Author Topic: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties  (Read 4169 times)

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iggy257

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Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« on: January 17, 2013, 06:43:47 PM »
I will admit that I have read both the regular website and the forums for quite a while, but this is my first post.  IRL  I am a rather shy quiet person as well.

I will start by saying that I am a pretty good cook.  I started learning with my mother and grandmother at a very young age and I come from an Italian American family with lots of other good cooks so food has been an important part of family gatherings.  On top of that I have a chemistry degree and devour food science books so I have a very good understanding of food and how to prepare it.  This is the opinion of other people as well, as I have heard second hand how much some members of my family love my cooking.  I am not trying to brag, but this is part of the issue.

Second I will say that I have two children that are very picky eaters due to their disability and another child and husband who are spoiled by my cooking.

We are sometimes invited to parties on DH side of the family.  Typically these parties are hosted at my SIL house for several reasons (space and distance mostly)  I enjoy cooking and so will offer to bring things when there is a party.  Sometimes she will ask me to bring a particular dish and sometimes she will say "we are having  xyz"  bring what you like.    I am having several etiquette issue that I need help with.

First, my MIL sometimes gets upset when I bring things because if we bring the same stuff, mine will get eaten and hers won't.  This is sometimes an issue because I will make a dish that I know my children will eat and she will make a similar dish, but add ingredients that my children simply won't have. Am I rude for bring things for my kids to eat, but  also to share?

Second, SIL is notorious for not providing enough of things for everyone.  She will buy one bottle of soda when she is having 10-15 people over.  Last year she had a picnic and she had someone else bring the drinks, she brought koolaid and beer only.  This picnic had several elderly ladies who do not drink either of these things.  I keep a case of water in my car at all times (we lived in FL for many years) so when I got a bottle of water for myself, I offered bottles to others who accepted.  Was I rude to offer the water to others?  I know that it would be rude to drink and not offer, but I don't think that I could go several hours outside without something to drink.

Third SIL is also notorious for not returning serving dishes.  So I will offer her the leftover food and take my dish home with me (soemtimes clean and sometimes not)  We recently went to a party where I brought a large pot of chili.  MIL and SIL wanted to keep both the chili and the pot!  I had no problem with them keeping the chili, but the pot was a gift from DH for Christmas two years ago, and very expensive (enameled cast iron)  I will often bring food on plates that I don't expect back (from the dollar store or likewise)  I also brought cornbread and told her she could keep the basket if she wanted.  Should I be taking my serving ware back or should I only bring cheap/disposeable things that I don't want back?

Next, I know that SIL doesn't have enough plates and silverware to serve the people she invites and often doesn't buy disposalbles for the party.  Is it rude to bring these with me?

The last thing has to do with taking food.  I usually let the hostess have whatever leftovers there are.  There have been times where the host said that there was too much food and to take my extras home, but at the last party MIL claimed some of the leftover chili when the party was hosted by SIL.  SO what should I do with extra food, and how do I respond to the host saying take it home and another guest wanting the leftovers?

Thank you for your help.  I have been having some trouble in this area as my family and DH"s family do holidays very differently.


buvezdevin

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 08:53:53 PM »
Welcome to the posting community!

Taking your questions in order:

When your MIL has been upset that you each bring similar dishes, but yours is apparently the preferred option - had you each known what the other was bringing?  If not, while I can understand MIL being a bit hurt that her dish wasn't acclaimed by popular demand - not anything you could do, and not your fault.  If you knew what she was bringing, I would suggest you bring something different.  And if she knew what you were bringing, but you didn't know what she was - well, she declared an unofficial "Iron Chef" challenge and lost.

For having enough and appropriate beverages for a llarge gathering, if your SIL is hosting and this has been an issue before, you could ask SIL what the planned beverages are and if you can bring anything to supplement (if you wish).  If the picnic you mention was at SIL's, I would think tap water was available, but if the picnic was at another location, or such an activity will be in future, just ask who is bringing bottled water.

As for serving dishes, I would only take expensive serving dishes where I did not already know the return of them could be an issue.  So, I would suggest some large disposable containers in future, or keeping an eye out during clean up and being prepared to say you *need* the serving item in question, so will be taking it back then.

