maybe it was not polite to bring what the host had made. I had asked her in the kitchen to not set it out. That I would prefer to dish it out for her husband in the kitchen. She still took it to the table & put it right in the middle. Yes I would have been a doormat if I let her ignore my wishes in my home.

                                            I still believe that all my guests had a wonderful time despite my private conversation with SIL.

                                            1. re: Thanksgiving14

                                              Yes, SIL decided to ignore what you asked her not to do in YOUR house and to show you she couldn't care less what you asked, she sat the dish right in the center of the table anyway. She was making a statement with that action.

                                              All I have to say is you are a better woman than I am and I wish you the best with this.

                                            2. re: Cherylptw

                                              But one could argue the OP was a rude hostess by removing her guest's offering, don't you agree? Two rudes don't make a right, especially at a holiday meal. Sometimes it is better to take the high road and take satisfaction in the fact that the SIL doesn't get her goat and she is above such pettiness and immaturity.

                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                You are correct that 2 rudes don't make a right.