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Food and Nutrition Author: Stratford University Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:11:01 PM

Host a Potluck Dinner This Holiday and Save Time and Money

By Stratford University
Oct 23, 2009 - 1:34:16 PM

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( - FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – As the holidays approach, many people are wondering how to afford hosting their traditional family dinner gathering. Instead of cutting back or skipping it altogether, try something different this year – a potluck. Hosting a holiday potluck is fun, and it still lets you have a great gathering, at a fraction of the cost and time that you would need to invest when doing it all on your own.

“Potlucks are a great way to bring people together without having the burden of just one person having to buy, prepare and serve all the food,” explains Chef Terrell “Tee” Danley, a culinary instructor at Stratford University. “Hosting a potluck puts you more in an organizer’s role and gets other people more involved, making it that much more special in the end.”

People have been hosting potlucks for years, but they don’t always think of them for holiday meals. Now, however, with the economy in the shape it is in, sharing the cost of a holiday gathering is good for everyone involved. To enjoy a great holiday potluck feast, keep these tips in mind:

· Organize. If you organize the event well, everything will turn out well. To organize the potluck, start out by making a list of everyone who will be invited. Then make a list of all the categories of food you will need (e.g., bread, desserts, side dishes, etc.).

· Assign. Once you have completed the initial organization of the details, you can begin inviting guests and assigning what each of them should bring. Rather than tell each person what they have to make, let them choose a category for their contribution. This will give them some flexibility and ensure that you don’t end up with four pies and no side dishes. Keep in mind that, as the host, you should provide a main dish and things like plates and utensils.

· Inform. When designating the dish assignments, remind people to bring serving utensils and discuss the need to keep hot dishes hot and cold dishes cold until serving time. You should also provide general guidelines concerning how big the dish needs to be, such as ‘enough to serve 6-8 people.’

· Ask around. Find out if there are any food allergies or preferences (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, etc.) about which people in the group should be aware. If so, let others know, and have each person write on an index card what their dish is and what the ingredients are. Then you can simply tape it to the dish, freeing people from having to repeatedly recite what is in the dish they prepared. This way, with a minimum of effort, everyone can be fully informed.

· Share. When it is time to clean up, everyone should pitch in and help out. Leftovers should go home with the person that brought them, unless they do not want them. The dishes and utensils each guest brought should also be sent home with them at that time. When everyone leaves, there should be very little left for the host to deal with, in terms of cleanup.

· Be thankful. Having a great holiday meal is more about the joy of being around family and friends than it is about the food. Let your guests know that you appreciate them contributing to make it such a special day.

“Once you have hosted a potluck holiday meal, you will never want to go back to doing all the work yourself,” says Chef Danley. “There are a wealth of benefits to having everyone take part. You will see that they enjoy it more, as well, because they will feel more a part of the whole experience.”

Stratford University’s culinary arts program offers several degrees, including concentrations in baking and pastry arts, as well as advanced culinary arts. Students can also enroll in the advanced culinary arts professional diploma program. In addition, the school offers public, non-degree, one-day culinary courses covering such topics as beginner baking, knife skills, vegetarian cooking and cake decorating, as well as parent-and-child cooking.

About Stratford University:

Stratford University operates campuses in Tysons Corner and Woodbridge. It offers 28 undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Health Sciences, Business Administration, and Information Technology. The degree programs are offered both on campus, as well as online. For more information on Stratford University, please visit

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