For disposable silverware, you could offer to bring some if you wish, when SIL is planning next get together, but I would caution against routinely bringing that, or water, or any basic not discussed in advance with SiL each time or you will become "silverware/water girl" and it will be *your* problem rather than the host/organizer's for all future events.

As for leaving, taking, or sharing leftovers - I don't think you are always obligated to leave leftovers, though it is nice to do so.  If you are prepared to not take leftovers with you, and the hosts don't want them, sharing with guests, MIL, or others who do want leftovers is nice - not an obligation, but nice.  Just don't let the leftovers be taken in your serving dish.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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SamiHami

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 09:02:08 PM »
Of course you aren't rude for ensuring that your children have something they are able to eat. If your MIL has an issue with it, you might point out to her (nicely, of course) that if you hadn't brought yours her grandchildren would have gone hungry, since she adds things they cannot eat. Your MIL getting upset because people prefer your dish is not your problem to deal with, so I wouldn't be concerned about that. Of course, you could communicate with her to ensure you don't bring similar dishes, but you aren't obligated to do so.

I would say, regarding providing your own beverages/utensils, etc. is a matter of common sense since your SIL is, as you say, notorious for not providing enough of various items. I would not make a big deal of it; just nonchalantly bring out your provisions when necessary. It doesn't sound like your SIL is complaining about you doing this, so I would just continue as you have been.

As for your serving dishes, since it seems to be an ongoing issue I would suggest that you bring along some inexpensive plastic containers to package up your leftovers, so that your stuff comes home with you. As for taking your leftovers home when someone else wants them, I would probably just let them have them. But I don't think you would be wrong to refuse if you want to keep them for your family.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

snowdragon

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2013, 12:39:15 AM »
Do you ask before you bring things over or do you just bring them? I would not be amused if I invited you to dinner and you brought it with you because you feel my cooking is not up to your standards.  If you ask and get the ok, then that is not rude, but just presenting the food as a done deal - yes I think that is rude.

Same with the water...why did you need to get yours out of your trunk? Could you not have said SIL, can we have some water or something similar?

If it were my house that the party was at - and I provided the food I would be put out if I wanted the left overs and everyone else took them. If you brought the food, it would be up to you if you wanted to share the left overs.

But if I had someone continually bringing food to my dinner parties, and it was not pot luck, I would be hard pressed to invite them back

iggy257

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2013, 07:40:01 AM »
First thanks for the feedback.

To address some of the issues.  The invites usually come as "we are having mother's day or a birthday party bring something if you want."  Generally there is very little coordination of who is bringing what, and even when I ask the answer is "I don't know what so and so is bringing"  For the water, there are several issues, first I don't drink a large variety of things, nothing with sugar or artificial sweetners and rarely alcohol, never beer and never coffee.  Mostly I drink water and unsweetened ice tea again often herbal.  The tap water at SIL house is horrible and she doesn't own a cup larger than a coffee cup or for that matter anything plastic that would have been appropriate to bring outside at a picnic.  When I placed the food I had brought into her fridge I noticed that the only thing she had to drink was a very small amount of milk, and she was publicly stating that she had not bought any drinks for the party and that it was someone was bringing them and she would be there later.  So I felt that I was kind of stuck either sit outside and sweat while waiting for this person to show up or go get the water out of my trunk and offer some. The last issue is with bringing disposable plates and the like.  I used to just leave the stuff in the car and "go see if I have anything" if it was needed, but this lead to running out to the car several times in the course of a visit, then others would start sending me out there to see if I had stuff, it was getting a bit silly, so now I just bring it all in at the begining. It is a bit exhausting doing these parties, between all the stuff we have to bring and the needs of our boys, but we have a very hard time getting people to come to our house for these things, so we are stuck between going elsewhere and just not celebrating.

Thanks again for the advice.

Snooks

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 08:48:04 AM »
I think if your SIL doesn't ask don't bring anything, if she says "bring something if you like" I'd say to her "Oh no, it sounds like you have everything covered".

If your MIL gets upset that your dish got eaten and her's didn't you could always telling the truth with a bit of padding "The kids ripped into mine because it didn't have pineapple in it, and I guess everyone else thought it wasn't worth starting the second until we'd finished the first bowl of beandip"

I wouldn't take any serving dishes that you want back.  Start using the disposable foil ones so that you can just dump it in the recycling at the end of the event, and only make things which can be transported that way.

