How To Host A Potluck: 40 Potluck Ideas, Tips and Themes (2022)

Potlucks are one of the greatest inventions. I love the idea of all my friends coming together and bringing our favourite dishes to the table. Potlucks make it easier on the host since they don’t have to cook everything, and they allow people to show off their creative side.

On the other hand, potlucks can be tough to organize if you don’t host them often. If you’re thinking of getting your friends together and organizing a potluck party, here are 40 potluck ideas, tips and themes to make sure it goes off without a hitch!

How to Assign Potluck Dishes: 5 Tips

1. Get an Accurate Headcount

Before your guests start cooking, they’re going to need to know how many people they’re cooking for. Decide how many people you’d like to invite to your potluck, send out invites and create a list of the total number of attendees.

Once you have a confirmed list, you can start the food planning phase!

2. Assign Categories Not Dishes

Potluck food categories usually consist of appetizers, sides, mains and desserts. Rather than asking each of your guests to bring a specific dish, assign them to one of these four categories.

They know what their strengths are when it comes to cooking, so if you tell them what dish to make, they may not be comfortable with it.

Give them the freedom to decide what to make, but in order to make sure all your bases are covered, assign them to a category.

3. Create an Online Sign Up Form

When it comes to organizing a potluck, it’s helpful for your guests to see what everyone else is bringing. Create an online sign-up form through a program like Google Docs, with each attendee’s name under their assigned category.

They can self-edit the form to let the rest of the party know what they’re bringing, and this way there won’t be any overlap!

(Video) Pot Luck Party Tips

4. Consider Dietary Restrictions and Allergies

There’s bound to be someone (or a few people) in your group of friends who is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, lactose-intolerant, or has some type of food allergy. Make sure there will be something for everyone.

If you have a vegan friend, ask them to bring a vegan dish, or if one of your friends is allergic to gluten, ask them to bring a gluten-free appetizer! Make sure there is at least an appetizer, main and dessert everyone can eat.

5. Decide on a Potluck Theme

A potluck theme will help your guests decide what they’re going to make! It will give them direction, but still allow them to get creative.

This will also ensure the dishes don’t clash with one another!

10 Creative Potluck Themes

1. Cinco De Mayo: Everyone loves a Mexican fiesta! Throw a cinco de mayo party any time of the year and ask your guests to bring their favourite Mexican dish!

From guacamole, to self-serve tacos, tortillas and salsa, spicy shrimp skewers, refried beans, nachos and more, you’re sure to please everyone’s taste buds!

How To Host A Potluck: 40 Potluck Ideas, Tips and Themes (1)

2. Meatless Meals: Throw a vegetarian potluck, asking everyone to bring a meatless dish. Many people are going more plant-based these days, and there are plenty of delicious vegetarian options to feast on!

From veggie pizza, to risotto balls, sweet and spicy tofu, salads, egg rolls, and so much more, meatless meals are a great potluck idea!

3. Comfort Foods: Who doesn’t love comfort food? Perfect for fall or winter, ask everyone to bring their favourite comfort food dish.

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You’re sure to get a delicious range of soups, casseroles, mac n cheese, chilis, cakes, chocolate desserts and everything delicious you can think of.

4. Finger Foods: Finger foods are easy for guests to pick up and eat, whether they have a seat or opt to stand.

Spring rolls, wings, tea sandwiches, meatballs (on toothpicks), dips, sausage rolls, pinwheels, crostinis, stuffed mushrooms and chicken skewers are all delicious options that are easy to eat and will fill people up!

5. Family Heritage: This one is a great conversation starter and lets everyone get to know each other better. Ask guests to bring dishes inspired by their family heritage.

You’re sure to try some awesome dishes you may have never even heard of before!

6. Breakfast for Dinner: Breakfast foods are some of the best foods! Instead of a classic potluck supper, ask your guests to bring breakfast for dinner!

Some awesome breakfast potluck ideas include muffin tin omelettes, bacon, english muffins with jam, egg and sausage breakfast taquitos, apple crumble breakfast cake, and banana pancakes with chocolate chips.

Get creative and you’ll have lots to choose from!

