How to Assign a Potluck

We are big fans of potluck parties! Dinner parties, in general, can be great, but if you are the host or hostess and charged with providing appetizers, the main course, drinks, and dessert, the evening can feel a bit daunting. What better way to come together as a group while still feeling like everyone has contributed than with the time-honored tradition of a potluck!

There are definitely some hiccups that can occur with potlucks, though. We may or may not have been privy to an evening where only wines and desserts were in attendance! Not that that night turned out poorly, but it could have been better organized so that main courses and hors-d’oeuvre had a seat at the table…as it were. Here are our tips for hosting the best potluck.

  • Have a sign-up sheet. This is the be-all, end-all necessary step 1. Whether it’s through an email chain, google doc, or SignUpGenius, make sure that you have a running list of what is being brought, who’s assigned to what, and what is still left to be decided. When you know your invite list and total guest count, plan out a rough idea of how many dishes you’ll need in each category (i.e. 3 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 mains, 1 dessert, and 6 bottles of wine). Then let your guests know what is still open or needed.
  • Figure out the oven schedule beforehand. If a few different main courses, as well as half of your expected appetizers, need time on the stove or in the oven, try to plan that out to the best of your knowledge. Having a warm oven waiting for mashed potatoes or a cookie sheet at the ready for stuffed mushrooms will keep your evening’s timeline running smoothly.
  • Utilize crock-pots! This is a great way to free up some oven space and also get things done ahead of time. They are also easy to travel with (we love this insulated travel bag!). You can prep your food early in the day, set it and go.
  • Have back up items. Keep a few freezer items stocked in your house that can be heated up in a pinch if someone backs out or everyone turns up with less food than expected. If the items are not used, nothing goes to waste and you can hold onto them for later.
  • Clean every dish and utensil in your house before your guests arrive. Some potluck dishes may arrive complete with lids, sauce containers, and serving utensils. Others, though, may need a bit of extra help. It’s best to have all your dishes and utensils already cleaned and at your disposal for any necessary save-the-day moments.
  • Make sure everyone is hydrated. Don’t forget the drinks! If your party is specifically a BYOB affair, make sure guests are aware and that you have a few dedicated guests assigned to booze and any other beverages you require. Be sure to fill up your water filter pitcher – we love this one that fills almost instantly! Seriously, watch the video, it’s crazy how quickly it filters!
  • For picnic potlucks, don’t forget the supplies! As host, remember to pack (or assign someone else to bring) paper towels, paper plates, cups, zip lock bags (for leftovers and/or dirty forks) and a wine key/bottle opener. We love these shatterproof wine glasses and this roll-able travel picnic table. If you really want to be on top of things, pack a stain stick, sunscreen, and a small first aid kit.
  • Be mindful of food allergies. Especially if the group is small and there are only a few items to choose from, it is important to have a few options that work for everyone.


Do you have any tips or tricks for hosting a successful potluck? Any potluck horror stories of only salads coming to dinner?? Let us know in the comments!

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