Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: jaxsue on June 18, 2007, 09:32:23 AM

Title: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: jaxsue on June 18, 2007, 09:32:23 AM
The threads regarding guests bringing food reminded me of my late MIL, who always brought unsolicited food when she and FIL were invited guests. These were not hostess gifts.

The premise usually was: my parents, who lived 1200 miles away from me, would be visiting DH and I. We'd invite MIL/FIL for a dinner, prepared entirely by me. I'd have everything, including a dessert made from scratch or a high-quality bakery item (my mom esp. loved petit fours).

MIL would inevitably breeze in, carrying a dessert. She'd announce that it was "better than what I'd planned," and tell me to put mine away for another time. She'd go on and on about her dessert and would fish for compliments. Yes, she was an attention hog. My parents, being polite, played along. So did DH or FIL (they'd long since tuned her out, unfortunately).

To my credit I did serve my dessert as well as hers, and for the sake of peace I didn't tell her exactly what I thought of her actions.

In retrospect, should I have had more backbone? I believe so, but I'm a stronger person now. Have other ehellions experienced this, and how did you handle it?

Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: Chocolate Cake on June 18, 2007, 10:11:03 AM
She'd announce that it was "better than what I'd planned,"  

With this comment, she's just asking for it, so I'd probably have replied, "Oh, I doubt that.   Besides, it's the hostess' option to set the menu, so I'll be setting YOUR dessert aside for later and will serve mine as I had planned."
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: Jaywalker on June 18, 2007, 10:17:33 AM
I'd probably have done what you did -- served both -- probably not the hill to die on -- but her manner (not just bringing something which could be viewed as gracious) her manner of insulting your menu and cooking should have been slapped a bit

e.g. when presenting the desserts you might have said 'MIL brought this lovely dessert which she has declared is much better than anything I could have cooked -- so we have a chance for a little taste test; Bill what do you think, Mom what do you think -- is MIL's dessert better than mine?'  -- and watch the fun

Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: jaxsue on June 18, 2007, 10:31:45 AM
I love both the responses! If I'd been the person I am now, I would have done these things. I was a wimp, I admit. She was a highly dysfunctional person who pretty much intimidated the family.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: alli_wan on June 18, 2007, 02:30:08 PM
I agree with Jaywalker, it's not a hill to die on.

The best option is to serve both and give your MIL plenty of rope to hang herself.  Fishing for compliments is so endearing, after all.  Bleh.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: twinkletoes on June 18, 2007, 02:34:00 PM
Ick.  What an uneviable position!

I agree with Jaywalker.  It's incredibly unfair to you that she would foist the other dessert on you, but then again, pick your battles.

Just curious - did your MIL only do that when your parents were over?  Either way, it's still really odd.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: BurninDinner on June 21, 2007, 01:25:15 PM
I disagree.  Say no.  "Put yours aside for later, the one I brought is better."  "No, I made it and I'm serving it.  I will not serve yours tonight."
If she kept it up, quit inviting her over.  What a jerk.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: twinkletoes on June 21, 2007, 01:48:38 PM
I disagree.  Say no.  "Put yours aside for later, the one I brought is better."  "No, I made it and I'm serving it.  I will not serve yours tonight."
If she kept it up, quit inviting her over.  What a jerk.

I'm afraid I disagree.

It gives the MIL ample ammunition - she will definitely go and tell anyone who will listen that "I brought this cake from such-and-such expensive bakery" or even worse "I slaved in the kitchen for hours to make this cake, only to have my ungrateful DIL tell me she wouldn't serve it!"  Because we all know the MIL will most likley revise the story to the point where it sounds like the OP would rather serve *no* dessert than what the MIL brought.

It also creates hostility.  With ILs (with all family members, really), you do pick your battles.  It's far easier to just serve the dessert than to make a point - and if MIL is a drama queen, the dinner will most likely be ruined.  Far better to humor her by serving both desserts and being kinda evil in asking others what they think of it.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: jaxsue on June 22, 2007, 08:15:14 AM
I appreciate all the viewpoints. My late MIL was very manipulative and difficult, and most people were afraid of confronting her, even in a nice way (those who did she hated forever).

My DH was "deaf" to her comments, and that didn't help our relationship. My parents (this behavior was the worst in their presence) were too polite to say anything.

It's in the past, but if I knew someone had a future MIL like this - and the future DH/DW didn't set boundaries - I'd tell them to run like hell!
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: caranfin on June 22, 2007, 08:21:00 AM
I disagree.  Say no.  "Put yours aside for later, the one I brought is better."  "No, I made it and I'm serving it.  I will not serve yours tonight."
If she kept it up, quit inviting her over.  What a jerk.

