Whether you're hosting a party to bring loved ones back together after their post-holiday hibernation or to have fun with friends watching this year's Superbowl, we recommend hosting a potluck style party. If your party is more than just a few friends, this is a great way to go. A potluck allows everyone to bring their favorite dish to share and keeps you from becoming overwhelmed with food preparation for a small army.
Hosting this type of party doesn't mean that you get a complete pass on having to do anything, as there are still some important things that go into a successful potluck.
Check the Weather
This is probably the most important consideration for a party, especially if you plan on hosting any part of your gathering outdoors. Even in cities with mild weather, you never know when a shower might come through. Always make sure you have a back up plan and plenty of seating inside in case you have to move the party indoors.
Provide Ample Seating
Whether your party was always set to take place indoors or you've been rained out, seating is important. Although the kitchen may be a popular place to gather, having enough seating is important for making sure that everyone is comfortable. If your table doesn't fit all of your guests comfortably, consider adding a second folding table.
Alternatively, encourage your guests to make themselves comfortable on your sofas and other living room furniture. If you plan on hosting a more casual party for watching football with your buddies, having plenty of spots for guests to sit with a spot for their food and drinks is crucial to avoid any drinks being knocked over on your carpet or furniture
Themes and Decor
Creating a fun atmosphere can really make your party stand out. Whether you are hosting a formal dinner party or a casual picnic, adding a string of bunting or globe lights along with some colorful centerpieces or decorative paper plates for serving, your party will have plenty of character. This is also where you can play up a specific theme or focus for the party.
Speaking of themes, this is a fun way to get creative. Are you hosting an Oscars gathering? Print out some ballots so that your guests can vote on who they think might win. Also, throw down a red carpet (or table cloth) at your front door to add a little bit of glam to your party.
Another thing to consider when choosing or keeping with a theme is the food. To avoid all of your guests turning up with different variations of a Caesar salad, consider giving each person a type of dish to bring (appetizer, salad, entree, dessert, etc.). You can also get creative and ask everyone to bring a certain type of cuisine. Italian, Mexican, Greek, and Indian foods are all great options.
Set the Mood with Music
As your guests begin to arrive, make sure you have your favorite radio or online streaming station ready to go. Depending on the theme of your party, you can go soft with jazz or classical, or you can put on something really lively and upbeat.
If you are planning on watching the big game, you can always forego music and instead throw on the pre-game show for a little background noise. Plenty of your guests will be interested in what they have to say.
Don't Skimp on Drinks and Snacks
Offering a variety of drinks will make you an instant hit. If you plan to serve alcohol, make sure to also have some non-alcoholic beverages for drivers and anyone who doesn't drink alcohol. Whether you choose punch, homemade lemonade, or even a variety of sodas you can't go wrong. Also, make sure to have plenty of water on hand.
Plus, just because you are relying on your guests to bring the food, doesn't mean you are completely off the hook. Throwing together a good antipasto platter is a good way to satisfy your hungry guests while you wait for everyone to arrive. It's simple, just add cured meats, a few varieties of cheese, nuts, crackers, chutney, and grapes.
Be Prepared with Basic Necessities
Paper goods are cheap and easy to avoid doing dishes, but they aren't necessarily glamorous. Depending on the type of party you're hosting, you may not want to go this route. However, no matter what type of party you're planning, having plenty of napkins on hand is necessary. If you are serving messy ribs, you might consider a large stack of paper napkins. If you are going for a more chic vibe, pull out your favorite linen napkins to match your table decor.
If you're not looking to serve wine in paper cups, having plenty of clean glasses on hand is a must to ensure you aren't washing dishes mid-party. You can get creative here though. Vintage jars and colorful mason jars can be really fun for your guests if they fit into your theme.
Get Your Game Face On
Do you have any guests bringing kids to the party? Having a few toys and games will definitely go down well. It will help keep the kids occupied while the adults catch up. Legos, books, trains and even a few family-friendly movies are all great options.
Adults enjoy games as well, so if it goes with your theme, put up a dart board. If you will be taking the party outdoors, a bean bag toss is a great way to get your guests into the competitive spirit.