Dear Southern Miss,

I like to entertain large groups of people in my home but cooking for a crowd is time consuming and expensive.  I was thinking of having a potluck dinner in order to help alleviate these problems, however, how do I make sure that my guests bring foods that are complimentary to one another?

Reluctant Party Planner

Dear Party Planner,

A potluck dinner is a great idea but the last thing you want to end up with is a mixed up menu!  A potluck dinner requires a certain amount of communication with the guests, clearly outlining your expectations for the party.  In my experience, a potluck works best when the hostess provides the main course and the guests bring the accompaniments.  I would recommend sending an e-mail or making a simple phone call to each guest asking them to bring a salad, bread, a dessert, a vegetable dish, or wine.  Also, make sure to let your guests know what the main course will be as well as how many people are expected to attend.  If you give your guests some direction on what to bring, your meal will be much more cohesive and you won’t end up with awkward combinations of food.  

Happy Potluck!
Southern Miss