By Anna Lynn Sibal
When gathering friends and family for a party, sometimes it is better for the host or the hostess to just hold a potluck party rather than a sit-down dinner party. The main reason for this is that most hostesses and homemakers seldom have time to squeeze into preparing big dinner parties in between juggling careers and families. A potluck party is not only a time saver on the part of the hostess, but it is also a way to gather friends and family in a less formal and definitely more casual setting that would put everyone at ease, without putting stress on the hostess.
But just like any party, potluck parties require planning. If the hostess does not plan her potluck party carefully, she may end up having only desserts to serve her guests and no entrees. The best way to avoid this kind of party disaster is to assign guests to bring a dish belonging to a particular course category, be it a salad, a dessert, a pasta dish, a meat dish, fish or a casserole. The guest assigned to a particular course does not have to inform the hostess as to exactly what kind of dish she would be bringing as long as it belongs to that particular course. This will provide more variety to the food served during the party.
The dishes that the guests would bring to the potluck party need not be fancy. It should just be something that the guest is comfortable preparing, such as an old family recipe. Exchanging recipes is a fun thing to do and it is commonly done during potluck parties.
This is not a general rule, but the hostess is often the one to provide the main course for the meal. Of course, she can choose any other course, or she can choose not to prepare any since she is the one providing the venue and the utensils needed for the party. But usually, the hostess is the one to provide the main course of the meal for the party.
The drinks are something that is also often assigned to the hostess, although they could be assigned to another guest. But since it is her house where the party is going to be held, it is always a good idea for her to stock her bar and her kitchen with some alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as some sodas and fruit juices.
A potluck party means that the dishes that the guests will bring are already cooked, without any extra preparations needed. And so, in a potluck party, the kitchen will only be used to reheat any dish that requires reheating and nothing else.
Even though a hostess does not need to prepare all the dishes served, she still needs to do a bit of preparation nonetheless. Before the guests arrive, it is important that she already has her dishes and utensils set out. She should also bring out her serving platters and serving utensils in case they are needed. It would be awkward if the guests see her pulling out these items out of storage right at the party itself.
Potluck parties are perfect for busy hostesses who do not have time to deal with a full, decked-out dinner party. They are time-saving, less stressful and more fun.