Easter Dinner with MIL


Every holiday, my MIL hosts dinner. We would like to but that is a whole different thread.
Anyway, she tells everyone not to bring anything. She does it all and she does NOT complain about it. I grew up in my family that when we have family dinners we all pitch in and brought something. Even though my MIL insists that I not bring anything, I still do (for over the past 3 years). Many times what I bring is put off to the side and “forgotten”. I don’t say anything about it and usually DH and I just end up taking it home without anyone having touched it. Most of the dishes I bring are dishes that have been in my family for generations. My family is 3 states away so I don’t get to enjoy them as often.
I have been on the fence about if I should still bring a dish, even though I am always told not to. Or if I should just give up and realize that I can not make my family traditions a part of my DH family traditions???


Well, a couple of things come to mind.

If I attended I probably wouldn’t bring anything and would make special dishes at home with DH and whomever I invited to my house at other times.

Alternatively, you could bring your dish and then when it is put aside and almost “forgotten” your DH can make a big deal and say “Oh, JustAnotherThou made X, which is a special dish in her family… we almost forgot to bring it to the table! Let me get it!!!” (said in enthusiastic tone that does not allow MIL to do anything but smile and hold her tongue).

Third, you can decline the invitation to MILs and start your own traditions. If MIL is unwilling to “share” holidays-- like in my DH’s family sometimes they have the holiday on an alternate day so everyone gets to rotate between the various ILs-- then you need to go your own way and start your own traditions if it’s that important to you.

I doubt that you will be able to “change” your MIL’s traditions if she isn’t willing to change and if your husband and any of his siblings are unwilling to stand up to her then you can’t do much.


**If you are told not to bring anything (sincerely, as it appears is the case here) AND your contributions are “forgotten” if you do bring them, I personally wouldn’t bother.

Let her have her moment. My grandma is the “do it all herself and never complain” type too and it is the way she shows her love for her family. Giving her the compliments (on a job well done and a delicious meal) go much further with her than bringing a dish. She lives for it.

What does your husband think? **


Have you told your MIL the importance of and the special meanings behind your dishes? Have you mentioned how MUCH YOU MISS YOUR FAMILY? Have you or DH ever nicely asked her to include you and make you feel special and important too? Maybe if she knew this she would graciously include your dishes? Or she could be a total control freak and think or say “great I let JustAnotherThou bring a dish, then they’ll all bring a dish – it’ll be anarchy!” :rotfl:

I like this advice:

Alternatively, you could bring your dish and then when it is put aside and almost “forgotten” your DH can make a big deal and say “Oh, JustAnotherThou made X, which is a special dish in her family… we almost forgot to bring it to the table! Let me get it!!!” (said in enthusiastic tone that does not allow MIL to do anything but smile and hold her tongue).

Either way it sounds like MIL looks forward to the cooking, and all the praise that goes along with it, plus the pride of feeding a large family. That’s hard for some women to let go of. I love cooking a big meal – but I love help even more.

I think the combo of the two ideas and advice may bring harmony. DH would probably be the best route to MIL’s heart, just by saying you deserve to feed other’s too! :thumbsup:

Update us!


Maybe your MIL was raised in a time or place when, if one invited people to dinner, even family, one did not ask for help or dishes, as that would be rude.

I didn’t say it was right, I said that might be the circumstances of why she won’t let anybody bring anything.

Personally, I would bring her flowers if I went, or some sort of goody that she could enjoy later. I have some older relatives like this, and that is what Miss Manners recommends. It seems to be a big hit with the those relatives. I bring them pre-vased, do it myself with vases from the thrift shop that I clean up and polish. I buy the flowers from the supermarket.

If you want to have an Easter dinner, and still go to MIL’s for Easter, Easter is a big, long liturgical holiday. I think a Pentecost dinner in red might be a hoot (but I love red, so I don’t count). If you do not want to go to MIL’s Easter dinner, you need to talk with your DH and decline next time for your own holiday feast. You are entitled to cook your own Easter dinner, you know (and I bet it is yummy, too).


KC is thinking the same as I am. Sit down with your MIL and tell her how much you miss your family, with them far away. How it would help just a bit if you could share a dish from your family tradition.

