Now that you’ve learned how to organize a potluck, it’s time to pick a fun theme. Your potluck ideas can be tied to a holiday or season, speak to your guests’ interests, or be a whimsical, wacky or fun idea that popped out of your imagination.
Here are a handful of potluck theme ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Tropical or luau
A tropical theme, complete with colorful glasses, plates, napkins, and a tablecloth with tropical birds and flower patterns, can add a burst of joy no matter the weather or time of year. Ask attendees to come dressed up in florals and bright colors.
As for food, consider a tropical salad, shrimp cocktail appetizers and desserts like pineapple upside-down cake. You can put together a fruit platter with bits of pineapple, coconut, mango, and guava or veggie skewers. Don’t forget the bright blue and pink cocktails and tropical slushies!
Money-saving tip: Instead of buying fresh tropical fruit and chopping it up, look for canned versions. They’re less work to prepare and have a longer shelf life.
Come fly with me
This is a perfect, low-cost theme for friends and family members who have been cooped up at home and not traveling as much as they’d like. Pepper the space with decorations of hot air balloons, airplanes and cute messages with a globetrotting vibe.
Ask attendees to bring a signature dish or dessert from their favorite travel spots. You’re bound to have a versatile and unique spread for your guests to enjoy!
Money-saving tip: To save on decor, utensils and the like, scour the free section of Craigslist or put out an ISO (In Search Of) post on your local Buy Nothing group.
For the love of pets
If you’re a pet parent, this is a great theme for fellow dog parents or cat lovers in your life (and even the bird and reptile folks). You can be cute with dog-and-cat-themed decor, cups, napkins and plates. To boost the fun factor, a photo booth with a decorative background and pet-related props could add a fun touch.
Money-saving tip: If pets are invited to partake in the festivities, have some treats for them, too! Homemade goodies might include pumpkin biscuits for pups or a simple catnip toy for cats who have to stay at home (but are partying in spirit). Making these treats for the fur babies can be tasty and inexpensive. You can check out our website or our app for discounts and cash back offers on ingredients and supplies to make your goodies.
Life’s a zoo
For a potluck theme idea that’s fun for the entire family, consider one that features a menagerie of animals. Ask little ones who will be coming to the potluck what their favorite critters are, and use that as a jumping-off point for inspiration for decorations and potluck theme ideas.
For instance, if you’re going for a jungle theme, attendees can bring frosted sugar cookies in the shapes of their favorite jungle animals, monkey cupcakes and a 6-foot hoagie sandwich made to look like a snake.
Money-saving tip: Go DIY with your decorations. Instead of buying animal-themed plates and napkins from an expensive party store, borrow playful animal knick-knacks or toys to decorate the food table.
Grandma’s favorite recipes
Have your friends put on their chefs’ hats and dig through old family recipes. This could be an everyday favorite, a memorable dish shared during special occasions or a family secret recipe that’s only enjoyed on certain holidays. While the food theme for this one will certainly be varied and filled with surprises, make sure to post a sign-up sheet, so you don’t get too many desserts — because who’s going to pass up the opportunity to bake grandma’s famous homemade cookies?
Money-saving tip: While cooking at home already cuts down on the costs of food, for a more budget-friendly potluck, challenge attendees to spend no more than, say, $15 on ingredients.
Gather your eco-friendly pals for a potluck that promotes sustainability. Ask guests to bring their own reusable cutlery, plates, cups and cloth napkins. If possible, dishes for this potluck can be made with organic, seasonal and locally grown or sourced produce and dairy products. You can take things a step further and make it a plant-based potluck. Or, if there are staunch meat-eaters in the group, any dishes that include meat could be free-range.
Money-saving tip: Since you’ll be saving on cups and utensils, this potluck theme idea naturally puts money back in your pocket. If you want to go the extra mile on reducing your carbon footprint, have everyone bring their own reusable food storage containers so they can take leftovers home.
Think outside the box
Of course, these are just a handful of ideas. Potluck theme ideas can be about anything, come from anywhere and have wide appeal or be customized to your social circle. The key is to keep it simple and budget-friendly. The possibilities are endless, really. Get creative and have a fun night!