School is back in session and we are slowly settling back into our regular routine, which means more time for hosting, of course! If you’re ready to ease your way into entertaining guests, a potluck is a great place to start — especially for a weeknight. The prep is a breeze since everyone pitches in with the meal, and you can have lots of fun with the theme. Gather some friends and family – I’ll show you how to modernize the potluck so it’s fun for your guests and easy for you!
Find the perfect theme
In the mood for Mexican? Or Italian, maybe? Name the cuisine type for your guests and see what they come up with.
Perhaps you’d like to test your guests’ creativity by giving them a theme ingredient like lemon, chili, or basil. Then assign a category to your guests, such as Appetizer, Salad, Entree, or Dessert, to ensure a delicious, well-rounded spread.
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!
Set-up & decor
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.
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!
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
Cheers to potluck night
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!
If you and your guests are in a pinch for time, 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!