It’s no secret that potlucks can save time and money. With everyone chipping in, guests can enjoy a meal they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. With the holidays around the corner, here are some tips to ensure your potluck is a successful one.

Variety – When guests sign up to bring food, you want to make sure that they are signing up for a variety of items. You don’t want everyone to bring a dessert, for example, and have no side dishes. Or if no one wants to bring drinks, you’ll be eating your meal with nothing to wash it down. Monitoring the sign-up sheet and making sure your main dish, sides, desserts, drinks, plates and utensils are all taken care of will ensure a joyous celebration.

Prepare in advance – Unless you plan on arriving early, and have the hostess’ permission, no dishes should require any preparation (except for reheating) once you arrive at the hostess’ house. If a dish is supposed to remain heated, guests should bring their own equipment, like a crock pot, to keep it hot.

Clean up, Clean up – Make sure that plenty of trash cans and bags are available, and ensure they’re clearly marked for trash and recycle. After the meal, everyone should pitch in to clean up.

Give it a theme – For a fun twist, give your potluck a theme, like a Pinterest Potluck, where guests make their favorite Pinterest-inspired meal, or a colored theme, where people bring food that’s a particular color. Having a themed potluck can help break up the monotony of holiday gatherings.

Have flexibility – Not every guest will be able to make or purchase a dish to bring. If that’s the case, offer the possibility of bringing plates or utensils, or even being the clean-up crew at the end of the night.

Attending potlucks can save money and be fun. Enjoy the time with family and friends, and don’t make small mishaps into a big deal. Happy Holidays!

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