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Author Topic: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?  (Read 9180 times)

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Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« on: November 28, 2011, 07:22:54 PM »
Every Wednesday before Thanksgiving DH and I invite friends over for a casual potluck. This year turned out great! We had about 20-25 guests and a lot of food. Everyone had a good time! Two situations occurred that I wasn't sure what the proper etiquette should have been though.

Situation #1

There was soda and tea available for everyone, but alcohol was BYOB. Bob brought a 12 pack of beer. It wasn't a craft beer or anything, but just a beer of Bob's preference. Bob put his case in the fridge along with all the other beer. Paul went to the fridge and drank one of Bob's beers. After Paul had left, Bob informed DH and I that he was incredibly bothered that Paul took one of his beers without asking. If he had asked, Bob wouldn't have been as bothered. What's the etiquette on BYOB at a potluck? Is it meant to be shared with everyone just like the food or otherwise?

Situation #2

We had a great turn out food wise! Everything from BBQ pork sliders to fruit bowl to gingerbread trifle. I know not all guests like to cook or have time to cook, so some brought store bought cakes and pies. About half of them weren't opened and eaten. Some guests who brought the store bought cakes and pies offered them to us or left them in case others wanted to eat them later. What I found odd were the guests who took them back with them without saying anything. If something was brought in their own container, it would makes sense to take leftovers with you. However, what is the etiquette on bringing something store bought that was never opened? Not that I would have stopped them at the door, but I was curious.


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 07:42:12 PM »
As far as the beer goes, I think it depends on what is "done" in your circle.  If the norm is for everyone to just drink what they brought then Bob was correct.  However, if the expectation is bring the beverage of your choice to share, then Paul was correct.  I suggest having some clearer rules for in the future.  I have a girls group that gets together once a year for a wine party.  Everyone brings 1 bottle of wine and we all share.  That way we can sample different kinds and see what tastes good.  Of course after the first few tastes, its all good, but that's because we are imbibing and not really doing a true wine tasting.

For the unopened food, I can see offering it to the host, but I don't think its required.  To me, it doesn't matter what form the contribution is in.  If you expect for the contributor to take home their crock pot with the remains of the queso still in it, then they should be similarly expected to take home the unopened pie.  Afterall, if the contributor spends $20 on their contribution it shouldn't matter what the contribution is.  If the homemade option gets sent home with the creator, then the $20 pastry should too.  Either way the contributor gets to take home their leftovers.  It doesn't matter if the homemade pie or the store bought pie wasn't cut.  If the left overs go home with the contributor, then they go home with the contributor -- cut or not, unopened or not. It wasn't rude, but it still would have been nice for any of the contributors to offer you some of the leftovers.


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 07:47:08 PM »
I'm not familiar with beer etiquette, but I think that if Bob brought beer to a potluck that he doesn't want to share then he should keep it separate in a little cooler of it's own.

Miss Manners answered a question on potlucks last week.  Here is a link:

She stated that potluck guests are free to take anything they brought home that is still in it's original container, but should leave behind anything that has been transferred to the host's dishes.

I'm glad that you had such a successful party, sounds like fun!


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 07:50:27 PM »
Paul should have asked Bob. In my opinion alcohol is not included in potluck. Unless Paul and Bob have a good friendship & history of sharing beers, but it sounds like that's not the case!

I wouldn't  take something back that I brought along, regardless of whether it was made/bought/open/unopened, I would however ask to transfer leftovers onto one of the host's own platters, and take home the dish I bought! I've lost many a platter/plate/container over the years! Same goes for Bob's beers, whatever he doesn't drink gets left behind. If I was hosting though, I would always ask people to take home what they bought, or put together plates with a bit of everything.

Sounds like a feast though!  ;D


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 08:14:16 PM »
At our Thanksgiving everyone took home leftovers of whatever they brought. Nobody brought anything that was either store-bought or that didn't get opened, but I would expect them to take that stuff home, too.
I have brought multiple bags of chips to go with homemade dip and taken home leftover dip and the unopened chip bags. If there had just been a couple of chips left, I'd have left them.

As far as beer, I think that's a free-for-all too. However, I'd definitely ask the host if that was the case from the start and accept it if they said no (though I'd think it unusual). If one person or family has something they want to keep to themselves, I'd expect them to keep it out of public reach.