Another idea, pick another holiday to be your day to cook all those great dishes and invite everyone over. Heck, one cannot have too many holiday meals.:smiley:


This is a good idea. Often my mom will tell me not to worry about bringing food, but she’s always thrilled if I bring flowers for the table.


Please try to see this from her perspective… you have her son and her grand children for the entire year. She just gets to see them a few times and do her granma spoiling with her favorite foods. Be gracious and let her have her day. I agree you should come with some flowers, and be full of praise for how delicious her meals are…if you want to celebrate with your family traditional meals do it on other special days like birthdays, baptism aniversaries, first day of spring, etc…


Honestly, when you are not asked to bring a dish, I think it is rude of you to bring one. A hostess, your MIL in this case, has her menu all figured out and when you bring something not requested and then insist it be served, you are overstepping your bounds, imo.

This is now not a gift, it is a requirement for the hostess to incorporate your dish into her meal. This becomes extra work for the hostess because now she has to figure when and where and how to serve your dish. And maybe your dish clashes with her menu…you bring a salad and she already has a salad prepared…etc…

I know some hostesses are laid back about who brings what, but in this case, it seems your MIL is a bit more formal and she likes things her own way. I think it’s good to respect that.

The better idea has already been stated, but I think it’s best for you to bring something like flowers, candy or a bottle of wine. All these things can be set aside for the hostess to enjoy later and don’t interfere with her meal.

And of course, you can always invite the family to your house and then you become the hostess who can plan and serve the meal your own way.


I agree :thumbsup: This year, same as last, my husband and I made dinner for his family. Last year, no one offered or made anything extra (even though his sister stated over and over, “are you sure you don’t want me to make any beans and rice”, they’re Mexican and my husband wanted a traditional “American” Christmas dinner). This year, we again said that we don’t need any extra dishes but his mother and sister went ahead and cooked an extra turkey (had they told us, we wouldn’t have wasted our money on the one we bough), a sweet potatoe dish they wanted (yet, everyone ate mine), and mashed potatoes (again, everyone ate mine) and made mole (which I think only one person had with their meat). They wasted our time and money and I took it as a personal insult :mad: . It ruined some of the time that I should have been enjoying with them. Also, since his sister (the controller) didn’t want ham (which we made) I guesss she figured it was her right to cook whatever she wanted (by the way, everyone LOVED the ham and that was the first to go).


since she issues the invitation, she plans the menu and when asked “what can I bring” will tell you, so you concede with her wishes, as you would if a guest in anyone else’s home. In her home on the holidays, we are observing her family traditions. In your home, you observe your family traditions. Your holiday will be just fine with or without the traditional pineapple coolwhip salad you grew up with.

If the issue is really one of you missing your own family, and certainly emotions are heightened around the holidays when this is the case, deal with your emotions, but don’t bring them along to a celebration with others.

If the issue is her taking on the burden and refusing help, but whining and complaining about all the work, get together with the rest of your family and plan the next gathering now, at one of your own homes.

we generally had at least 2, sometimes 3 holiday meals when our kids were home. we alternated between Detroit and Chicago, and about every 3rd year had the holiday in Cleveland, either at my home or my SIL. I learned quickly what to serve and what not to serve, on the rule of “defer to your elders”. But I also had at least one meal, if not on the day itself, for our own little family with our traditional meal (roast beef for Christmas, lamb for Easter, both of which are considered heresy by my in-laws). Someday remind me to tell you about the year I tried roast duck and rice pilaf. I think everyone went out to Denny’s for turkey.


What i would do is just let her do everything and enjoy the food. Unless this is really a big deal for you, let it go. Look at it as an extra good deed for the day. Just remember God watches every thing we do even the good things. What i learned to do is say okay God i am doing what you would want me to do. Remember GOd loves the peacemakers. I always say to myself i may not always be the peacemaker but today i will. Make it an easy peacemaker day. YOU DIDNT HAVE TO REALLY GO OUT OF YOU WAY. And trust me by letting it go, you will bring so much peace to your husband and your family. And at the end of day you will be proud of yourself too.


Would she appreciate a dessert? Then you can bake something you like.

