After the Thanksgiving meal is over, it will be clear which dishes were hits and which were misses. Here's what to do with those misses.

By Lisa Cericola
pumpkin pie
Credit: ALEXEY BORODIN/Getty Images

Aunt Edith—bless her heart—loves creamed onions. And she offers, no, insists on bringing them to every Thanksgiving meal. You've gently (and not-so-gently) suggested that she bring her homemade sweet potato pie, or a bottle of wine, or a bag of dinner rolls, or anything else, but to Aunt Edith, Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without her signature dish. So creamed onions wind up on your Thanksgiving table year after year, like a family member no one can stand but everyone expects.

After Aunt Edith has helped herself to a first and second serving of her onions and the rest of the crowd has taken a spoonful to be polite, there will inevitably be half of a Pyrex bowl of creamed onions leftover when the meal is done. Which brings us to one of the trickiest Thanksgiving etiquette conundrums: dealing with a half-eaten dish that someone else brought.

Do you keep the creamed onions? Does Aunt Edith? Do you wash the dish, or does she head home with a dirty bowl? It all depends on the situation. Here are a few strategies in case you find yourself in this tricky situation.

She wants you to have the onions. (How generous.)

Accept Aunt Edith's very sweet offer to let you and your family enjoy the leftover creamed onions. Store the bowl in the very back of your refrigerator with the intention to incorporate them into a pot pie, or invent a new casserole. Instead, you will discover the bowl in late January.

She lets you decide what to do with the onions.

Sharing is caring. Divvy up the rest of the creamed onions for everyone to take home along with extra turkey, pie, and other Thanksgiving leftovers.

She wants to keep the onions.

Slap some aluminum foil on that bowl and hand it right back to Aunt Edith with a big smile and the most genuine "Thank you, that was so delicious!" you can summon.

Bonus points: Empty the creamed onions into a plastic container, wash the bowl, and send Aunt Edith on her way with neatly packaged leftovers and a clean dish.

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She doesn't notice that no one finished the onions. (Unlikely, but maybe.)

Scrape the leftover onions into the trash when no one's looking. Hide them under a layer of crumpled paper towels. Promise to return her bowl the next time you see her. Your secret is safe with us.