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Pot Luck Packaging And Expectations

Ok, let’s try again with a new blog post and see if we still have the disappearing comment problem…

This happened recently at a pot luck I hosted for a committee meeting. Everyone was to bring either a side dish or dessert, and everyone did. I noticed when a couple brought in an item, all done up in complicated packaging, because they made several comments about it ( you know: this is really delicious, we can’t wait to eat it, etc).

As the eating time was drawing to an end, I saw that the couple who brought it hadn’t taken it out to put with the other dishes, and because of its special packaging, I felt it wasn’t my right to open it up, so I was on my way to “remind” them and ask them to get it out. Meanwhile I was cut short on my mission by a mini-crisis happening at the children’s table, and by the time I was done there I had forgotten my original mission and the meeting was over. I saw this couple pick up their dessert, still in its original container and packaging and off they went home.

I don’t think I’m interested in necessarily what I should have done differently ( it seems pretty obvious what kind of steps can be put into place to keep that from happening again) but just wondered if this was a new pot luck scam, i.e. bring food, making sure hostess notices, but keeping it inconspicuous and still being able to take it all back home. 1109-15

You and I differ in that I do believe I, as the hostess, have a right to unpack obvious food items that are sitting on the buffet table that have been clearly been brought for the purpose of being eaten by all assembled.   There may have been an expectation from the family that you as the hostess would have done that very action and when you didn’t, they collected their uneaten dessert and took it home.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Marozia November 10, 2015, 4:42 am

    If I was the hostess, I would’ve picked up their bought dessert, put it on the table and after eating the main course, served it up to each and every one.

    • Wild Irish Rose November 10, 2015, 9:57 am

      Same here.

  • just4kicks November 10, 2015, 6:13 am

    @OP: You’ve peaked my curiosity! What sort of complicated packaging did said item come in?
    If it was brought for a pot luck situation, and not a “hostess gift”, I don’t see the harm in opening it yourself.
    Unless I read incorrectly, the folks who brought it said what a delicious item it was, if they didn’t make the moves to open it, I don’t think it would’ve been rude for you to do so.
    Maybe they were to deffering to you as the hostess, afraid to “step on your toes” so to speak.

    By the way: I got a chuckle over “mini crises at the kids table”. 🙂
    When our four kids were young enough to sit at the kids table for Thanksgiving and Easter, more often than not, I would sit there with them.
    It was much easier than helping one of the kids cut their meat/butter their roll and head back to my place at the adults table, only to have one of the other kids need help with something.

    • Julia Houston November 12, 2015, 9:20 pm

      It’s “piqued” my curiosity. Also, quotation marks go on the right (outside of) commas and periods. If you want to ignore the last part, OK, but, seriously, it’s “piqued.”

      • Powers November 14, 2015, 11:01 am

        “Also, quotation marks go on the right (outside of) commas and periods.”

        That’s the American style. In the British style, you only put punctuation inside the quotation mark if it’s part of the quotation.


      • just4kicks November 15, 2015, 2:14 pm

        @Julia: I stand corrected….Sorry!

        • just4kicks November 15, 2015, 2:19 pm

          ….I didn’t think “peaked” was correct, but, it was 5:13am when I commented (time of my comments is always one hour ahead of my time), I guess my auto correct didn’t have it’s wake-up jolt of caffeine either.
          I was a journalism/English major….my professors would be horrified! 🙂

    • Leah November 13, 2015, 10:48 pm

      It’s a good question, though, and now I’m curious too!

  • Tara November 10, 2015, 6:14 am

    I’m more concerned the guests might have gotten their feelings hurt that no one tried their dish…

    • Redneck Gravy November 10, 2015, 9:19 am

      Agree Tara, I would have been more upset that the hostess didn’t open my item and set it out for serving.

      Wondering about the complicated packaging as well?

