Giveaway: Handmade Gatherings by Ashley English

handmade gatherings cover

I have long been of the believe that when it comes to entertaining, people break down into just two groups. There are the dinner party people and potluck people. The dinner party folk like to have a certain amount of control over the menu and flow of the evening, whereas potluck people are fully content to put out a stack of plates and just see what happens.

handmade gatherings interior

However, with her new book, Handmade Gatherings, Ashley English offers up a middle way. With 16 seasonal gatherings, including recipes and crafts, these festive events give the dinner party people some structure while encouraging them to involve their guests in the process. For the potluck people among us, the book serves as encouragement to up the game ever so slightly.

handmade gatherings cake walk

Ashley opens the book with a little peek into her own entertaining history and then offers some insight about how to communicate with your guests, how to pick a location, and how to plan so that no one goes hungry (always have a back-up plan!). She also offers useful instruction on how to be a good guest, including a most helpful reminder to bring a serving utensil with your dish.

handmade gatherings canning

Because the parties are seasonally grounded, you’ll find things like egg-centric events, canning afternoons, ice cream socials, and even cookie swaps. The recipes, activities, and crafts are delicious, engaging, and fun (and manage never to cross the line into overly cutesy territory).

handmade gatherings morocco

What I find so nice about this book is that it is written so that every reader can take what they need from it. Some folks will recreate Ashley’s parties down to the very last dish, while others will use it for the inspiration it has to offer. I do like an entertaining book that adapts to the reader.

handmade gatherings spine

Thanks to Ashley and the team at Roost Books, I have one copy of Handmade Gatherings to give away. Here’s how to enter!

  • Leave a comment on this post and share a tale of a favorite party or potluck
  • Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 12, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 13, 2014
  • Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  • One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review and photography purposes. All opinions remain entirely my own. 

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314 Responses to Giveaway: Handmade Gatherings by Ashley English

  1. 1
    Donna B. says:

    This last Easter was such a wonderful gathering. It was finally spring and time to break out all of our favorite foods. Strawberry shortcake and Lemon curd. We love Jalapeno pepper jelly over a brick of cream cheese. It is a great fresh tasting appetizer. Family, friends, food and a wonderful reason to celebrate.

  2. 2
    Jenny says:

    We love Thai food so will do Thai cooking parties with the family. My husband and brother-I in-law man the grill to make satay and grilled salmon with Thiai spices. My nieces roll fresh rolls. I make tofu vegetable curry for the vegans. My sister-in-law makes rice and sets the table. I make marinated cukes ahead. We have sorbet and ginger cookies for dessert and everyone helps with cleanup. Scrumptious dinner and everyone has contributed, no one is overloaded!

  3. 3
    Jan Scholl says:

    I haven’t done parties in a long time. It always seemed everyone got plastered. So hoping I can do a party for the grand kids (two more on the way very soon…twin girls). I have been amassing some delish vegan recipes, so hoping everyone can deal with that.

    • 3.1
      Karen says:

      My favorite potluck is always my annual family reunion, which I will be attending this weekend! Everyone brings at least one thing, & there are both repeat favorite diahes and new things to try while enjoying the company of family. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. 4
    Karen says:

    I’m not sure why my comment went below someone else’s, but I’d like to be entered to win, so I’m trying again: My favorite potluck is always my annual family reunion, which I will be attending this weekend! Everyone brings at least one thing, & there are both repeat favorite diahes and new things to try while enjoying the company of family. Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. 5
    Sue says:

    My most memorable Potluck was the time I was supposed to bring the Thanksgiving turkey, and decided there should be dressing and mashed potatoes were in order, as no one had volunteered to make those.
    As the days before the event got closer, one person’s stove broke down, two other people had to bow out due to emergencies. I wound up bringing Turkey, dressing, potatoes, a vegetable dish, and home baked bread. In essence, I made dinner for 12 people!
    This looks like an interesting book. I would love to have one!

  6. 6
    Jackie says:

    When I was married, we started hosting a yearly open house on Christmas Eve. I loved doing it, friends and family came and lingered. I miss that and think its time to get it going again in my new life. Thanks for reminding me, I’d love to read Ashley’s book – looks perfect.

  7. 7
    ColleenB.~Texas says:

    Most memorable Potluck is when we would have our neighborhood gatherings on or around the 4th of July. One year over $3000.00 dollars was spent just on fireworks. It was an enjoyable time for everyone.
    I love to entertain so I hope to be lucky enough to win this book. Looks absolutely awesome with many wonderful ideas I’m sure. See the picture of the cake stands really caught my eye.
    Thank you for this wonderful giveaway opportunity.

    • 7.1
      ColleenB.~Texas says:

      ” Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 22, 2014″ Oh, by the way June 22nd is past and the 22nd of July is on a Tuesday. :}

  8. 8
    Sarah says:

    Just had a fun picnic over the weekend……homemade ice cream and black raspberry pie to top it all off and canoe rides for the kids on our tiny pond!

  9. 9
    Amy L says:

    One year for my birthday my husband made a bake-your-own-oyster bar using our Raclette machine & a huge array of toppings. We live on the Gulf of Mexico so the oysters were fresh and delicious and everyone thought it was brilliant!

  10. 10
    Charlene says:

    We have an adult only party early in December and tell everyone to just bring themselves but our friends and family are great. They never come empty handed and we add everything to the buffet and it’s wonderful. I think the book looks like a fun book to have and read.

  11. 11
    Marian Allen says:

    My favorite gathering was always Easter – spring is my fave season. It would be family and old and new friends. We had a lot of Polish traditions – baking the egg bread (so much easier now that I have chickens, takes 9 eggs!) Hard boiled egg fights, dyeing eggs with onion skins. So many happy memories.

