‘Get that off my table.’ You might hear that if you bring the wrong side dish to the holiday meal

It's easier to figure out what to bring than what not to bring.

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Ever go to a holiday dinner, look around the table and see a dish that made you scratch your head?

We’ve all been there. We know to bring the best side dishes to the cookout, where macaroni and cheesepotato salad and coleslaw reign supreme. Now, with the holidays upon us, it’s time to elevate our side dish game because you know grandmama and auntie will bring it and let you know when your dish isn’t on par with theirs.

It’s easy to figure out what to bring to the holiday dinner since we all know the staples. Mashed potatoes, dressing or stuffing and even macaroni and cheese all go well with turkey, the most common holiday meat. 

Ambrosia salad is a dish not to bring to the holiday meal. (Adobe Stock)

But it’s harder to figure out what not to bring. 

A relative of mine once brought chitterlings to Thanksgiving. Given how everyone looked at him, I thought the earth would open up and swallow him whole for such a lapse in judgment. Chitterlings are an acquired taste, but having those brownish bits of intestines on a plate amid those good-looking sides was like putting a piece of beef tongue on a table of filets.

It just didn’t fit.

So if you want to avoid hearing… 

Boy, what is that? Child. Get that off my table.

… then you should avoid bringing these dishes to your holiday gathering.

Green Salad 

The holidays are not times to worry too much about weight, especially since excessive holiday weight gain seems to be a myth. One study found that despite assertions that Americans gain about five pounds during the holidays, the number is closer to one pound. One measly pound is not enough for me to push aside sweet potato pie for a plate of salad — a green salad, to boot. Green salads consist of lettuce, cucumbers — maybe a little tomato and avocado — dressed with oil and vinegar to keep it healthy. Nothing against healthy. But on Thanksgiving or Christmas, there’s no contest between a green salad and buttery potatoes, especially since it would be weird to slather gravy all over a salad. Load me up with those potatoes!

Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia salad dates to the 1870s, according to Serious Eats. In human history, we’ve lost critical historical documents like ”The Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” and Confucius’ “Sixth Classic.” Yet somehow, we couldn’t lose the recipe for Ambrosia Salad. The salad started as a concoction of grated coconut, sliced orange and sugar. Over the years, cooks have refined the recipe to include a base of oranges, pineapples and maraschino cherries. Some add yogurt, Cool Whip, or sour cream — and might even combine all three. Also, expect to see mini fruit-flavor marshmallows mixed in. If you want to ensure that no one will touch what you brought, and instead hear,  “You done did it now,” then make this. Otherwise, save your dignity and leave it at home. 

Green Bean Casserole

This is one of those dishes that’s an excuse to dump anything left in the cupboard in a baking dish, mix it around, bake it, and call it a side dish. You take a bag of frozen or canned green beans, throw in a can of cream of mushroom soup, add some crispy fried onions, mix it, and bake. The dish has all the appeal of watching someone eat with their mouth open. One in four Americans says green bean casserole is their second least-favorite Thanksgiving dish. The least favorite dish is …. 

If you must bring cranberry sauce to the holiday table, can the canned variety. (Adobe Stock)

Canned Jellied Cranberry Sauce

We have a love-hate relationship with cranberry sauce. Nearly half of those who responded to one survey called it “disgusting.” Is there a better reason not to bring the canned stuff? If you’re going to make a fresh batch of real cranberry sauce, that’s not so bad because you can adjust the flavors. But the stuff that wiggles out of the can? No. Just no.

Candied Yams

This dish often finds its way to the “least favorite side dishes” list for a good reason. This sugary sweet concoction demands orange juice, brown sugar and other seasonings to make the yams somewhat palatable. Remember, yams are not the same as sweet potatoes, even though people often interchange the two. Yams contain far more starch and sweet potatoes are, well, naturally sweeter. Forget the sticky yams, which don’t even look good and taste good. Stay with a basic sweet potato casserole. 

So, that’s it. Please don’t bring a green or ambrosia salad, green bean salad, canned jellied cranberry sauce or candied yams unless you want the family to look at you cross-eyed, shake their heads, and talk about you at every holiday gathering. 

“You remember when that fool put an ambrosia salad on my table??”

You don’t want to hear that. 

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