Kids and potlucks/buffets

Grrr! This is probably more a vent than a request for advice (because I’ve already decided what I’m doing next time!) but let me get it out there…

We were invited to a potluck-style July 4th get-together with some neighbors. The hosts provided the burgers and dogs and the guests were asked to bring an appetizer or side dish. I was asked to bring my jalapeno poppers (basically, jalapenos cut in half length-wise, seeded and deveined, stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and baked until the bacon is crisp) which are quite popular with our friends. I figured on 3-4 poppers per guest (I ended up making about 60.) The food was set up buffet-style on a long table and everyone–including the kids–helped themselves.

After the meal, I helped with the cleanup and got to the table where the younger kids (ages 7-12) were sitting. Two of the plates had 7 or 8 jalapenos with cream cheese sitting on them… but no bacon. I asked my 11-year-old nephew,who had been sitting at that table, what that was about and he told me that the hosts’ grandchildren (ages 7 and 9) had taken the poppers but they only wanted the bacon… “they don’t like jalapenos or cream cheese”.

I was aghast. There must have been a few adults who didn’t get their full “ration” of appetizers (if they got any at all!) but mainly I was upset at the waste. It’s not an extraordinarily expensive or difficult appetizer to make, but it’s not cheap, either, and it does take some time. I said nothing to the hosts, because I’m not sure exactly what I could have said… at least they didn’t put the jalapenos back on the serving tray! I always taught my son and his cousins that the guests go first and that even when THEY’RE the guests, they never take more than one until everyone’s had a chance to go through the buffet line… and I usually took them through the line when they were younger (just to make sure they remembered how many is ONE!)

My husband told me next time I’m asked to bring something (at least to this particular home), offer to bring chips and salsa… not the poppers! He said I should make those only when we host the party and we have some control over the serving line (as he pointed out about this last potluck–did the person who brought the deviled eggs PURPOSELY leave olive slices lying on the serving tray? Hmm…)

Anyway, thank you for listening! If anyone has any suggestions, I’d appreciate them, but I think my hubby’s advice will probably give me the least amount of stress in the future!

So everyone enjoy your Fourth… and watch for olives on the serving tray without deviled eggs!

It’s a holiday. Relax. The kids enjoyed the bacon–good job. Were your poppers a gift to the neighbors with strings attached?

To be frank–if I had been your neighbor and you did mention something to me about a few uneaten jalapenos (or even 16 of 60), I would think you were being unnaturally controlling and regret I asked you to bring them. Your hosts probably thought you would be flattered that they liked your appetizer–why ruin it? It’s like giving your friend a gift, and then getting upset if it isn’t prominently displayed to your liking in their house. When you give it away, you no longer have any right to feel ANY way at all about it–or it really wasn’t a gift, it was an attempt to manipulate something. Just my .02. HAPPY 4th.:thumbsup:

I agree. Whenever I take a dish to a gathering or celebration, my job is done once I set the container on the table to be shared by all. Its out of my control and its just time to enjoy the company and the food, and that means its also no longer my job to ensure people are partaking in my dish exactly the way I envisioned they would. I think you have to have the mindset when you go to a potluck or any kind of gathering that people will naturally do things that you would not do at your house. I don’t know if I would want to go to a gathering where the buffet line is being strictly policed or monitored.

When we go to a gathering where there will be kids, I generally take brownies. They get finished every time! :stuck_out_tongue:

If your host asked for something specific, it was nice of you to oblige. If they ask again and you don’t want to, tell her you’re glad she likes them, but you’ll have to pass and bring something else. Or answer in such a way that you are not committing to any specific dish (then show up with whatever you want).

Social events can be a challenge - you might have taught your kids one thing, but other parents have different rules and standards. Hopefully the adults enjoyed your poppers!

Seriously! My blood pressure went up just reading the OP! Plus today’s my birthday!


Let’s think about this. You made 60 poppers, and figured 3-4 per guest…so you were preparing for 15-20 guests. Two people took 16 between them. That leaves 44 for everyone else, which is still 2-3 per guest. Too many? If they were all taken the first time through, yes. But remember that any cream cheese appetizers left out in summer heat for more than an hour or hour and a half ought to have been thrown out anyway. If no one else was going to eat the remainder, the kids may as well have taken the bacon.

If it bothers you to lose control over food you take to a potluck, then follow your husband’s advice: Take something that doesn’t involve an excessive emotional or financial investment on your part. What is excessive? Excessive is whatever makes you sweat about how (or whether or not) it is consumed. After all, the “luck” part at a potluck isn’t just on the part of those who do the eating. It also includes what happens to your offering after you set it on the buffet.

