A coworker just invited me to a party, requesting that I BYOB and bring a course for potluck. Isn’t that a lot to ask of a guest? Also, as a host, should you send your guests home with any uneaten potluck food, or do you keep it?
I take it you’re not from around here? Minnesota is the home of the potluck—we are notorious for this and proud of our potlucks. So much so that a promoter in L.A. hosts a group called “Minneangeles,” where the Minnesotans get together regularly for potlucks and bowling, to make the Minnesotans feel more at home away from home.
The Merriam-Webster definition of “potluck” is: a communal meal to which people bring food to share. And, of course, with the food, you’re going to need booze for the party. I realize you’re thinking to bring both is a bit much to ask, or perhaps you’re feeling strapped for cash. You can bring potluck and BYOB at any level you’re comfortable with. Hell, if you’re lazy/cheap/don’t-feel-like-cooking, bring chips, or a hunk of cheese, or go all out and add dip. You can buy a cheap bottle of wine or a six-pack—anything is appreciated, trust me. The way the co-worker asked might have been a little more blunt than one might hope for—often the best way to ask people is to suggest they bring these things, e.g. “please bring a dish and/or beverages to share, if you feel.”
I will add, it’s good etiquette to bring a bottle or some food, whenever/wherever you’re invited to a get-together in someone’s home. While not expected, this is always appreciated, and I would go as far to say, that it might be bad luck or karma if you come to a home gathering empty-handed.
See, the thing is, we like to have parties to get through the winter, but they can be expensive and a lot of work without the help of friends’ contributions. Every potluck I’ve been too have been really fun, because you get to try many different foods, and learn more about your co-workers and friends by what they like to cook.
Sending your guests home with food is entirely up to you. It is polite to ask them if they want to take some or all of it home. If you really loved that tater tot casserole or apple crisp and don’t want to part with it—just tell them this, and ask if you can keep at least some of it for the next day. The guest bringing the food traditionally doesn’t expect to bring back the leftovers, so they shouldn’t mind if you ask.
Hope this helps, and enjoy the casseroles in your future.