    • Livvy17 November 10, 2015, 9:46 am

      This is kind of how I thought about it…that they might have been a bit disappointed that the host didn’t make their dessert available. I could see someone snatching it up in a huff that it was unappreciated, especially after they’d mentioned how much they were looking forward to sharing /eating it.

    • Renee November 10, 2015, 10:15 am

      This is the first thing that came to my mind. I would be hurt no one touched a dish a prepared. The latest potluck I attended the hostess took all of the dishes Then she placed them on a table according to type ie side, main or dessert. If my dish remained to the side untouched, I would be very hurt.

    • LJ Briar November 11, 2015, 7:11 am

      That would be my thought, too. I’ve had that happen to me twice before (same hostess both times; I don’t plan on attending another event of hers where bringing food is expected) and it is very upsetting.

    • JGM1764 November 11, 2015, 8:38 pm

      That was exactly what I thought! If that happened to me, I likely would have quietly (and sadly) removed the dish. I might even have cried a little on the way home. This could very well have been such a misunderstanding.

  • Angel November 10, 2015, 7:34 am

    My main thought was: just how complicated is the packaging that no one unwrapped it? I think really what happened here was you had the intention of putting it out and got sidetracked. Happens all the time. I don’t think it’s a potluck scam. Personally I wouldn’t go to all the trouble of taking an item to a potluck only to bring it home with me. But that’s just me. Especially a dessert. Believe me I want that out of my house lol.

    • abby November 10, 2015, 12:09 pm

      I agree. While I think some people take advantage of potluck situations (ie, participating without contributing, stealing leftovers, taking additional amounts to feed people not included in the potluck, etc), I don’t really anyone would be enticed to do a “potluck scam” by which they bring an expensive item and hope the packaging discourages anyone from opening it. Why wouldn’t they just leave the expensive item at home if they didn’t want to share it and bring in something cheap from the grocery store bakery?

  • JO November 10, 2015, 7:36 am

    I feel the same as admin. If you are the hostess/organizer, you are well within your rights to unpack age and put out any food item.

  • Jinx November 10, 2015, 8:03 am

    I guess even if you didn’t want to open it, you could have told them to please put it with the other dishes.

    Where was the dish being kept? If it was under their chair, then they likely weren’t planning to offer it up unless asked.

  • FoxPaws November 10, 2015, 8:05 am

    At potlucks I’ve attended, it’s perfectly normal for the hosts to ask everyone to get their own contribution ready to serve. This is done either as they arrive; with a general announcement – “We’re getting ready to eat. Everyone make sure your dish is on the buffet.”; or by reminding individuals as needed – “Jane, I need you come in the kitchen for a moment and unpack your dessert.”

    As for a scam…maybe. But it could just as easily be a case of both parties – host and attendees – being too polite to speak up.

    • Lisa H. November 10, 2015, 11:43 am

      We just had a potluck this past Sunday and everyone who brought a dish wrote out a card saying what it was and got it onto the table, ready for people to eat. If the person was not comfortable doing this, I would have just done it for her. Perhaps she needed a knife or something to get the packaging open?

  • Susan November 10, 2015, 8:15 am

    Pretty packaging or not, I would have taken a picture then opened it right up.

  • JD November 10, 2015, 8:19 am

    I would have opened it. It’s a potluck — all food brought and set down is fair game to be opened and served. Did the couple take it back home, offended, believing that no one wanted to try their dessert? I think they should have unwrapped it already, but if they didn’t, the hostess should have. And if I was one of the couple which brought it, when I saw it wasn’t opened and put out, I would have got up and put it out. Sounds to me like everyone just let it sit.

  • Michelle November 10, 2015, 8:47 am

    I think you should have opened the dessert when it was obvious that they were not going to open it. It seems weird to make such a big deal about it and then just leave it there unopened.

