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Host A Potluck Dinner

Nov 20, 2011 05:33PM ● By Erin Frisch

Host a Potluck Dinner

You may think the term “potluck party” has an old-fashioned ring to it, but in reality, potluck dinners are an ideal form of entertaining for today’s host or hostess who would like to gather with friends but is too busy running between the office and the soccer fields to pull off a formal party. Whenever the impulse to have a casual get-together strikes, you can call your friends, neighbors, or family, tell them you’re organizing a potluck, and ask them to bring along one dish to share with the rest of the group.

Organizing Your Potluck Party

Although the term “potluck” suggests a random assortment of dishes, it's likely to turn out better when the host does a bit of organizing. If you don’t want to risk the chance that all of your guests will bring only desserts, begin by assigning them a specific course to bring along. Next, ask each guest to commit to a general category of food even if they’re not prepared to tell you the exact recipe. After all, as much as I love brownies, five plates of them wouldn't give much variety to the menu!

When you’re the host, remember to dig out extra serving platters, baskets, and utensils before your guests arrive. Not everyone brings food ready to be served, and you don't want to be distracted from your guests because you’re pulling things out of your cabinets or searching your attic for a serving tray.

Don’t forget that someone needs to be responsible for beverages. The host can supply them, or ask everyone to bring something they would like to drink with their dish.

As host you can choose what your contribution will be. If enough people are coming, providing the location for the party and the dinnerware can be enough. Sometimes the host will stock the bar with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks including juices, water, and soft drinks. Often the host will provide the main course such as a turkey or hamburgers on the grill and ask guests to bring side dishes and desserts. It’s really up to you based on the size of your guest list.

Food Suggestions

Whether you’re hosting the potluck or are simply invited to attend one, here are suggestions for the kind of dishes that work best.
  • All dishes should be prepared in advance.
  • Nobody should do more in the kitchen than pop something in the oven for reheating. The dishes should be easy to transport.
  • If there are many people attending the party, the serving size of each dish does not need to equal the number of guests. Everybody will take only a small portion of each dish when there are many from which to choose.
  • Traditional potluck dishes include casseroles, chili, bar cookies, salads, and breads.
  • Recipes don't need to be fancy. Dishes that have been handed down through the generations are often the most popular.
Written by Donna Pilato

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