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3 Tips to Plan a Perfect Potluck

Handmade Gatherings author and potluck-thrower extraordinaire Ashley English offers these tips for a perfectly wonderful (and laid-back) group get-together.

Potluck Gathering
Photo by Jen Altman

1. Choose a Theme.

Without question, I have found guests rally and truly bring their A-game when a potluck has a theme. Whether you look to the seasons for ideas (“Apples”, “Winter Citrus”); turn to an international cuisine or region (“Mediterranean”, “India”); or simply use a concept (“Burger/Hot Dog Buffet”), having a cohesive theme creates a unified meal.

2. Ask Guests to RSVP.

This way, even if a theme has been carved out, you’ll avoid overlap and repetition. Everyone loves hummus, but a Mediterranean-themed potluck composed of nothing but the beloved bean dip makes for a one-note meal.

3. Have a Back-Up Plan.

Inevitably, someone will leave their dish at home or not have time to cook. There might also be the guest that helps themselves a bit too abundantly before others down the line can get to a particular dish (this is especially true of children). As the host, be sure to have some extra cheese and crackers or pickles, or even an entire extra dish of your contribution, to the meal on hand. You don’t have to create a back-up of the full meal (it’s a potluck, after all), but you don’t want to leave anyone hungry.

For a delicious soup recipe from Ashley check out Butternut Squash Soup Recipe with Herbed Cider. Learn more about her mountain homestead in Gathering Together: Building a Homestead in North Carolina.