Plan an Effortless Holiday Potluck Dinner

Angela Caban

Winter is here, and so is potluck season! What’s not to love about potlucks? They are relaxed, festive, cozy, and super easy! Because everyone will bring their own special creation to the table, your holiday meal will come together without the added stress of the holiday season.
So if you’ve never hosted your own potluck dinner before, have no fear! These 4 tips will help you to plan an effortless holiday potluck dinner.
  1. Pick a Theme: Don’t be afraid to have some fun with it. I think a theme is helpful depending on the occasion. One year we invited guests over and used the theme “Foods from Europe.” It isn’t too narrow and lets guests have fun with it, while guaranteeing you’ll have some variety. If you have a smaller group, you may not need a theme but just some direction on who brings what (see #2).
  1. Be Specific: If you want certain guests to bring items, make a list of who will bring the appetizer, main dish and dessert. Depending on how large your group is, you may just want guests to pick their own dish to bring. Also, if you have too many side dishes, don’t be afraid to ask a guest to change their choice. One year we ended up with four main dishes and two sides. I quickly learned that there is no shame in requesting changes to the menu.
  1. Plan Ahead: Once you have a theme set, invites out, and a sense of the items being brought – plan your dinner. A table should be set with the right amount of silverware, servicing platters and utensils. It is always a good idea to ask guests if their dish requires anything extra; that way you aren’t caught off guard. One year I was lacking in serving spoons, so the following year I ran to the dollar store and picked up a bunch to keep on hand for the next potluck.
  1. Be Proactive: Potlucks are a chance for everyone to get involved. Avoid asking guests to provide everything for your meal. The proper way to host a potluck is to ask everyone to bring one dish; you typically will also provide a dish, beverages and cocktails. Anything extra that a guest brings is a bonus!
Overall, have fun with it! Potlucks are meant to gather friends and family around good food to create wonderful memories. I can’t think of a better time to do this than during the holiday season. It’s the perfect way to share with others and make things a little bit easier for everyone!


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