How To Host A Potluck: 40 Potluck Ideas, Tips and Themes (2)

7. Seasonal Favourites: Ask your guests to bring their favourite dish of the season! Whether you’re throwing a potluck party in the summer, fall, winter or spring, you’ll get to enjoy seasonal dishes that your friends love to make!

8. 5 Ingredients or Less: Ask your guests to bring a meal that takes 5 ingredients or less to create. This is a cost-effective way to throw a potluck, keeps things simple and usually results in healthier dishes.

9. Takeout Love: Have a group of friends that is super busy or not great in the kitchen? Don’t fret- you can still host a potluck! Ask everyone to bring their favourite takeout dish.

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Clean up will be super easy and you’ll get some new ideas for the next time you don’t feel like cooking!

How To Host A Potluck: 40 Potluck Ideas, Tips and Themes (3)

10. Something You Love That You Hated As A Kid: Everyone has those few foods they hated as a kid but not can’t get enough of.

The classic option is Brussels sprouts, which can be made into a seriously sophisticated dish, but you’re sure to get a bunch of surprises from your guests!

25 Delicious Potluck Ideas

As the host, you can decide how many dishes you’ll make. If you’re not much of a chef, maybe you opt for contributing one.

However, if you love to cook, perhaps you want to add a few more dishes onto the table. Here are 25 potluck ideas to consider making!

5 Easy Potluck Ideas

1. Cucumber Party Sandwiches via Taste of Home
2. Meditteranean Pasta Salad via The Recipe Critic
3. Mini Baked Potatoes via Brit & Co.
4. Crockpot Pizza Casserole via Suburban Simplicity
5. Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Meatballs via Love to Be in The Kitchen

5 Last Minute Potluck Ideas

1. Cilantro Tomato Bruschetta via Taste of Home
2. Watermelon and Feta Skewers via Food Network
3. Mexican Bean Dip via Veggie Inspired
4. Chickpea Pesto Pasta via Carmyy
5. Instant Pot Teriyaki Wings via Paint the Kitchen Red

5 Cold Potluck Ideas

1. Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad via The View From Great Island
2. Fresh Mango Salsa via Cookie and Kate
3. Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad via Modern Farmhouse Eats
4. Pinto Bean Salsa Salad via Food Network
5. Chicken Taco Mexican Pinwheels via The Chunky Chef

How To Host A Potluck: 40 Potluck Ideas, Tips and Themes (4)

5 No Cook Potluck Ideas

1. Ricotta and Parmesan Spread via Midwest Living
2. Tangy Cabbage and Jalapeno Slaw via Kitchn
3. Crab Toast Canapes via Oprah
4. Sun Gold Tomato Caprese Salad via My Recipes
5. No Bake Lemon Yogurt Tart via Kitchn

5 Potluck Ideas for BBQ

1. Grilled Mexican Corn via Averie Cooks
2. 7 Layer Dip via I Heart Naptime
3. Southwestern Rice via Taste of Home
4. Sweet Corn and Roasted Jalapeno Hummus via How Sweet Eats
5. Blueberry Pie Bars via Averie Cooks

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The Ultimate Potluck Checklist

Wondering everything you should be doing as the potluck host? Here’s a potluck checklist to ensure everything runs smoothly.

1. Potluck Sign Up Sheet – Create a Google Sheet so people can sign up for their dish and see what everyone else it bringing.

2. Dishes – As the host, you’ll be responsible for supplying dishes. Decide if you want to use your own dishes or buy cardboard plates, napkins, utensils and glasses for your guests to use.

3. Table Cloths – Grab a few pretty tablecloths for the ultimate buffet table.

4. Serving Ware – Make sure you have platters, bowls and pitchers to place everything out on the table.

5. Provide Drinks – Some hosts ask people to bring drinks and others cover it themselves, so it’s up to you! If you decide to provide drinks make sure there’s something for everyone to enjoy! Lemonade or flavoured water in beverage dispensers is always lovely, and seasonal cocktails are a great option too!

How To Host A Potluck: 40 Potluck Ideas, Tips and Themes (5)

6. Garbage Bags – Always make sure there are garbage bags handy. This will ensure clean up goes smoothly and you won’t have to do everything yourself when your guests leave.

