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How To Host a Potluck Party

Take the stress out of hosting a potluck party with the help of our party planning guide.

By: Natalie Taylor, Editor,

Potlucks are a great way to get together with friends and family without going to all the trouble of preparing a meal on your own. However, if you want your potluck to run smoothly, it is important to plan ahead. We have created this helpful guide, How To Host a Potluck Party, so you can throw the best potluck party ever. Our guide will teach you how to plan food for the party and how to organize the party. We have also included some theme ideas to add a little excitement to your party.

Whether you want to host a potluck for your church group, your family, or your friends, our helpful guide will help you figure out the details. Even if you don't pride yourself on your entertaining skills, this guide on How to Host a Potluck Party will help you every step of the way. If you're tired of the traditional dish-to-pass potluck, consider throwing a retro or movie themed party! After perusing this list of hosting tips, you will want to throw a potluck party this weekend!

How to Host a Potluck Party

Potluck Party Planning

  1. When inviting guests, provide each guest with a category of food to bring.

    Be sure you have at least one guest assigned to each main category. These categories should include main dish, side dish, and dessert.

    Provide guests with two possible categories, so they can choose something that fits with their time, as well as their budget.

    Be aware of any major food allergies of anyone you are inviting. Mention these allergies when you’re inviting other guests and assigning them with a category.

  2. Decide what you’d like to contribute to the party as the host.

    Providing the location, plates, and silverware could be plenty if it is a party with a lot of guests.

    You could make the main dish and ask your guests to bring side dishes, salads, and desserts.

    You could provide all the drinks at the potluck parties, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Beer and wine as well as juice, soda, and water are great choices.

    Depending on the size of your party, there are many more options!

At the Potluck Party

  1. Make sure that you have enough plates, cups, and silverware for all of your partygoers.

    It's also a good idea to have extra serving spoons and platters, in case someone forgets theirs.

  2. Make sure the oven is open and available for guests to heat up their dishes.

    Ideally, the guests will bring their dishes fully cooked, so the only thing left to do is warm them up a bit.

  3. Don’t worry about cleaning up during the party.

    It’s important to enjoy the party while you’re throwing it!

    If you try to keep everything clean during the party, your stress might take away from the party's relaxed atmosphere.

  4. The best rule of thumb is to not take any leftovers unless they are offered to you.

    The most common potluck practice is to only take your own leftovers with you.

    However, depending on your guests, this can be flexible! If everyone is on board, you could even provide guests with disposable containers so they can take home a portion of everyone's dishes.

Fun Potluck Party Themes

  1. Grown Up Versions of Kid Favorites

    Kid favorite recipes can include things like macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly recipes, or even pizza-inspired recipes. This Budget Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese is a great example of a grown up version of a classic kid recipe.

    Budget Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese

  2. Book or Movie Theme

    For this potluck party theme, you can choose a book or movie and choose recipes from there. For example, if a book is set in Italy, you could have your guests each bring an Italian dish.

    These themed parties are great because the party will have built-in entertainment—watching the movie or discussing the book!

    John Wayne Tater Tot Casserole

  3. Last Name Recipe

    Asks guests to bring a recipe that begins with the first letter of their last name. If their last name starts with an "S" they could bring a sausage casserole.

    Sausage McMuffin Casserole

  4. Pick a Country

    Choose a country and have guests bring recipes from that country. For example, you could have everyone bring a recipe from Germany.

    German Cabbage Casserole

  5. Retro Party

    Choose a decade and have guests bring recipes from that decade. For example, you could choose the 1950s and have your guests make a vintage recipe from the 1950s.

    1950s Tuna Noodle Casserole

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