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Potlucks Suck.

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Re: Potlucks Suck.

  • Except that potlucks are not rude and they aren't breaking etiquette.

    People are organizing them and attending them with the full knowledge that this is a casual event, not a formal, hosted event like a wedding.  No one said potluck wedding receptions were ok.
    Potluck etiquette actually exists, too. I think the confusion here is coming from people thinking that potluck invitations are coming as, "Would you like to come for dinner Saturday? Great! It's potluck!" Instead of, "We're getting together for potluck Saturday, would you like to come?" Big difference there. 
    I agree with that. The former is super rude, the latter I'd say is not.
    DrillSergeantCat
  • julieanne912julieanne912 member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited September 2016
    OK so I'm way late to the party here (har har), but I'm not a potluck fan myself, at least when it comes to my own parties.  I like to cook, and throwing parties is something I LOVE doing.  I like to plan out themed food, etc, so I never do potlucks because the food ends up being super random.  I just had a party this past weekend actually, about 35 people came.  People asked what food they could bring, and I told them nothing.  I planned out a taco bar, along with sides that could go with the taco bar (mexican street corn pasta salad, stuffed mini peppers, queso, chips and salsa).  People still brought stuff, and of course I didn't say a word but I was a bit annoyed, because some of the stuff that was brought didn't really "go" with my food, and when they showed up with it I had to clear off counterspace to make room for the stuff they brought.

    This also was a problem with alcohol that we had last year.  We had a keg of beer, plenty of alcohol and wine.  Everyone still brought tons, and so the stuff we bought didn't get drank and we ended up with tons of extra beer that we were never going to drink.  One guy even started making mint juleps for everyone, using our liquor and the bag of mint (?!) that he brought.  That was pretty annoying too.  

    But, on the flip side, I have no problem attending potlucks.  I get it, some people either don't have the cash, or the ability to put together an entire meal for a large group of people, so I don't mind contributing when asked.  Our party this past weekend probably ended up running us $400 once you add in the alcohol.  That's not something everyone can do, and frankly, I don't want to be the one hosting the parties all the time, even if that means bringing a dish or two to a potluck at someone else's house.
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  • As someone who said that I lean on the side of "it's classist" to hate on potlucks, I'll expand a bit more on that. 
    Not everyone lives anywhere near a museum. That's also not something you do with a large group unless it's a school field trip or vacation tour group. There's no consistency in the US what museums are paid entry and which are donation. Free hours may be when parents have to work. Libraries are only open during business hours and driving to one on a Saturday may mean gas money a family doesn't have. Going to a park for anything more than an hour probably requires snacks and drinks for kids. Sports events require entry fees professionally and for your kids to play you have to pay. Adults have to pay to be in leagues. Having any more than a few people over to watch a movie, again, requires some amount of hosting like popcorn and lemonade.

    There are some seriously poverty-stricken people that do not have easy access to the "free" stuff we all talk about. Are they banned from socializing in big groups because heaven forbid they have a potluck? Every single weekend I run or ride my bike on Chicago's lakefront and there are huge groups of people setting up folding tables and putting out chips and whatnot. Just by observation, you can tell all the adults are bringing elements of whatever's going on those tables while the kids run around with soccer balls. There are people in my city who won't even leave their own homes for fear of being shot. Heaven forbid someone brings over a yellow cake with canned frosting for a child's birthday when the mom working 3 jobs can barely pay the rent.

    So look, you can hate them yourself, not go when invited, and never put the burden of one on your own friends and family. And we all here can agree a wedding should never be potluck. But let's check our privilege that the pleasure of true hosting on whatever random Saturday we please is not something that everyone can do.

    Okay, so 1) I don't think I, or anyone else said people shouldn't socialize in groups because they shouldn't have a potluck. And I have no issue with the event you describe, people coming together with food to be shared an a neutral location. But 2) the same argument you use to explain why movie nights or park with snacks are not feasible for some people, can be used against the exact same scenario you describe above. If you don't have money for popcorn and lemonade, do you have money for a yellow sheet cake or chips/snacks/shared meal? I just don't get the argument that people can't have a movie night but can have a potluck because of money, the costs there aren't substantially different.

    I don't particularly like potlucks, but I'm not going to turn up my nose at an invitation, nor am I going to say no one should have them because I don't like them. If I invite someone to my house for dinner, I'm never going to ask them to bring anything because I have offered to host and that is what I'm going to do. There are many ways to socialize and I think what some of us are arguing here is that when one offers to host a meal (one of many ways to socialize) we find it inappropriate to ask people to contribute (financially or otherwise). There are other ways to socialize (parks, picnics, etc.) where the etiquette of who is in charge/is there a hostess is very different.
    The cost may be comparable, but one is an "extra" and the other is a necessity. Even poor people have to eat meals.  There's no way around it.  But movies and popcorn and lemonade are additional expenses above and beyond the required daily expenditures. 

