potluck leftovers

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fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955
potluck leftovers

I encountered a situation this evening at a potluck and I am not quite sure what I think of it. I am debating it internally so I thought I would bring it here.

We were at a birthday party today that was a potluck bbq. We all brought meat and a salad. At the end of the night the hostess tidied up and put all of the food away leaving empty containers on the table.

I am not sure whether it is a polite thing to do to claim all of the leftovers at a party that was potluck. It doesn't feel right to me. But I am not sure if it is actually a rude thing to do. When I host and am dealing with leftovers I tend to ask those who had brought the food if they want to take or leave them. Or I tell everyone to take a bit. We all put into it so I figure we should all benefit if there is food left. But maybe that is just me.

What do you think? Who gets the leftovers at a potluck?

zefroim's picture
Joined: 05/18/06
Posts: 126

IME, the leftovers stay with the host(ess). Most of the time they have been offered to me but I have always declined. I suppose it's slightly rude that she didn't even offer them. Personally it wouldn't bother me if they didn't offer as I would never take them. My main concern is getting my containers back.

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

We have a group of friends that we regularly do potlucks with (once a month or so). We bought Styrofoam containers so that everyone can take home a little bit of their favorite dishes. That way everyone goes home happy and has an awesome lunch the following day. I'd feel terribly rude keeping everything for myself!

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

Did she clean the containers she gave back?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"zefroim" wrote:

IME, the leftovers stay with the host(ess). Most of the time they have been offered to me but I have always declined. I suppose it's slightly rude that she didn't even offer them. Personally it wouldn't bother me if they didn't offer as I would never take them. My main concern is getting my containers back.

I agree!

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3186

I would assume it stays with the host unless offered. We don't do much potlucks here but if there is an abundance of food left I always try to make guests take it with them anyway, just to avoid the waste. We had a barbecue here in June and everybody brought so much food with them that we made a lot of people take things home with them, they were generous to bring it and there was a lot left. (We kept all the wine, though!)

But in general if I bring food to a party I don't expect to take any of it back with me, nor would I automatically do so if a lot of it was left.

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

I've never been to a genuine potluck, lol. Am I missing out?

TyrantOfTheWeek's picture
Joined: 12/26/05
Posts: 1147

"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

I've never been to a genuine potluck, lol. Am I missing out?

Yes you are, Deniz. They are awesome. Everyone brings a dish of something. Baked beans, macaroni salad, potato salad, corn on the cob, whatever.. and everyone chows down.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

"culturedmom" wrote:

Did she clean the containers she gave back?

Nope. Just left empty dirty containers to be collected.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

Also, is it ok to host a birthday party as a potluck and have everyone else bring all the food?

zefroim's picture
Joined: 05/18/06
Posts: 126

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Also, is it ok to host a birthday party as a potluck and have everyone else bring all the food?

That I would find a bit odd. Unless it's a huge family party and everyone is really close. I threw a huge bash when my DH turned 30 many moons ago lol. I supplied all the food and drink.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Also, is it ok to host a birthday party as a potluck and have everyone else bring all the food?

This I would find a little bit odd, but I have been to many pot lucks and do not usually bring anything home with me.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

We do have a lot of potlucks in our friend group as none of us are super well off. But for birthdays most of us who host provide food. I have 3 birthdays in december. Last year I provided all the food for mine and DDs which fall before christmas. Many people offered to help and bring things but I said no. DH's is Dec 31st. And he had just lost his job. So when people offered I said yes. These people are the only ones who don't routinely provide food for the birthdays they host. This time they provided the cake. That was it. All the other food they had people bring. They didn't even buy their own meat for the BBQ. And then they kept all the leftovers.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

I didn't expect to bring leftovers home. But they didn't tell us that someone had already said they would bring the same salad. So ours wasn't even touched. I am not upset or anything, but it just didn't feel quite right somehow.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Also, is it ok to host a birthday party as a potluck and have everyone else bring all the food?

That is strange. In my family we generally all pitch in - like I will being an app or a dessert or a salad but the hosts always provide the main course. I think it's strange to invite people to a party to celebrate something w you and also ask them to feed you!

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

I guess you could look at it both ways. Since she's the one that hosted the party, and technically you brought the food to be eaten there (and it very well could have all been eaten), I would assume that she gets to keep the leftovers. Also, she did clean everything for you. I would be peed off if she handed me a dirty dish to take home after keeping the food that I kept. On the other hand, you did cook it and she could have at least asked you if you wanted to keep it to take home, or if you wanted her to keep it and give you a clean dish back...

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

"Starryblue702" wrote:

I guess you could look at it both ways. Since she's the one that hosted the party, and technically you brought the food to be eaten there (and it very well could have all been eaten), I would assume that she gets to keep the leftovers. Also, she did clean everything for you. I would be peed off if she handed me a dirty dish to take home after keeping the food that I kept. On the other hand, you did cook it and she could have at least asked you if you wanted to keep it to take home, or if you wanted her to keep it and give you a clean dish back...

