With free invitation, placecards and conversation starters
There’s no right or wrong way to organise a potluck and it can be as casual or as elaborate as you like. Whether you plan it with military precision weeks in advance or send out a group text on whim the day before, there’s fun to be had! Try my tips for a successful potluck party...
- If you’re the organising type, heighten anticipation by emailing or handing out stylish invitations. Download our free printable invitations here. If you’re not, sometimes impromptu is best – next time you find yourself with a free evening why not ring your besties and invite them to pop over, bringing whatever they were planning on making for dinner at home? And dinner’s not the only meal you can potluck – try an office morning tea, casual brunch, picnic in the park or even the full-on Sunday roast lunch.
- If you’re friend group is feeling dull, throw in a maverick guest or two to shake up the conversation (here’s your chance to indulge in a little secret matchmaking by inviting acquaintances who might hit it off). Encourage everyone to mingle and make new friends by making cute name cards to make sure the people who arrived together don't end up sitting together all night. Download our free printable placename cards here. If it’s a big table, I often get every third person to move three places down before dessert is served to mix it up a bit.
- Buy some conversation starter cards or make your own using my free printable Share the Love set here. Put them in a box or bag for people to pull out if the conversation flags – they’re guaranteed to spark interesting discussions!
- Spend some time setting the table and creating a welcoming atmosphere to make it feel like more of an occasion. Because the food is casual you won’t risk making people feel uncomfortably formal. In a way the food at a potluck is almost incidental – what you’re really doing is creating a warm space where everyone can relax and have a good time. Light candles, create a moody playlist and arrange some flowers in a low vase for the centre of the table but don’t stress about unimportant details.
- Either take your chances that the food everyone brings will all work together, or set a broad theme to make it more of a special occasion. You could stick to a certain cuisine style, such as Asian or Mediterranean, Indian or Mexican – and get everyone to dress up to suit! Other ideas: suggest everyone brings sharing platters, or get everyone to cook a recipe the same cookbook, like my new winter annual!
- If you’re worried about ending up with ten desserts and no salads (since when would that be a problem anyway?), decide what you feel like cooking yourself and then either let everyone know what you’d like them to bring or delegate a different course to each guest or family.
- Check if any of your guests have allergies or foods they can’t eat. If anyone has life-threatening allergies, for example to peanuts, be sure to circulate this information to everyone so they can avoid bringing that food. If anyone is on a tricky special diet don’t expect everyone else to cater to their requirements – most people with special eating needs will be happy to bring something they can eat themselves and take their chances that they’ll be able to dip into some of the other dishes.
- Encourage people to choose dishes that they can make ahead and just heat up or throw together when they arrive – not only so they can easily be transported but also so that no one is stuck in the kitchen all night.
- If you don’t have enough cutlery or plates, ask everyone to bring their own. The bonus here is that they’ll need to help you do the dishes before they go so they can take their clean dishes home – even the dishes are fun when everyone’s involved!
- Potluck is usually BYO by nature, but to make it even more fun you could choose a wine style and get everyone to bring their bottles in a paper bag. Then you can have a game where people have to guess what the wine is.
- Break out the board games after dinner for cosy winter fun!
- Take a photo of any dishes you’ve made from my new Share the Love winter annual and share them on my website to be in to win a gourmet weekend for two in Wanaka, including a long lunch at my place! Find out more here.
Share The Love Conversation Starters - Download a printable pdf (1.8 MB)
Download the Share The Love Invitations Here - Download a printable pdf (490 KB)
Download the Share The Love Name Cards Here - Download a printable pdf (812 KB)