A friend from college had the best wedding ever. It was nothing fancy—there was no ballroom dance floor, no $500 plates of food, and the entire affair was lacking pomp and circumstance. It was a potluck wedding, after all.
Initially, the bride and groom weren’t sure how the whole “potluck” aspect would be received, but it allowed for something incredible to happen—a sense of community, of everyone gathering together, and of each guest (literally) bringing something to the table.
Potluck: The all-American neighborhood dinner party that completely lacks pretense. The term itself was coined during The Great Depression, when churches and neighborhoods would host communal meals to help alleviate the weight of the time. When everyone shared, nobody starved.
According to Wessel’s Living History Farm’s website, “During the depression […] self-sufficiency carried over into social life. One-dish suppers and church potlucks were important ways to have fun and share food. On radio and in women’s magazines, home economists taught women how to stretch their food budget with casseroles and meals like creamed chipped beef on toast or waffles. Chili, macaroni and cheese, soups, and creamed chicken on biscuits were popular meals.”
The tradition continues to this day. Whether it’s bringing that famous cucumber salad to a backyard get-together or gathering in the church basement on a Sunday, Americans love the spirit of the potluck: coming together as a community to share your bounty with your neighbors.
Rules of potluck
When it comes to a potluck, there are a few etiquette rules, mainly to ensure that you’re being a good neighbor and friend. Rule number one: You absolutely have to bring a dish of your own, and showing up with a bottle of ketchup doesn’t count.
Rule number two: Potluck goers should never complain about the food because you never know when the chef is just behind your shoulder.
Rule number three: It’s not necessary to tower your plate with four pounds of food. Leave some of that beef brisket for the next guy in line. You can always come back for seconds.
Last but not least, the lucky potlucker should not only clean up after themselves but should help the host in any way possible. It takes a lot of setup to get a potluck rolling, so the more hands to help, the merrier the potluck will be.
Products to elevate your potluck
Warmer days are here, which means the days of the outdoor potluck have returned! Make sure you’re not left rummaging for some potluck must-haves that your great-grandmother would naturally keep in her kitchen. Start out with the essentials: serving utensils! You can’t expect your neighbors to dig into your Mexican Tortilla Casserole without a serving spoon to go with it. This GLINDE 5-piece Serving Utensil Set gives you everything you need—whether you’re scooping mac and cheese, slicing up a quiche, or serving up some gravy.
For easy food carrying, the Wide Demin Casserole Tote is the serving dish caddy you never knew you needed. Not only does it keep your precious baked goods safe and warm in transit, but it makes it significantly easier to carry your carefully crafted dish to the party.
And when you have to cover your food, whether in the car or on the counter, this set of three cotton bowl covers are just darling. Especially perfect for bread and baked goods, they keep your food protected in a simple, old-fashioned package.
And finally, everyone loves the guy or gal who brings the wine! Our Canvas Dual Wine Caddy includes a corkscrew and carries two bottles of wine for those potlucks where you’re going to get your party on. Rugged and handsome, this wine caddy features sturdy English bridle straps, so while you’re impressing friends with your wine chops, you can also show them how you sling your bottles.
The American potluck is all about sharing and spending time with friends, neighbors, and family. It’s the perfect opportunity to share your favorite recipes with others, and it allows your famous pot pies to get out of the kitchen for once.
What’s your favorite dish to bring to a potluck?
Need some new kitchen tools for your next potluck? There’s a category for that!