Perfect Potlucks: 6 Simple Tips

Entertaining, How-To, In Season, Summer
on July 18, 2011
Blueberry Farro Salad
Mark Boughton/Styling: Teresa Blackburn

A potluck is undoubtedly summer’s party of choice. They’re fun, inexpensive and a great way to get your friends involved. But corralling guests and pulling it all together is easier said than done. To ensure your party goes off without a hitch, plan ahead.

  • Avoid a buffet of comprised solely of salads. Be in communication with your guests early and tell them in advance what type of dishes to bring (appetizers, desserts, sides, etc.) as well as how many people are expected to attend to alleviate guesswork on serving amounts.
  • Cooking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Expect that not all guests will have your culinary expertise. Assure your cooking-challenged friends that store-bought items are welcomed.
  • Don’t forget to do your part. Remember as host, it is customary to provide the main dish, beverages, utensils, napkins, plates and cups. In the summer, firing up the grill is a simple way to serve a large group. Try grilling our juicy and crowd pleasing two-cheese burgers for a twist on the traditional.
  • Prepare for a potential food windfall. Have some inexpensive storage containers on hand for leftovers. Some guests may want to take their dishes home, but others will want to leave them with you.
  • Rinse and return. Wash all personal platters and pans and give them back to guests before the end of the party—it's a small but memorable courtesy.
  • Have options for everyone. Find out if you have any vegetarians or guests with food allergies and plan accordingly. If you have vegetarian guests, try whipping up our garden fresh corn and tomato salad with lemon dressing for a summery side, and check out the recipes below for a hearty vegan salad, nut-free and gluten-free dessert options and a fun meatless main dish.

By Emily Arno