I would appreciate dessert.:wink:


Thank you everyone for your opinions! They have been very helpful!!

I think the main thing that I don’t understand (from my family background) is that IMHO you shouldn’t be made to feel as a invited guest at a close family members house. I guess my family is just more informal than others and in a way you are kind of expected (if you have a reason not to then you are excused) to either bring something or wash dishes!! LOL There were many years during college I washed dishes!

I don’t know how to multi quote on here, so bear with me.

1Ke- DH has tried this approach along with her parents. It seems to not set a good mood for dinner with her so thus the reason I figured I should just give up trying. At Christmas, DH did announce that we would be having Christmas at our house and that we hope everyone that is available to be there.

Feanaro’s Wife - My DH does not like it either. Before we married he insisted on hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at his house. She brought everything against his wishes and even knowing that he had spent a lot of time and money making the food. :confused:

KCtheMommy- At this time, there is just a handful of us at family dinners, maybe the difference I am not seeing is my side of the family we are shocked to have under 20 at a family meal so it is easier for everyone to pitch in. I have tried to explain to her the importance behind my family dishes, mostly since my mother and grandmothers that the recipes came from have passed away.

OutinChgoburbs- I really like your idea and am going to start just bringing flowers! I don’t want to make tension and it is not doing any good anyway. What is the saying, “the definition of insane is when you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result”? :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t want to keep doing this for the next 40 years and then have to admit I am insane LOL

epc007- I would agree with this if it wasn’t for the fact we live very close to her and see her at least once every week. We also are working on children so no grandkids as of yet.
It is more of a control thing, DH even sees it that way.

Newf- I would agree with that if this was not a family member. I have to think family is different. Maybe I am wrong on this. I know that when we do Christmas this year, we won’t require anyone to bring anything, although I will suggest they can bring their favorite holiday dish (well minus the Turkey) if they want to! It is also not just a personal thing against me, she does the same thing with her mother.

To the rest of you, also thank you for your answers. This has really made me step back and think of the best way to start new traditions with DH & myself that can combine what we enjoy most with both of our families.


:thumbsup: I agree

Your MIL took many years to create her family traditions, and I’m sure all her children appreciate and look forward to their mother’s cooking. Your new family with your DH is the place to incorporate the family traditions you grew up with and love, the traditions your DH grew up with and love, and to add new ones together. Your MIL’s house is not the place for you to create your own traditions. She’s already did that and is allowed to enjoy cooking for her family on Easter.

Bring her a wonderful gift, perhaps a fun or fancy gadget for the kitchen that she may be wishing for (but not a cook book!! she may think you don’t like her cooking!).

I have learned not to bring dishes to my IL’s gatherings. They would prefer I bring pre-packaged food so that’s what I do. When in Rome…


Uh, it’s her meal, obey her rules. Don’t be a jerk.


And I always thought Holidays were about Christ and coming together as a family :confused:

Good thing you were not around to give Christ that opinion!!!


If she throws the thing, and takes the time to put on her own spread, respect that. Some day, when she’s the queen mother and MIL is looking down from heaven (hopefully), she’ll get to have it her way.

Some people on here have problems on par with the grittiest soap opera out there, some people just need to relax and have a nice shot of brandy and take a long walk and stop making mountains out of molehills.

I have not read the part in the gospel where Jesus gets in an argument with the Pharisees about bringing side dishes to family get-togethers. If your version has that story, may I suggest the Ignatius RSV it is a bit more reliable.


Ok so maybe that was a far reach, I will let that go.

I guess I took GREAT offense to your post because I don’t understand why you would call me a JERK if you read my thread. Really, is that Christ like??
I know from reading your post you can be very harsh with your words at times. But calling me a jerk over asking this question :confused: Come on!!!


I also don’t see on here where I made any mountain out of a molehill! I explained the situation and asked for advice. Even replied that I appreciated much of the advice I was given and through that advice decided to change what I was doing. Did you read that part of the thread??? Have you ever asked anyone for advice? Sometimes it is awesome to be open to hearing advice from others on the outside. If threads such as mine bother you so much, I would advise you against reading them. Really it is free will if you choose to or not.

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