Top Potluck Etiquette

Everyone Is Involved

Potluck gatherings are a great, fun way to get friends and family together. The greatest part about a potluck is that the stress of hosting the party does not fall on just one person. Of course, the people hosting will need to get their home ready, have dishes, etc. BUT the major responsibility of having food and beverages falls on all who attend. In essence, it is a shared event.

As many times in shared events and responsibilities, it is important to take into consideration etiquette rules. These rules exist so all can have fun and share equally in the responsibility of the potluck. If you are the host or an guest, these etiquette rules will help you understand your role to ensure that all have a great time at the potluck.

Potluck Etiquette for Hosts

As a host, you will need to think through how you want the gathering and meal to be setup. Think about your appetizers, main dishes, sides, drinks and party supplies. The host may also make the main dish and let the guests bring the rest. Or the host can work with an attendee to prepare the main dish they would like the meal to be planned around.

When guests asks what to bring, give them a choice of two categories so they can choose something that fits their time and budget. For example, you could tell them to bring a side or some paper plates. Don't tell someone to bring a particularly expensive item. For example, a fruit salad for 20 or steaks to feed a crowd would put a large financial burden on any one individual. On the other hand, if they volunteer without your asking, it's fine to accept.

Potluck Etiquette for Guests

As a guest, it is very important for you to deliver on what you committed to bring. If you've agreed to bring a main dish, don't show up with a dessert instead. Make sure you bring what you were asked to bring. The host is depending on you to stick to your category. Also, think about something everyone likes. Don't make a dish your great grandmother made and only a few people in the world have tried or liked it. Bring something that you think will be known to all and is ready to serve.

Don't take too much of any one thing. Remember the line of people behind you want to take a little sample of everything too. The idea is to ensure everyone gets some of everything.

Make sure you help out when the meal is over. Guests will come and eventually get their dishes and utensils but a mess will remain. Lend a cleaning hand to the host and help with trash pickup, moving leftovers, dessert. etc. This will help you get invited back for the next potluck.

Finally, be gracious to the host and guests and thank the for inviting you. Ideally, you get invited back next time.

Potlucks are a truly collaborative party and fun for all when everyone can follow the correct etiquette. Enjoy!

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