7. Plastic Wrap and Foil – Make sure to keep food fresh and covered before and after the potluck.

8. Tupperware – There will likely be leftovers and way too much food to keep after the potluck. Stock up on Tupperware so people can take food home with them or to keep in your fridge as leftovers.

Hosting a potluck can be a ton of fun! Use these potluck ideas, tips and themes to throw a potluck your friends will love!

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FAQs

What are some good potluck themes? ›

Here are 10 themes to try out for your next potluck.
  • Mexican Night. When it comes to group cooking, Mexican-American food has long been the star — it's delicious, filling, and well-loved. ...
  • Movie Night. ...
  • Sichuan Night. ...
  • A Night in Paris. ...
  • Game Night. ...
  • Childhood Favorites. ...
  • Hot Pot. ...
  • Apps Only.
15 Nov 2019

What are the categories for a potluck? ›

Common categories for potluck sign up sheets include appetizers, entrees or main dishes, soups or salads, side dishes, desserts, condiments, and beverages. You might also consider adding utensils and dishes if you need plastic eating utensils, paper plates and cups, or napkins.

What are the rules of bringing something to a potluck? ›

Potluck etiquette: All you need to know before you plop a casserole on the table
  • Do arrive with your dish ready to serve. ...
  • Do be considerate of others' dietary restrictions. ...
  • Don't leave dirty dishes. ...
  • Do keep it classy. ...
  • Do communicate your plans in advance. ...
  • Don't pig out. ...
  • Do acknowledge your host. ...
  • More from Lifestyle:
26 Nov 2019

What is the purpose of a potluck? ›

The purpose of a potluck is to have each participant contribute something different to round out the meal. Doubling up on meals is usually avoided (can you imagine a potluck where everyone just brings a bag of chips?), so potlucks with many participants leads to some pretty creative dishes.

How do you play potluck? ›

How to Throw a Potluck Party - YouTube

What is another word for potluck? ›

What is another word for potluck?
potlatchbanquet
treathakari
buffetrefreshment
carousaljunket
barbecuepicnic
16 more rows

How many servings should you bring to a potluck? ›

You are not expected to feed everyone, but you at least want to make enough for roughly half the number of people attending. For example, if there are 20 people, you want to have enough to serve eight to 10 people. Yes, there are going to be leftovers, but that's usually the fun of potluck.

How do you divide potluck? ›

A good start is to divide the total number of attendees by the total number of dish groups. That should give you a general idea as to how many dishes you'll need. If you're having a potluck with, say, twenty-one people, you might want to start with three dishes from each of the above groups.

What is the easiest thing to bring to a potluck? ›

Salads are the perfect thing to bring to potlucks because they're really easy to prepare, store, and transport. Whether you choose a healthy summer salad, a cold salad, or pasta salad, it'll make a great addition.

How do you organize a potluck at work? ›

How to host a great office potluck
  1. Get clear instructions from your contributors. Make sure you tell everyone to include instructions with the dish they're bringing. ...
  2. Plan the banquet table. ...
  3. Help everyone find what they want. ...
  4. Make sure people mingle.

What are some good theme ideas? ›

Escape from Earth
  • #1 Life on Mars. By 2028, a Mars-themed party could have a very different meaning. ...
  • #2 Galaxy. ...
  • #3 Alien Invasion. ...
  • #4 NASA/Space. ...
  • #5 Night at the Oscars. ...
  • #6 Classic Hollywood. ...
  • #7 Space Jam. ...
  • #8 Alice in Wonderland.

How do you throw a themed dinner party? ›

Creating the Atmosphere
  1. Create a DIY “photo booth.” Gather some real accessories or some printed ones that go along with your theme. ...
  2. Create a music playlist. ...
  3. Coordinate your dinner table to match the theme. ...
  4. Choose the right lighting. ...
  5. Think of setting the atmosphere as giving your party venue its personality.
24 Oct 2017

What does potluck style mean? ›

A potluck is a communal gathering where each guest or group contributes a different, often homemade, dish of food to be shared.

