5 Ways to Be a Good Potluck Dinner Guest

Potlucks are a very popular way for church and school groups or large offices to throw a celebration with lots of food. It How to not gross people out at a potluckkeeps costs down and you get a huge variety of food for relatively little work on the hosts part. People are typically split down the middle when it comes to their fondness of them: you either love them or hate them.

I’ll agree… you have to keep your mind pretty sheltered and not think too much about the fact that you have NO idea what the condition of someone’s kitchen is. If I walk into a restaurant and their sanitation grade is below a 92, I turn and walk out – no questions asked. The truth of the matter is, most people’s home kitchens would get shut down if the health department showed up. But really… don’t let that stop you from enjoying that macaroni and cheese.

We were at a banquet recently as I stood in the insanely long line, I had a lot of time to watch everything happening around me. And as I watched, I realized that there are a lot of people who either have never been to a potluck or something about the 7 different types of macaroni and cheese or baked spaghetti make them lose all common sense of basic etiquettes.

But before you get your crock pot in a wad, this is NOT directed at anyone who plans these things. Until you’ve tried to plan ANYTHING for more than 50 people with multiple moving parts, you have no idea how real the struggle is to get people to respond to your emails, requests, emails, threats, sobbing ugly-cry emails. It’s no joke and it’s no walk in the park.

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This post is for all those people – the planners.

Here’s how you can be a good potluck dinner guest:

Rule #1: Just because there’s a lot of food doesn’t mean it should all go on your plate. I mean come on… do you really need to put a whole fried chicken on your plate at one time? And then plop 4 pieces of pizza on top of it? This is not Golden Corral.. there is not a host of cooks in the back whipping up more food. See that line behind you? Those people want to eat, too.

Rule #2: Just like a traffic jam, you can only go as fast as the person in front of you. Chronic offenders of this are the elders and the youngers. I think the elders are pushing because they were supposed to eat 2 hours ago and the youngers do it because let’s face it… what kid can resist the pull of 20 different desserts and jello salad?

Rule #3: Don’t use your fingers. For anything. EVER. Nothing makes me want to drop my plate and run for the nearest exit like seeing someone’s fingers get even remotely close to community food. Just. Ew. If you hit a dish that has no serving spoon, use your fork – but this is only good once. And do I even need to mention double-dipping??

Rule #4: If you drop it, pick it up and put it away. I witnessed at least 2 people drop serving utensils on the ground that night. I get it.. stuff gets slippery and it drops. But for the love of God and all that is holy – do NOT even THINK about picking it up and putting it back in the dish.

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 #5: Clean up after yourself. You came, you brought your dish, you ate, now pick up your styrofoam plate and throw it away. Remember, this is a volunteer thing and the people who will end up cleaning up after you probably had to organize the whole thing and they are tired. So. Very. Tired.

I’m sure I’m missing some other no-no’s… what would you add??