Supplementing your SIL's hosting is rude in my opinion, it has the potential to paint you as a know it all who wants to upstage SIL.  Don't take anything to the party that she didn't ask you to bring.

With the water, you should have asked SIL for water, if it's potable the fact that it doesn't taste as good as you'd like is something you just need to be a grown up about.  Again, it's not your issue that she doesn't have any containers suitable to be used at the picnic.

I would recommend taking a big step back from involving yourself with SIL's hosting and just turn up and enjoy the celebrations.

perpetua

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2013, 09:21:46 AM »
I agree with Snooks. It sounds as if you don't consider your SIL's hosting or your MIL's cooking to be adequate or at least not up to  your standards. The problem is that you are passive-aggressively pointing this out with your actions, in front of the rest of the family (getting drinks, providing cups, etc). You are taking over hosting duties where you consider hers to be lacking, and that's wrong.

If your husband is 'spoiled by your cooking', well, he's a grown up, and he needs to learn how to politely suck it up if he doesn't think his family's cooking is up to your standards, or not go.

I do think it's fine to take food for your kids if they genuinely have disabilities that mean they can't eat certain things. That said, in order to know that they wouldn't have eaten your MIL's dish with her ingredients in it, then you must have known what she was cooking. To then bring along a different version of the same thing is very rude.

camlan

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2013, 09:39:17 AM »
For the duplicate food issue, I'd just call MIL and ask her if she's bringing anything. You can use the issue of needed to bring something that your kids can eat. "Oh, your lasagna is so tasty. I think I'll bring XYZ, then, because my kids can't eat the mushrooms that you use."

Bringing something your kids will eat and enough of it to share is a good way of handling their picky eating. Just coordinate with MIL so that you don't bring the same thing.

The serving dishes--it doesn't matter if SIL and MIL would like to keep your serving dishes. Just take the food out of them and put it into SIL's dishes. "Sorry, I'm going to need this myself." I wouldn't want the expense of buying disposable things, just because SIL wants my stuff. But I'd label every single piece with my name on the bottom, and double check that I had it all before I left.

For the rest of the issues, really, what you are doing is solving SIL's hosting problems. She is never going to see the problems as long as someone else keeps fixing them for her. So the flatware runs out. Go and tell her there isn't enough and ask how you and your kids are going to eat. Same with anything else that runs out or that there isn't enough of. Let her deal with hungry people who have to wait for someone else to finish eating so that they can wash the plate and utensils so they can eat enough times and she'll start to see there's a problem.

If you leave the extra food with SIL, I wouldn't care if MIL took some of it. They're family; maybe SIL wants to share it with MIL, or SIL knows her family won't be able to eat it all before it spoils. I see a difference between MIL taking some of the food and a random, non-related guest walking off with a pot of chili.

If you want to take the extra food home and MIL asks for some, you can always say no. Or you can give her some, if there's enough to split it. I suspect MIL is just seeing this as "extra food at her daughter's house," and not "food that Iggy257 brought." It would seem normal to me for a mother and daughter to split up extra food after a party.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 10:29:48 AM by camlan »
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Venus193

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2013, 10:16:47 AM »
I'm inclined to think that it is more rude to underprovide for a party, particularly one that could last a whole day.  "Bring something if you like" sounds rather passive/aggressive to me and in this particular case it also sounds like your SIL knows she does not provide adequately and is looking to others to pick up the slack.  She's not complaining about the OP's contributions so it looks like she sets you up for them, whether it's food or disposable tableware.

If the tap water in her area is bad, I am mystified how she can prepare Kool-Aid while not purchasing adequate bottled water for those who don't drink that stuff.

The complaints cited by the MIL when you prepare similar dishes and yours are finished while hers are not.  Too bad, so sad.  You are looking out for your children and if her dish is finished first because others think they shouldn't start hers before yours is finished MIL should not take it personally.  I agree with the recommendation that you speak with your MIL in advance so that you don't bring duplicate dishes.

As to leftovers, there is no hard and fast rule of etiquette about who gets them at the end of an event; you simply make an agreement in advance.  What was rude was demanding that you leave your expensive pot.

