Summer Etiquette Series: Can I ask for leftovers?

I’m back with the summer etiquette series and today I’m tackling a situation I’ve run into many time over my years in the hospitality industry; is it okay to ask for leftovers at a cookout?

As a hospitality management major I started my hospitality career as a server for banquets before becoming a catering assistant, a catering manager at a college and eventually owning my own catering business. I cannot count the number of times a guest has come to me and asked, “can I take a plate to go?”  In the beginning it was the little old ladies who dared to even bring their own aluminum foil but then it became just about any guest who enjoyed the meal or didn’t want to make lunch the next day.

So is it okay to ask for or expect leftovers when attending an event?  You should follow the lead of the host or hostess.  If the hostess offers leftovers then by all means, take advantage of the offer if you’d like.  If there is no offer, consider that there could be a number of reasons why one wasn’t extended. You should not attend a party with the expectation of taking home tomorrow’s lunch. I’ve also seen guest ask to take plates home for relatives who didn’t attend and this is not okay especially if the relative was invited and didn’t attend.  It is not the hostess’ job to feed them.

As a hostess I’m always obliged to give a guest a to-go if they ask since it’s my job is to be gracious and accommodating whenever possible. However, there have been times when I did that at the detriment of my plans for the leftovers.  If you are not inclined to be overly gracious as a host, it is perfectly okay to thank the guest for their compliment and politely decline the request because you already have plans for the food.

The goal is considering the feelings of others.  In most cases the host would LOVE to unload extra food so they don’t have to store them or eventually throw them away.  BUT, if they don’t offer, do your best not to ask and put them in an uncomfortable situation and for goodness sake, please don’t ever attend a dinner with your aluminum foil and bowls in tow!

 

Kindly,

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Make-it-Monday- Sweet Tea

Today’s Make-it-Monday is a repost from a couple years ago.  It features my recipe for sweet tea that I continue to use to this day.  Combine this with some freshly-squeezed lemonade and you have a hit on your hands.

Every Southerner worth their weight in gold knows how to make a good pitcher of sweet tea. As Dolly Parton’s character in Steel Magnolias said “it’s the house wine of the south”.  Like the use of the word coke for all types of sodas, many Southerners simply use the word tea to mean sweetened iced tea. It’s the quintessential southern drink and its popularity is catching on in other areas of the country.

Over ten years ago when my then fiancé and I were eating out and I mistakenly ordered sweet tea at a midwestern restaurant, the waitress gave me a blank stare.  Fast-forward to 2012 and this sweet elixir can now be found in McDonalds nationwide as well as various dine-in restaurants including the one where I received the blank stare. Iced sweet tea is a sign of hospitality that almost any household can offer.  Done right, it can make a lasting impression on your guests.

Several years ago I discovered a great recipe for sweet tea that has always turned out well.  The color is just right and it doesn’t have the “trash” commonly found at the bottom of some pitchers of sweet tea.

Here it is the recipe for your delight:

6 regular or 3 family size tea bags (I normally use good old-fashioned Lipton tea bags  

cups boiling water

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 to 2 cups granulated sugar  (if you’re a sweet tea newbie, you may want to start with  1 1/4 cups instead

 6 cups cold water 

In a glass measuring cup or saucepan large enough to accommodate 2 cups boiling water, add tea bags and baking soda.  Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, being careful not to squeeze the bags (this adds bitterness).  Pour the concentrate into a 2-quart pitcher and add sugar.  Stir until almost dissolved.  Add 6 cups cold water.  Cool and serve over ice.

*It’s important to remember to add the sugar while the concentrate is hot or warm otherwise it won’t dissolve and you’ll end up with a bunch of sugar at the bottom of the pitcher. One other note; I know the baking soda might seem strange, but it softens the natural tannins,  substances found in teas that can cause an acid or bitter taste.

There are many ways to serve sweet tea but one of my favorites is in an old-fashioned mason jar.  You can’t get much more hospitable than that!  This welcoming drink would be great used during a cocktail hour of a country chic wedding or as a wedding favor as shown below.

What about you, do you enjoy a cool glass of sweet tea? Do you have a favorite recipe?