Matt Coker | @MatthewSCoker
If you’re a member of a church long enough, the time will come when you are put in charge of the potluck. You don’t want to do the same old thing. You don’t want to phone it in. You want to stand out! You want people to remember your potluck! YOU WANT TO POTLUCK LIKE A PRO!
Well, then you’ll need my 10 Tips to planning the perfect potluck!
Tip #1 - Pick an Awesome Theme
Luaus and Fiestas are great, but so overdone. Frankly, after decades in the church, I avoid any luau or fiesta-themed parties, because if I see one more cardboard palm tree or piñata, I just might go crazy and kill everybody.
Try something edgy, fun, and new! Here are a few suggestions:
Tip #2 - Ask for Delicious Food
No matter the theme, you need to figure out what kind of food this potluck would feature and then, ask for the best.
Church folk will often surprise you by bringing AMAZING food, if you simply ask them to. Pulled pork BBQ, baked spaghetti, plenty of bacon and cheese to go around! The problem is if the cooks in your church family aren't asked to perform, they won’t.
If you say, “Just bring whatever you can,” you’re going to get a lot of half-empty bags of chips and spray cheese.
Tip #3 - Food Needs a Reason
Remember when Gluttony was considered one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”? Isn't it great that we don’t believe that anymore?
The truth is, we all want to eat, but we all feel bad when we do, especially at a potluck full of too many dishes to choose just one.
How do we solve this problem? We give the food a purpose! Use it to introduce a new Missions or Ministry opportunity! Take donations for Youth Camp! ANYTHING to make overeating more holy…
Tip #4 - Cold Food is Nasty Food
I can’t tell you how many times I've bitten into a disgusting ice cold grilled hot dog or lasagna that tastes like it’s fresh out of the fridge.
It doesn't matter if you've been heating these suckers up for hours, once it’s on the table, it cools down quick, and because of chattering and annoyingly slow kids who can’t choose between Doritos or Fritos and consider this option as if they were choosing a college, it could be an hour before everyone has a plate!
Answer: Get your church to invest in hot plates.
Tip #5 - Roll-er Derby
A pack of 12 heat-n-serve rolls isn't going to cut it, people. There are going to be riots and people are going to get hurt.
That’s all I've got to say on the matter.
Tip #6 - Less Ice, Baby
Big drink dispensers full of Lemonade and Tea are a common sight at potlucks. And typically, these dispensers are also filled with ice.
Which means that, in no time at all, these drinks will be watered down. While the tea will do fine, because people add sweetener to it anyhow, the lemonade will start tasting more and more like dishwater.
Keep the ice out of the dispensers. Put it in a bowl and let people ice their own drinks. Keep the lemonade pure and delicious.
Tip #7 - Butter. Salt. Pepper.
If you don’t have salt and pepper shakers and little bowls of butter or margarine on every table in the room, you might as well spit on everyone’s plate too.
When most people cook for folks in bulk, they tend to lighten up the seasoning as to not offend older or more persnickety taste buds.
To some, that means everything will taste like an old boot. Would you eat an old boot? I didn't think so.
Tip #8 - No Weak Sauce
By sauce, I mean coffee. And by weak, I mean decaf. No one wants that with their dessert.
The problem is, when coffee is provided, typically there is the same amount of Regular and Decaf. The Regular runs out fast, leaving what is essentially brown urine for the rest of the coffee lovers.
Do you want people to drink urine, you heartless monster? No? Then at least make twice as much Regular than Decaf.
Tip #9 - Separate Dessert Table
I don’t know what people are thinking when they put the desserts on the same table as the green beans. What happens if some dumb parent lets their 5-year-old serve his own green beans and the spoon shoots them all over the cherry pie?
Plus, people usually put desserts on a separate plate. They can’t carry two, so you’ll have people gumming up the line by coming BACK IN after they put their food down. Then you’ll have gridlock, cold food, and a hungry congregation wondering if God is testing their commitment to this whole “no cussing” thing.
Tip #10 - Finger Lickin’ Good
Many churches provide a main dish themselves just in case you've got a lot of “chip-n-dippers” and not a lot of real food.
Here is a list of foods that never go wrong with a big crowd:
Don’t try some new fancy crap. Stick with the classics and it’ll be a hit.
That’s it folks! That’s all it takes! Follow these 10 tips and they’ll want to make Potluck Planning your permanent gig!
Matt Coker is the Ministry Director of The Back Row. He is married to a beautiful woman he met when they were both in youth group and they have one mischievous son together. Matt collects Funko Pop figures, loves time travel movies, and enjoys exotic jerky meats. You can contact Matt via the contact page or on Twitter at @MatthewSCoker.