Erika Preval - Simply Put

Recipe for a Perfect Potluck



I was recently featured in Jem of the South’s 3rd Dessert Guide installment as a non-dessert contributor. There are lots of yummy recipes to try, whether hosting a meal this holiday or simply bringing a dish to someone’s home. Please download the guide above to get started with those. I’ll post my feature below!

Recipe for a Perfect Thanksgiving Potluck

The holidays are filled with opportunities to act as a host or guest on any number of occasions. From dinner parties to company parties, your manners and knowledge of proper etiquette will be put to the test. In honor of one of America’s most famous buffet meals of this variety, let’s explore the protocol of the popular covered dish or potluck supper. This tradition goes back to the first Thanksgiving in 1621, when Pilgrim families and 90 Native Americans shared the best of their harvests and kills during a three-day celebration. Whether hosting the potluck or participating as a guest, please consider the following:

Ready - Potluck dinners aren’t “given” as much as they are organized. No formal written invitation is required, though it is of utmost importance that guests are assigned a dish to share. This ensures that the buffet doesn’t consist of identical food categories and that there is no shortage of food. Typically, the host will provide the setting, beverages, and often the main dish. If you find yourself uncomfortable with your assignment or cannot attend, please let your host know right away, so that accommodations can be made.

Set – The buffet table should be pre-set by the host to accommodate the dishes guests will bring. Place dinner plates (no more than twelve high) to indicate the starting point of the buffet. The dishes should follow, in course order; napkins and utensils should be placed at the end of the table. If the space allows, flowers and other décor can also be added to the table. All guests (and their dishes) should arrive on time and be presented in an attractive container that can go directly onto the table – keep cold items chilled and hot items heated, with proper serving utensils provided. Unlike a formal dinner party, no hostess gift is necessary – the offering of food is considered as such.

Dine – Once the table is set, get started! After all have been served, hosts should check the quantity of any remaining dishes, and invite guests back to the table for seconds. Allowing guests to take any leftovers with them will free the host of having to return containers at a later date, though guests should always offer leftovers to their host and other guests before removing their dish from the shared table. Written correspondence would be appropriate following a formal dinner party, but spoken words of gratitude to the host will suffice on the occasion of a potluck dinner.

If you find yourself at a loss for what to do in any social situation, remember that the best advice is to follow the Golden Rule, and be certain that you are considerate of others. I wish all the best this holiday season!