    Say the family was going to spend $8 on a pot roast, $2 on a head of lettuce, $1 on salad dressing, $2 on bread, and $2 on some potatoes,  for dinner that night.  But instead, they put $15 of ingredients into one large potluck item that everyone can eat.  They are still out the same amount of money and they still get a meal.  If they spend that same $15 on movies and popcorn and lemonade, you still need dinner later.
    But if you're cooking for a family of four that is different than cooking a meal for a potluck which involves many more people than that family of four. Unless you're just taking enough for your own family, which I've never seen at a potluck. 
    But you're not "cooking a meal for a potluck which involves many more people than that family of four."  You are cooking one item for the potluck, in a larger quantity than what your family would use.  So to continue my example above, instead of spreading your money out buying pot roast/lettuce/dressing/bread/potatoes, you ONLY buy the potatoes but you buy $15 worth of them so as to feed potatoes to the whole crowd.
  • DrillSergeantCatDrillSergeantCat Oklahoma City, OK member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer


    But, on the flip side, I have no problem attending potlucks.  I get it, some people either don't have the cash, or the ability to put together an entire meal for a large group of people, so I don't mind contributing when asked.  Our party this past weekend probably ended up running us $400 once you add in the alcohol.  That's not something everyone can do, and frankly, I don't want to be the one hosting the parties all the time, even if that means bringing a dish or two to a potluck at someone else's house.
    I think this is also a point of confusion. It's not about lack of funds for a lot of people (even though I know that's been brought up). For most people, it's just a fun, easy way for everyone to get together. A friend of mine does Baconpalooza every fall. Everyone brings a dish with bacon and whatever they want to drink. It's a fun way to try different recipes that one may never have considered before. 
    PrettyGirlLostbunnyprincess2014SP29


  • But, on the flip side, I have no problem attending potlucks.  I get it, some people either don't have the cash, or the ability to put together an entire meal for a large group of people, so I don't mind contributing when asked.  Our party this past weekend probably ended up running us $400 once you add in the alcohol.  That's not something everyone can do, and frankly, I don't want to be the one hosting the parties all the time, even if that means bringing a dish or two to a potluck at someone else's house.
    I think this is also a point of confusion. It's not about lack of funds for a lot of people (even though I know that's been brought up). For most people, it's just a fun, easy way for everyone to get together. A friend of mine does Baconpalooza every fall. Everyone brings a dish with bacon and whatever they want to drink. It's a fun way to try different recipes that one may never have considered before. 
    Yeah exactly, TBH I think there are very few people who can afford to make a dish for a potluck but can't afford to do literally any other type of socializing available to them. Like we can argue back and forth about that very small group of people and if it's elitist to deny them potlucks or whatever... but that does not apply to the vast majority of potluck-havers. Mostly it's just some people think it's fun and others think it's a hassle.
    DrillSergeantCathellohkb
  • Awesome work potluck:

    I used to work somewhere that had a one-week long potluck for lunch, usually the 1st or 2nd week of December.  If you wanted to participate, you either joined one of the potluck "groups" or were assigned to one.  Each day of the week was a different type of food, ie Italian or Mexican or Christmas Dinner, etc.  Your "group" would be given one of the days and then there would be a brief meeting over "who was bringing what" for that day.  So any individual only needed to bring their dish for the assigned day of their group, but could enjoy the potlucks all week long.  It was a HUGE event and super popular.  So much fun!

    Not so awesome work potluck:

    At my current work place, a small group of us (8-10 people) would have a potluck a couple times a year around holidays.  Since it was a small group, we had our potlucks in an office that two of the participants shared.  We really enjoyed them, but decided to stop doing them because of the "vultures".  Other coworkers who knew we were having a potluck...who would have been more than welcome to bring something/participate but chose not to...yet would swoop in to "hang out" and help themselves.  I'd never seen anything like it.  Talk about super rude potluck etiquette!

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  • Awesome work potluck:

    I used to work somewhere that had a one-week long potluck for lunch, usually the 1st or 2nd week of December.  If you wanted to participate, you either joined one of the potluck "groups" or were assigned to one.  Each day of the week was a different type of food, ie Italian or Mexican or Christmas Dinner, etc.  Your "group" would be given one of the days and then there would be a brief meeting over "who was bringing what" for that day.  So any individual only needed to bring their dish for the assigned day of their group, but could enjoy the potlucks all week long.  It was a HUGE event and super popular.  So much fun!

