Author Topic: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"  (Read 6163 times)

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TootsNYC

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I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« on: November 05, 2012, 03:39:36 PM »
yay!

I married into a family that has a few very "aunts" who are pretty proprietary about "their" holidays, so as the 2nd generation, it's never been likely that I'd host. Then the two aunts who traded off on Thanksgiving got older and ill, and it seemed that I'd get a chance. I got all excited the first year, and disappointed when the "older" aunt invited people. Then the next year, she wasn't going to, but by the time I'd sussed that out, the daughter of the "ill" aunt stepped in and hosted at her mom's house. Which was nice, and fun, but I was feeling frustrated, that I'd never get a chance. That went on for two years.

So last year, at some point on Thanksgiving, someone mentioned "next year," and I quickly said, "I'd hoped to host at some point!" And the cousin said, "that's a great idea, you do it next year! We should swap off; us younger generation people should get to do the hosting. Now that I've wrested it out of their hands, we can switch it around." (and, she herself has gotten very ill and probably isn't up to it)

So, we are hosting, DH and I.

Invitations went out by phone Sunday.

The next thing to manage is the "what can I bring?" thing. Which they were already asking, the moment DH issued the invitation.

I'd like, in a way, for them not to bring ANYthing. It'll throw off my planning, and I'd like to just do it all myself.

(and I'll admit to being a tiny bit crabby about it, because I think my FIL and MIL pressured us into having the graduation party at a restaurant, bcs my MIL assumed she was going to be doing a lot of the cooking--which she wouldn't have, and if she assumed it, it would annoy me a lot; I'm a grownup, and I can plan a party for 25 people all by my lonesome, thankyouverymuch. So I have to be careful to watch how childish I'm being, etc. But I *do* prefer to have total control over the entire menu. I can make gnocchi and other traditional dishes.)

So I guess my first question is, how do I persuade people not to bring anything?
And, I guess a little encouragement w/ resisting pressure from my MIL, who may see herself as co-hostess, just because.

WillyNilly

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2012, 03:45:43 PM »
I say think of something that won't bug you.  And remember "bringing something" doesn't have to be food, maybe they could bring a centerpiece or flowers?  Or perhaps they could bring a photo album of their last vacation.  Maybe they could bring a meal compliment - ice or their favorite beverage?  Maybe you could ask they be sure to bring their camera to take photos since you'll be too busy hosting but would love for someone to commemorate the day.

Deetee

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2012, 03:47:32 PM »
My favorite quote is from my sister.

"Bring nothing. And by nothing, I mean bring wine"

NyaChan

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2012, 03:48:29 PM »
When they ask, I'd probably say in a very happy but firm voice: "Oh no, no, I have it all planned down to the last crumb!  There simply won't be room for anything extra.  I've already told everyone that they aren't to bring anything, so I'm hoping it won't be a problem. I can count on you too right?"

cattlekid

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2012, 03:51:56 PM »
As someone who will spend her entire life being the “second/third generation” and who has had to take over a yearly family celebration, I can definitely relate to the feelings of incompetency that are potentially being thrust upon you. 

My advice to you would to be to tread lightly in this arena.  If there are certain traditional dishes that are the bailiwick of certain individuals (e.g., Aunt Bee always brings her famous green bean casserole), you may be wise to incorporate a few of these items in your menu.  This way, it may smooth the transition to the new generation and may pave the way for a more intergenerational celebration going forward.  The other benefit would be that you would not burn any bridges in the event that you may have to hand back the celebration to the previous generation in the event that it may no longer be feasible for you to host as well. 

For the other folks, you may just want to suggest that they bring wine, pop, ice, etc.

Good luck!

Roses

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2012, 03:55:39 PM »
I always handle this by assigning something that won't throw off the menu, but will still make  folks feel like they are being good guests and helpful, because really that's why people ask, they want to help.  Some suggestions:  Rolls or french bread, wine, beer, other beverages, an appetizer or veggie tray, a desert (you can never have too much right), ice cream or whip cream to go with the pies, etc.?  I also try to make these items things that will NOT require that people are suddenly cooking in my kitchen while I'm trying to put the menu on the table.  I learned this lesson the hard way one year when a friend said she would make the vegetable, only to show up at my house with a grocery bag full of just purchased ingredients, nothing prepped or done and then proceeded to whip out 2-3 pans and take over my stove...while I was trying to get all the last minute stuff on the table.   

