The Art of Giving at Potlucks

As a child, the norm for me was big family celebrations where everyone pitched in potluck style!  We never catered food for our large gatherings, although we sometimes ate out during celebrations.  When my husband and I bought our first home, our top priority was to have a large enough space where we too could host large gatherings.

My husband and I have hosted several dozen potlucks at our home since we’ve been married.  We’ve learned many lessons along the way, mostly about ourselves, and what makes successful and/or unsuccessful potlucks.

Some guidelines we follow when we host or participate in potlucks:

  • Planning.  Someone needs to keep track of and monitor the sign up sheet so that all the participants can bring an adequate amount of food for the occasion.  It is best to start with a categorized sign up sheet, delineating the types of food needed.  This will prevent the problem of everything bringing the same type of food, and making the potluck spread balanced.
  • Portions.  The potluck dish you decide to bring should be able to feed everyone at the gathering.  The bigger the gathering, the larger the dish.  In addition, the amount of food you bring should be proportionate to the size of your family.  Families with kids should bring more food than a single adult attending the same potluck.
  • Priority.  Dishes of high priority should be filled before items of low priority.  High priority items include main dishes, and foods that cover the different food groups.  Low priority items include dessert, drinks, and appetizers.
  • Preference.  The type of food you bring should reflect the group’s food interests and dietary restrictions.  This will ensure that the potluck item you bring will be able to be consumed by most, if not all of the guests.

What we’ve learned about hosting potlucks.

  • It takes a lot of responsibility, ownership, and resources to be the host.  That is why most people prefer not to host potluck gatherings.
  • Hosting potlucks is a way my husband and I like to care for people.  Although it is always more work for us, we know that the provision of food is a tangible service that people are grateful for.
  • Hosting potlucks is a way for me to overcome my struggle of fairness.  I am learning to give generously without the expectation of others to do the same.
  • Potlucks is a way for us to give back to God by providing for others.  We are so blessed to have a space that can accommodate larger groups of people, and we like to use our resources to meet one of the most basic needs of people: thirst and hunger. The more we recognize the tangible blessings God has given us, the more we feel thankful to give.  We give the best, and we give abundantly.  (Read about our Kitchen Remodel HERE)
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