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.
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:
- Cocktail: 2-Ingredient Sangria
- Appetizer: Hot Corn Dip
- Main Dish: Chicken Kale Pasta
- Side: Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Dessert: Pecan Pie Bites
~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!
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!
~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