Heading off MIL co-hosting ideas:  Be sure you have the above list ready when folks call, so if MIL tries to tell them "Oh bring this", they can already say, oh, "I'm already bringing that".  Give HER something to bring, one item, and be really clear (and firm) on the arrival time so she doesn't show up early to "help". 

Wordgeek

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2012, 03:57:24 PM »
I like Deetee's response. 

TootsNYC

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2012, 03:57:31 PM »
My favorite quote is from my sister.

"Bring nothing. And by nothing, I mean bring wine"

Ooh, I like that one!

Giggity

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2012, 03:59:43 PM »
I like Deetee's response.

I like Deetee's response pretty much no matter what question it's answering.
Words mean things.

TootsNYC

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2012, 04:10:01 PM »
I don't think I have to worry that MIL will "take over" by approving or recruiting other people to contribute dishes.

The big thing will be her sort of telling me what to make, or assuming that she'll be cooking, etc., in the planning parts.

She's been ill herself (what a family of sickies, right? Now I'm suddenly worried about the family!), so hopefully she'll be willing to be sort of lovingly pushed back, away from the stove.

The other thing I can argue, quite definitely, is that my kitchen is small, and I can't really fit other items.

It's also true that there might not be physical room! I had an aunt get upset once because she brought cookies to the confirmation party and they didn't get served. But 4 other people brought dessert; I had 2 cakes, 3 types of cookies, and a big fruit salad of my OWN; physically, there was not room. I was, quite literally, worried about stuff getting knocked on the floor.

But dessert might be a good thing to suggest (along the lines of etiquetteE's suggestion). I love to make desserts, but I can probably keep myself from going overboard. And these folks just don't eat it. Or, they don't eat the desserts that *I* would eat. (That's always disappointing. One of the differences between their "Italianate" culture and my middle-American one.)

gingerzing

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2012, 04:18:37 PM »
As someone who will spend her entire life being the “second/third generation” and who has had to take over a yearly family celebration, I can definitely relate to the feelings of incompetency that are potentially being thrust upon you. 

My advice to you would to be to tread lightly in this arena.  If there are certain traditional dishes that are the bailiwick of certain individuals (e.g., Aunt Bee always brings her famous green bean casserole), you may be wise to incorporate a few of these items in your menu.  This way, it may smooth the transition to the new generation and may pave the way for a more intergenerational celebration going forward.  The other benefit would be that you would not burn any bridges in the event that you may have to hand back the celebration to the previous generation in the event that it may no longer be feasible for you to host as well. 

For the other folks, you may just want to suggest that they bring wine, pop, ice, etc.

Good luck!

Agreeing with this.  I had a great-aunt that made Jello salad.  (SIGH, yes,  I am from Iowa.  Apparently it is what we HAVE to have to make a meal complete.)  Her traditional thing to bring was at least one jello salad with mini-marshmallows...and not just mini marshmallows, but the weird colored ones.  Nothing could be done.  So better you tell Aunty something like "Oh, your wonderful cranberry relish will be just enough."

And it sounds like your MIL just needs a job to be useful.  Perhaps to keep some peace you could say, "MIL, the food is all taken care of.  However, it would be so helpful if you could make sure that there was enough <ice, coffee, tea, punch...whatever would actually be helful but not main food related>  That would help me out completely."   

Snooks

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2012, 05:00:34 PM »
I just keep thinking of the episode of Friends where Phoebe is in charge of ice and cups - could make for an interesting Thanksgiving!

lady_disdain

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2012, 07:29:46 PM »
I think previous posters have covered it all: identify a couple of "important" holiday dishes that a specific person has to bring (and make sure they bring it ready to serve), have small tasks for the busy hands guests and wine is a perfect answer.

TootsNYC

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2012, 07:44:23 PM »
I think the advice was to identify a couple of UNimportant dishes.

Because I'm just not willing to share the important ones. Selfish and childish of me, perhaps--but I'm not willing.

lady_disdain

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Re: I'm hosting Thanksgiving! heading off "what can I bring?"
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2012, 08:49:38 PM »
Toots, I meant important as important to the family. For example, no one except Aunt Sara can make Aunt Sara's pumpkin pie right and everyone knows you need to have Aunt Sara's pumpkin pie on the table at Thanksgiving. The kind of struggle that just isn't worth your while and the resentment it can cause.