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 11:03:01 PM »
Paul was rude. At every BYOB I've ever been too, you drink your own unless someone offers theirs.

If it's okay in your social circle to take home leftovers from potlucks (it is in mine), then it's okay to take them whether they are homemade or store bought.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 11:04:35 PM »
Paul was rude. At every BYOB I've ever been too, you drink your own unless someone offers theirs.

At ours, there's a lot of swapping, but you ask. "Trade you a Pale Ale for a Stout?"


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2011, 12:06:18 AM »

Your alcohol is your own is how it's done here.
If you want beer you have to take it yourself. Sway is right.
Stewart/Colbert '16


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2011, 07:50:47 AM »
Pot luck = bring a dish to share. BYOB = Bring your OWN booze. "Own" is the key word here. These are two different things. Paul should have brought his own if he wanted to drink. Since he didn't, then he definitely should have asked Bob.

On taking the dish home, I agree that regardless of whether it was homemade or store-bought, in a nice dish or a disposable one, partially eaten or untouched, the leftovers belong to the person who brought the dish. They can choose to offer the leftovers to the host or take them home.

In my circle of friends, both get done. It depends on the person and the dish. Some people want their leftovers and just take them wordlessly (perfectly OK). Others don't want them and leave them behind wordlessly. And still others offer to the host first, then take home if the host declines.


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2011, 07:55:36 AM »
I'm going to differ on the booze - I think if you bring something to a potluck, you can expect to share. Certainly that's done when we bring wine to picnics etc. We open one person's bottle - when that's gone, we open the next. Is it NICE to ask? Of course.

Was Bob really expecting to drink all 12? Could he just have said to the borrower "May I try one of yours?" if it bothered him?


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2011, 08:39:13 AM »
He should've asked about the beer. 

But as far as potluck goes: if I bring a dish to share and it doesn't get eaten I'll leave it for the hostesss or ask if they want it.   I figure they put the work into hosting and all that involves, so they should have the option of having the leftover food if they want it.   I admire anyone who hosts. 

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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2011, 09:12:03 AM »
Paul should have asked Bob for a beer.  If he didn't know who brought the beer, he could have asked, 'Hey, who brought the Bud?  Could I have one?  I'll trade you a Miller.'  But Bob could have also brought his own small cooler if he was worried about someone else drinking his beer.

As for the taking of food, as hostess, I usually encourage people to take their leftovers, especially if it hasn't been opened, as I don't keep sweets in the house.  I eat them if they're there and I don't need extra sweets!

So while the more polite thing might have been to offer them to the host/ess, I don't find it strange that they took their unopened items home.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2011, 09:21:33 AM »
Miss Manners answered the question regarding leftovers, so thank you doodlemor for posting the link! It just seemed odd since most of our guests have not done that in the past. Guests that left early usually left what they brought for others to continue to eat if it was brought in a disposable container or have offered it to others and us before taking it with them. Odd to me, yes, but I can see that it's by no means wrong.

Regarding BYOB, in our social circle, it depends on the occasion. We have had 50+ 'house parties' where it was basically a free for all if there was beer in the fridge or liquor on the counter. At those parties, guests who were particular about their beer carried theirs in a cooler or backpack of their own. However, this potluck was more intimate with closer friends. Bob and Paul have been around each other at our other parties, but they are merely acquaintances (if that). I do agree that since the invitation stated BYOB, Paul should have brought beer if he wanted to drink beer. Personally, I would have asked first as well.


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2011, 10:49:17 AM »
I agree with Miss Manners on the food.

On the beer, I don't think it's one size fits all.  It just depends on the group.  Clearly, if Bob was upset that Paul took a beer without asking, then there wasn't a prior understanding of some sort.  And that means Paul was rude. 

The only thing I can think of that might lessen his rudeness is that a 12 pack is a lot of beer if it's considered just his own.  But that's a pretty weak argument :)


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Re: Etiquette on potluck and BYOB?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 11:03:40 AM »
In our group, BYOB means bring what you want to drink but bring extra to share.  Once something is put in a shared cooler or fridge, it's open to anyone who'd like it.  Especially if it is a twelve pack.  Someone probaby wouldn't grab a special craft beer from a 6 pack without asking, but grabbing a Miller from a twelve pack instead of opening up a new pack would be fine.