Sharing the workload is key.

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potluck salad varieties
Credit: Christopher Testani

Hosting a potluck party is a great way to gather a large group without all of the work falling to the host. When you potluck, the tasks are divided and everyone can contribute. Whether your friends are eager bakers, crafting experts, or have a knack for budgeting, there's a job for everyone. But organizing these types of parties can get a bit chaotic. Avoid the stress of hosting a potluck with these easy-to-follow tips.

Share a Sign-Up Sheet

If your party has more than a half-dozen contributors, tell everyone what you're making, then use an invitation website like punchbowl.com or pingg.com to designate slots for mains, sides, desserts, and so forth. Even the those who aren't keen cooks or bakers can contribute a vegetable platter, cheese board, or pick up desserts from a local bakery. Create additional slots for beverages, so you don't end up with a dozen bottles of red wine and no sparkling water.

Prep Serving Dishes and Utensils

Some guests will arrive with buffet-ready platters and bowls; others may show up with food-storage containers. Have options at the ready so you're not scrambling. Stock up on deli containers or take-out boxes so guests can leave with leftovers, too-there's nothing worse than being left with a fridge full of food that you won't be able to get through. Should the potluck be taking place somewhere other than your own home, be sure you have the right gear for bringing food from your house to the party. This Martha Stewart Collection glass bowl and lid was made for travel. It's durable and airtight en route to a party, and attractive enough for the table once you get there. Give your salad a good shake, and it's showtime.

Initial the Inventory

Keep painters' or masking tape handy so you can mark the underside of dishes, containers, and lids with guests' names. This makes it simple to reunite pieces with their owners at the end of the night. Don't hesitate to put a couple of guests on dish duty, so everyone leaves with a clean platter, too.

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