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Posted in Food and Recipes, Family and Friends | July 2014

BYOD – Bring your own dinner!

planning pot luck dinners
There is something undeniably delightful about the communal experience of a potluck dinner with friends and family. Whether it’s that cozy we’re-in-it-together feeling, or the pleasure of knowing you’re going to be able to sample so many different and sometimes unexpected dishes, the warmth and togetherness generated by a potluck dinner is something you and your guests usually remember for a very long time.

We’ve compiled some tips, suggestions, etiquette rules and, of course, recipes to help make your next potluck experience the best it can be for both you and your guests.

For the host:

  • To make sure you don’t end up with four lasagnas and a bag of buns, consider sending out a sign-up sheet to your prospective guests to avoid duplicate dishes. Think about how many entrees, salads, side dishes and desserts you need when you’re making up your list, and don’t forget to include simpler items for people who can’t cook or don’t have time for something labor intensive. Wine, beverages and buns are always great options to include for those who aren’t able to cook or bake.
  • Once your guests have settled on their dishes, ask if they need you to supply any special serving utensils or equipment (like blenders, extension cords, skewers, etc.) so you’ll be totally prepared when everyone arrives. It’s also good to know how many people will need to reheat their dishes (on top of the stove, in the microwave or in the oven) so you can get your timing figured out.
  • Unless you and your guests are adventurous, it’s a good idea to settle on a theme to avoid having odd combinations that people might not want to mix in one meal (sushi and spaghetti, anyone?). You could have an Italian night, a Mexican fiesta or a Greek feast.
  • Make sure to let everyone know how many guests will be at the party. It’s unlikely that each person will take a full portion of every single dish when there are multiple items to choose from, but it’s best to make sure that there is a serving available for each guest just in case.
  • There will probably be lots of leftovers, so encourage guests to bring plastic containers with them so they can take home some of the extra food.

For the guests

  • Make sure you arrive on time. Being late for a regular dinner party is a bit inconvenient to the host and a little embarrassing for you, but when you’re actually responsible for bringing part of the meal, being late is a definite no-no. You don’t want to keep everyone waiting and risk ruining other guests’ dishes.
  • If you’re bringing appetizers, arrange to arrive a few minutes before the other guests so you can get in and out of the kitchen quickly, and the pre-dinner treats will be all ready to go when everyone else arrives.
  • If you’ve signed up to bring a specific dish, don’t change your plan without first consulting the host to make sure your new dish will still work.
  • Be considerate of others’ dietary needs. Ask if there are any food allergies amongst the guests, and keep spicy foods on the mild side in order to appeal to a broader audience.
  • Now is not the best time to experiment. Use a tried and true recipe that has been given two thumbs up when served before.
  • Ask if there will be children in attendance. If you’re able, it’s nice to provide an option that kids will happily eat up, like breaded chicken fingers .
  • Print out a few copies of your recipe and bring them along. Chances are someone is going to ask for it, and it’s nice to be able to give it to a fan to take home that night—along with leftovers, if there are any!
  • Make sure your food is prepared, stored and transported properly so that it is perfectly safe to eat once it hits the table. Visit The Government of Canada, to read more about safe food handling and preparation, including how to safely reheat leftovers.

Chances are you already have a treasure trove of old family recipes from past potlucks to choose from, but if not, check out these resources for some delicious inspiration!

  • Kraft Canada has an entire potluck menu already lined up that includes double-cheese stuffed mushrooms, slow-cooker cranberry-orange pork, updated shepherd’s pie, creamy balsamic-pear salad, and everyday easy brownies.
  • Huffington Post has compiled an incredible list of 18 delectable and simple potluck ideas that are sure to tempt even the pickiest eaters! Imagine finding smoked meatloaf, chicken garlic bites, leek tart, chicken and cheese lasagna roll ups, and inside-out caramel apples on the buffet table!
  • Taste of Home has thousands of taste bud tempting dishes to choose from including potluck sloppy Joes, sweet potato salad, chicken casserole, taco salad, red beans and rice, and onion cheese ball.

For more tips on hosting the perfect potluck visit Canadian Living, How Stuff Works , and Food & Wine.

Bon Appétit!

411250A CAN/US (04/15)


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