The Key To Perfecting The Irish Goodbye At A Potluck

Do a quick Internet search for the phrase "how to throw a dinner party" and nearly all of the results include the words "low-stress" or "stress-free." Luckily, potlucks alleviate some of the burden on hosts when everybody brings a dish to share. Still, even a low-stakes summer cookout can be a source of anxiety for hosts, as well as for the guests. Plus, according to Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D. via Psychology Today, post-pandemic social fatigue is a very real thing. Enter: the Irish goodbye.

Simply put, "Irish goodbye" describes making a sudden exit from a party without letting anyone know. Whatever your reason for dipping early, no justification is necessary. Your friends will get it. If your acquaintances take issue with it, well, they're "acquaintances" for a reason. Also, in order to preserve the holy institution of "politeness," the alternative is saying a personalized goodbye to every single guest at the party, which is exhausting any way you spin it and, frankly, can seem a little unnecessary.

The key to perfecting the Irish goodbye at a potluck isn't about the speed at which you make for the door — it's all about your covered dish. Take it with you. Leaving your cute ceramic dish behind for guests to continue picking at might seem like kindness, but your host will likely feel differently.

The right way to avoid ditching your dish

If you leave that beautiful hand-painted pie pan on the table and bail, then the host will have to wash it and store it – no small feat for apartment-dwellers, by the way. Then, they'll wonder who the dish belongs to, feel like they have to text guests to ascertain the owner and coordinate a time for you to come pick it up — which is an out-of-the-way errand you will have to complete, sooner rather than later.

Of course, if for some reason you leave right in the middle of dinner, then maybe swiping the dish out from under other guests' noses is a bad look. But, if "prime mealtime" has passed and folks are just grazing throughout the night, feel free to grab your dish and beat a hasty retreat. By that point, the food will probably be at least half gone anyway. If it isn't, grab a paper plate and transfer the remaining contents to it. That stack of five brownies or the last few squares of lasagna will fare just fine. Alternatively, you could also just bring your dish-to-share in a cheap plastic container that you don't mind abandoning altogether.

Irish goodbyes are the hesitant socializer's bread and butter, but if you're going to leave the potluck early, save your host from extra work and take your plate home with you. (Pro tip: The etiquette is different, however, with drinks. Leave whatever's remaining of your 12-pack in the fridge when you bail.)