Come summer, nobody wants to spend too much time near a stove or an oven. Sure, maybe you’ll pop in a pie or simmer a quick tomato sauce, but summer entertaining is at its most natural when you’re serving things that are fresh and come together quickly—and when everyone at the table lends a hand. Enter the potluck.
Perhaps the easiest—and most communal—way to entertain, a potluck or a picnic in the summer means everyone can bring their favorite salad or slaw, and you can delegate the pie to that one friend who makes really, really great pie.
Here are some tips on how to make them happen—and how to make them easy—whether you’re attending or hosting:
Bring Something That Won’t Wilt
Yes, summer is salad season. No, you shouldn’t bring a bowl of already-dressed red leaf lettuce to that picnic in the park; tender lettuces wilt quickly, and don’t stand up well to the forces of sun and time. If you’re set on bringing a leafy green salad, go for something hardier like kale for a Caesar salad (and bring along a nifty little portable dressing shaker); otherwise, prepare something that will hold up better under a dressing, like a tomato salad or succotash.
If You’re Grilling, Delegate the Rest
When you’re hosting a barbecue, don’t over commit yourself. Take care of the mains—burgers, steaks, seafood—and let your guests bring the sides and sweets. You’ll thank yourself later.
Choose Sturdy Containers That Clean Up Nicely
This is a potluck, after all, so you’ll probably be serving whatever you bring in the container you’re transporting it in. Use something that will look nice on the table and not cause any spills en route, like these Smart Seal Glass Containers. The leak-proof lids will prevent any transportation catastrophes.
Go for Desserts That Are Easy to Eat
Cookies and cookie bars you can eat with your hands are your friends at a potluck (and also much easier when transported in their baking dish). You can never go wrong with a classic chocolate chip cookie, or a bread in a loaf pan with lid. Brownies are crowd-pleasers too, especially these almost guilt-free olive oil ones. Avoid fussy desserts that require special bowls or extra utensils, or anything delicate that might collapse in transit.
Don’t Forget Serving Utensils
This is an easy thing to overlook: when you’re hosting, you forget you don’t own 50 serving spoons, and when you’re bringing something, it can completely slip your mind. So make sure to bring a serving utensil that makes sense for what you’re bringing, or ask your guests to supply their own.