I agree with the idea that you bring only semi-disposable containers from this point on.  That way you don't need to worry about getting them back or cleaning them if you do.

Quote
For the rest of the issues, really, what you are doing is solving SIL's hosting problems. She is never going to see the problems as long as someone else keeps fixing them for her. So the flatware runs out. Go and tell her there isn't enough and ask how you and your kids are going to eat. Same with anything else that runs out or that there isn't enough of. Let her deal with hungry people who have to wait for someone else to finish eating so that they can wash the plate and utensils so they can eat enough times and she'll start to see there's a problem.

It wouldn't hurt to let this happen once and let her take the consequences.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 10:25:33 AM by Venus193 »

Giggity

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 10:20:16 AM »
I'm not sure why any of that would be rude.
Words mean things.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2013, 10:23:42 AM »
I will admit that I have read both the regular website and the forums for quite a while, but this is my first post.  IRL  I am a rather shy quiet person as well.

I will start by saying that I am a pretty good cook.  I started learning with my mother and grandmother at a very young age and I come from an Italian American family with lots of other good cooks so food has been an important part of family gatherings.  On top of that I have a chemistry degree and devour food science books so I have a very good understanding of food and how to prepare it.  This is the opinion of other people as well, as I have heard second hand how much some members of my family love my cooking.  I am not trying to brag, but this is part of the issue.

Second I will say that I have two children that are very picky eaters due to their disability and another child and husband who are spoiled by my cooking.

We are sometimes invited to parties on DH side of the family.  Typically these parties are hosted at my SIL house for several reasons (space and distance mostly)  I enjoy cooking and so will offer to bring things when there is a party.  Sometimes she will ask me to bring a particular dish and sometimes she will say "we are having  xyz"  bring what you like.    I am having several etiquette issue that I need help with.

First, my MIL sometimes gets upset when I bring things because if we bring the same stuff, mine will get eaten and hers won't.  This is sometimes an issue because I will make a dish that I know my children will eat and she will make a similar dish, but add ingredients that my children simply won't have. Am I rude for bring things for my kids to eat, but  also to share?
Since your MIL is the one who doesn't like for there to be duplicates of what she is cooking, she can take the responsibility of contacting you to find out what you are bringing.  If you want to, after you have decided what you plan to bring, you could let your SIL know and she could relay it to MIL if MIL asks her but if SIL says bring anything, you can bring anything.

Second, SIL is notorious for not providing enough of things for everyone.  She will buy one bottle of soda when she is having 10-15 people over.  Last year she had a picnic and she had someone else bring the drinks, she brought koolaid and beer only.  This picnic had several elderly ladies who do not drink either of these things.  I keep a case of water in my car at all times (we lived in FL for many years) so when I got a bottle of water for myself, I offered bottles to others who accepted.  Was I rude to offer the water to others?  I know that it would be rude to drink and not offer, but I don't think that I could go several hours outside without something to drink.You were not rude. And since you recognize that she has issues with providing adequate drinks (or disposable plates) I'd always say to her when discussing plans "In addition to the chile, I'll bring a case of water and disposable plates just to make sure we have enough"  Leave them in your car until you determine they are needed if you don't want to end up bringing them into her house, they don't get used and you can't take them home.

Third SIL is also notorious for not returning serving dishes.  So I will offer her the leftover food and take my dish home with me (soemtimes clean and sometimes not)  We recently went to a party where I brought a large pot of chili.  MIL and SIL wanted to keep both the chili and the pot!  I had no problem with them keeping the chili, but the pot was a gift from DH for Christmas two years ago, and very expensive (enameled cast iron)  I will often bring food on plates that I don't expect back (from the dollar store or likewise)  I also brought cornbread and told her she could keep the basket if she wanted.  Should I be taking my serving ware back or should I only bring cheap/disposeable things that I don't want back?
I just paid $300 for an enameled cast iron pot for a wedding gift.  I can not imagine anyone thinking you would hand that over.  You bring your food in what ever dish you want.  Then have some ziplock bags handy to empty out leftovers into.

Next, I know that SIL doesn't have enough plates and silverware to serve the people she invites and often doesn't buy disposalbles for the party.  Is it rude to bring these with me? See suggestion for drinks.