  • Willynilly November 10, 2015, 8:58 am

    I think the people might have expected you to open the item. Why would they get elaborate wrapping just to unwrap themselves? The dish was first everyone, the beautiful wrapping was a gift of sorts to you, giving something beautiful to the host and party. By not opening it in a way you rejected their offering. I doubt they felt good about taking home unopened, they probably felt hurt and embarrassed.

  • metallicafan November 10, 2015, 9:18 am

    I’m wondering why the hostess didn’t just open and serve the dessert.

  • Shoegal November 10, 2015, 9:20 am

    I agree with the Admin – as the hostess, I believe you have the right to take the dessert out of its packaging and make it available to take – especially since that is why it was brought there for. What kind of super complicated packaging did they put it in? I think in that particular case, if the couple didn’t bother to unwrap it, no one else would have attempted to do that either. Usually, if I bring something be it potluck or whatever, I usually take the time to make it presentable to eat.

    So often, if the hostess doesn’t make the food presentable to eat – no one will make a move. At a party I recently threw, all of the food was on the table but the lids were still on the crock pots and the foil was on the pans of food I had laid out. I had it covered just to keep it warm. Everybody stood around wondering if it was ok to eat?!?! I was running around and hadn’t noticed – but after my sister told me, I went in and made it obvious it was ok to dig in. So at another birthday party, although I was only a guest, we had been there a little while – I could see no one was partaking of the spread the hostess had put out. I went around and uncovered everything and put the serving spoons in – people made a beeline to get a plate.

    • shel November 10, 2015, 4:56 pm

      We’ve had the opposite problem… at a surprise party, all of the food was almost out and ready to go, but with lids or covers or the buns had the bag folded over them etc. waiting for the guest of honor to arrive and we had to stop people who were making plates and opening things up to eat before the party really got started… some of the serving platters were still empty as the food was being cooked, so definitely not a full table ready to go.

      • Carolyn November 11, 2015, 9:06 am

        Sing it, sister! I organize all the hospitality for work – when we have an event I find myself running around getting everything set up only to have people start crankily remarking that there aren’t any napkins out yet. Yeah, I know … lunch doesn’t start for another 15 minutes. If I keep the doors to the room closed, someone opens them! If I keep the covers on the food they will take them off and put them ANYWHERE so they can commence loading up plates. One of our salesmen who recently left for another opportunity (!!!) seemed to always be among the first to invade so it is my hope that without him leading the charge, this won’t be a problem for our year end party. I also intend to speak to our manager about it to see if we can keep people out of my hair while I am running around trying to make everything ready.

        Though it does have it’s funny moments … at our last shindig, the sandwich platters were closed with A LOT of clear packing tape. I always have a pocket knife on me – its just handy! – but it tends to look a bit … intimidating. There were a bunch of oblivious sales people muttering the platters weren’t open. I said “excuse me” so I could get in, but I guess they thought I was trying to cut in line or something because no one moved. So I snaked my hand through until it was right over the platter and away from them and flipped it open authoritatively with a SNAP! They backed away, I stepped forward, neatly slit the tape, took the cover, turned around and smiled “lunch is served!”

        Maybe I don’t need to say a single word about it … they may stay back all on their own next time! 😉

  • Yet Another Laura November 10, 2015, 9:27 am

    At every potluck I’ve ever been to, the person who brings the item opens it. If they don’t open it, it sits on the table unopened and uneaten. Not because people are too “polite” to go first, but because opened items are much easier to serve when your hands are full of plate plus implements and there might not be anywhere to put your plate. Most unopened items require two hands to open. Most people look at the unopened item, pass it by intending to come back for it, realize they’re full and don’t go back to the buffet.

    Nothing rude about opening an unopened item. Nothing rude about not opening an item. If the bringer puts it where directed and doesn’t open it, they’re taking home leftovers.

    • NostalgicGal November 12, 2015, 4:37 pm

      Because of my dietary restrictions and allergies I will bring something everyone can eat and my clearly marked ‘special diet do not touch’ container. I am always assigned now to set out and set up because I have nothing else to do, I’m not going through the serving line, and I have the time to break into it, get the serving utensil in it and get it out. I’m the secret weapon, if you wish.

