10 Ways to be a Great Potluck Guest

I give a lot of potluck parties. I have made a commitment to the mitzvah of hospitality, but due to some chronic health issues cooking a big meal for a lot of people isn’t in the cards. Also, I find that it actually adds to the warmth of the table for guests to share food with each other.

In the process, I’ve learned a lot about giving these parties, and I have also learned what makes a great potluck guest. Here goes:

  1. Bring everything you need. Maybe I have balsamic vinegar, and maybe I just ran out. I probably have enough serving spoons, but if you bring one, you won’t have to stress over getting the slotted one your dish requires. Be safe and bring what you need.
  2. Do your cooking at home. My kitchen is small. Too many people trying to use the same appliance is a problem. If you must, let me know well ahead that you will be cooking and what you will need (oven, cooktop, microwave.) Then I can plan for it.
  3. Assemble your dish at home, or if there is last minute prep, make it something you could do on the coffee table if six people are already in the kitchen.
  4. Bring what you say you will bring. If you need to make changes or substitutions, let me know.
  5. There’s no need to show off. Bring something you know how to make, or bring take out. Science experiments don’t add to the pleasure of the meal.
  6. Takeout is great. I invited you because I enjoy your company. If stopping by the deli for potato salad is easier than making it, that’s really OK. I am not a great cook myself and often go that route.
  7. Be honest about your dish. If there’s dairy, or gluten, or whatever, that’s OK, just say so if asked. If you aren’t sure, say so.
  8. If you have allergies, etc, please let me know well ahead of time, so that I can make sure there is food that you can eat. I don’t want to poison my guests or starve them. I respect those who make ethical or religious food choices and I promise I won’t see you as a problem unless you spring it on me after the food is on the table.
  9. Please take leftovers home with you! When I say that I can’t keep all the leftovers, I’m not kidding. At least take home leftovers of your own dish.
  10. Come anyway, if something happens and you can’t bring your dish. As with #5, I invited you because I enjoy your company. Just let me know, if you can, so that I can arrange for enough food.

Is there anything you’d add to this list? Tell us about it in the comments!