Perfect Potlucks in a Pinch (How to Avoid Casserole Frustration)

The following is a post from our sponsor, Volunteer Spot.

Sure, you’re thinking, “If someone brings one more formerly frozen casserole to our potluck, I’m gonna throw it out the window”; and we’ve all experienced the "not so sweet" surprise of seeing six plates of brownies and no salad on the table.

Avoid the awkward “you shouldn’t have” conversations and simplify ALL your holiday potluck planning with these 5 tips:

Share recipes: Woohoo -- another win for your Pinterest addiction! Share fun recipe ideas across your social channels to create buzz about your event and get everyone thinking about the delicious dish they want to bring. Encourage friends, coworkers, and fellow class parents to post their favorite recipes too, and compile them as a small digital gift that can be shared after your potluck.


Use free potluck sign-up sheets: VolunteerSpot’s online (and mobile) sign-up sheets aren’t just for fundraisers and room moms -- they are perfect for coordinating stress-free potlucks and parties too! Make everyone’s job easier by designating the number and types of food you want people to bring -- e.g. you may want 3 hot side dishes, 1 green salad, 1 fruit & cheese plate, 1 chicken dish, 1 meat-free main dish, as well as desserts, decorations, drinks, and ice. A little guidance still leaves plenty of choices for your guests as they sign up at their convenience, 24/7 from their smartphone or computer. Bonus -- automated reminders makes sure no one forgets what they’re supposed to bring.

Have a last-minute emergency kit: The holiday season is absolute mayhem for busy moms, so the chances that someone bails on your event last-minute are good (putting you a dish short, yikes!). Have your backup potluck kit ready -- a few boxes of five-minute cous cous, tortilla chips with dip, mixed nuts, cheese cubes, and other easily assembled or finger snack foods are perfect in a pinch and help fill out your table.

Give it a theme: A few festive decorations, tablecloths, and centerpieces turn your potluck from drab to fab! If you’re forgoing the novelty holiday or Thanksgiving theme, however, we say get creative; try “Night of Firsts” where everyone brings a dish they’ve never made before and party-goers have to share stories from their first dates or first jobs. Also well received is “Breakfast for Dinner” because who doesn’t love quiche, fresh fruit, and warm biscuits, no matter the time of day.

Plan for kids: Will guests be bringing kids? Be sure to add kid-friendly favorites to your potluck sign-up sheet like mac-and-cheese, pigs in a blanket, and finger foods for toddlers. Set aside a kid-designated eating area and provide simple activities like coloring sheets, foam crafts, and seasonal movies. If possible, recruit a teen or two to supervise and entertain kid guests!

Use VolunteerSpot to Save Time and Make Your Life Easier!

VolunteerSpot makes it easy to organize all the people and things that help you make a difference this holiday season. Free online sign-up sheets & scheduling make it a snap to coordinate classroom helpers and parties, potlucks, school and charity events, team snacks, workplace service, meals circles & more! Take a Tour Today.


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