The last thing has to do with taking food.  I usually let the hostess have whatever leftovers there are.  There have been times where the host said that there was too much food and to take my extras home, but at the last party MIL claimed some of the leftover chili when the party was hosted by SIL.  SO what should I do with extra food, and how do I respond to the host saying take it home and another guest wanting the leftovers?I usually offer left overs to the hostess first and let them take as much as they like.  Then I'll ask other guests if they'd like to take some home.  Does your MIL live with your SIL or was your MIL going to take the food back to her own place?  Either way, if MIL said she wanted some of the leftovers, I'd let her have it.  But you are under no obligation give left overs to your MIL if you really want to take them home to feed your family. As an aside, if I'm making something for a potluck and I know our family is going to want leftovers, I'll make a little extra and leave some home before taking to the potluck.  Even something like lasagna, I'll just make a small additional dish.

Thank you for your help.  I have been having some trouble in this area as my family and DH"s family do holidays very differently.

I think it is very nice of you to do so much for these potluck get togethers.

iggy257

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2013, 02:22:13 PM »
Thanks again for the input.  All of this has evolved over the years due to sitting at parties with food and no forks and trying to eat things as finger food that really shouldn't be finger food (think stuffed shells)  After years of not having anything to drink I won't go if there isn't water in my car (which there usually is)  There was one incident where I was nursing in the summer and asked DH to get me a drink, he filled the biggest glass he could find, which was an oddly shaped bud vase.  I was teased for several years about drinking out of the bud vase.  Just to respond to a couple of questions.  The kool-aid was in the little plastic bottles already made (I call basically all fruit punch kool-aid)  I do not consider the water where my SIL lives to be potable.  It has high levels of contaminents and it is advised that you drink bottled or filtered water over the long term in her area.  Additionally her house is old and has lead in the pipes which further affects the water.  (My house is old too, but we drink bottled water all the time)  There were several times where we told SIL what we were bringing and MIL had told her she was bringing the same thing and SIL didn't tell either of us.

I will also add that much of what we do is for our kids.  If one of my kids doesn't have a fork to eat his food with he will throw the food across the room, generally at the person he thinks it will upset most.  While we are working on his behavior (and he goes to one of the best schools in the country for his condition)  He still needs a fork to eat with.  The consequences of not having enough silverware seem to mostly fall on us and she will just tell people to go wash stuff out of her sink. Meanwhile my child with be on the floor throwing a tantrum.   MIL seems oblivious to their food preferences.  She has made things "for them" like pasta salad with habenaro mayo, so it isn't something that they can just pick out.  (they ate the chili that I brought and at the bottom of the bowl was all the onions that I had put in it because they won't eat cooked onions.  They are excellent food pickers when it comes to eating around things they don't like)  It is very difficult to balance proper etiquette with the needs of our kids sometimes and I don't know where to draw the line.

Thanks again.

cheyne

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2013, 05:52:38 PM »
I think you are doing as well as you can in the circumstances.  This is your husbands family, not random acquaintances that you are bringing food and supplies to.

I would start doing more hosting in my own home if I were in your shoes. 

iggy257

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2013, 09:11:42 PM »
"I would start doing more hosting in my own home if I were in your shoes."

I would host more, however, if I told you some of our adventures with attempting to host our families for holidays, I fear that everyone here would tell me to close the shades and not answer the phone and hid under a rock rather than deal with them.

Thanks again

doodlemor

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Re: Bringing Food to Others homes for Parties
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2013, 09:32:24 PM »
Your SIL is quite shameless, iggy257. 

As I read the posts I first agreed with Camlan - to let her suffer the results of her disorganization and inadequate hosting.  However, when I read that she just tells people to get stuff out of her sink and wash it themselves I was just astonished.  Really, who does that?

Soooo-oooo, I agree with cheyne.  You are doing the best that you can under incredibly difficult circumstances.  Maybe as the years go by you won't have to spend so much time with these people.  If you are unable to attend some of these gatherings you can snerk inwardly at home, imagining the chaos without your extra assistance.

PS  We at ehell would love to hear your hosting-the-crew-at-home stories.  There are some wise people here, who would likely have some excellent advice for any future events.