Let me begin by saying, I’m a huge fan of potlucks. Potlucks are the backbone of the pinko revolution, in my opinion. Potlucks have a spirituality all their own; a syncronicity. When no one has determined who should bring what, yet everyone arrives and finds the glorious spread, laid out in all it’s splendor: appetizers, salad, soup, pasta, side dish, main dish, side dish, drinks. Without even trying, a perfectly balanced community meal. Every so often there comes a time when one is faced with five spinach salads and a tub of cool whip, but most of the time the stars align and the Potluck God (or more likely, Goddess) smiles down on the community.
The topic of potluck etiquette, however, comes up often in my circle of friends. The only real negative effect I’ve noticed is that potlucks engender a certain level of guilt for various and personal faux pas, actions that may be understood by no one but the afflicted. Therefore, I shall pick up where Emily Post so rudely left us hanging, and bring you the Rules of Potluck. I hope you find them acceptable for your future events.
Store-bought food: Store-bought food is not a problem as long as it
Does not outshine the dishes made by people who at least attempted home cooking
The bearer of store-bought food arrives early enough to deposit the dish into a passably handsome container
Everyone attempts to keep it a secret, therefore staving off endless apologies that could become feeble attempts at breaking the ice if conversation lags
Tardiness- The responsibility lies with the host to communicate whether or not the potluck is a sit-down at the table meal, or an endless trough of mill-and-nibble. If it is the latter, than anytime within the hour of start-time is acceptable, if it is the former, than everyone should arrive at the same time.
Unacceptable potluck offerings- steak, meatloaf, soy loaf, soy cheese on anything, salads with under three ingredients, a 20-40oz bottle of beer. There may be towns where meatloaf or pot roast are acceptable to bring to a potluck, but this isn’t one of them. Large hunks of imitation meat are extremely risky and should be avoided, and bringing one beer is simply NOT COOL.
Foods that should make potluck comebacks- jello mold with marshmallows and canned fruit, tuna casserole, noodle kugel (a dish with egg noodles, eggs, and raisins), deviled eggs, pigs-in-a-blanket (with/without fake pigs), swedish meatballs in a crock pot, chicken pot pie with pearl onions, tabouli, mini quiches, lemon merengue pie.
Suggested Topics of Conversation- Planning the revolution, keeping abortion safe and legal, political action of any kind, religious or spiritual beliefs and philosophies, childrearing, the latest great novel, art, cooking, creating, or senseless gossip is acceptable in small subgroups.
Unadvised Topics of Conversation- It’s not about topics as much as it’s about respecting the round robin. Like a good song circle, no one person should dominate. If you run out of topics, I suggest you begin telling a story and let the person to right add to it and so on until you’ve gone around the circle and the story is complete. Proselytizing of any kind should be avoided, and there is an unspoken threshold of length of time spent discussing child’s bodily functions.
That’s all I can think of at this time. Feel free to add your thoughts if you want.