Why Am I Just Discovering Potluck Dinners?

Recently, after a couple months of extra busy work and parenting, I was missing my female friends. So, I had an idea: I’d throw a dinner party! The only catch was…

…as the evening of the party approached, Anton needed extra coddling with his start of kindergarten, Toby asked for homework help (NEW MATH GUYS), a last-minute deadline came up at work, Alex announced a business trip, and suddenly I wondered: how could I squeeze in cleaning, shopping and cooking a yummy dinner for five people? Would I have to cancel? Should we just order pizza? Is this what modern life had come to?

Then, like the clouds parting above, a text came through from my friend.

“What can I bring?”

Another piped up: “Me, too? Please assign?”

Then a third. Then a fourth.

These women had somehow read my mind. Normally I might have declined their sweet offers, but then I thought, why? They were asking, and as a guest I actually really like having a task to do. It makes an evening feel even more fun and friendly.

So, I replied: “That would be amazing, if you’re up for it! Liz, want to bring your famous salad? Erin, would you ever be up for bringing something to munch on at the start?”

In the next five minutes, dessert and bread were also covered, and of course I would handle the wine and main course.

All day that Thursday, I was thrilled. Instead of running around, shopping and chopping, we were all able to go about our regular schedules and easily assemble our course at the last minute.

Here’s how it shook out:

Why Am I Just Discovering Potluck Dinners?

Erin’s appetizer: heirloom tomatoes, burrata and edible flowers because she’s a genius.

Why Am I Just Discovering Potluck Dinners?

Liz’s famous salad is simply arugula with her amazing dressing. “It’s the only way I can eat greens at home: lettuce + dressing,” she says. “I don’t have any exact measurements, but it’s basically a good amount of olive oil and champagne vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, 1-2 minced garlic cloves, a little dijon, a little mayo, salt and pepper. Dress generously right before eating.” How delicious is that? “My son Griffin loves it, too, so I can put it in his lunch, which is a lunchbox miracle.”

Why Am I Just Discovering Potluck Dinners?

My contribution was pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes, plus cold white wine; and Gisela had a painting class beforehand so she just showed up with braid inspiration and funny stories. :)

Why Am I Just Discovering Potluck Dinners?

Finally, Linsey’s dessert = two pints of yummy ice cream.

It couldn’t have been easier! Now I’m totally sold on potlucks for busy evenings when you just want to HANG. I know potlucks have been around since the dawn of time for school functions and church celebrations and family reunions, but somehow this happy accident Thursday-night-with-female-friends potluck felt just right, too.

What about you? Do you already do potlucks? Any tips or go-to dishes?

P.S. Trader Joe’s hacks, and hosting an articles club.