What can I bring to a potluck at work? ›

Easy Work Potluck Dishes
  • Chips and dip. Chips and dips are always safe options. ...
  • Vegetable tray and dip. Most food stores sell prepared vegetable trays with dips. ...
  • Fruit tray. ...
  • Sandwich platter. ...
  • Cheese tray. ...
  • Cookies. ...
  • Cupcakes. ...
  • Drinks.
20 Sept 2022

Why is it called potluck? ›

It's hard to trace the potluck back to a specific source, but it's fair to say the term was used in the Middle Ages to describe an impromptu meal served to unexpected guests or travelers. Such a drop-in at the dinner hour would get "the luck of the pot:" whatever food was left over or kept on the simmer.

What is a passing dish? ›

You bring a dish to pass and share with everyone else — and then you sample the different dishes everyone else has brought 🙂 lily says.

Do you bring a hostess gift to a potluck? ›

Potlucks. ‍If you're bringing food to share, no need to bring an additional hostess gift. That said, you can never go wrong offering your host something small to show your gratitude.

How do you organize a bring and share lunch? ›

How to organise a potluck dinner party
  1. 1) Pick a theme. Choose a country and base your meal around its food. ...
  2. 2) Choose your menu. Two big mains, two big sides, two big desserts. ...
  3. 3) Create a Whatsapp group. ...
  4. 4) Start a shareable spreadsheet. ...
  5. 5) Tell people what else to bring. ...
  6. 6) Make a playlist.

Why do people Organise potluck dinner? ›

Making the party a potluck can give you the opportunity to enjoy your guests and the food that's offered. If you've provided the plates, utensils, etc., made sure people understand that they need to bring food, fixed your own dish and set up placers to eat, you've done your job.

How do you invite someone to a potluck party? ›

Tact is imperative when letting guests know that they need to bring a dish to share at an event. The invitation needs to include the basics, like the name and purpose of the gathering as well as its date, time and location. You can call it a "potluck dinner for Jo-Jo's birthday" or something similar.

What is an antonym of potluck? ›

We have listed all the opposite words for potluck alphabetically. snack. bite. bite to eat.

What does a luncheon mean? ›

Definition of luncheon

: lunch especially : a formal usually midday meal as part of a meeting or for entertaining a guest a company luncheon a fund-raising luncheon.

What is another word for luncheon? ›

In this page you can discover 11 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for luncheon, like: get-together, black-tie, , buffet, lunch, tiffin, déjeuner, dinner, supper, and banquet.

What is the cheapest food to serve at a party? ›

Here are some simple party food ideas on a budget:
  • Soup.
  • Loose meat sandwiches.
  • Baked potatoes.
  • Pasta.
  • Tacos.
  • Make-your-own-pizzas.
  • Cheese and crackers.
  • Vegetables and dip.
6 Aug 2019

What is the most popular party snack? ›

Our 12 Best, Most Reliable Party Snacks
  • Extreme Meat Pizza Dip. ...
  • No-Bake Peanut Butter Snack Bars. ...
  • Candied Pecans and Cranberries Snack Mix. ...
  • Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels. ...
  • Hummus Cups with Zucchini and Tomato. ...
  • Chocolate Caramel Bacon Popcorn. ...
  • Jalapeño Popper Bread. ...
  • Sweet and Salty Chex™ Mix. Ingredients: 5.
21 Jan 2020

Can I bring cookies to a potluck? ›

Cookies. Cookies are the perfect dessert to bring to a potluck and are easy to make or buy! Plus you can get creative with them as well and make something like an ice cream sandwiche or cookie cake.

Can you bring drinks to a potluck? ›

Offering to bring drinks in lieu of food is fine, as long as you know the host needs them and not, say, a big bag of tortilla chips and a nice supermarket salsa, which are just as easy to buy as a six-pack. Hosts must be clear about what guests should bring.

