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In my circles, we often do potlucks. That way the work is spread around, nobody has a ton of work to do, so it doesn't seem daunting and we get together more often!

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I found this all amusing....I did have a thought while I read about BYOB.....the hostess could make and supply labels
that can be hung on bottles...card stock with twine glued on
the back. Invite the guests to label their drink with their name. Everyone will get the idea that not everyone wants to share a good bottle of wine with people who use box wine....
Guess I am a wine snob.....but I would not be offended if a bottle was labeled.
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When I read the article, I was puzzled: Why would anyone do a potluck with awful people who have bad manners? You want to socialize with them?

Then I read the comments - neighbors, people at work, people at church, and oh, yeah, that side of the family.

I think I'm lucky that in my family people are good cooks and love to pitch in, so family potlucks work out well in general. Usually a 'theme cuisine' is announced: Mexican, Italian, All-American Cookout, Cioppino Night, Indian - whatever. Then people can decide what type of dish they want to make that complements the type of food in general.

I can understand a 'Little Potluck on the Prairie' having real 'pot luck' because people couldn't contact each other and ask, 'What are you bringing?' and you had to just accept that someone had a couple of chickens to offer and someone had beans and someone had only a big bucket of ripe apples. But nowadays, when it's so easy to coordinate via email, it's easy to pull together a really great meal without getting too many salads/ desserts/ cooked vegetables, etc.

As for 'where's the luck' in 'dictating' who brings what, there is still choice of the part of the meal you want to bring and there's still choice in the recipe or cooking method and ingredients you'll use. It allows people to choose to prepare something they've always wanted to make, or the 'special-occasion-spectacular' or an old, reliable and always-welcome favorite, while still ending up with a nice, well-rounded meal and a variety of dishes.

When it comes to preparing a dish 'on site,' in my family there's usually only one or two people who ever have to do some last-minute preparing. They warn in advance of exactly what they'll need in the kitchen, how long it will take and so on - and of course, they are providing something that is going to be GREAT and worth letting them have run of the kitchen, so that's not a problem.

As for a potluck with good friends... D-Day would be easier to organize. We've got one celiacs, one gluten-free for serious health reasons, two vegans, one vegetarian, one lactose-free, one peanut-free, one who will not eat anything microwaved, another with IBS who can't eat pepper or other 'hot' spices... Great people, but sometimes it's just better to go bowling.

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