BTW: if a guest is at an event for 15-20 people and sees that 60 of something is being offered, they don’t have to restrict themselves to just one, even the first time through. Somewhat less than one’s exact “fraction” of the total is polite, but not quite as much less as the OP implies.

(Maybe next time, you ought off to spring for some of the beer. The 12 year olds probably won’t be allowed to waste that!)

PS There is nothing wrong with feeling the way you do. Just adjust your buffet offerings accordingly. It falls under “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” Accepting how you tend to react emotionally is part of that equation, and that is OK!

Yeah, I probably would have been annoyed too. Kids that pick at food are simply annoying in any context. I always taught my kids, “If you touch it, you take it, and you eat it, so just take ONE unless you know you like it!” :rolleyes:

It sounds as if you had an investment in those appetizers and wanted everyone to enjoy them. Totally normal in that situation. Those are finicky little things to assemble. I used to do something similar with large green olives, cream cheese and bacon bits, very labor intensive. But I wouldn’t even expect a child to touch one of them.

I would forgo the jalapeno poppers unless it’s an adults-only gathering. Did most people try them and enjoy them?


I would say your overreacting. What about if this was a finnicy adult who was just eating what the could to fill them? The kids were mostly jus being kids. Maybe next time just do some sort of bacon treat. Jalepenos are quite spicy and many people will eat and love 2 or 3 and realize that they might burn a hole in their esogopus if they eat one more…and having taken 6 pull the pepper out.

The kids did not food fight, they didnt spit in your face, they didnt scream “ick”…be a gracous giver and move on.

i would’ve been mad. quiet, but mad. it’s a waste of food, money and TIME.

chips and salsa next time unless you’re working the buffet line. “Come back for more if you like this one,” should be standard response to kids at buffets.

Well, except that she was being good enough to honor a request that she go to the trouble to make them, which was really very gracious of her. The requester probably did not foresee the kids stripping the bacon and leaving the rest. The next time she’s asked, now she can respond that she’s had some experience with parts being left, and has come to the conclusion that not everyone who takes them can actually eat them…and so she now takes things to potlucks that are less likely to be that kind of a surprise.

Of course, if they press, it would be gracious to bring her specialty, anyway, knowing that for every one that is “stripped” there will be others that will have been a total-package delight…which is why she keeps getting these requests!! :thumbsup:

I can see why you would be annoyed; that is a lot of work and the 2 kids took quite a few each. However your location seems to say new mexico and I agree with Easter Joy, the appetizers wouldn’t stay good for very long in that heat anyway. Probably delicious at first with the cream cheese and combination of flavors but best eaten pretty quickly. If everyone had a chance to get several on the first go-round everything probably went over pretty well.

Speaking of heat and cool things to eat, now I want some ice cream, which I do not need. :rolleyes: I live in the washington DC area where it’s hot.

Now I want some of these things!!!


That makes two requests for the recipe, Bluerose! :slight_smile:

Actually I’d like the recipe also.

I never have any luck at potlucks. Don’t put too much into them. Don’t go there hungry, expecting to do any actual eating. Don’t complain about the problems, because you will likely be the only one. Try to enjoy the company, and that’s about it.

Some of my memories of potlucks, picnics, or parties.

The kids playing with a dog in a mud-puddle, then shoving their hands into the bowl of fruit salad, no spoons, no bowls.

The huge dog walking around the room, wagging it’s tail, stirring the cheese dip with it’s wagging tail.

The woman that dropped an entire pound of flavored butter on the floor, then put it back, just scraping off some of the dirt.

Being served a shot in a dirty shot-glass, then spiting out the matchsticks that were in it.

The last potluck I went to, I took a pupu platter from the local Chinese. Most of it wound up in the garbage, along with most of the other food that was brought. I learned my lesson long ago, to stop going overboard buying expensive store bought desserts for such events.

You potluck with the wrong crowd. Most of the potlucks I go to have about five times too much food and no way to try even a little bit of everything that looks good without exploding. Even the single guys who can’t cook bring good beer with their three bags of chips.

(OTOH, the people in my family and peer group are pretty much into food.)

As for the kids, potlucks with kids have about the same hygiene as you get when you’re camping. You try to watch what the kids are doing, but the events still turn out to be a culinary venture reserved for the fearless. You have to tie the kids down so that anyone who is immune-suppressed can get through the line first, and then it is anyone’s guess what happens after that.

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