Potluck parties are a chance for guests to show off their culinary skills. They’re also exceptionally easy to organize. Here are our tips for planning a potluck party.
Tip One: Have a Theme in Mind
Your guests will almost certainly ask you what you’d like them to bring. Leave their options open, but have a food theme ready so they have some idea what type of food to make or buy.
Have an ethnic potluck (Indian, Asian, Hungarian, Mexican), an Americana theme (hot dogs and burgers, chips, apple pie), a kids theme (pizza, Goldfish crackers, sandwiches with the crusts cut off) or any theme that strikes your fancy.
Other fun potluck food themes include foods of one color, or that include a certain color; a holiday theme; or food from a certain time period in history if you’re really creative.
Tip Two: Make the Basics Yourself
Since a potluck involves a wide range of possibilities for your guests, make sure you have the basics covered yourself. That way, any delicious dishes people bring will be (pardon us!) gravy.
If you’re hosting a luncheon, have plenty of soda, iced tea, lemonade and water on hand. Make a bulk or main lunch food yourself (hero sandwiches or a plate of deli meat with cheeses are two examples). Also be sure to make at least one dessert and have two snack food dishes out.
For a dinner potluck, make a beef or chicken main dish and one vegetarian main dish, such as veggie lasagna. Supply drinks yourself, alcoholic or non depending upon your preference. One tip, however, if you are planning a party that includes alcohol, is to have the potluck be BYOB, with each guest required only to bring wine or beer if he or she plans to imbibe. As with the luncheon, have a dessert ready.
Tip Three: Give Guests Advance Notice
Whether your guests plan to buy their offerings or whip something up from Grandma’s recipe box, be sure to give them plenty of notice before the party date.
It’s appropriate to mail invitations so that they arrive with two weeks’ notice before the date of the party.
Tip Four: Have Something Kids Will Eat
If your potluck party will involve both grownups and children, make sure you have a few kid-friendly selections handy. Chances are your little guests won’t appreciate your neighbor’s vichyssoise as much as you do! Potato or corn chips, pop corn, chicken tenders/chicken nuggets and hamburgers are good choices.
Once the guests – and their dishes – arrive, let guests serve themselves. This will give you plenty of time to mingle…and to enjoy the fruits of your (and your guests’) labor. Bon appetit!