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We all enjoy gathering with our friends and family at home and sharing a delicious meal together. It’s an excellent opportunity to kick back and catch up on what is happening in our busy lives, all while eating yummy food!

However, there is a lot of work involved in hosting a dinner. If you’re the one hosting, you need to plan a menu, shop for food, cook it and wash the dishes afterwards. 

You may love hosting, but by the time you have everything ready for your guests, you will be absolutely exhausted. The whole reason why you wanted everyone to come over was so you could enjoy the evening, and all you want to do is to go to bed!

Throwing a meal can be expensive too. Appetizers, main dish, side dishes, desserts plus alcohol means costs can quickly mount up.

If you want your friends over for dinner but without the hassle of cooking and cleaning, there is an alternative solution. Why not consider a potluck dinner? This is when everyone brings a dish of their choice to the party.

A potluck dinner doesn’t have to be how it was back in the day where people just brought random dishes and everything got a little messy. The modern potluck can be an organized and sophisticated get-together!

SOUNDS INTRIGUING? HERE ARE MY FIVE TOP TIPS FOR PLANNING A MODERN-DAY POTLUCK THAT YOUR GUESTS WILL ABSOLUTELY LOVE!

1. BE ORGANIZED

Woman with Pen, Paper and Coffee

When planning a potluck, you definitely want to keep track of what everyone is bringing. If you don’t, you could end up with ten desserts and no appetizers. I know we all love dessert, but not that much!

Once you have a final guest list confirmed, you can ask everyone what they would like to bring. 

If I’m hosting, I always choose to cook the main dish. I do this for three reasons. Firstly, the main dish is often seen as the hardest one, so it takes the pressure off my guests. Secondly, if a guest has to cancel at the last minute, it means that there is at least one main meal available. Finally, it gives guests a little bit of an idea about which dishes will complement dinner.

Separate the categories by appetizers, salad, main dish, vegetable side dish, starches and dessert. If people aren’t sure what to bring, have a couple of ideas on standby to give them a little bit of inspiration!

When you know how many people are definitely attending, you can work out how much everyone needs to bring. It may be that one dish will be enough, or you may ask guests to bring two different dishes.

You need to have a way of contacting everyone, so they not only know when and where the dinner will be, but what they need to bring. If your gathering is small, sending out a group text message or setting up a group on social media will do the trick. 

If a lot of people are coming to your potluck, I love SignUpGenius.com. This website lets you create a sign-up list that fits your needs for free. Once you’ve set up your list, you can send the link to all of your guests for them to join. 

2. PLAN YOUR DRINKS

Assorted Drinks

Traditionally with potlucks the host provides the drinks, but with the modern potluck there is lots of flexibility. 

You can provide the drinks or ask guests to bring their own bottle of something. You could also offer a few different types of drinks and guests can bring their own if they want something different. Just make sure everyone knows the arrangements, so they don’t come empty-handed.

I always try to have a few drinks that everyone will enjoy. There are always soft drinks and bottled water on the table, as well as a few alcoholic choices like beer and wine. If you want to, you could make a signature cocktail in line with the theme of the party. My man makes a killer mojito! 

3. PLAN OUT YOUR TABLEWARE

White Plates and Silver Cutlery

For a small get-together, you can use the everyday china and silverware you have on hand.  I like to use my china and silverware for the main meal and use paper plates and plastic forks for the appetizers and dessert. 

For large gatherings, you will want to have everything disposable for easy cleanup; paper plates, napkins, forks, knives and spoons. Why not add these items to your sign-up sheet and ask a guest to bring them along?

4. ARRANGE EXTRA SERVING DISHES AND UTENSILS

Wooden Bowls and Utensils

Having some extra serving dishes available will be handy for guests that picked up an item at the store, or just if you have a lot of guests coming along.

Some people don’t like to cook, or they just didn’t have time to put something together for your party, and that’s okay! Most local markets and stores have great premade items that are always a hit at potluck dinners.

Serving utensils are often forgotten. Having these ready to go will make your guests feel at ease, especially if they don’t feel comfortable asking you for them.

5. DISH OUT YOUR LEFTOVERS

Leftovers in Glass Containers

No matter how many dishes you have, or how hungry your guests are, there will always be food left over!

Since you didn’t cook the food, it only makes sense to send it home with your guests.

With potluck dinners, you can suggest that everyone takes back the food they made or alternatively, ask them to bring some empty containers so they can take a selection of food back home with them to enjoy later. Have some spares on standby in case anyone forgets theirs.

IN SUMMARY – ENJOY YOUR POTLUCK DINNER!

Potluck dining isn’t just about the food. It’s about building friendships and creating a community. It’s about spending the evening listening to stories and laughing together. It’s about feeling connected when the evening is done.

WHY NOT HOST A MONTHLY POTLUCK WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES? I’M SURE THAT EVERYONE WILL LOVE IT!