what’s the proper food gift etiquette?


Nearly every time my mom offers to bring a dish to a party, she plans to leave the serving piece with the host. On her way home from picking up ingredients at the grocery store, she’ll stop at the discount store and pick up a cheap (but cute) plate to give as a hostess gift along with the prepared food. I am under the impression that the food item should be gift enough, but I do appreciate her tradition of adding a little extra something. It does make for a nicer presentation than packing everything in tupperware or disposable containers. Plus, it avoids any awkwardness inherent in asking the hostess to clean off your plate so you can take it back home. I’m curious to hear your opinion. What is the best way to bring food to a party? –Erica P.

Mary T. knows all about bringing food to a party — in that photo is one of the two Buche de Noel cakes she made for holiday parties last year. (And no, she didn’t leave the plate.) Click here to see how easy it is to make.

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jen norwood

i’m with your mom. makes it easier, and is a nice gesture.


I have been doing the heavy duty disposables, so there is no question afterward of giving it back and if they want to reuse it they can.
I really like your Mom’s idea and am thinking about adopting it though I don’t know if I would want people imposing singleton dishware into my heavily edited collection.
The worst is when it has to be returned and then the schedule of when am I going to get that back to them or what will i fill it with or when am I going to get that back?


My husband’s family has a “family plate” that someone painted at one of those Paint your own pottery places. It actually has a little poem about sharing the plate on it. It gets passed around at all the family gatherings and left for the next host/hostess.

Mary T

Cassie, that’s a great idea!


For me, it depends on where I’m going. If it’s family, then I expect to get my serving piece back – maybe not that day, but the next time I visit and I do the same with their stuff.

If it’s a friend or someone I don’t know too well, I have a small stash of pieces that I wouldn’t mind not getting back – mismatched plates, heavy duty reusables, etc. That way I can judge the situation and see what makes the most sense and feels comfortable. Once I had someone assume my serving plate was a gift and I didn’t know them well enough to correct them (it just felt too awkward) – I had picked it up cheaply so it didn’t matter much, but I learned my lesson. Now if I get it back, fine – if not, that’s fine too.

Mary, your Buche de Noel is out of control. You win domestic goddess of the year…if not the century!

Tiffany S.

I love Erica’s mom’s idea – A+ for effort and execution. Very thoughtful.

I’ve had Mary’s Buche de Noel – it rocks!

shelterrific » Blog Archive » five things i learned last week

[…] It gets passed around at all the family gatherings and left for the next host/hostess.” Click here for more gift food etiquette. 5. This year, the holidays need a lot of creativity.. and less spending. As mkhall says: […]

shelterrific » Blog Archive » have you ever baked in paper pans?

[…] of brownies or a tasty almond cake, I always deal with the issue of how to package the present. I’ve learned to buy discount serving pieces at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx to give as part of the gift, but […]