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How to Plan a Successful Holiday Potluck: Feature of the Month by Jennifer DeVaughn

DeVaughn Charles Event Planning

The holiday season is here! That means apple cider, holiday decorations, loads of food and some extra quality time with friends and family. Some people spend their quality time  dressing up and heading out to holiday parties and some cozy up at home. What do you do if you want elements of both scenarios? Well you do what I did; Host a stylish holiday potluck. I co-founded a Wedding and Event Planning company, DeVaughnCharles Premier Events, and we sometimes host events for our own friends and family. Last month we put together a Friendsgiving for 30 people. While planning to host an occasion for a large amount of people can cause a bit of anxiety there are a few key tips that can keep you from hyperventilating.

Holiday Potluck Decor

1. Keep it Organized

You might think this tip is a given but the important part of this is the “how”. Making the dinner a potluck takes the burden of cooking everything off of your hands but how unfortunate would it be if everyone brought salad? We used Evite for our invitations. In our Evite we included a link to a Google docs sign up sheet where our guests could input the dish they were bringing to avoid duplicates and any allergies they have to prevent any emergencies. I like using this company because it keeps a live track of RSVPs and allows you to send updates to your guests. So just in case you are missing a few RSVPs or dish sign ups you can send out a friendly reminder.

2. Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Now that you have your guest list it’s time to create an experience. I like to brainstorm with my co-founder, Myriam, about our décor ideas and build. It’s amazing how one idea can branch off to several more great ideas just due to one conversation. They may not seem like beautiful ideas at first but it will benefit you to be open-minded. I told Myriam that I wanted to snap some branches off of trees rather than using flowers for centerpieces for our rustic autumn themed dinner. She rolled with the idea and she ended up taking a huge branch from her front yard and texting the picture to me. My first impression was, “That was NOT what I had in mind”. Let me just say when she spray painted that branch gold and placed it in a vase I felt like she just took me to Narnia. It was great and we ended up using it for one of the buffet tables

Tree Branch Centerpiece

Using a Branch as Decor

3. Don’t Go Buying Up the Nearest Craft Store

We are huge on saving money. Instead of just walking down the aisles of AC Moore and Michaels check the dollar store. Our vases were from the dollar store and the arrangements are from Mother Nature (tree branches, berries, pinecones and acorns). I will admit that we did not have the time to pick up that amount of pinecones needed to fill 12 vases so we bought some inexpensive ones on Amazon.

Some of our other décor like the tree stumps and dried flowers were bought from a Pathmark that was going out of business. We weren’t sure if we would find anything good but they knew they had deals!

4. Combine with Game Night!

If you are inviting a lot of guests who have never met then planning a game night after dinner can help keep the party alive. We didn’t know if our friends would hit it off so we had backup. We brought games like Catch Phrase, Cards Against Humanity and downloaded Heads Up on an iPad. If you have ever played these games before then you know they are not too difficult to understand and good for large groups. Especially if you are having wine with dinner you don’t want your guests to think too hard about the rules of the game. Also, don’t pick games that require you to crowd around a board because if you are inviting more than 4 people a lot of people are going to get left out. Plot twist: Our night never reached game night because the conversations and laughs just kept flowing. I was really looking forward to game night but do not, I repeat, DO NOT stop the flow of the night to transition into game night if your guests are already having a great time. You will bring down the energy to set up the games and there may be a chance the energy might not rise to where it was before. Just pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Holiday Party Planning

A huge thank you to my fabulous sorority sister, Jennifer DeVaughn of Devaughn Charles Premiere Events, for sharing these amazing tips for planning the perfect holiday potluck. Are you planning a holiday party this year? What are your tips for making it a success?

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