Recipes for the perfect holiday potluck party
With a little planning and inspiration, entertaining during the holidays can be easy—and fun!
Any time is a great time for a potluck party, but I find it especially purposeful during the holidays when high stress levels last into the winter months, the weather gets us down and we are looking for something fun to do.
There is an art to hosting a potluck, so don’t think of it as a lineup of placid ho-hum predictable dishes. When I throw a potluck, I start with a theme. It could be anything from south of the border to French bistro chic.
Whatever the theme, the host should have a plan to ensure there is a variety of foods. How many times have you arrived at such an event only to find five plates of brownies and one salad? To avoid repetition, start with the guest list, and invite people you want to spend time with and who enjoy the happenstance nature of a potluck. Ask guests to bring a specific dish and keep the request simple. You might offer categories of food to choose from, such as appetizers, mains, sides, salads and desserts. Make it clear that incoming dishes should all be ready to serve; I find that using warming trays and electric skillets solves the problem of reheating. If your guest is bringing something like lasagna, ask that it be pre-cut to make it easier to serve. I like to use my slow cooker for making and serving lasagna, because it always stays hot and is easy for guests to serve themselves. Avoid asking for foods that are messy and hard to eat, such as chicken wings.
Think about comforting and easy-to-eat casseroles for cold-weather entertaining, and cool dishes for other times of the year. For a French bistro theme, consider quiche cut into squares; sausage and lentils; slow-cooker beef stew; Niçoise or poached salmon; and potato salads.
Ask each guest to provide a small nametag next to the dish in case there are any health concerns for certain ingredients. Offerings should come with their own serving utensils; you provide the plates and silverware. As the host, you should also provide the beverages. If you are going with a theme potluck, decorate your table or buffet with
Potlucks have been around a long time, so utilize this clever party form where variety is the spice of life and there is something for everyone!