10 Things You Should Never Do When Hosting A Potluck

10 Things You Should Never Do When Hosting a Potluck

Hosting a potluck can be the easiest, least stressful way of holding a dinner party in your home. As long as a few simple protocols are abided by, gathering friends and family together for a potluck party will be a relaxed, friendly, and communal affair. If everyone works as a team, follows your clear instructions, and pulls his or her own weight, then you'll have a fun evening on the way. However, if you give no guidelines, are vague about every detail, and prepare nothing because you're the host, and therefore consider yourself free from any food and drink responsibility, your potluck will soon descend into disaster

Never Be a Demanding Host

Yes, you need to assign a dish to your guests, but you don't need to tell them exactly what to cook. Be realistic with your requests for your guests: Complex, time-consuming dishes such as homemade lasagna or triple-layered sponge cake should never be requested. If you know someone's not a good cook, put him or her on drinks. If you know someone loves to bake, allow that guest to show off and make dessert.

Never Forget About the Guest with Allergies

If one of your guests has told you that he or she is vegan, has celiac disease, or is allergic to nuts, make sure you ask that guest to bring something he or she can eat, and try and make something special yourself  too. Don't just say "OK, that's fine," and then forget about it so this guest has to spend the whole evening starving.

Never Go Themeless

Setting a theme such as "Italian," "Pumpkin Party," or "Southern BBQ," is the first step to creating a cohesive meal. Without a theme, you'll end up with a table of burgers, crab cakes, pizza, and paella, which does not really sound like anyone's idea of a well-balanced dinner.

Never Leave Things to Chance

You're hosting a potluck, so obviously your guests will be bringing an offering of food or drink. To avoid luck playing too much of a part in what ends up on the table, you need to delegate. Task some guests with appetizers, some with drinks, some with entrées, and some with desserts. Remember to also tell them how many people you're expecting and when to arrive — it sounds obvious but it's this kind of detail that can be too easily overlooked.

Never Forget the Tableware

Unless you've delegated this to one of your guests, telling him or her how many people to provide for as part of the assignment, you need to make sure you supply plenty of plates, glasses, knives, and forks. At one potluck I had to eat everything with a teaspoon out of a plastic cup. Please don't impose this bizarre method of dining on your guests. They'll need a glass, a fork, and a plate at the very least.

Never Have an Empty Drinks Table

Even if you've delegated drinks to a couple of guests, make sure you have enough ready to get everyone started. The drinks people may turn up late, or decide to bring appetizers instead, and your guests will be standing around thirsty. Remember to provide soft drinks and water too: Not everyone wants to drink wine all night long.

Never Hoard Dishes

Yes, that eggplant salad does look delicious. And yes, it would make a brilliant dinner or work lunch tomorrow. However, hiding a dish away in your kitchen is simply not acceptable behavior. You're the host and your guest has made this dish to be shared with everyone else, so no matter how good it looks, put it on the table with everything else. No hoarding allowed.

Never Host Empty-Handed

Yes, we know you're the host and you're very kind to welcome everyone into your home, provide them with a plate and a fork, and give them a glass of wine. However, this is your party, so you need to provide something to eat too. Cook a simple main course, which will be large enough to feed everyone, or a dessert that can come fresh out the oven when the time comes. No one ever looked badly on a host who offered up warm brownies at the end of the evening.

Never Judge Your Guests

OK, so that guest didn't make much effort and just bought some chips and salted nuts from the store. That does count as an appetizer though, and maybe there was just no time for cooking in that guest's life this week. As long as your guests bring something similar to what you reasonably requested, be grateful, happy, compliment it, and don't judge them. If you want to be in control of exactly what ends up on your table, host a dinner party, not a potluck.

Never Keep Guests’ Dishes

So your guests left you with their leftovers, still in the casserole dishes, cupcake tins, and baking dishes. You finished eating the leftovers and finally got round to washing them all up. However, this does not mean that this equipment is now yours. No matter how much you have fallen in love with them during their stay in your kitchen, make sure you return all of your guests' belongings, or ask them to come and collect them. Once the items are returned, you've finally completed hosting a successful potluck.