THE OTHER HOLY PLACE
2. Build your guest list and menu to comfortably fit
your space. Will you eat standing up? Sitting down? A
little of both? Serve food that requires a knife and fork
only if your guests will all be seated at a table.
3. Decide which dishes you will prepare. For large
potlucks, the host typically serves a substantial main
course (poached salmon, turkey, ham, or lasagna, for
instance) and a few sides.
4. Let your guests know how many people their
dish should serve. For example, they need not bring 10
servings of their dish if only 12 people are attending;
four to six servings should suffice, because not everyone
will eat everything.
5. If someone doesn’t like to cook, ask him or her
to bring plastic plates and utensils. (Make certain you
have enough so that no one is stuck eating salad with
6. Make sure you know what everyone is bringing
to the potluck. There need to be enough main dishes,
sides, and desserts.
7. Monitor the menu by encouraging people to
bring dishes with a variety of tastes and textures
(e.g., hot, sour, salty, sweet; smooth, crunchy, chewy,
8. If any dishes will require heating, be sure that
you’ll have enough room in the oven and microwave
to warm them up by mealtime.
9. Set up your serving table (or tables) such that
guests won’t have to wait too long in line. Place salads
and bread on one side, and main courses and sides on
10. Provide index cards folded in half widthwise
and ask guests to write the name of their dish and
the major ingredients, noting whether there are nuts,
seeds, or shellfish (for the benefit of those who may
be allergic). Nothing ruins a potluck more than a trip
to the emergency room! Providing a tag for each dish
also cuts down on questions from guests (“What’s this
and what’s in it?”).
11. Consider asking guests who bring a dish to make
multiple copies of the recipe. Placing a recipe card next
to a dish not only answers questions about ingredients
but also provides the gift of a new recipe. Whenever
somebody uses one of these recipes, they will remember
the occasion at which they first enjoyed it.
12. For convenience and to provide attractive,
colorful decor, stack mix-and-match plates and napkins
on your table, and place food on pedestals (bowls or
small boxes turned upside down and covered with
vibrant napkins or dish towels). Enhance the serving