How do you plan a potluck brunch? ›

5 Tips for Hosting a Potluck Brunch
  1. Set a theme. “Try to stick with a theme to bring it all together. ...
  2. Make food that can sit at room temperature. “Always bring something you can leave at room temperature for a couple of hours. ...
  3. Serve food that doesn't require silverware. ...
  4. Find something for everyone to do. ...
  5. Never experiment.
23 Dec 2011

How do you make a party? ›

The ultimate party planning checklist template
  1. Choose a theme. ...
  2. Determine your budget. ...
  3. Choose a few date and time options for the event. ...
  4. Book an event venue. ...
  5. Arrange entertainment. ...
  6. Make a guest list. ...
  7. Order supplies if you're making your own decor.

What is a carry in dinner? ›

Definition of 'carry-in'

(in North Central U.S.) of, pertaining to, or for a social gathering at which guests are to bring their own food. A carry-in dinner will precede the lecture. noun.

What is it called when everyone brings a dish? ›

The potluck or “bring-a-dish” dinner is a popular concept among my friends, and apparently a pretty big deal in the States. If you don't know what it is, it's a dinner party where everyone brings a course or dish.

What does potluck style mean? ›

A potluck is a communal gathering where each guest or group contributes a different, often homemade, dish of food to be shared.

What is the cheapest food to serve at a party? ›

Here are some simple party food ideas on a budget:
  • Soup.
  • Loose meat sandwiches.
  • Baked potatoes.
  • Pasta.
  • Tacos.
  • Make-your-own-pizzas.
  • Cheese and crackers.
  • Vegetables and dip.
6 Aug 2019

What is the most popular party snack? ›

Our 12 Best, Most Reliable Party Snacks
  • Extreme Meat Pizza Dip. ...
  • No-Bake Peanut Butter Snack Bars. ...
  • Candied Pecans and Cranberries Snack Mix. ...
  • Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels. ...
  • Hummus Cups with Zucchini and Tomato. ...
  • Chocolate Caramel Bacon Popcorn. ...
  • Jalapeño Popper Bread. ...
  • Sweet and Salty Chex™ Mix. Ingredients: 5.
21 Jan 2020

What is the easiest thing to bring to a potluck? ›

Salads are the perfect thing to bring to potlucks because they're really easy to prepare, store, and transport. Whether you choose a healthy summer salad, a cold salad, or pasta salad, it'll make a great addition.

How do you tell people to bring food? ›

You can write "please bring a dish or drink for everyone to share" in the middle or closing of the invitation and put it in bold or another colored type. If possible, you should also include the number of people you expect to attend. You could write "Please bring a covered dish for (number of people)."

Do you bring a hostess gift to a potluck? ›

Potlucks. ‍If you're bringing food to share, no need to bring an additional hostess gift. That said, you can never go wrong offering your host something small to show your gratitude.

What to bring to potluck no cooking? ›

Bring chips and dip, cheese and crackers, bread or rolls (remember butter or a dip), pre-made potato salad, a party platter, a frozen lasagna, or a dessert from a bakery. If you want, you can dress up store-bought foods by placing them in attractive, real dishes and adding your own garnish or arrangement.

Can you bring dessert to a potluck? ›

From fruity confections to chocolate delights, there's a dish that will please everyone's palette. As a bonus, all of these desserts are super portable, making them ideal for potlucks. With recipes these scrumptious, you can't pick the wrong one.

How many servings should I take to a potluck? ›

You are not expected to feed everyone, but you at least want to make enough for roughly half the number of people attending. For example, if there are 20 people, you want to have enough to serve eight to 10 people. Yes, there are going to be leftovers, but that's usually the fun of potluck.

What is another word for potluck? ›

What is another word for potluck?
potlatchbanquet
treathakari
buffetrefreshment
carousaljunket
barbecuepicnic
16 more rows

How do you organize a potluck at work? ›

How to host a great office potluck
  1. Get clear instructions from your contributors. Make sure you tell everyone to include instructions with the dish they're bringing. ...
  2. Plan the banquet table. ...
  3. Help everyone find what they want. ...
  4. Make sure people mingle.

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(Burning Man Project)
2. How to Throw an Unforgettable Party on a $50 Budget!
(One Unified Home)
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(My Doctor - Kaiser Permanente)
4. From Foodbanks to Good Food for All: Responding locally to the cost of living crisis
(Diocese of Leicester)
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(Well Done)
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(FOOD & WINE)

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