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  • February 22, 2018, 07:13:38 AM

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Author Topic: When to put food away at a party?  (Read 1164 times)

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Meletiquette

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When to put food away at a party?
« on: February 09, 2018, 02:26:55 PM »
Today's letter on the main page (in which the OP arrived at her mum's BBQ to find that everyone had already eaten even though OP had arrived 30 minutes before the event was even set to start) reminded me of a question that has been on my mind for some time. When you attend (or host) a casual event at your house (e.g., BBQ or birthday party, nothing that requires formal sit-down), do you expect food to be out for guests for the entire length of the event (for food safety purposes, let's say the event is no longer than 3-4 hours), or is it the norm for food to be served at a certain time and then put away?

For the majority of events I've attended (or hosted), snack food and appetizers are usually put out first (and left out the whole time), then whatever is considered the main course is put out within 30 minutes to an hour from the start of the event, and then usually some sort of desserts are put out after. If a food platter is empty, it is removed, but any food that will not spoil quickly is left out for guests to graze on. My main point is that there is always food available for a guest throughout the duration of the party.

I've attended several events however (mostly at one couple's house, but I've experienced it elsewhere), where all the food goes out all at once very early into the party, we all take what we want to eat, and then within 30 minutes the remaining food is wrapped and put back into their fridge (I assume for their own consumption later). The party then continues for 2-3 more hours. They are never rude about it, they make sure everyone has taken something to eat before cleaning up, but there is just something that feels off?

Maybe I find it weird because I associate food being put away with an event being over? Or are they the weird ones for not leaving it out?

Outdoor Girl

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 02:52:55 PM »
A dinner party, I would expect the food to be put away once the meal is concluded, though I will leave desserts out, in case people were too full to have dessert earlier.

But a casual event, with a longer time frame?  Like you, I would put away food that needs to be refrigerated and leave everything else out for grazing.
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GardenGal

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 03:13:40 PM »
Quote
I've attended several events however (mostly at one couple's house, but I've experienced it elsewhere), where all the food goes out all at once very early into the party, we all take what we want to eat, and then within 30 minutes the remaining food is wrapped and put back into their fridge (I assume for their own consumption later). The party then continues for 2-3 more hours.

I've never seen this - the food is usually left out unless it is a formal sit-down dinner.
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Harriet Jones

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 03:36:24 PM »
A dinner party, I would expect the food to be put away once the meal is concluded, though I will leave desserts out, in case people were too full to have dessert earlier.

But a casual event, with a longer time frame?  Like you, I would put away food that needs to be refrigerated and leave everything else out for grazing.

This.  I'd find it odd if the hosts put *all* the food away at a casual event like a bbq. 

Hmmmmm

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2018, 04:10:14 PM »

I've attended several events however (mostly at one couple's house, but I've experienced it elsewhere), where all the food goes out all at once very early into the party, we all take what we want to eat, and then within 30 minutes the remaining food is wrapped and put back into their fridge (I assume for their own consumption later). The party then continues for 2-3 more hours. They are never rude about it, they make sure everyone has taken something to eat before cleaning up, but there is just something that feels off?

Maybe I find it weird because I associate food being put away with an event being over? Or are they the weird ones for not leaving it out?

I would assume this couple is very concerned about food safety.

I do think it depends on the type of party. For instance, at the super bowl party I attended, the snacks were out from the beginning. The main course was served during half time and left overs were pretty much put away once every one had made their plate and eaten. The snacks remained out and dessert type items were added for the 3rd and 4th quarter.

I'll be hosting a dinner party on Sunday. I'll have hors d'ouevres out when people arrive. While we are moving guests toward the dining room, we'll bring those items into the kitchen. We'll most likely serve buffet style, but once everyone has finished with dinner and we've served dessert, we'll put away those dishes and probably put out some cookies and nuts for any one who might want to continue to eat while we continue to visit and drink after dinner. I've found that unless the event goes well into the evening, no one really takes advantage of the cookies though someone might grab a few nuts when refilling their wine or cocktail.

VorFemme

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2018, 05:02:22 PM »
When I have hosted or gone to parties where there will be people wanting to nibble now & then (or graze - whatever you want to call it when you get a few small things to eat, then refill your plate later - possibly several times), I will see some of everything put out at once, then the serving area is "refreshed" as serving plates get emptied. 

I can remember a couple of parties that were set up as "appetizers" turned into people came hungry & the food table cleared quickly & repeatedly...going out for more food does not always work...ordering pizza & having it cut in smaller pieces would have worked better - but - it was two days before payday and we didn't have the cash in the house to do that...running out of food is no fun...especially if there is no way to go back to the kitchen & come up with something quickly.

Today, with more fast food places taking credit cards, it would work out just fine to pick something up & pay with a credit card - but not thirty years ago, when no fast food places took credit cards or checks and debit cards were not yet in use.