I'm afraid I disagree.

It gives the MIL ample ammunition - she will definitely go and tell anyone who will listen that "I brought this cake from such-and-such expensive bakery" or even worse "I slaved in the kitchen for hours to make this cake, only to have my ungrateful DIL tell me she wouldn't serve it!"  Because we all know the MIL will most likley revise the story to the point where it sounds like the OP would rather serve *no* dessert than what the MIL brought.

It also creates hostility.  With ILs (with all family members, really), you do pick your battles.  It's far easier to just serve the dessert than to make a point - and if MIL is a drama queen, the dinner will most likely be ruined.  Far better to humor her by serving both desserts and being kinda evil in asking others what they think of it.

It depends on the situation. Sometimes the IL is a bully, and the way to get a bully to back down is to stand up to her. There's nothing at all rude about refusing to serve food which was neither requested nor wanted, and if the IL throws a fit, it only shows her true colors. You have to draw the line somewhere. If you let your MIL determine your menu (especially if she's got the gall to say "this is better than what you had planned,") it's not going to stop there. She's going to be naming your children, decorating your house, and planning your vacations. Nip it in the bud. (This of course presumes the MIL isn't one of those people who means well but simply doesn't get it... we have to give the DIL credit for knowing her MIL well enough to determine that.)
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: GingerLee on June 27, 2007, 12:57:59 PM
"Oh, how thoughtful!  It looks positively delicious.  Oopsy!  Oh, dear, look what I've done, your lovely dessert smashed to the floor...Oh, well, we'll just have to make do."  >:D
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: likiak on June 30, 2007, 04:51:00 PM
I don't think you were a wimp to your MIL. My MIL is horrid. I let her do whatever and say whatever. I keep my mouth shut. It's not that I don't have a backbone. I guess I was just raised to be a good person and think of my parents and be thanful on how wonderful they are to me. I always thought I was the bigger and better person, and I just pity my MIL. Her son clings to me now, not her.
I think you handled it great. Just make sure you know not to sink down to that low of a level.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: AprilRenee on June 30, 2007, 04:56:23 PM
I'd be tempted to eat a slice of whatever she brought over, with everyone else and then jump up screaming "O. M.  G. Is that a FLY in here? That's disgusting. I've lost my appetite"
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: blarg314 on July 01, 2007, 10:41:22 PM

I would be inclined to prepare something very perishable/time sensitive (i.e. has to be served tonight, or it will spoil), and use that as an excuse to put the other dessert by for later, with comments about how you'll really like it.  Mind you, I have very little patience for passive agressive garbage like that, where someone is deliberately attempting to sabotage someone else's work.  It's bullying, and I'd rather put up with her complaining about how I slighted her dessert than giving in to her every time.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: willow08 on July 02, 2007, 11:01:44 AM
"Oh, how thoughtful!  It looks positively delicious.  Oopsy!  Oh, dear, look what I've done, your lovely dessert smashed to the floor...Oh, well, we'll just have to make do."  >:D
:D
Welcome to the board, Ginger Lee. I think you and I are going to get along juuuuust fine.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: VorFemme on July 02, 2007, 04:03:06 PM
I rather like the idea of the taste test - too bad you didn't have score cards pre-printed to hand out.

MIL brought brownies and you served petit four - everyone gets to try one of each - then they vote by getting seconds (larger serving) of their favorite.  The winner is determined by which dessert runs out first.........

If there were teenagers in the area - especially teenaged boys - every "contest" would have been a tie as all available food would have vanished.  Although one dessert may have vanished faster than the other.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: Clara Bow on July 03, 2007, 02:09:46 PM
She'd announce that it was "better than what I'd planned,"  

With this comment, she's just asking for it, so I'd probably have replied, "Oh, I doubt that.   Besides, it's the hostess' option to set the menu, so I'll be setting YOUR dessert aside for later and will serve mine as I had planned."


Chocolate Cake nailed it. Put me down for one of those.
Title: Re: Guests Bringing Unsolicited Food
Post by: Clara Bow on July 03, 2007, 02:11:48 PM
"Oh, how thoughtful!  It looks positively delicious.  Oopsy!  Oh, dear, look what I've done, your lovely dessert smashed to the floor...Oh, well, we'll just have to make do."  >:D


"Gee, this Wormwood and Bile Suprise looks fantastic....oh my gosh! And all over your dress too! I'm such a clutz!"
Hey, it beats sticking it up her you-know-what....