Planning and Hosting a Successful Holiday Potluck

by CorreenK

The holidays are special, why not consider organizing a potluck to celebrate the season? Plan and host the party of the year with these suggestions and ideas.

Getting others involved in the celebration of the holidays is as easy as planning and then throwing the holiday potluck of the season!

Holiday potlucks, whether planned for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, are not only delicious, but they are a lot of fun too.

Many people host a potluck gathering to bring the spirt of the holiday into their home. Gathering with friends and family, sharing favored recipes...making it potluck style eases the burden off of YOU having to do it all.

Planning a Holiday Potluck
Planning a Holiday Potluck

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

Did You Know?

Random tips for people who love potlucks
  • Get your potluck going, from meal planning to invitations right online at or's free and it's fun!
  • In order for your potluck to have a variety of dishes, provide each potlucker with a food category (i.e. main dish, salad, bread, etc.). If your guest has a specialty dish make sure to request it for your potluck...they will be honored. Also, state the theme of the potluck, if you choose.
  • If you are taking cookware or carriers that need to come home with you mark each peice with your name. Glass cookware can be marked with glass etching cream or paint and stencils. Place a luggage tag or embroider your cloth carriers.
  • Always bring along a serving utensil for your dish.
  • Test a new recipe before trying to make it on the day of the potluck...been there done that and had to stop at the store for a ready-made appetizer. :O
  • Make copies of your recipe to share with the rave-reviewers of your dish. Everyone appreciates new and tasty recipes.

Thinking About Themes for Your Potluck

A little imagination can make it a truly memorable event. One interesting idea is to make it a hobo potluck, where the dishes are brought in beautiful serving pieces or casserole dishes, but served up into foil tins. 

There are many wonderful and exciting ideas which could be used, by simply being a little creative. Here are a few ideas for you to explore...

  • Charitable Event...guests bring a warm blanket, canned food, or new toy that will be given to a local charity
  • 19??' fill in the year
  • Ethnic traditional foods...Italian, Chinese, Mexican
  • Luau or from the beach
  • Comfort foods
  • Picnic or finger foods
  • The Seasons (i.e. Winter Wonderland with red and green foods)
  • Salads (you supply the butter and homemade rolls :)
  • Casseroles...this one is great for a breakfast potluck

Holiday Potluck Invite Ideas

The easiest way to invite the guests is by sending creative emails or if there is no other option, pop your invitations into the snail mail (see my idea above about planning your potluck online). It is just a nice personal touch to send some sort of a formal invitation. This can be done even if you have spoken to your guests on the phone.

Center the invitations around the theme, if you have one. This can be a really cool task as well, by using a little imagination and, getting the kids involved in helping out. People are more likely to remember if they have a note from the host which states the date, time, and theme.

It also may be helpful to send out a reminder if the holiday potluck is to be held more than 10 days from the time the invitations are given. People tend to get busy around the holidays, so send out a quick email reminder a couple of days before the event.

One Time Use Containers

Elegant Paper Bakeware from Italy in classic gold on brown pattern
Paper Loaf Pans

Perfect for home-baked gifts and potluck food, such as breads, meatloaf, and appetizers! Available in large to mini sizes.

Only $15.60

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Large Panettone Paper Molds

Just the perfect size for a pretty table top display. No need to pre-grease either!

$6.24  $1.24

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Round Paper Cake Pans

Bake and take your favorite cakes to your holiday potluck. Available in 6 1/8" to 9 1/2" sizes.

Only $19.76

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Reusable Potluck Containers

Tried and true products by Glad
SimplyCooking OvenWare 9x12

This all-in-one pan can be used in all stages of baking. Featuring a durable pan that's oven-safe and freezer-ready, and a microwavable lid that snaps on tight.

Only $45.56
SimplyCooking OvenWare 8x8

A must have all-in-one pan that easily takes your homemade recipe from your oven to the holiday potluck table.

Only $45.56
Gladware Potluck Size Containers

Extra-sturdy containers with interlocking lids and extra tight seal to prevent messy leaks. Microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe.

Only $5.98

Ideas for Setting Your Potluck Table

The night before your potluck event set the scene for the delicious dishes that will be arriving with your guests by setting your table. Decorations can be as simple or as elaborate as you like...afterall it's your party.

Ponder these varied ideas for arranging your potluck table...

  • Make one end of your table the start-to-eat-point by placing all the things your guests will need for their food (i.e. plates, cups, silverware, napkins, etc.).
  • Have blank place cards available so guests can write down the name of their dish.
  • Designate a spot on your table for hot foods. Have cords available for plugging in crockpots and buffet servers.
  • If you use candles for your table make 'em unscented (soy or beeswax) candles so you can enjoy the scents of the food.
  • If you have room and a spare table use it for all the desserts. Don't forget the smaller plates and forks.

Special Touch...just before guests arrive set your oven to 350° just in case someone needs to finish cooking or warm up a dish.

Easy Peasy Beverages

For a fun twist have someone serving beverages for the first half hour or so.