But for a host to put all the food out - then clear the serving area of just about everything and have it put away in thirty minutes...well, it doesn't really feel like a party, as defined by my experience - it feels like I'm being rushed...lay out stuff on plates in large containers of ice & let people graze a little longer, please.  Or put out smaller amounts & refill every twenty minutes for the first hour or so...don't make everyone feel like you're afraid that the food will either go "off" or all be devoured by the hungry hordes - it just feels less than hospitable, for some reason.  Not badly - just a little "off"...but our family gatherings rarely ended in less than four to six hours and a few ran to ten hours (what can I say, it was Christmas Day and it was Grandma's birthday - we had the holiday dinner around noon and her birthday dinner & cake around six, in between marathon sessions of dominos and "visiting" over the game table by the grownups).  I still remember watching men walk on the moon or Bible readings by astronauts in orbit...

Grandma had the food put up after about an hour & the dishes were done & put away (all the aunts & older cousins helped - they needed the table cleared for ten people to play dominos).  The desserts stayed out on a side table - as almost nothing needed refrigeration (cookies, cake, brownies, apple pie, pecan pie, and possibly a few fruit & Jello salads that did get put in the fridge).  But the leftovers came back out for the evening meal, so Grandma didn't have to cook...might have been why so many of the aunts vied to bring more food than was needed, Grandma could take the next day or two off from cooking, if she felt like it!
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 09:58:40 PM by VorFemme »
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HannahGrace

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2018, 05:29:28 PM »
Iím someone who is pretty conservative with food safety and I canít imagine putting all the food away 30 minutes into a party. Thatís just odd to me. When Iím hosting, anything thatís snacky and doesnít involve dairy or meat will stay out the whole time (aka 3-4 hours). When Iíve had football parties with things like buffalo dip that have dairy in them, I start thinking about putting them away maybe 1.5-2 hours in, but I ask the guests whether anyone wants more before I do, so itís not without warning. When Iíve had people arrive super late (aka the 4th quarter / a few hours in), I offer to heat up whatever isnít still sitting out for consumption. For a large party I guess that would be difficult, but i would try to plan the party food so it would not need to be returned to the fridge. I donít know, but to me what you are describing is unusual and I canít really justify it as a food safety concern.

rose red

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2018, 07:32:38 PM »
It sounds strange to me. Even a sit down meal takes at least an hour, what with chatting and socializing. Putting all the food away within 30 minutes doesn't seem welcoming, especially if you're all still at the table!

jpcher

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2018, 11:09:21 AM »
A dinner party, I would expect the food to be put away once the meal is concluded, though I will leave desserts out, in case people were too full to have dessert earlier.

But a casual event, with a longer time frame?  Like you, I would put away food that needs to be refrigerated and leave everything else out for grazing.

This.

zhaleh

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2018, 09:53:44 AM »
Quote from: Meletiquette

Maybe I find it weird because I associate food being put away with an event being over? Or are they the weird ones for not leaving it out?

It may be weird, or maybe they actually donít want people over for more than an hour.  What is the invitation like? How do you know itís a three to four hour event?
Even if they were conservative with their food, why wouldnít they put it out an hour after everyone arrived? And have they never been elsewhere and experienced what most of us seem to be used too?

I think itís either they donít associate food with being a part of events, or they are strict with food in general, thinking of it only as fuel and not an entertainment item, or they only intend guests to be there for no more than an hour.

For myself, at the casual get together described, I would never leave food sitting out for more than 90 minutes.  I put a cheese tray out with a couple of other trays, like nachos and salsa, cucumbers and salmon, whatever, and an hour to an hour and a half...then I change the trays to something a bit heavier, tea sandwiches, meatballs, veg trays, salad, then I clear those and put out fruit and dessert trays.

With wine, beer, tea and fizzy and still water at the ready.

Iím not really bothered about making sure everyone had some of everything before packing up, itís seems a bit over the top to either ask individuals or make announcements, I usually just bring out the meatballs and replace the cheese tray with them and go back to wrap up the cheese and bring out the sandwichís to replace the chips and dip...that sort of thing.

I feel like some posters will get upset that I said it feels, ď over the topĒ to make sure everyone has had their fill, but I wouldnít find that if I were a guest, itís just a personal thing for me, Iíd rather not distract my guests from socializing with each other by interrupting with an announcement or passing the trays one time before I put them away.

 I would answer ďoh I really liked the purple cheeseĒ with ďdo you want some more?Ē  And I wouldnít be annoyed with a guest asking if there was any smoked salmon leftover.

Winterlight

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2018, 08:25:05 PM »
A dinner party, I would expect the food to be put away once the meal is concluded, though I will leave desserts out, in case people were too full to have dessert earlier.

But a casual event, with a longer time frame?  Like you, I would put away food that needs to be refrigerated and leave everything else out for grazing.

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siamesecat2965

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Re: When to put food away at a party?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2018, 09:29:34 AM »
Quote
I've attended several events however (mostly at one couple's house, but I've experienced it elsewhere), where all the food goes out all at once very early into the party, we all take what we want to eat, and then within 30 minutes the remaining food is wrapped and put back into their fridge (I assume for their own consumption later). The party then continues for 2-3 more hours.

I've never seen this - the food is usually left out unless it is a formal sit-down dinner.

Neither have I, and I'd feel the same way, that the putting away of the food signals the end of an event. I don't entertain much, but when I have, its usually just snacks and such. One time I had a bday party for a friend, with a Mexican theme, so in addition to snacks, I had stuff for tacos. Left it out for most of the party, then put the perishable stuff away, but first checked to make sure no one wanted more. Chips, salsa etc. were still out, and we then had cake and other dessert.