Potluck Parties – The Dos and Don’ts
Potluck parties are the best. It’s an excellent way to enjoy a variety of good food with friends over a beer or two. For a potluck party, everybody brings one dish to share and there’s a big feast for all to enjoy. No one has to do too much and no one has to do it all. But as they say, too many cooks spoil the broth, one needs to take care that potluck does not becomes a pot-mess.
Here are some dos and don’ts for the host and the guests…
1. Plan and Organize
The secret of a good potluck is not good food, but good planning. The host has to stay on top of things and know who is getting what so that there is an interesting spread of dishes and not 3 large bowls of caesar salad.
I find that sometimes, it is good to be an autocratic leader and dictate who gets what. And sometime being a free-rein leader works too. I like uploading a Google Doc Spreadsheet with names of all guests and categories of food like salad, starters, main dishes, breads, drinks, side-dishes, dessert etc and then the guests write the dishes they are excited to make against their name. Others take cue and pick the remaining items. This way guests take charge of the party!
2. Bring a Dish
Contributing a dish to the potluck is mandatory, it is not optional. In a large get-together, one or two people not getting their dishes may still be ok, but in a small gathering, it may create a problem. At a potluck, bringing a dish is not polite. It is a requirement.
3. Come Prepared
Get everything that is needed to serve your dish. While the host’s kitchen is open and available but things can get tight with so many people using the kitchen. So get your own serving spoon and the lid/cover for the dish, in case the food is served outdoors.
4. Be Thoughtful
Dishes like baked vegetable, salad, lasagna, pastas, biryani, pav-bhaji, etc can be served in a plate. Soups and stews need bowls and cups which not only add to the post-party workload but also is cumbersome to have in case it is an outdoor event.
5. Don’t be Pushy
Agree, that you have spent time and effort in making your dish, but don’t push your food on everyone. With such a wide tempting spread in front, may be your dish isnt appealing enough for some.
It’s polite to help the host before, during and after the potluck party.
7. Be Prepared to Take the Leftovers Home
Expecting the host to keep leftover of 15 dishes in her fridge is unrealistic. If she asks you to take your dish back, do it.
8. Relax and Enjoy
A potluck is not about culinary perfection or a showing off of your cooking skills; it is about a communal experience of sharing food and friendship. People bonding over food and fun should be the goal, so focus on that and have a good time.
Potluck are great last minute party ideas. If great weather is on the cards or an old friend is in town, send a group text and get the ball rolling for that Perfect Potluck Party.
Do you love Potluck Parties? What do you like best about them? Which dishes do you usually cook for Potluck Parties?
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April 18, 2019 12:27 am|
We ladies of kitty party often have potluck lunches along with family members. Each one brings a dish and 2-3 ladies prepare chappatis/rotis and we take the leftover home. Takeaway boxes are kept at the side and anyone can help themselves to take stuff home. We all ladies help the host to clean and clear the dishes . We enjoy together.
April 18, 2019 12:51 am|
We usually have potluck in our yoga class once in awhile and the think that works best is getting our own plates and cutlery and boxes for taking back stuff.
April 18, 2019 5:49 am|
I feel like sending this to some folk I have invited to potluck parties ;). Excellent tips!
April 18, 2019 6:44 am|
Agree- Potlucks are fun, and for the last two months, we have been having potlucks, and there are so much of joy not only meeting friends, but celebrating friendship and food. Thanks for sharing.
April 18, 2019 7:32 am|
Potluck parties are really fun with so many food choices and so many flavours. Next time around I shall keep the tips in mind.
April 18, 2019 10:50 am|
I recently had a similar party and it was total fun. These are very good tips to follow especially about the leftovers in the fridge part. I had a tough time there.
April 18, 2019 1:28 pm|
Potluck parties are real fun. Me with my friend’s enjoy them a lot. We usually like, chickpea salad, potato and Dahi Bhalla. Nice tips. I will keep them in mind for the next time:)
April 18, 2019 2:06 pm|
Potluck party is a great party. Where no one has to stay stuck at kitchen cooking for every one. Also, it does not bring undue financial pressure on one family. When I was a student, I heard of potluck parties. Where all invitees were asked to contribute a dish. Contribution varied from bar-be-cue meat to ice cream. I used to make kulfi. One Indian family, taught me how to make kulfi.
