Alan Tabor
Jul 13 · 2 min read

(Editors note: AmalgamatedAmalgamations is a family project aimed at providing hand-holding for building community. We’ll be adding information on recipes, disaster planning, etc. Some will be here but most will be on our website.)

Why potlucks?

Simply: potluck dinners scale. More people showing up = more food. And sharing food and conversation is the keystone tribal/family activity.

Potluck table with attendee Jes, Alex, and Lynn
Potluck table with attendee Jes, Alex, and Lynn

I started organizing potlucks my last few years in college. I’d make a huge pot of beans for veggie burritos. The only rule: no one could take leftovers home. We’d eat for the rest of the week.

Here are the results of decades of learning.

Simplest: Anarchist Potluck

  • Set a day, time, and location.
  • Invite people.
  • Refuse to offer suggestions or coordinate what folks bring.
  • If everyone brings salad, order pizza.

A bit more complex

  • Same as above but…
  • Make a big main dish (stew, pasta, chili, etc) to avoid a possible ‘order pizza’ event.
  • Let folks know what it will be.

If you must —

  • Organize the event.
  • Announce your main dish.
  • Ask for RSVPs with intended contribution.
  • Picking a food theme helps, eg. tacos or Mediterranean.

Things to remember

  • Ask folks to bring beverages.
  • It never hurts to have a stash of bulk paper plates and plasticware in case you exceed your place’s carrying capacity. (Costco is your friend. Get that bag of chips as big as your torso for $5 if you’re worried about appetizers.)
  • Seed someone in the crowd to lead a charge cleaning up by setting an example and enlisting would-be bystanders. Potlucks are DIY group events. Helping to do dishes is a feature not a bug.
  • If someone shows up early have them vacuum.
Potluck table — food
Potluck table — food
Potluck — DIY entertainment
Potluck — DIY entertainment


Build Bridges, Strengthen the Tribe

Alan Tabor

Written by

Berkeley Backpacking Biz Lifer, System Builder, Coder, Community Organizer, Music and Evolutionary Biology Geek. Sign up and my projects at


Build Bridges, Strengthen the Tribe

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