Facebook Pixel

How do we politely turn down food from a dirty home?

By December 19, 2008 - 3:44pm
Rate This

This is one of these "delicate" situations!

How does my family nicely turn down well-meaning offerings of food from friends who live in a very dirty home with animals running around everywhere, including kitchen countertops and tables?

The home is filled with animal hair and stuff is hoarded everywhere. The home smells dreadful and the animals have urinated on most of the carpets and furniture and the smell is atrocious. The kitchen hasn't been cleaned in months. We don't socialize there at all. And if they want to live like that, I guess they can. (there are no kids). The people are good people but INSIST on "bringing a home-made dish" on the rare occasions they come over - like holiday season! Yikes!

There is just no way we're eating anything that comes out of that house. I'm now thinking of just making up a story about unusual allergies - anything to stop a dish from coming over. It's hard to ignore it and leave it sitting there, while other things are eaten. Then they'll leave with the untouched dish, and may feel bad. As much as we don't want to hurt feelings, we'd rather starve. Seriously!

Any words of advice?

Add a Comment5 Comments

ScooterGirl, this sounds so difficult for them. I love that you recognize them as good people and invite them for the holidays.

Do you think it's possible they have a problem with hoarding? Hoarders (of either things or animals) often know they are in a bad situation but, honestly, don't know quite how to get out of it. It can be related to obsessive compulsive disorder. I have seen a couple of programs where people fell into hoarding at such a horrendous level that they no longer knew what was even in their house. Food spoiled; mold grew; stacks grew higher; their adult children were horrified. Generally the thing about hoarders is that there's something else going on -- emotionally, psychologically -- and even if they want to change, they have difficulty even seeing around the next corner.

The food question is a tough one, but I agree -- I wouldn't make up anything about allergies. You would feel badly not being honest, and they would probably suspect something anyway, since it hadn't come up before. If wine or flowers doesn't seem exactly right, maybe a request like a loaf of french bread and butter? A bottle of apple cider? Or you could request that they bring ice cream and serve it with pie for dessert... Anything that they wouldn't fix themselves.

If you have the kind of relationship with them where they ever talk about this, and if you think it may be partially a hoarding issue, there is help:


December 22, 2008 - 10:57am

We don't go over to their house. Not only would we not, but they don't invite people in anyway. They know they have problems in this area. It's not my business to tell them how to live - they know how I feel about cleanliness in general. I did "joke" before that if I were in their house, I'd hire professionals to clear it out so to never have me in if they want to keep anything! They know the score...they just choose to live like that. I could never live in those terrible conditions myself. I suppose it's an "each to their own" situation.

Having them over once a year isn't a big deal for me, they are good people. It's just eating anything that came from their home is the sticky situation! Literally! lol

I like your idea about flowers, Alysiak. A small poinsettia might be nice!

December 20, 2008 - 12:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

In all honesty, I would make sure my family would have full bellies before going over to the house. I am a very honest person and I would probably tell my friend of the household issue in a nice and jokingly manner. If the person is your friend, they would certainly understand your concerns and on the other hand, if they don’t understand your concern...problem solved. You probably wouldn’t be invited over anymore.

It is certainly better to protect yourself and your family than being generous in your manners.

December 20, 2008 - 10:18am

Why are they coming over anyway? Are you inviting them? Is it tradition to have them over and now they expect it every year? Have you tried asking them for dessert with a very specific request? For example, a chocolate cake from Costco. I think if you narrow down their options to thinkgs like wine, ready-made dessert, etc you will be better off. Be clear that this meal is cooked by you to honor them and you do not want them to work at preparing anything.

December 20, 2008 - 12:55am


Perhaps, instead of making up some excuse about allergies, why not insist that they really don't need to bring a dish because the food is already taken care of? You could suggest that you would love flowers for the table or a nice bottle of wine (if that's appropriate).

December 19, 2008 - 6:53pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.

Healthy Eating

Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!