I recently was invited to a BBQ potluck and that was super fun. So I thought it would be nice to give you some tips on how you can organize a potluck yourself.

But before you think what is she talking about …

What is a potluck?

A potluck is a dinner where everyone brings something to eat. It is a relaxing event because everyone has only a little bit of work, while at other parties the host has to spend the whole day in the kitchen. Moreover, it is nice that there is a whole variety of food.

Make a guest list and invite everyone

Forget someone you would like to invite would be a shame, so it may be useful to make a list. You can call or email these people, but you can also create a private Facebook event and invite everyone there. This way everyone can see from each other who can and cannot come. Such a Facebook event has other advantages, you can read that at the following tips.

Choose a location?

Where do you want to keep the potluck? At your place? At someone else? In a rented room, in the park, in the woods, …

If it is at a fixed location you have all the facilities. If you go to the park or forest it is best to first check whether there is a toilet nearby, do you need water or electricity or not.

BBQ potluck

Choose a theme for your potluck?

Another nice thing about a potluck is that you can work with themes. We had a BBQ potluck, but you can come up with all kinds of things:

  • BBQ
  • Lunch
  • Picnic
  • Italian
  • Bread spreads
  • Tapas
  • Cocktails / mocktails
  • Multiculti (if you come together with people from different cultures, someone can make something of his / her own country)
  • Desserts

Bananas on th bbq for a potluck

Who brings what?

Coordinate in advance who brings what. That prevents you from having a potato salad ten times. These will probably all be very tasty, but a little variation in the food is nice. On the Facebook event page, you can create a topic with who brings what and let the variety arise spontaneously. Everyone can already see what someone else is going to bring and can supplement what is missing.

If you are rather a control freak, you can also make a list of everything you want in advance and mention this on this page, or create a shared google docs document where everyone can put his / her name behind a dish.

Check that there is something for every category of food. With a BBQ, for example, you want a few things that need to be prepared on the BBQ, but you also want a buffet of cold vegetables, salads, … and desserts is also tasty off course. Do you want an appetizer or not?

Be sure to check if there are people with allergies.

What to bring to a bbq potluck

What about the drinks?

Either the host takes care of the drinks or that could be someone of the guests instead of bringing food. For example, you can provide tap water or a carafe of tap water containing mint and lemon. If you want something more special, you can ask for a contribution.

Make sure that all drinks are put together, eg in the refrigerator or in buckets with water and ice blocks in it so that everyone can take it themselves. Nothing so annoying when the host is only checking glasses all evening to see if there is anything left in it. It is much nicer if this person can also have a nice chat.

Apart from supplying all the drinks to one person, you can also only provide tap water. And everyone can bring something else if they want it. Someone wants wine, then he/she brings wine, someone wants a beer, cola, … you get it 😉

Who provides cutlery?

The host can provide cutlery, plates, glasses for everyone. Depending on the number of people who come, it is possible that another person brings a part, because you may not have 30 forks if you invite 30 people. The disadvantage is that this person has a lot of dishes unless everything can be done in a dishwasher. Some people can help with the dishes, or everyone can bring their own plate, glass, and cutlery. Then everyone at home washes their own dishes.

Food for a potluck

How much food does everyone have to bring?

For example, you bring pasta salad and are you with 30 people, do you have to bring 30 servings of pasta salad? No, that would be way too much. You must have eaten enough with what you bring. Because with such an extensive buffet you only take a small scoop of everything and don’t eat a full portion of each dish.

Of course, you don’t want to bring too little and you can provide a little extra, but 30 portions then you are eating moldy pasta salad a few weeks later.

Talking about too much food …

What about the leftovers?

There is usually something left of a buffet because everyone is a bit scared not to be short of anything. You can agree on what you do with the leftovers. Either everyone takes their own food back home. Or everyone can provide containers and take some of every dish.

Not a must-have but maybe nice to provide cards where everyone can write down their name and the dish. If you like something, you can ask the person about the recipe.

Potluck with desserts

Example: potluck BBQ

Maybe it would be nice to share what we had together on the table, for inspiration if you are going to bring something to a potluck or organize one.

  • Chicory salad
  • Carrot salad
  • Potato salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Rice salad
  • Quinoa bean salad
  • Homemade skewer with tofu, seitan, …
  • Vegetable skewers
  • Ready-made sausages, burgers, balls
  • Zucchini for the bbq
  • Tabouleh
  • Tomatoes
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Garlic butter
  • Guacamole
  • Baguette
  • Garlic bread
  • Homemade dessert
  • Banana with chocolate in for on the bbq
  • Pastries from a vegan bakery

Apart from the fact that not one person is saddled with all the work and you can have a relaxed party, you also have a whole variety of food. This way you might get to know new dishes or maybe even new people. At the potluck where I was, of course, I knew the person who invited me, and there were some friends of mine, but I didn’t know a lot of people yet.

I hope these tips helped you, then let me know in a comment at the bottom of this page. Even if you’ve already been to a potluck or organized one yourself.