    Not so awesome work potluck:

    At my current work place, a small group of us (8-10 people) would have a potluck a couple times a year around holidays.  Since it was a small group, we had our potlucks in an office that two of the participants shared.  We really enjoyed them, but decided to stop doing them because of the "vultures".  Other coworkers who knew we were having a potluck...who would have been more than welcome to bring something/participate but chose not to...yet would swoop in to "hang out" and help themselves.  I'd never seen anything like it.  Talk about super rude potluck etiquette!

    Back in my Social Work days in my 20s, the office I worked in had potlucks from time to time.  The same three co-workers would roll their eyes when the email flier went out and refuse to participate...only to swarm the buffet the moment it was ready.  One even- my hand to God - would bring tupperware and make a take-home container before the rest of us made our first plate.  She was well off so it's not like she was sneaking food home to feed her family.  Just tacky. 

    Again I'm in favor of a potluck as long as it's organized and everyone who attends contributes.  I think it was DSCat who raised an excellent point about the phrasing of a potluck invitation; "please come over- oh and it's potluck please bring ___ " is very different than a clear potluck invite from the get-go.

    The whole classist arguement has been interesting.  And although a random person on facebook called me a "liberal elitist" during a fight on a political post yesterday,  :* I definitely don't look down on people choosing to gather in a park or someone's house and everyone brings something.  And I didn't get that vibe from the potluck haters. 

    OurWildKingdomshort+sassy
  • DrillSergeantCatDrillSergeantCat Oklahoma City, OK member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    The bolded is my experience with most potlucks with peers.

    I have a giant family, and when we get together for holidays they organize who brings what. That is an instance where it makes sense to have a potluck.

    Another instance where I think it makes sense is when people like trying new foods from others, and you really make the food a fun portion (like the aforementioned Baconpalooza).

    But a lot of people just do them because they want to have a bunch of people over for dinner but not figure out dinner for everyone. To me, that's lazy. Invite people at a non-mealtime. Like you would for a wedding if you couldn't afford the food.

    I think it's totally fine if multiple people decide "Hey! We should get together for dinner!" and then the option of potluck flows from there. That's also kind of implied in the second wording - some people already jointly decided to get together and cover the food, and you're welcome to join but you'll need to add to the food for there to be enough. But SO OFTEN one person/couple decides "Hey! We want to have people over! Come over! Enjoy our space! But bring your own food!" and so it turns me off to the whole concept.
    I would hate them too if that was my experience!
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Question:  how is a coordinated dinner different than a pot luck?

    My family and friends do both fully hosted and pot-luck/coordinated dinner.  Growing up when everyone had small kids all of the aunts would bring a dish or two.  Now that the kids have kids, we like to host our extended family members in return and host everything.  However, everyone will always show up with an excess of booze to share.  Oftentimes people ask if they can bring something and do.

    It really just depends on the occasion - come over for this random Saturday in July; potluck.  Come celebrate this occasion with us; hosted.


    I'm not saying this is the "be all and end all" for a difference but, for me, it is how it is worded.  I have the perfect example.  I was at a Superbowl party that a friend throws every year...it is always potluck style.  It is not organized, but it is always awesome with a wide variety foods.

    At the party one year, a mutual friend came over to me and invited me to a birthday party (at her house) a couple weeks later, for the guy having the Superbowl party.  She told me it was a crawfish boil and they were asking guests to bring a side and/or some beer.  Sounded great!  I did not side-eye at all.

    However, when I arrived at the party with some eats in tow to share, the same mutual friend pulls me aside and hits me up for $8 (more like $15 in today's money) to help pay for the crawfish.  Now THAT I did side-eye!  Hard!  Because I was told about the potluck ahead of time, but not the money.  If I'd been told about both ahead of time, I wouldn't have side-eyed.  However, I also probably wouldn't have gone.  It wasn't a huge sum, but I was unemployed at the time and it put me in an awkward position because my finances were super tight.  I looked in my wallet and only had $6 anyway.  I gave her the $5 bill and apologized that was all I had.  At least she thanked me and said not to worry about the rest, but it made me feel bad and also made me feel a bit bamboozled.     

    Years ago, I went to a clambake like that. I knew I'd be bringing a dish, which was cool with me. I did *not* know that I would need to chip in money for the clams. I rarely carry cash unless I know I'll need it; it was very fortunate that I had the right amount on me at the time.
    short+sassyPrettyGirlLost
  • There are several ways to contribute food to a potluck party.  One of my favorites is to walk into Sam's Club with my credit card and buy something!  Nobody minds.
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    PrettyGirlLosthellohkb
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