How to Host a Fun, Modern Day Potluck


There’s no more intimate gesture than inviting someone into your home for a meal. And now that everyone’s back from summer vacation and school is starting, you’re probably craving some time to reconnect with the friends you haven’t seen in awhile. It’s also such a busy time, however, and if you’re like us, you have a lot going on and it can be tough to think about hosting.

A Modern Day Potluck is the perfect solution! Potluck planning is fun, the prep is a breeze, and you only have to make a couple of dishes since your guests will all contribute to the feast. I’ll show you how to pull it off so it’s casual, fun, and most importantly, easy!

Choose a theme

~Try choosing a theme, like Italian food or foods that start with ‘P.’ It’s fun to see what people come up with, and a theme gives your guests an opportunity to show off their creativity. In place of a table cover, spread out a roll of butcher paper and use Sharpies to draw pictures to indicate where each dish goes. Add names, caricatures, or doodles that complement your theme.

~Do an Iron Chef kind of night. With this potluck theme, everyone has to bring something that has a certain ingredient in it (cheese, chilis, oranges, etc.), then assign a category to your guests, such as Appetizer, Salad, Entree, Dessert, or Cocktail, to ensure a delicious, well-rounded spread.

potluckOutline your buffet so everyone knows where to place their dish

New recipes or old favorites

~Find a cookbook and pick out recipes that your friends can follow. This option gives everyone a chance to try something new, and allows guests to give their critiques. Because I’m such a visual learner, I love Ree Drummond’s cookbooks. She uses lots of pictures, so it takes the guesswork out of trying a new recipe. Her step-by-step photos make it super easy to follow (kinda like cooking for preschoolers!).

Here’s a sample potluck menu for inspiration that I pulled together from The Pioneer Woman:

potluckDon’t be afraid to try a new recipe — everyone’s bringing something, so pressure’s off!

~Let your guests bring an old family favorite —  ask everyone to share the history behind their dish. A friend of mine brought her Armenian grandma’s tabbouleh, made from a prized family recipe. It was fun to hear how it ended up in her hands. This is guaranteed to generate conversation!

~Don’t limit your potluck menu to food — maybe there’s a cocktail recipe that a guest might like to share? My neighbor introduced me to Moscow Mules (and her stunning copper mugs!) at my first potluck. I’d never had one and didn’t know what I missing. That was worth the whole party!

potluckAsk guests bring their favorite dish or give them guidance

Organized set-up for ease

~Have all of your dishes set up and ready to go in one service station. Place your plates, flatware, glasses, napkins all in one place — no fancy floral arrangement needed for this casual affair — the buffet of fun food is the tablescape this time!

potluckA pre-set service station makes one less thing to do… let your guests set the table!

~If you and your guests are in a pinch for time with all the back-to-school stuff going on this time of year, consider limiting your get-together to a drinks and dessert potluck. This way, there’s even less prep, and the focus is on just getting everyone together, reconnecting, and ending the day on a sweet note with special friends.

Remember, there are no set rules with a potluck, so relax, have fun, and enjoy the company and food!

Lory Parson | To Have + To Host 

About Lory: 
I love a full house, and I’m passionate about entertaining. I thrive on gathering family and friends together, making them feel welcome, and celebrating all that’s good in life. There’s no gesture more intimate and personal than being invited into someone’s home, and there’s no better joy than having guests leave with a full stomach, heart, and soul.
To Have + To Host is a place where I indulge in casual elegance, experiment with tastes, textures, colors of the season, and styles, and share the best of the best for both you and your guests. Come on over and be my guest!


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