      Once everything’s out and the line is flowing I can take out my carefully hidden, and with good reason, little container, and go find a seat. Not too many others are interested in vegan/no gluten/no salt/diabetic food anyways. The stuff on the buffet usually looks 85% better….

      And yes, I made a something delicious that if there’s any to go home my DH gets it that I did put out. And he can eat just about anything. Only bad part is making him stay out of it BEFORE it goes to the event.

      • NostalgicGal November 12, 2015, 4:44 pm

        I added this after a lower on list entry because I got assigned this way just last night. I showed up to help, put my contribution for ALL out then went after getting everything out as assigned. I had a few of those country rural chic things in baskets and the tops looked like hens, and I carefully dug down until I found the food and tucked a few paper towels so the pretty quilted fabric parts didn’t get messed up.
        Then took my small well hidden container of ‘glurp’ and sat down and ate my special stuff.

  • mark November 10, 2015, 10:09 am

    If it’s on the table it’s fair game. Host or just guest, I would have been willing to open it and give it a try.

    That said it is weird they didn’t open it after all the comments they made.

  • MM November 10, 2015, 10:21 am

    I think OPprobably could have opened it, unless it was “hidden” by the guests somehow. Perhaps these people were waiting for the OP to serve it and she was waiting for them to say it was ok.

    One thing that bothers me about the story: how OP wanted to asks the guests about the package, but then got distracted and then forgot to ask them. For some reason, I find that hard to digest since it seems like it was a big issue for OP

  • Wendy B November 10, 2015, 10:21 am

    Why did you think it wasn’t your responsibility to unpack it? How on earth can they possibly have packaged it in a complicated way for a potluck?

  • NicoleK November 10, 2015, 10:50 am

    I bet they were offended no one ate their dish

  • Arizona November 10, 2015, 12:03 pm

    Maybe someone else brought an item that was identical, or similar enough that the guests didn’t feel the need to put their item on the table at the time? If two people bring brownies, for example, there’s no need to put both dishes out. When one dish is empty, the second dish can be put out in its place. If someone else brought the same dish as this couple, but all of the first opened dish wasn’t eaten, there’d be no reason to open the second dish.

    That does rely on a lot of supposition, though, so… I’m going to go with consensus. It doesn’t sound like a scam, just a miscommunication in expectations. I’d say for future potlocks, make it clear before and during the meal that everyone is responsible for opening and serving their own contribution, or that the host(ess) will be doing the serving, whichever you prefer. If it was a scam, both of those will put a stop to future ones. If it was a miscommunication, then problem solved as expectations have now been clearly communicated.

  • Ashley November 10, 2015, 12:06 pm

    I feel like maybe they weren’t sure where to put the item? Was the table fuller than expected? Did they not want desserts out at the same time as main courses? Was there someone watching the table and directing traffic?

    Anyone else also really curious what this elaborate dessert was?

  • Anonymous November 10, 2015, 12:11 pm

    I was in that couple’s shoes when I went to a potluck held by my university women’s group at the end of my second year, except I didn’t bring a complicated homemade dessert; I just brought a big container of chocolate ice cream. In my defense, I was living in a residence without kitchen facilities at the time, and I was thinking, “Okay, what can I get that’ll feed everyone?”; and I saw big bulk-sized buckets of generic ice cream at the grocery store, so I bought one. I didn’t think about the hassle it’d require, for the member who’d volunteered to host, because she’d then have to dig up bowls and spoons for everyone in the group. If I had it to do again, and I was set on bringing a frozen dessert of some kind, I’d do Popsicles, Italian Ices, or something that doesn’t need dishes. We all had a good time, and nobody chastised me for bringing something impractical–I think the ice cream probably did get eaten later, by the hosting member and her housemates.