I posted that she didn't clean it but somehow it isn't there now. She totally left me a dirty bowl to take home. And my DH did all the BBQing for everyone for them cause it was her DH's birthday so he shouldn't have to. So she basically sat there and did nothing for the whole party.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

I posted that she didn't clean it but somehow it isn't there now. She totally left me a dirty bowl to take home. And my DH did all the BBQing for everyone for them cause it was her DH's birthday so he shouldn't have to. So she basically sat there and did nothing for the whole party.

Oh, well that's a completely different story. If she's gonna keep your food, the least she can do is clean out your bowl!!

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

The only potlucks I have ever been to are at work, so no one is really "hosting" and everyone takes their own stuff back at the end of the day (although if someone asks to take more of something I bring, they are welcome to it.)

But if I go to my mom's house for dinner or a party, I always offer to bring something, and when we leave I always offer to leave it. My mom usually won't let me because my dad travels a lot during the week and it is usually just her at home and she won't eat it all, but I offer.

I would assume at a potluck it would work the same way - leave the food you bring unless the host doesn't want it.

It is weird to have a potluck for a birthday party though. Haha, come to my house and feed me for my/my DH's birthday.

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

We've been to potluck's before, it's common during family gatherings. The person who brought the dish typically always takes it home, with whatever food is left. Some of the family makes an extra plate to take with them. I hate taking home leftovers that people have picked over so I would much rather someone take it all. As far as throwing a birthday celebration, I think it's odd to ask the guests to bring their own food. Did you also have to take a birthday present?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I think unless it's a very large group and/or you're out of work & can't afford to feed a reasonable number of guests, having a potluck for a birthday is crass. You simply don't invite people to your party and expect them to feed themselves. Family might be an exception if they regularly do potlucks for other things.

In any case, the food at a potluck is for everyone to share, it's not your gift to the hostess. Whatever is left goes home with the person who brought it, unless that person offers to leave it.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Nope. Just left empty dirty containers to be collected.

That would *NOT* work for me if it was a birthday party, only for work and big celebrations for things or a joint birthday party for more than one family.

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Also, is it ok to host a birthday party as a potluck and have everyone else bring all the food?

Not and keep the leftovers and not to provide anything but cake and only if they are close family.

"Spacers" wrote:

I think unless it's a very large group and/or you're out of work & can't afford to feed a reasonable number of guests, having a potluck for a birthday is crass. You simply don't invite people to your party and expect them to feed themselves. Family might be an exception if they regularly do potlucks for other things.

In any case, the food at a potluck is for everyone to share, it's not your gift to the hostess. Whatever is left goes home with the person who brought it, unless that person offers to leave it.

This.

When we have family potlucks, it's a given that certain people in certain financial situations are asked to take home whatever is leftover. At work we also make up plates for those that have more children or who are lower ranking to take home. I never have leftovers now that I've perfected my banana pudding, but would expect to bring it home intact if I had some or with a clean dish as a minimum from a friend's bday party for her hubby. I'm really appalled at this story and can't imagine how my face would have looked. I'm fantastic about manners and not saying anything, but can't hide reactions with my eyes.

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

We host a potluck Labor Day party every year. I always tell people to take home the leftovers, but if they don't want them then I put it in my own container and wash the dish for them. I usually leave whatever I took for the host when someone else hosts the party. They did all the work of getting plate, drinks, cleaning up, setting up, etc... they deserve to have a day or two off from cooking and get to enjoy the leftovers.

As for bringing something to a birthday party, if it's close family I always offer to bring something, but otherwise I think it's a little weird. Unless it's an adult friend and we are all just getting together for dinner, and no presents, then it's ok.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

Yeah, here those that make the food brings home the leftovers as well, unless they offer it to anyone else who may want it. I've never heard of a friend hosting a potluck birthday party for their own family member. The only time I've heard of potluck birthdays are for a large family celebrating an elder's birthday. To just take all of the food and hand back the dish dirty would be considered rude here.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I would naturally assume the leftovers stay with the host(ess).

With that said, I think it depends on the makeup of the group. If its really close friends and family, I would clean everything up, put in containers and clean their dishes to take home. I would let them know that they are more than welcome to take some home and to help themselves in making a to-go container from the items I had already packed away.

I like to have things cleaned up and I like to give back a clean dish to take home, which is why I would pack and clean before my guests left.

b525's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 298

I think it's generally accepted around here that you take home what you bring, but offer some to anyone who wants some. I definitely would think it was odd if the hostess packed everything up for herself and handed me a dirty dish.

I can't be sure about birthdays, but I think we generally do a potluck for that, as well. I guess the host provides the main course and a few other things, but the guests will usually end up bringing something, too, I think. We don't really have many dinner birthday parties in our circle, so I'm not really positive how we do it! I can't imagine inviting everyone to your house to have them cook for you and then keep all the leftovers. That's bold!