Hosting a potluck party is a tried-and-true way to bring friends and family together without making the event too much work for any one person. It's no wonder that these events remain a popular way to host.
So why are you sweating the details?
Stick to the KISS method of potluck planning, and you're sure to have a great time. KISS stands for "Keep It Simple, Silly!" — and here's how to do just that.
A potluck is best when it's an informal affair, so set it up as an open house rather than as a sit-down dinner in a narrow time slot. Letting people come and go on their own schedule will allow more guests to stop by to enjoy the fun.
Potluck parties are great because everyone brings a dish, but leaving your menu wide open can actually be overwhelming for guests. If you narrow the scope to a certain type of cuisine (think "Southern BBQ" or "Tex-Mex night"), you'll ensure that everything tastes great together and give your guests a gentle nudge in the right direction.
To avoid the disappointment of ending up with 12 pasta salads and zero desserts, start a food sign up sheet so guests can plan accordingly. Try the Pitch In Club app for an easy online food sign up sheet that guests can refer to with their phones. It also helps the host see what still needs to be covered for any last-minute shopping trips.
BYOB is the best way to make sure everyone gets their drink of choice. The host's job is to provide at least two ice chests: one for adult beverages and the other for soft drinks, juice pouches, and other non-alcoholic choices. As guests arrive they can add to the coolers so there's always a cold one ready as people need refreshment.
When you're hosting, you want to do the cooking the day before so you can spend the day of the party actually enjoying yourself. CrockPot dishes like chili or mac and cheese are ideal, as is a pasta salad that will be perfect right out of the fridge.
If children will be in attendance, try setting up a separate table with a few kid-friendly foods like mac and cheese, hot dogs, chicken tenders, or PB&J sandwiches cut into quarters. Provide little cups for individual dip servings for chips or carrot sticks to keep messy hands out of the dip bowl — the adults will thank you for this, too!
Don't forget to request desserts on your sign up sheet! When planning desserts, make sure you specify whether you'll have extra room to store them in a fridge or freezer so your guests can plan an appropriate dish. No one wants a melted ice cream cake or soupy sundae bar!
Sure, everyone could just take their own leftovers back home, but what's the fun in that? Order a set of paper take-out boxes and let guests take home extra servings of all their favorite dishes. Your guests will thank you for your thoughtfulness.
Whether you plan to throw a small dinner with friends or a big neighborhood block party, planning a potluck can be a stress-free way to enjoy the company of friends. With a little advanced planning and clear communication with guests, you can create a super-fun celebration for everyone.
Hope these tips were helpful. For more event planning tips, check out our blog.