Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What I Think About: Pot Luck Ettiquette

This Friday we are hosting a potluck BBQ at our house in order to spend time with some friends visiting from out of town.

As a general rule I don't do potlucks.  I love to be a hostess and don't mind doing everything, from flatware and drinks to appetizers and the main dish.  I'm controlling that way.

But really, I just don't trust people to bring food.  I've been burned by one to many potlucks.

Let me explain.

It used to be that a potluck meant everyone brought a main course (in a pot.  I know, I just blew your mind) and a side to share (the side could be an appetizer, salad, or dessert).  So, you'd be at a potluck with casseroles and lasagnas galore.  It was easy to fill up on food--even if you aren't a casserole fan you just sucked it up for this one event.

But as people got busier, those casseroles turned into take out pizza and deli fried chicken. No shame in that.  At least it was still a main dish.

Somewhere around 10 years ago, however, a new trend started.  Everyone signed up to attend a potluck and then showed up with a bag of chips or a package of store bought cookies.  No main dish. Nothing in a pot (and probably no pot in those store bought brownies either).  Okay, generally one person still brings a main dish and the group divvies out the tatertot casserole one tatertot at a time.  For the most part, however, everyone eats a meager handful of chips, eats one cookie or brownie and goes home hungry.

The result: people like me who either 1. Do all the cooking or 2.  Tell attendees exactly what to bring.

Summer tends to equal potluck so I'd like to propose the following potluck rules.
  1. Bring your own chair/cups/plates/silverware/napkins. Oh, and a serving spoon for your food.
  2. Each family unit needs to bring one main dish (casseroles optional).  This main dish should feed at least 8 people.  Think: sandwich platter, pizza, chicken wings, lasagna, sloppy joes, pulled beef/pork, sushi platter etc.
  3. Each family unit needs to bring one side to share (in addition to the main dish).  The side can be fruit, veggies, a bag of chips, a package of cookies or brownies, sliced watermelon, etc.  It should be enough to feed at least 8 people.
  4. Unless otherwise stated, bring something to drink--especially if you want alcohol.
  5. Leave your pets at home (unless they were invited).
If each family unit followed these rules, everyone could get enough to eat and drink and enjoy all that food without the scent of dog poo.  Doesn't that sound nice?

What I think is potlucks are a great idea but unless people bring a main dish and a side, you might as well just call it "Chips for Lunch".

Did I miss any essential rules?

Thanks, Shell for letting me Pour My Heart Out on your blog.


  1. My parents church does a potluck every week and after big families bringing just a watermelon to share, they started suggesting that each family bring enough food to feed their family dinner, plus enough for two adults. It works out pretty good.

  2. I totally remember the old school potlucks! Even though I don't like casseroles, I was always able to find something to eat. I agree that the rules should change again...I'll remember that for my next pot luck. Enjoy your BBQ :)

  3. I've never hosted a potluck, or even really been to one in a million years, but if someone showed up with just a bag of chips I would not be impressed. I think everyone should go by your rules.


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