Pleasures of the Pot Luck
With a little planning, a collective meal gets everyone involved and gives the host a break - especially for large gatherings.
It's always nice to bring a lot of your friends together for a party, but preparing a meal for, say, 20 people, takes up a lot of time and energy. Sharing the cooking can make the occasion much more pleasant for everyone, host included.
But pot luck dinners can bring back bad memories of stale chips, potato salad so thick it stops a conversation and church-basement cookies.
It doesn't have to be that way. With a little preparation and imagination, the collective meal can bring diversity and fun to the feast.
A little planning goes a long way
Avoid leaving everything to chance. Who wants to be stuck with 8 salads, no cheese and no dessert? A little guidance as to what everyone should bring - and making sure you have the right amount of food - will help turn the pot luck into a balanced meal.
Still, don't try to control everything. Telling your guests to bring a specific dish - "It's Caesar salad, or else!" - will tend to cut enthusiasm and make the meal a little too predictable.
There are various ways to make sure everything comes together nicely:
- Propose a theme (La Dolce Vita, Seasonal Delights, International Tapas Night, etc.) and let people pick a dish that fits.
- Define the selection you want (X cheeses, Y salads, Z desserts, etc.) and let everyone pick a category.
- With a bit of lead time - and adventurous spirit - ask everyone to bring a dish they've never tried before.
- To cut to the chase, assign everyone their category - with a bit of leeway for trades.
- Don't forget that drinks and other necessities are also part of what guests can bring.
As the host, work on making the pot luck table attractive and stylish - with decorations matching the theme, for instance. Make sure the eating arrangements are practical. Then sit back and enjoy the company. It's all about bringing people together.