Potluck Etiquette – Something not to be Left to Luck!

by Claire Valenty on February 4, 2011

in Business & Office Etiquette, Table Manners

table manners potluck etiquette

At least every two weeks in my office, there is a potluck to celebrate someone’s baby, a promotion, a departure or just because it is a Friday.  Even if you think you are never going to participate in a potluck, sooner or later, you will be forced to.  This is why it is important you learn these tips now!

  1. If the potluck you’re attending has assigned dish items, then bring what you were assigned. You can really screw the meal up by going rogue (just think – what if everyone brought dessert instead of what they were assigned?  Then again, that sounds yummy!).  If you are unable to bring what you were assigned or signed up for, try to switch with someone else.  Assigning dishes is not integral to a potluck’s success (“luck” is in the title for a reason).
  2. It is not a big deal to eat cookie dough while you’re making cookies for yourself, but, when making them (or anything) for others, make sure your cleanliness and hygiene is at its peak.  This means no double dipping the spoon when taste testing and using clean cooking utensils.
  3. Don’t feel like you need to double the recipe. You are not expected to feed the entire group.  The normal amount the dish makes is fine.  But, use common sense; if the potluck is for thirty people, a shrimp plate of ten shrimps and dip is not adequate.  Same goes for if you are bringing soda.  Don’t cheap out and bring in a $1.50 two liter soda when everyone else is bringing in homemade goodies.  Spend at least as much as it costs for a homemade dish or a platter you can buy at the store.
  4. Bring something to serve your dish with. Those plastic spoons in the lunch room aren’t going to cut it when it comes to serving your homemade chicken noodle soup.
  5. Put your dish’s ingredients on an index card to place by it to help those who have food allergies or may be watching their weight.
  6. Be on time to your potluck.  It sucks when everyone has finished eating and they’re stuffed and a latecomer comes in with a dish that looks awesome, but, you literally could not eat another bite.
  7. If your dish needs to be prepared beforehand (heated up, carved, etc.), do it!
  8. Don’t be greedy! You can always go back for seconds; give everyone else a chance to sample that dish!
  9. If you are hosting a party where you are asking your guests to bring a dish, that doesn’t mean you only bring one dish. You need to make sure you have all the condiments and utensils that your guests will need and your dish should be a main course meal (no cheating with chips and dip).
  10. Also, when hosting, make sure you make it crystal clear in your invitation the event is a potluck to help avoid free loaders.
  11. Unless it is offered, do not take home anyone else’s leftovers.  Make sure you take your leftovers home or give them away; don’t leave them for someone else to clean up.

Further Reading: denverpost.com

Photo: flickr/Marshall Astor

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