Five Steps for Hosting a Fall Potluck

Fall is the perfect time of year to host a potluck for your friends and family. With the brisk breeze and the smell of crisp leaves it creates the perfect cozy atmosphere for a hosted dinner. Below I will outline some ways to create a successful, festive potluck without spending too much time nor money on your event!

First step, figure out the structure. Think about what type of potluck you would like to host. Is it going to be a simple dinner, cocktail party, dessert focused event, etc.? Additionally, is it going to be purely a gastronomic event, or would you like to host games, and other activities? For my most recent potluck, I chose the theme of ‘Fall Festivus’, modeled around the Seinfeld episode of a similar name. This gave me a better scope of the event and determined the type of food, drinks, and games I wanted to include.

Next, tell your friends and family! Facebook Events are a great way to reach a large amount of people, but calendar invites, and email groups work just as well. When describing your potluck, make sure to include time, location, theme, and what you would like your guests to bring. Asking your guests to post what dish/drink they’ll be bringing is a great way to avoid too much overlap! Also, when sending invitations, make sure to choose a day and time that give you enough time to prepare. I chose a Saturday evening, ensuring that I could clean, shop, and cook the day of. Try and send a reminder the day before your event, so your guests don’t forget to visit the grocery store!

Third, choose your dishes wisely, but don’t be afraid to be creative! Trust that your guests will bring enough to go around, but I recommend making at least two to three dishes, to fill any holes in the menu. When choosing your dishes remember that you will have limited time and oven space, so plan accordingly. For Festivus, I prepared Mulled Wine, Butternut Squash Lasagna, and Roasted Brussel Sprouts. That way, I covered the beverage, main course, and side categories. The lasagna and brussel sprouts were able to bake at the same temperature, saving time, while the mulled wine brewed in a crockpot (recommendation from Wild Friend’s own Ariel Coleman!)

Fourth, a few decorations go a long way! Head to your local farmer's market or grocery store to pick up some gourds which can be used to decorate your entryway, as well as be used as centerpieces. In addition, a few candles or a crackling fire really help to set the scene! If you’re in a pinch, gather some pinecones and dried leaves from your yard, and arrange in the center of your tables.

Finally, don’t stress. A great way to avoid a time crunch is to ask a friend to come over early to help prepare. Offer to let them cook at your house, and a little bribery with some seasonal Wild Friends Peanut Butter doesn’t hurt. Don’t worry if things are still in the works when your guests arrive. It is best to have drinks and starters ready early, but the other menu items can come later. Plus, the scent of baking desserts will add to the ambiance!