Whether you’re a first-time potluck host or a veteran, you’re aware of the many logistics of meal preparation, food delegation, decor and scheduling. As long as you plan accordingly and establish a well-rounded menu, planning and hosting a potluck doesn’t have to be a headache. Here are some tips to get you started!
- Pick a theme: The food should be cohesive, and you can do this by featuring a themed potluck. Whether it’s Mexican, vegetarian or the Roaring Twenties, having a central theme will ensure that you don’t wind up with a mixture of foods that don’t go well together.
- Figure out the courses: You’ll likely feature appetizers, a salad and perhaps a soup prior to the entree. If there aren’t any big sweet tooths in the group, consider skipping dessert altogether to encourage healthy living. Instead, ask everyone to bring a sample of his or her favorite coffees and teas for a relaxing finale. Alternatively, you can ask the dessert chefs in the party to create healthy alternatives to traditional sweets.
- Practice portion control: One of the biggest and easiest mistakes to make when planning a potluck is forgetting to let everyone know about portion sizes. Though this may be difficult if several people have given a “maybe” in the R.S.V.P., use your best judgment as to how many servings of food everyone should make. You don’t want any food going to waste, but you don’t want to leave people hungry, either.
- Create a list: Chances are, you’ve been at a potluck that’s featured a lot of one course and not others. Avoid having nothing but chips and dips at your potluck by writing out a list of different courses and asking partygoers to sign up. When doing this, realize that the last few people to sign up may be left with dishes that they aren’t comfortable with cooking, so give these individuals the option to purchase their foods.
- Better to overproduce: It’s better to make too much food rather than too little. Encourage everyone to bring empty sealable containers to the party so that leftovers can be divvied up at the end of the party. This way, you don’t have to worry about the food taking up all of the space in your fridge and not eating everything in time.
- Have the right supplies: Though stainless steel utensils and the finest china would certainly add to the atmosphere, remember that you’re hosting a potluck. Plastic utensils and paper plates can heighten the fun factor. If you’d really like to use utensils that are slightly more elegant, look for embellished plastic plates and fancier plastic utensils.
- Feature entertainment: Though potlucks are social gatherings, you may need some other activities as well, especially if partygoers aren’t familiar with one another. You can have some icebreakers or another form of entertainment that will encourage participants to socialize.
- Decorate: Though the focus may be on the food, setting up the environment will have a big effect on the party. After all, partygoers who frequent your house will be familiar with its layout. Meanwhile, those who have never visited your home will appreciate the care you’ve taken. You don’t have to go all out and purchase themed decor. It can be as simple as a fresh centerpiece, a new tablecloth or reconfiguring the room to better accommodate more guests.
- Have fun: Planning and hosting a potluck can be stressful, and it can be easy to get caught up on details, but at the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying the company. So have fun and revel with loved ones!