  • PrincessButtercup November 10, 2015, 12:12 pm

    The only thing I could go on would be the look on their faces when they retrieved their dish. If they saw it untouched and looked happy, then you know. If they saw it untouched and looked disappointed…
    I can’t imagine someone bringing something and hoping it doesn’t get touched. Every potluck I’ve been to there are hosts that make sure everything is out to be eaten. It would be too hard to try and avoid the host doing their job and putting my dish out.
    Personally I’ve made things that I think people will love at potluck and then been disappointed to find afterwards that it was put out last or later due to space restraints and as a result got barely touched. I wonder if the couple feels a bit shunned by their food not being put out like everyone else’s.

  • shhh its me November 10, 2015, 12:12 pm

    I think you or anyone “running ” the buffet could have opened it. If it was so complicated there was a concern about breaking something you/buffet person could ask them to open it.

    My first thought would be both of you just assumed the other person would open it. In my limited experience at pot lucks the host tacks the lids off , because not everything arrives at once and the first dishes to arrive need to stay covered until the meal starts.

    I’m also wondering what made the dish so complicated to open that no one did open it?

  • AnaMaria November 10, 2015, 12:16 pm

    I’m surprised the couple didn’t ask for help opening the dish- I would have no problem saying, “Do you have scissors/a knife/stronger hands that I could use to get this open?” I always assume when I arrive at a potluck that I should set my own dish up, unless there are a slew of volunteers or hired staff who have everything under control. However, if someone just leaves their dish on the table, it’s fair game for the hostess to do whatever is needed to make it serve-able.

  • stacey November 10, 2015, 12:41 pm

    I suppose that anything is possible but it really doesn’t make sense that they would take the time to draw your attention to the item and then hope to abscond with it entirely uneaten later. My vote is solidly with those who recommend just reminding contributors to open their item and place it on the table for service or to taking over that important duty yourself. If this particular couple is known for trying to get something for nothing in every situation, then you might have a right to be suspicious. Otherwise it seems like quite a stretch in this scenario.

  • Becca November 10, 2015, 2:15 pm

    Was the wrapping difficult as in “Dear Hostess, I need a knife to pop this treat open…” but they were wording it wrong and doing some weird song and dance around being straight forward?

    I’ll admit, I didn’t know others had the rule to open what you’ve brought and have plopped down a container and pranced away from the table. Then realizing at the end that nobody opened it and my feelings were hurt in the transaction. I don’t always partake in food but always bring something for a yearly banquet for a sports league I am in. Now I figure it’s due to others not sure they were supposed to open it and will open it in the future.

    I think it’s a glitch in the system more than anything, two differing sides that are too nice to say anything at risk of feeling odd. If you believe a host opens it but they’re thinking you’re the one to accept the task, etc. More foggy area than scam but I’m usually going to lean towards communication gap unless someone is seriously on the scam radar. Most folks who scam a pot luck just don’t bring much or anything, why bother hoping someone won’t open their dish, that’s kind of small odds in most cases.

  • MelEtiquette November 10, 2015, 3:42 pm

    My interpretation of the OP’s post was that the couple had not placed the dessert on the table with everyone else’s, as though the couple was deliberately holding it aside/hiding it.

    On the other hand, the packaging sounds complicated enough that maybe the couple did not have the tools to open it? That would be up to the hostess to provide a means of serving the dish, although some of the onus should be on the attendee to bring a dish that is easy to serve.

  • Ergala November 10, 2015, 3:43 pm

    Every potluck I’ve gone to I’ve always been responsible for getting my own dish ready for serving. I’d probably think it was odd if the host/hostess took it from me and opened it up and prepared it to be eaten.

  • Jessiebes November 10, 2015, 3:55 pm

    If it was so elaboratly wrapped, I would have second thoughts about unwrapping it myself too.

  • Kirsten November 10, 2015, 4:12 pm

    Surely if you’ve brought a dish and you know it’s sitting somewhere in the background or in the fridge, you take it over to the table and say “here’s a lemon drizzle cake” and put it down.

