Holiday Potluck Ideas

With all of the holidays approaching, our minds turn to family gatherings and food. Potluck dinners are one of the easiest ways to entertain. My family always did this for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, and even the summer celebrations. That way, no one had the burden of fixing the whole dinner for everyone.

Here are some ideas and suggestions you might want to try if you decide to have a potluck dinner.

holiday potluck ideas


Our family was small, so we didn’t need invitations. But if you are inviting a lot of people, you may want to sent them out. Regular mail or email can be used, or even the phone. Let your guests know when and where the party is, and request that they bring a covered dish.


Traditional holiday meals usually follow a custom meal, such as turkey, stuffing, and the rest. But if you are simply having a get-together, you might want to set a theme. For example, an Italian or Mexican food theme, or favorite winter comfort foods.

Setting Up

The set up for a potluck is really easy. Clear off a table or large counter that has room for plenty of covered dishes. If you have a buffet cabinet, this is perfect. This way everyone can see all of the choices at a glance. Make sure there are plenty of comfortable places for everyone to sit once they have their plates filled.

The Host’s Responsibility

Often the host provides the serving utensils, plates, flatware, and beverages. Of course, you also want to make your own covered dish. Many people also supply easy side dishes or snacks, such as breadsticks or cheese and crackers, as well as a dessert option.


The best part of a potluck is the variety of foods that you can taste and try all at once. You may likely come away with a new dish that you want to try to make yourself. Now may even be the time to try a new recipe that you’ve been wanting to make.

Recipe Swap

After tasting all the different dishes, you can often find great new recipes. You could even ask your guests to bring note cards with their recipe written down and swap recipes. Some hostesses might even type these into a booklet and send to their guests. Or today, with email, send them a PDF compilation of the recipes.


A potluck is economical for everyone involved. You make one or two dishes and get a whole dinner in return. That’s a lot cheaper than going out to eat or cooking the whole meal yourself. And I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that you will eat better than if you went to a restaurant!

Group Fun

Potlucks are a great way to get friends and family involved and talking to each other. They are casual, so people automatically feel more relaxed, especially if they don’t know everyone else. You might even want to play some fun board games afterward.

Here is a recipe for Pumpkin Nut Roll to get you started in case you are asked to bring dessert.

Pumpkin Nut Roll

3 eggs
1 C. sugar
3/4 C. pumpkin
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 C. flour
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. chopped pecans

1 – 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 C. powdered sugar
4 TB. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla


Beat together eggs, sugar, pumpkin and lemon juice. Mix together dry ingredients in separate bowl: flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir until thoroughly blended.

Pour into a well greased 12X18 jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Spread evenly. Top with 1 cup chopped pecans. Bake 15 min. at 350 degrees.

Release cake out on dish towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Roll cake while its hot. Let cool in rolled towel. Unroll to spread with filling and then roll gain tight and freeze.

Slice and serve.

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