Steps for how to host a pot luck dinner at the holidays. Tips & Tricks
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How to Host a Holiday Potluck Dinner


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Don’t you think it’s time that the Potluck Dinner came back? Me too!  I’m sharing how to host a holiday potluck dinner.  I’ve gathered some of the best Potluck worthy recipes around, and broken down how to put this soiree together. 

But wait just a second here.  

How do you organize a potluck supper?

It’s got to be chaos, right? Wrong! Holiday and Christmas potlucks can be organized as cozy Christmas dinners, or big parties where you invite lots of friends and family.  They are that easy.  

The best part about the holidays is how many times people gather together as opposed to the rest of the year.  There seems to be a party every weekend, and delicious food everywhere!  Looking for a way to make it easier on yourself when you are looking to host a holiday get-together? Host a holiday pot luck dinner!

What IS a potluck anyway??

According to the Merrium-Webster dictionary, a potluck is “a communal meal to which people bring food to share”.  Can you think of anything better than that in times like these? Nope.  I can’t either.  

I remember that potluck dinners were a real big thing back in the 70’s and 80’s.  Church gatherings, picnics, even Christmas potluck parties brought people together, dish in hand to help you celebrate.  They were non pretentious, fun times that gave people something to celebrate.  Your mom’s friends would show up with their best dishes, and you got to go from plate to plate sampling all sorts of different delicacies.  The office also used to be commonplace for potluck celebrations. Find yourself hosting a holiday office party? Plan for potluck and take some of the burden off of yourself!  


However; I haven’t heard of many potluck dinners lately. It’s an absolutely fantastic way to get people together – big groups or small, and I’m on a mission to bring them back. It’s a wonderful way to gather people around your table (or what about a table within your entire community) enjoying each other’s company without all of the pretense?


How to host a Holiday Pot Luck Dinner

The first step in getting a potluck party together is putting the idea out there.  So my first step would be to download an invitation you can print out and send/deliver to people you’d like to join the festivities. I absolutely love this one by Anton at ViolaMirabllisHome.  It’s can be edited, downloaded, and printed right away.  The colors, the design – it’s all beautiful.  And sorry, not sorry.  Handing or mailing someone a paper invitation is always a nice way to go.

How to Host a Thanksgiving Potluck - Sweet Humble Home

TIP: Make sure you send out invitations 4 weeks in advance.  This gives people enough time to plan to attend! 

How to Organize a Potluck Dinner:

Remember that potluck means that people can bring what they wish!

How do you assign potluck dishes? You can’t assign everyone a dish – that’s just not potluck! What you can do is put out a sign up sheet so that everyone can see what everyone else is brining.  Perhaps you can separate the list into categories and place it up on Google Docs or some other sharing site such as E-vite. If people still ask you what to bring, simply look at the list and suggest something.  Follow that up by filling in the list.  You may want to consider making a couple of main dishes yourself when hosting to be sure there is a full meal.


TIP: If you are aware of an extreme allergy – note it on the form so that other guests are aware of the allergy and don’t use that food item in their dish.  


Setting Up Your Space for a Potluck

Having your close crew over for a potluck really shouldn’t change much for the set up of a potluck dinner.  You can place each of the dishes on the table and have at it!  However; if you’re expecting a larger crowd, as is most times the case in potluck, you need a bit more prep.

Here are some tips for setting up your space:

  • Push a couple of long tables against the wall to make flow easier.
  • If you don’t have room for an extra table, use your countertops.  Clear the countertops as best you can using that space for dishes as people arrive.  Make sure to set out trivets on the counter and to have outlets free as many dishes will arrive hot or in slow cookers.
  • Set up plates at the beginning of the table.  Make sure there is a serving spoon (or two) set out for each dish.
  • Place napkins and utensils at the END of the food.  This way guests don’t need to carry their utensils with them through the line of dishes.
  • Leave food labels and sharpies out so that people can place a label next to their dish.
  • Put together a bar area away from the food.  This will help the flow.
  • Place any desserts that are brought near your coffee/tea pot.  Don’t forget cream and sugar as well.
  • Set up some “leftover tins” so people can bring home leftovers.  There are some really neat ones out there now!

Potlucks are easy!

Clean up – or, let’s not!  Don’t spend time in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner.  Show people where the leftover boxes are and ask them to take what they would like.  If guests offer to help, let them, but leave the big clean up for yourself after your guests have gone home.  After all, you didn’t have to cook dinner.


People always ask: What is your go-to potluck food?

For me – my mom’s macaroni and cheese is ALWAYS a winner!  I’ve also shared my Slow Cooker Pot Roast, which never fails to fill happy bellies!


Easy Recipes for a Pot Luck Dinner to Try:

I asked my fellow bloggers for a few potluck dinner ideas and they shared a few of the best dishes for a potluck. Here’ you’ll find main dishes, appetizers for a Christmas potluck, desserts, and even a couple of gluten free vegan recipes!

Jen at Whole Lotta Yum shared a recipe for Roast Beetroot Salad with Feta

How To Host a Potluck Dinner - Sweet Humble Home

This Zucchini Pizza Casserole is a perfect potluck dinner meal! Thanks to Marathons & Motivation for sharing it!

How to Host a Potluck Dinner - Sweet Humble Home

Michelle at My Gluten Free Kitchen has a fantastic recipe for gluten free corn bread!

How to Host a Potluck Dinner - Sweet Humble Home

This delicious looking 7-Layer Salad was submitted by Drugstore Divas and is something I want to try!How to Host a Pot Luck - Sweet Humble Home


Ham & Cheese Sliders are a great potluck dinner idea! Thank you, Kylee at Kylee Cooks for sharing!

How to Host a Pot Luck Dinner - Sweet Humble Home

What potluck doesn’t need a dip?

Joe & Stacy from We Dish It Up shared this yummy looking Easy Cherry Cheesecake Dip.

How to host a potluck dinner - Sweet Humble Home

Some Sweet Humble Home Favorite Recipes for Potluck:

Homemade French Onion Dip Recipe

Homemade French Onion Dip - Step by Step instructions

Easy Stuffed Mushroom Appetizer

Easy Stuffed Mushrooms - Sweet Humble Home


Chili is ALWAYS a good recipe for potluck!

Ultimate Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Ultimate Homemade Macaroni & Cheese Recipe - Sweet Humble Home

One last suggestion….

Christmas Cranberry Nut Pie Recipe

Check out my recipe for Christmas Cranberry Nut Pie – you’re going to love it!



Don’t forget the cocktails!

I always have a nice red, and a good white available for my guests along with a signature cocktail for the evening.  It’s important to also serve non-alcoholic beverages like lemon water, soda, or sparkling cider.  Here are some of my favorite holiday cocktails that I can make in larger batches:

Holiday Mulled Wine

Hot Apple Cider (Spiked With Rum)

Holiday Drinks (Spiked with Rum)

Ultimate Thanksgiving Cocktail Roundup

Hosting a Holiday potluck dinner is easy!

What are your potluck go-tos? Do you have any tried and true recipes to add to our list here? I’d love to see them! Do you have any more ideas for a potluck dinner to help to make it a success? I want to hear them! 



Related content I think you’ll love 🙂

Hosting a Small Holiday Gathering

10 Tips for the Holiday Hostess

How to Host a Holiday Open House (5 Tips)

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