  • lakey November 10, 2015, 5:52 pm

    I think this is a misunderstanding rather than a deliberate scam. I’ve been to potlucks where the organizers set up the buffet and put out the food, and others where each guest placed their food on the buffet. I find it hard to believe that anyone would go to the trouble and expense of making a nice potluck dish with the idea of not having it served so they could take it home. If anyone was that selfish, it would be simpler and less risky to make something cheap for the potluck and make the nice dessert for yourself.

  • OP here November 10, 2015, 8:20 pm

    It’s funny how some take an post, but I will try to fill in the blanks.

    This was a committee meeting that while I hosted it, I didn’t set up the actual potluck, it was in someone else’s hands, so basically my job was setting up tables, chairs etc.

    The packaging was a dish encased in a special velcro ed warmer pad that I was unclear how to undo, inside a picnic basket. And where I’m from you don’t get inside anyone else’s picnic basket or cooler :).

    The couple slid this basket on the floor inside the entryway after talking it up, even though everyone was putting their dishes out—they did not., walking past the table to go sit down.

    • mark November 10, 2015, 10:59 pm

      I think you have your answer. They never put it out. Unless they are unfamiliar with potlucks, they would have put it out and set it up to share if they intended to actually share.

      • stacey November 11, 2015, 8:00 am

        They brought the dish and they talked it up. They didn’t put it out. It’s not awkward to open up the container and put it out. If that’s not the norm, it might be noticed, sure. But who’s going to challenge a hostess (or a helper, for that matter) for opening up a container that contains food for the group? I’d love to see that conversation… “What are you doing?” “I’m putting your food on the table for you.” And they say what next, exactly… by way of objecting? “No… I actually just brought an empty box and hoped no one would notice…?” It’s not looking like a logical or acceptable response and I doubt they’d make a fuss.

        • mark November 11, 2015, 11:23 pm

          I think the key difference here is they didn’t put it on the table. Anything on the table is fair game. But I wouldn’t retrieve anything not put on the table. If you put it in the corner with the rest of your stuff. I’m going to leave it alone, because it might be for later.

          In my original response I mistakenly assumed the dish was on the table.

      • Willynilly November 11, 2015, 1:50 pm

        They might be unfamiliar… although they should have observed and followed others’ leads.

        Personally I have never been to a “potluck”, just about everything I know about them is from movies/TV/this website, and I am nearly 40 years old and have been to tons of parties over the years. I have been to parties where guests might bring a dish or dessert or cooler of beverages, but its never an expectation of any guests, and every host handles such contributions differently. I also come from an area/social group where if you bring a cooler to a party it’s communal until you leave, anyone can open it and take stuff out.

    • JO November 11, 2015, 5:42 am

      Ah, this makes it a bit more clear then. While it doesn’t seem that this is a new “scam” per se, it does sound like maybe this couple was not actually excited to share.

    • kategillian November 11, 2015, 6:04 am

      Hmmm, I wonder if there was anything in it at all? Now that would be a good scam, bring an elaborate container, talk it up, and then when someone realized it was empty, say that you had already put the dish on the table.

    • Devin November 11, 2015, 10:54 am

      This explanation raises my suspicion more than the original post. Maybe it was a scam and they just brought an empty container all wrapped up. Once past the door with visible item, they sat it down thinking no one would notice they didn’t set out their ‘contribution’. This seems like more of a hassle than popping into a corner store for some cheap pre-packaged cookies/crackers, but based on previous pot-luck stories I wouldn’t be that shocked.

    • Jinx November 11, 2015, 11:03 am

      Ahh.. so I guess in that scenario, say, “Let’s put your dish on the table” or “Oh! Open up your dish, I can’t wait to try it!”

      I guess I probably wouldn’t have tried to open it myself either. It’s possible they didn’t know how the pot luck works, put their basket down, then realized they’d made a mistake but were too awkward/embarrassed to move it?