  • Assorted bottles of wine and beer
  • Holiday punch - spiked or not, hot or cold
  • Cans or bottles of fruit juices, soda, or flavored water
  • Pitchers of ice water with lemon and/or oranges slices
  • BYOB and mixers - alcohol or not

Hitting the Road With Your Food

Special sets for potlucks and tailgating
Stow-a-Way Potlucker with Baking Dish and Lid by Racheal Ray

This potlucker includes a 3-quart/3 L Baking Dish with Rachael Ray branded lid. The padded handle makes it easy to transport just about anywhere. And when you're finished with ...

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Cupcake Pan and Carrying Case

A must have for the avid baker, this innovative plastic carrying case makes it simple to bring cupcakes and muffins to picnics, parties, and other events. The handy carrier ...

Only $22.53

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Collapsible Cake Carrier

Progressive International is your source for the widest range of functional, inventive, and fun kitchen tools and great ideas put into practice. Our in-house designers spend ...

$29.99  $23.29

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Traveling With Your Potluck Dish

Snugly's for your potluck dish
Casserole Keeper

Great inexpensive product that can be reused. Keep your goods hot or cold! Great for carrying food to your work event or family gathering.

$22.00  $16.29

View on Amazon

Casserole Carrier

This casserole carrier will make it so much easier to carry what you need to, and eliminate the possibility of burning yourself carrying a hot dish! It is great for pot luck ...

Only $8.99

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Crock-Pot Travel Bag

Slow Cooker Travel BagRival 7-qt. Oval Slow Cooker Travel Bag Black Matte Finish Nylon Ideal for Transporting Slow Cookers Hand Wash 1-yr. Warranty Dimensions: 15.8x11.0x9.0 "

$14.99  $6.03

View on Amazon

Insulated Food Server

Keep food hot or cold for up to 6 hours with G&S Design's Large 4.5 Qt / 4 L ThermaWare Insulated Food Server with Stainless Steel Insert. Great for transporting food to ...

Only $39.99

View on Amazon

Make Sure to Enjoy Your Holiday Potluck

Remember that some people may not be able to make it to your holiday potluck, so invite several more people than you expect to attend. If you are thinking that 7 people would be just about right, invite 12. If they all happen to show up, which is unlikely, then the more the merrier!

Most importantly, don’t stress out over it. The idea is to celebrate the season with friends, so that is where the emphasis should be. No matter what, there will be great food, laughter, and a lot of holiday spirit, which is what these events are all about. So, relax and have a great holiday potluck.

One cannot think well, love well,
sleep well, if one has not dined well.
~Virgina Woolf

Tried and True Recipes for Your Potluck

Strawberry Banana Gelatin Salad Strawberry Banana Gelatin Salad from Food Lovers Web


3 Ingredient Potluck Meatballs from I Heart Naptime

Baked Mac and Cheese for a Crowd from My Grandma's Recipes

Million Dollar Spaghetti from Being Grown Up


Caramel Apple Salad from Say Not Sweet Anne

Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad from Gimme Some Oven

Loaded Baked Potato Salad from This is My Key West


No Bake Cookies and Cream from Lemon Tree Dwelling

Shirley Temple Poke Cake from I Should Be Mopping the Floor


15 Potluck Recipes That'll Save Your Life This Summer from BuzzFeed Community

20 Simple Holiday Appetizers from Made to be a Momma

24 Holiday Potluck Recipes to Wow the Crowd from The Weary Chef

♥ Drop me a note if you have a killer potluck recipe - I'll share it on here!

In Closing...

CorreenKIt fills me with joy to share the different ideas I'm whipping up in my head. Besides the articles here, I'm also growing my online presence and passion for cooking over at

If you are interested in writing here on Wizzley, click on my referral link to join in on the fun and profits! ~Correen K

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Updated: 06/19/2015, CorreenK
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Your Comments Are Greatly Appreciated

cmoneyspinner on 08/27/2013

Very good!

CorreenK on 10/01/2012

Thanks to each and every visitor that has stopped by my article and *mwah* to those that have left a comment.

cherylone on 10/01/2012

Nice, I love this as a Gathering idea for just about any celebration. I will be putting this on my sidebar for my New England Fall Season Wiz.

ethelsmith on 12/17/2011

That was interesting. I guess it is an American thing. That said we do use the phrase potluck in the UK. Taking potluck as a meal for instance usually means you have to take whatever you get.

Heather Katsoulis on 12/08/2011

thanks for the ideas and featuring one of my recipes. :)

emmalarkins on 12/07/2011

I love this! Few things are better than a good potluck dinner.

sheilamarie on 12/07/2011

Great ideas page! My friends are planning a potluck based on a musical performance. One plays piano, the other flute. After practicing together for months, they invite a few friends for a potluck and perform for them. Always an enjoyable evening!

Jimmie on 12/07/2011

What great ideas. I'd never thought of etching my glass casserole and baking dishes. That's smart! The hobo potluck made me laugh.
Potlucks are my favorite because of the variety you always end up with. I love trying new dishes.

Jessica on 12/07/2011

Everything sounds so delicious and the best part, easy!

ohme on 12/07/2011

I love Pot Luck Dinners and sure appreciate this wonderful article and appreciate your including my Tomato Pie Recipe.

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