Does a packed schedule keep you from entertaining as often as you’d like? Few of us seem to have the time or energy for the elaborate dinner parties that were once de rigueur. Effortless entertaining is the order of the day. A potluck party ensures that even the host will be able to enjoy the festivities.
To avoid ending up with all salads, for example, make course assignments. If even that is too risky for your hosting style, pin guests down to a specific dish. And tell them the quantity required. If there will be 16 people at the party, and four are bringing the same type of dish, there is no need for those four to each bring 16 servings.
Choose a menu of foods that travel well and taste good at various temperatures. When making food assignments, keep in mind how much oven and refrigerator space you have. Tell guests to bring their dish ready for serving, including appropriate serving utensils.
Sometimes it’s simpler to have the host in charge of the main dish. For example, grilled or roasted meat is best cooked on the premises and served promptly. Other menus might make it possible for the host to simply supply beverages, dinnerware and the venue.
If there is a guest you know is going to be late—we all have at least one of those—assign a dessert. Conversely, if you are having passed hors d’oeuvres or an appetizer course, assign those to guests known to be early arrivers. Working with your friends’ strengths will save you from harried host(ess) syndrome!