April 18, 2019 3:02 pm|
Most of the get togethers I have with friends are potlucks. That way while we can enjoy homecooked food, we still can have a lot of fun when everyone chips in.
April 18, 2019 3:26 pm|
This post reminded me of all the potluck parties we had in the US. It was first time we attended them there. I love the concept as the burden is not on one person and you get to.eat a variety of dishes.
April 18, 2019 4:32 pm|
I love a good potluck party! I went to one once when three of us took the same dish!
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April 18, 2019 7:52 pm|
Interestingly, I haven’t been part of a potluck yet. Great tips, Shilpa.
April 18, 2019 8:27 pm|
Lovely tips for potlucks Shilpa. Many people just dunno how to go about it. Thanks for sharing.
April 18, 2019 10:55 pm|
We used to have potluck dinners with friends once a month and your tips are perfect. I really enjoyed those times with friends and good food.
April 19, 2019 12:37 am|
These are some really great tips for a potluck party. I did attend a potluck party outdoors and it was an amazing experience.
April 19, 2019 12:47 am|
We have potluck very often here and I truly enjoy it. Your tips are quite helpful.
April 19, 2019 9:17 am|
Yupp, love them! Had my first potluck party on my very first birthday after mom passed away. My friends decided on their own that they want to come over for the birthday. Swati decided who will bring what, and what I was required to prepare. And we had a blast basically.
We did it quite often after that. The boys were usually asked to bring cold drinks and chips etc from the market. They were also made responsible for cleaning afterwards. While we girls did the cooking. ‘Coz we didn’t want to bother moms of the boys.
I especially like your point no. 4. That is most overlooked.
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April 19, 2019 10:46 am|
I love potlucks. It’s great for sharing the load and getting to taste a variety of dishes. Especially when you have a big group then potlucks work great
April 19, 2019 11:13 am|
I have never been to a potluck party, Shilpa, but I am definitely going to remember all these points if and when I am invited for one. In fact, I have already saved it in my memory bank! Thanks!
April 19, 2019 5:49 pm|
Potluck Parties can be a hit or a miss, depending on all the points you mentioned. These are very important points and would serve well to keep in mind when planning one. Very helpful post, Shilpa.
April 20, 2019 12:11 pm|
A very helpful post for a potluck parties..My inlaws dont like potlucks
April 22, 2019 11:29 am|
Hope I will get invited to your potluck next time
April 24, 2019 11:55 pm|
I’ve been to potlucks where you are assigned a category based on the first letter of your last name (salad, side dish, dessert, beverage, etc.) and the host makes the main dish. And I’ve been to the “bring whatever you want” type, also, and both are equally fun. I always have the hardest time thinking up what to make, though, and then when I see what other people have brought, I realized I was overthinking. Pretty much anything is accepted with gratefulness, because everyone is contributing. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just yummy.
January 18, 2020 11:59 am|
we have a group and we always prefer potluck parties coz it helps the host first of all and they often ask for something they loved at your place so it’s complimentary too. I’m a big foodie so I love these parties to the core.
January 18, 2020 12:24 pm|
The “don’t be pushy” one is funny, but I know how some people actually do that! 😛
January 19, 2020 11:26 am|
#5! As Shilpa said here in the comment, it is downright funny, as if it is some kind of contest! Planning is definitely a must and I like the Google Spreadsheet idea. Above all, relaxing and enjoying oneself is important as that’s the whole point of a get together, right? I find that carrying serving bowls with the dish helps a great deal. These days it is easy with disposable cutlery
January 19, 2020 12:17 pm|
We usually have potluck at office… Awesome time to enjoy different cusines from across the world. Wish I had a big group of friends to actually do it at home. These are really good points to keep in mind.
January 20, 2020 12:48 pm|
These are all great points Shilpa. Potluck parties are fun and gives less pressure on the host. I have had a couple of them at my home in the past and also went to a few of them.