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How to Throw a Potluck Party

Potluck parties are more fun when the host is organized and guests are well fed. Use these techniques to make your next potluck dinner a smash hit.


  • Step 1: Choose a date Organize a date anywhere from three to six weeks in advance to ensure a large turnout.
  • Step 2: Select a theme Select a theme to help coordinate the menu and inspire guests' contributions. Consider themes such as Italian, Thai, Mexican, or barbecue.
  • Step 3: Extend invitations Use traditional invitations, phone calls, or an online invitation web site that allows you to electronically track R.S.V.P.'s.
  • TIP: Use the potluck as an opportunity to meet new people. Ask the people you invite to bring a couple of friends if you have the space to accommodate them.
  • Step 4: Review the menu Ask guests to tell you what they are bringing to avoid such problems as having too many salads and not enough main dishes. Provide additional plates to supplement the menu if it's off-balance.
  • TIP: Ask people to bring enough food to serve themselves and six to eight others to prepare an adequate spread.
  • Step 5: Remember beverages Remind everyone to bring wine or another drink of choice so beverages don't run dry.
  • Step 6: Get ready to host Prepare foods such as dips and soups a day or two ahead of time and set up tables and chairs the night before. Adequate preparation helps ensure that you and your guests have a blast.
  • FACT: Did you know? The term potluck comes from the North American Indian custom "Potlatch," a social occasion given by a host to distribute property and gifts to establish or uphold social status.

You Will Need

  • A date
  • A theme
  • Guests
  • Enough food and drink
  • Invitations (optional)

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