Tips for Creating an Awesome Potluck Party


Hosting a potluck is a low-stress way to get friends together without having to do all the heavy lifting yourself. That doesn’t mean it requires no prior thought, though. In order to throw a successful potluck, you should still stay on top of your game as a host or hostess. This means making sure the meal comes together cohesively, even when you don’t have a direct hand in making all the dishes. If you’re planning on hosting a potluck at your apartment sometime soon, check out our tips for making it a hit:

Devise a theme.

If you let guests bring any type of cuisine they like, you might end up with a hodgepodge of curry, enchiladas, and Greek salad (depending on how creative your guests get in the kitchen). Deciding on a theme not only adds an extra element of fun to the party—since you can encourage your guests to come in costume or decorate the apartment accordingly—but also ensures that dishes don’t clash.

Go disposable.

The last thing you’ll likely feel like doing after saying goodbye to the final guest is getting in the kitchen and cleaning up. A certain amount of cleaning is impossible to avoid, but stacking the dishwasher doesn’t have to be on your to-do list. Instead of using your typical dishes or nice china, buy disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. You can also entrust this task to a guest who isn’t culinarily inclined.

Assign dishes—or at least courses.

Another common potluck blunder: not divvying up the responsibilities clearly. If you want to end up with a meal composed solely of side salads and appetizers, let guests bring whatever they want. But if you’d rather have a balanced feast of starters, mains, sides, and desserts, then you should let guests know exactly what to bring. You can assign specific dishes or just courses.

Set the number of servings.

When friends set to work in their own kitchens in preparation for your potluck, they’ll need parameters in order to make the right amount of food. Let everyone know how many partygoers they’re responsible for feeding. If you have four friends bringing appetizers and are expecting 20 guests, have them each bring enough to feed at least five (though you can encourage them to cook for 10 so more people can taste each eat).

Do the main dish yourself.

Chances are, not every single one of your friends has a background in cooking. If that’s the case, some of them are going to be more inclined to spend a lot of time on their dish than others. So don’t put anyone in the position of having to make the main course. It’s a lot of pressure for a novice cook, and a lot of work for a seasoned one. Either prepare the main dish yourself, or have a few different friends bring smaller casseroles from which partygoers can pick and choose.

Prepare for leftovers.

Potlucks always seem to yield more food than necessary. Plan ahead for this by providing containers in which guests can transport leftovers. Washed, quart-sized yogurt containers are a good option since you won’t need guests to return them to you later.

How to Host a Potluck—A Great Big Meal [Food Network]

How to Host a Potluck Dinner [Food & Wine]

How to host a potluck [Culinate]


Attribution: CC BY 2.0/ Flickr/Leslie Seaton