Potluck parties don’t always have the best reputation. They’re not as thrilling as a birthday event where you get plenty of presents to unwrap, and there’s usually not as much drinking and dancing as you’d get at a cocktail party. However, bringing your friends and loved ones together for shared meals can be a lot of fun too – if you know how to host the experience properly.
A potluck party is an excellent excuse to throw a celebration and have some time with the people you care about – when there aren’t any big events on the agenda. However, if you’re not used to throwing these kinds of party, you might have a hard time figuring out where to get started. That’s why we’ve put together these top tips for spicing things up.
Have a Gift Exchange
Okay, so you don’t need to exchange gifts at a potluck party, but this can be a great way to make things even more special. If you haven’t seen your friends and loved ones for a while, giving everyone the opportunity to exchange little gifts could be a great way to get you all smiling before you even start tucking into your food. GiftCannon.com has some great gift ideas based on peoples interest if you’re in need of inspiration.
If you are planning on exchanging gifts, rules can be a good way to keep things under wraps. Make sure that everyone knows what their “budget” is for spending, so no-one feels bad about how much they can afford to bring.
Give the food a theme
Giving the food a theme is another great way to make your potluck party more appealing. This will ensure that you don’t have totally random meals scattered across your table that no-one can mix and match. Before the big day, agree that you’re all going to make food with a Chinese flavor to it, or choose a special ingredient that every meal should include.
If you’re feeling particularly creative, you could ask your party members to get involved with a vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free meal that really puts their skills to the test.
Give Everyone a Challenge
If having a range of foods with the same theme on your table doesn’t seem exciting enough, why not give your loved ones a challenge instead? Before you have your potluck event, you could get your friends and family members to pick a random word out of a hat that dictates what they’re going to have to cook on the day.
Your words could be names of different countries, so that you can check out different flavors from around the world, or you could give everyone a unique ingredient to work with, and ask them to pick a desert, entrée, or main dish.
Make it dinner and a Show
Why just stay together for dinner? Make the most out of your pot luck event by asking people to bring over their favorite movies too. This is an excellent chance to spend some time unwinding together after you’ve eaten. Since you probably won’t be able to watch everyone’s movie on the same day, you could ask people to pull straws to determine who gets to decide on what the entertainment is for that night. Alternatively, just make the person hosting the pot luck responsible for the entertainment.
Every couple of weeks, when you get together for another dining experience, you can arrange to have the event at another house, belonging to a different member of the group. That person will then have the opportunity to entertain the group in any way they see fit.
Do a Recipe Swap
Finally, make sure that everyone at your pot luck party has a chance to learn something new. When someone brings a meal to your table, make sure that they also bring print outs of the recipe and how to make that food too. This way, your friends and loved ones can collect the guidelines for the meals that they’d like to attempt for themselves at home. If you really want to see if people are picking up some lessons from your pot luck event, you could host a competition at the end of the month or every few months.
Ask everyone to cook their version of one of their favorite meals or foods provided by another guest, then make sure that the guest rates it themselves. You could even have competitions where someone wins a prize by creating the best version of a common favorite from your table. The options are endless.