So you’ve decided to have an informal potluck but what method do you use to invite everyone? “If the invitation list isn’t too lengthy, I suggest a phone call first. This always makes the invitation seem more personal,” says Rachel Wagner, licensed corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant and owner of Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol. Follow up with a service like Evite or a mass email, but don’t make this email faux pas when you do. Be sure to include the main dish you are making in the invite and include sign-up options for food and beverages. Offer a variety of potluck ideas besides making a dish; for example, guests who don’t cook can bring desserts from a bakery or beverages and ice.
Jen can’t have wheat…tipwam/Shutterstock
“People with allergies or religious restrictions truly want to just fit in and not have a fuss made over their food restrictions in a group setting. So, you want to be as discreet as possible with this part,” says Wagner. Ask guests about food restrictions ahead of time. As a host, offer to prepare a small dish to accommodate the guest, however, recognize the guest may want to bring her own main dish. “One potluck idea is to print “Contains dairy and wheat” etc., on a small “tent” card made from a halved 3×5 index card and place it next to the dish. You can prepare blank tent cards to have ready for guests bringing food to indicate what allergens, if any, are in the dish. Guests can then determine if the dish is a “safe” choice for themselves or their child,” says Wagner. Tent cards are a fun way to identify the dish, regardless of food allergies and those with food restrictions won’t feel awkward. (Here are seven common food allergy culprits.)