    • DanaJ November 11, 2015, 12:24 pm

      With that update, yeah, that’s kind of weird. Had I been thoe host I would have been hesitant to just go take the food out myself. It sounds like most people were coming into the meeting hall and going straight to the table with their dish. These folks slid a basket onto the floor by the door. That’s more what I would do with my backpack if I wanted to keep it near the front hall closet, out of the way, so I could pick it up on the way out. No so much something I would do if the contents were for everyone.

  • Lara November 10, 2015, 9:13 pm

    This just seems odd all around. It’s odd to think that a couple would bring a dish and boast about it conspicuously while hoping no one will eat it, but it’s also odd that they wouldn’t have gone over and opened the dish and put it out when they saw it was still sitting off to the side. The format of a potluck makes it equally appropriate for guest or hostess to open the dish, so you also had responsibility for it, and I wonder why you didn’t make sure everything was set out before the eating starting, but certainly if I brought something and it was being overlooked, I would make sure that was rectified.

  • Stephbwfern November 11, 2015, 6:57 am

    I don’t think it’s weird that the couple didn’t unpack it.
    I have brought things to shared meals that I have felt awkward getting out because I didn’t want to come across all “Look at me and this wonderful thing I bought! Let me force feed it to you!!!”.
    This situation sounds, to me, like everyone all trying to be too polite, in which case, what a wonderful problem to have!

    • DanaJ November 13, 2015, 10:18 am

      But…. Isn’t that the whole point of a potluck? “Ta-daaaaaaah! Look what I made. Food!”

  • Mustard November 11, 2015, 8:15 am

    Are you absolutely certain there was any dessert in the complicated packaging?

  • NostalgicGal November 11, 2015, 10:54 am

    When we do potlucks around here, we always had a few that that was their job, to set up and place the food. If you were supposed to do something else but they got to your ‘complicated packaging’ you were supposed to show up and help them break into it and go on then with what you were supposed to do.

    I’m on the fence on ‘we brought food but we made it difficult to get into, so we technically brought something but then got to eat all the rest and take ours home’ so we ate “free”

    If they do it again, show up with the Gordian knot times the Mummy’s curse wrapped food, I’d ask them to pause for a moment NOW PLEASE? and get it open.

  • Hey Nonny Nonny November 11, 2015, 12:29 pm

    I’ve been to lots of potlucks where, for whatever reason, not everything is put out at once. Sometimes because there isn’t enough table space and sometimes to ensure that food remains for people who are coming late or busy elsewhere at the party (such as people who are performing for the group).

    As a guest, I may have felt awkward about bothering the hostess to get scissors or a knife or whatever was needed to open the package. Or even in asking for my item to be served at all. Especially if you were so busy putting out fires like the children’s table. And if the place was so busy as that, perhaps they didn’t realize their dessert hadn’t been opened until it seemed like everyone was done taking food. That could be very embarrassing. Better to just quietly take the dessert away…

    Why immediately leap to suspecting a outright scam, rather than at worst nonfeasance? Have this couple struck you as con artists before?

    • crebj November 11, 2015, 11:18 pm

      Right. It seems they wanted to share it. I wonder why they didn’t ask the hostess if they could help unwrap the epicurean delight?

  • kingsrings November 13, 2015, 1:20 am

    I’ve never been to a potluck where people didn’t prepare and put out their own dishes that they’d brought to the potluck. I have no idea why these guests didn’t do that, unless they’d only been to potlucks where only the host served the dishes, which sounds odd to me. Why should the host have to do everything?

  • acr November 18, 2015, 3:39 pm

    As the hostess, I think it would be your job to open the item. As a guest…I’d be covetously eyeing the special dessert, but I wouldn’t presume to unpackage it (though I’d REALLY REALLY want to!) Possibly the couple who brought it assumed that you’d open it when you were ready?