What Is the Etiquette for Potluck Leftovers?

When in doubt about potluck protocol, ask the host.
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If you're surviving on a diet of frozen pizza and ramen noodles, a potluck dinner is about as good as it gets. Although you only take one dish, you get to sample a variety of mouthwatering hot dishes, salads, breads and oh yes -- desserts. Unfortunately, even this centuries-old tradition is fraught with drama, and ignoring accepted potluck etiquette may land you on the blacklist for future potlucks. Who gets to take home the leftovers? It all depends.

1 Potluck Protocol 101

Usually, each guest takes his own leftover food home, along with the container. That way, you can enjoy your own leftovers and the host doesn't have to worry about cleaning and returning dishes. However, if the host has transferred your food to a serving dish, you bring your empty container home and the leftovers stay with the host. The bottom line: Ask the host what he prefers, then comply with his wishes.

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.