Friday, January 07, 2011

Pot-luck etiquette

Based upon our own pot-luck experiences and the stories I've heard from other people who have themselves hosted pot-luck events, there appears to be a need for a basic etiquette guide. Behold, Karl's Pot-Luck Etiquette Guide. Edition One.

When you are invited to a pot-luck event, here is a simple list to observe:


Let the host know exactly how many people you are bringing as guests.
Bring enough food so that every partygoer gets one small helping. A good measure for how much food to bring is to have enough for you and your guest to eat as your full meal. If everyone does this, there will be enough food.
Even if the host does not coordinate the food, ask the host whether they need more appetizers, entrees, sides or desserts.
Bring your dishes and utensils back home with you when you leave.
If you have allergies or are purposely avoiding certain types of food, let the host know far in advance so that alternatives can be offered.
Let the host know in advance if your food will require space in the oven, on the stove or in a fridge for storage or re-heating.
Keep track and take responsibility for your own food's preparation and serving.
At the end of the event, do offer the host to assist with clean-up.
When there is a lot of food leftover, the host will often offer for you to take some food home with you when you leave. It is OK to accept this offer. Build a sampler plate so that other guests who are so inclined can have a little bit of each item as well.
Unlike beverages in single serving sizes, a bottle of wine brought to a pot-luck party especially is deemed a community bottle. You may serve yourself first, but be prepared to share.


Do not invite every friend you know to come with you but you collectively only bring one plate of food, or worse, nothing.
If you're going to a party of 30 guests, please don't bring a small plate of jalapeno poppers, proceed to eat all of the poppers, then eye the rest of the food.
Unless it's a munchie pot-luck, it is very bad form to just bring a bag of chips.
If you forget or it's not practical to bring your dishes and utensils home with you when you leave, be sure to get them in a timely fashion. Don't wait 6 months, then get upset because the host cannot find your items.
Do not show up, complain that there are no vegetarian options, all while you try to foist a gluten orgy on the other guests.
Do not show up with uncooked food, expecting to commandeer the oven to bake your dish at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Do not bring some food and expect the host to not only store or re-heat the food, but even serve it at the appropriate time, in the correct method and so forth. It's your food - if you want it presented correctly, do it yourself.
When the host offers leftover food to take home, they are referring to what is already out in the serving area. This is not an invitation to raid the cupboards or fridge or liquor cabinet for freebies.
Also, don't be picky about what you get for leftovers. Do not try to get all of the date squares to yourself, for example.
Do not be offended if a stranger asks to open your bottle of wine for you and serve themself a small glass. If you want some, hold your glass up first.


Retro Blog said...

Oooh I love potluck! Haven't been to many at home potlucks but the ones at work have ranged from funny (all desserts) to gorgeously delicious. My favorites were in Barrow the pansit and odobo were to die for.
I remember one notorious co-worker from my home town who was famous for showing up with a short stack of paper plates, cups, knives and spoons. She was the kind of gal who would sell you the shirt off her back.

Karl Plesz said...

I am a big pot-luck fan. Most of our parties are pot-lucks. They're just so..... unpredictable.