How To Host a Pot Luck

In theory, the potluck party is a genius way of making light work of cooking a big ol' feast for a large group. Everyone shares the load, brings a dish to share and you end up with a regal banquet without the stress and the cost of pulling it all together on your own. Tidy!

But what happens if three of your guests turn up with pasta bake or soup, what becomes of your regal banquet then? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

To help you bring the whole shebang together swimmingly, here’s some helpful pointers to have you on your way to hosting the best potluck ever. It’s all in the planning!

Pick a Theme

Picking a theme will help create some much-needed cohesion to your potluck party. Italian, Mexican, a taste of Provence, childhood favourites, letters of the alphabet – decide on an idea and spread the word.

Decide On a Budget

Pick a budget to suit all your guests so everyone is spending the same amount and no one feels cheated for forking out on lobster.

Delegate dishes early doors

Arguably the most important part of a potluck is the grub. Sure, a potluck is meant to be fun and spontaneous, but the food is one thing that needs some careful planning.

Cover all bases and dish out responsibilities. Task some guests with the appetisers, some with the snacks, some with the mains and some with the puddings and communicate who is making what so you don’t end up with repeat dishes. You don’t want to leave too much up to luck when it comes to the main event.

Creating a simple sign-up sheet to email round to everyone is an easy way to make sure everyone knows who’s making or baking what.

Request ready-to-serve food where possible

To make serving a more seamless process, you could ask your guests if they mind pre-packing their food in ready-to-serve containers, tin foil trays or serving plates. It’ll save a lot of scrambling around and decanting when everyone’s arriving at the same time. Just remind guests to take their non-disposables home with them.

Style your table

You’re going to need to free up as much space as possible on your counters and the main table for the feast but adding a few decorative touches to the table will set the mood for your guests. Stick to smaller elements such as candles, table confetti, a centrepiece or a nod to your potluck theme if you have one.

Include everyone

A potluck is about bringing everyone together to gather and feast with ease, which means catering for your guests with allergies or specific dietary requirements. Gluten-free, vegan, veggie, make sure there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Make sure you have enough tableware and utensils

It seems obvious but when you’re in the thick of hosting, it’s easy to forget the basics like cutlery, plates, napkins and glasses.

Prepare a drinks table

No potluck is complete without a table full of beverages and while you’re kindly welcoming everyone into your home, it’s nice to make sure all your friends and family are always topped up with refreshments.

Set up a drinks table with non-alcoholic options for the designated drivers, not everyone will be on the vino.

Label the dishes

Take the guesswork out of your potluck and put labelled cards in front of each dish so each of your guests will be able to identify what they’re eyeing up for their dinner.

Communication is KING

Does everyone know what time to arrive and how many people they’re cooking for? It’s worth circulating the message to everyone right from the get go and again a few days before to jog everyone’s memories.

Add garnishes last

Fresh herbs, toasted nuts or crumbled cheese, garnishes are best added at the last minute. Have some classics in your pantry just in case your guests need to add any last-minute flourishes before serving.

Don’t forget the playlist

The last thing you want to be doing when you’re trying to entertain guests is fiddling around with music and missing out on all the conversation. Prep a killer playlist in advance and let the good times roll!

What’s your go-to dish for a potluck? Let us know in the comments below!