How To Plan The Perfect Potluck Picnic – HexClad Cookware
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How To Plan The Perfect Potluck Picnic

by HexClad Cookware

How To Plan The Perfect Potluck Picnic

There are few more idyllic summer activities than bringing friends and family together for a picnic. But when all the work falls on the host, the picnic isn’t so much of…well…a picnic. Instead, consider turning the picnic into a potluck with assigned dish types and supplies for each person to bring.

Though a potluck implies everyone is equally involved, generally one or two people are in charge of organizing. If that’s you, there are a few things to keep in mind to make scheduling and coordinating easier.


    1. Choose a location with a weather-friendly backup. If you’re planning to meet at a park, find a spot with an overhang in case of rain. Or, offer to host at your house if that’s not an option.
    2. Pick a date that works for the most people. If you’re wrangling a big group, send a poll to a text group or use a scheduling app like Doodle.
    3. Don’t assume people know what to bring. Ask guests if they are willing to contribute food and provide suggestions of categories like snacks and appetizers, salads, main dishes, desserts, or drinks. Let them know that they don’t have to cook, but can instead bring ice, cups, plates and utensils, too. If the guests are familiar with each other, use a group chat, email thread, or shared spreadsheet so everyone can see what other people are bringing and adjust accordingly. If people don’t know each other yet, it can help to coordinate individually.
    4. Suggest dishes that taste great at room temperature. Nix anything with melted cheese or lots of dairy, which won’t hold up well for hours outside the fridge. Same goes for raw fish or meat. No one wants picnic ceviche!
    5. It’s not just about food. Whether you’re planning a backyard potluck picnic, one at a park, or at another location, it’s important to think about the things that aren’t food like napkins, cups, utensils, plates, can openers and corkscrews, and picnic blankets. If you’re planning a picnic in bright sun or hot weather, it’s worth bringing sunscreen and umbrellas, too.
    6. Consider dietary restrictions. When you reach out, ask whether the guests have any dietary restrictions. They’re likely familiar with bringing their own food, but you can offer to accommodate by communicating to other guests.
    7. Check in with guests a few days in advance. Make sure they’re still willing to bring their dish and a blanket of their own.
    8. Provide the basics. In addition to your own dish, consider providing a starter set of wine, beer, and soft drinks to get the party started. Get to the location early to stake out your picnic spot, and to help guests feel comfortable as they arrive. If you have a cooler, stock it with ice so drinks can chill right away.
    9. Bring clean up supplies. Don’t let leftovers go to waste! Ask guests to bring reusable containers to take home leftovers. Bring trash and recycling bags to corral waste at the end of the party.

Looking for picnic recipe inspiration? Try one of these potluck-friendly recipes:

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