With New Year’s behind us, life can return to a sort of business as usual affair, with friends and extended family a distant priority until some formal holiday forces the occasion. Instead of waiting for the proper seasonal opportunity, why not keep the festivities going from the get go with a post-holiday potluck? If planned correctly, potlucks can be a great way to visit with friends and family with minimal financial or mental strain to the host. Here are some tips to plan your potluck with ease.
1. Planifier à l’Avance (Plan Ahead)
One of the first steps to a successful get together is the guest list. Whether you’re hitting folks up by Facebook or phoning them individually, be sure to do your inviting 3 weeks ahead of your party date. Give some thought to the who’s who of your party goers and vary the crowd. Invite people who you think will enjoy getting to know one another.
2. Be Straight Up About The Menu
Since this is a potluck, let people know what they can bring and what you have covered. Bottled soft drinks for 8, 2 bottles of red wine, a loaf of fresh bread from the bakery, bite sized desserts for 10, family-style salad, a finger sandwich platter or no-heat required appetizer foods are all examples of how to specify so that people get a sense of what and how much. To avoid duplicates, consider making a simple menu sign up if you have a digital rsvp page.
3. Lose The Itch To Showcase Your Inner June Cleaver
Sure, farm fresh and homemade is wonderful in theory but realize that not everything has to be homemade for your potluck to be a success. When I incorporate catered favorites, my guests often delight in discovering a delicious new treat that they can easily get again and I love sharing my favorite finds with them. Pre-order and pickup your main party fare and then make a few (3 at most) simple things yourself.
4. Do The Heavy Lifting The Day Prior
Nothing banishes party planning stress like cleaning and organizing your physical party setup the day before. Designate your eating area and move furniture accordingly, place reminder cards in the areas reserved for beverages, buffet, and hors d’ oeuvres. Make a written play by play so that you know what you have to do when on the day of your event.
5. Layer With Charming Details
Creating a party atmosphere is a cinch when you add a touch of floral, lighting and color. Buy some inexpensive flowers or greenery and display in recycled objects like empty wine bottles, tomato cans or even old lightbulbs. Vary the height of arrangements to add whimsy. Turn off overhead lighting and use lamps and candles instead for ambience. For a splash of color, accent your eating space with bright patterned napkins and some table jewels.
6. Mind Your Mixed Drinks
Your attention to detail should carry through to beverages too. Create a star cocktail or mocktail with your favorite drink mix and set out the pre-mixed concoctions rock star style on a table all its own shortly before guests arrive. Include fresh garnishes like limes, maraschino cherries or flavored salt.
Always always create a lively hand-picked playlist to play in the background.
8. Relax and Enjoy
Go over your play by play a few days prior to your potluck and start checking off the items you’ve completed. By the day of, you should only have simple things to do like picking up your catered dishes, turning down the lights, and turning up the tunes. It’s time to sit back and savor the evening. Don’t forget to take pics so we can see how your post-holiday potluck turned out.