  12. 12
    Terri says:

    Once a month on the 3rd Thursday evening, eight of us gather to eat a light dinner and catch up on life. We call it a hen party. And years went by before we allowed the roosters to join us. We’ve been meeting like this for 30ish years. Our common bond? Church choir. A lot of life has been lived between all of us: weddings, babies, divorces, retirements. But we still meet, every 3rd Thursday.

  13. 13
    Emma says:

    Thanksgiving is always a wonderful potluck! We all bring things and make dinner together in my sister’s kitchen. One year after my sister had just moved into her house (which was her in-laws) another sister went through one of the closets and found this coat that made her look like the abominable snowman. We have a great picture of her looking crazy.

  14. 14
    Kat says:

    We have a big group of friends that gets together one early Dec weekend each year to celebrate Thanksmas. Turkey, Yankee swap, sometimes football, usually a campfire and always the best weekend of the year.

  15. 15
    Joy says:

    I adore her books!

    We host dinner for an ever changing group of our friends once a week and I’m always looking for inspiration.

  16. 16
    Laura W says:

    My favorite gathering was a Texas party we had to celebrate living in Texas for a whole year. We made a cake shaped like Texas, complete with cacti and Lego cowboys. It was so much fun!

  17. 17
    RC says:

    Favorite potlucks are the Master Naturalist summer picnic in August and holiday party in December. Some of the members are awesome cooks, but what makes these so memorable are the things people bring for the raffle. We have one member who removes alien invasive plants from parks; he makes preserves from the berries of the invasive Autumn Olive plant. Below are links to more info, including recipes.

  18. 18
    Michele says:

    I love to cook and have people over to eat, mostly casual family meals. My best party was my 29th birthday, some time ago. We made chili and related dishes, and some people brought other chilis. It was a big crowd and a lot of fun, the apartment all decorated with candles and flowers. Ashley’s book sounds appealing.

  19. 19
    Robin says:

    My daughter hosts Sunday Dinner most Sunday nights with three families (and, luckily, my husband and I!)-and always a scraggler or two. She prepares the main dish and we bring the rest. I usually bring some sort of salad and an appetizer, sometimes dessert. We spend a lot of time discussing the recipes we want to try-this book would bring inspiration to our gatherings.

  20. 20
    Leanna says:

    Several years ago we did a low country boil – and it has become a hit with our family. We try to do it several times a summer and invite folks in who have never done it before. In a few weeks we are planning to do it with our small church group. Such a fun party!

  21. 21
    Katherine says:

    My family has recently started switching up our family dinners, and now each one features a special ethnic cuisine. This has only just begun, but so far we have done Sichaun, Japanese, and Mexican meals. My favorite so far has been Sichuan! Everyone brings a dish or two of the cuisine that they love and/or are interested in learning to cook, and we all share. It’s a fun experience!

  22. 22
    Sarah says:

    A January 1st hootenanny, co-hosted with a good friend and neighbor. It included good friends, delicious food, and music. A wonderful way to celebrate the new year!

  23. 23
    Roze says:

    I had a wonderful potluck marriage celebration here in PA for my wife and I back in October 2013 (we got married 12/29/12 in Maine on the day same-sex marriage became legal there) which was inspired by your own wedding reception of asking everyone to bring something special to share!

    It was amazing to look at the 32-feet of buffet table (YES! Four 8-foot tables) and see how beautiful all our relatives and friends dressed up their delicious company-worthy dishes for our day! Sadly, we were much too busy to taste each one, but the compliments we heard from folks was a clear indication that we come from and hang with awesome cooks and bakers!

  24. 24
    Debbie S says:

    Thanksgiving dinners are always potluck here. I plan the menu and generally have the same dishes, but then always serve from my kitchen island for ease.

  25. 25
    Cate says:

    My mother-in-law used to do daycare years ago and every year since she stopped all of the kids that she used to watch get together to go camping for a week. There is always a theme and everyone bring their best dishes so it is a week-long potluck of homemade canned goods, recipes, etc.
    It’s the highlight of our summer!
    It’s pretty neat to see these kids all grown up and bringing their kids, including my husband and I.

  26. 26

    My favorite potluck ever was a Progressive Dinner a church I attended did one winter. It was really fun to see everyone’s houses.

  27. 27
    Stephanie Dettlo says:

    I have friends who gather for potluck every Friday…more like family…this book will be a great addition to the mix.

  28. 28
    Bridgit says:

    Years ago, when several high school friends (plus several new ones) had returned from college and lived near one another in town, we had a progressive dinner. It was December, and instead of driving from house to house, we walked and caroled. We had been friends so long, I had forgotten it was theater and music that had brought us together in the first place, and our singing was festive and beautiful as you could imagine. I also claim it was the day that convinced my now husband that he was going to do something about his crush on me, and less than 2 weeks later we (and another now married couple) started dating and have rarely spent a day apart since then. Thanks for asking me to remember such a beautiful night.

  29. 29
    Tammy B. says:

    My favorite potluck has always been when I gather with my friends on a Friday night to usher in the Sabbath. Everyone brings something and I bake the Challah!

  30. 30
    Angie says:

    Our Christmases are always potluck but just finger food, it’s the best!

  31. 31
    Heather says:

    I love our Christmas eve tradition of lots of snackies, favorite dips and such. We used to do a big meal too, but everyone just really wanted the appetizers, so now we do that and it is perfect!

    Except the one year my sister’s dog jumped up on the table and started scarfing down all the good stuff…that was just hilarious!

  32. 32
    Amy Donovan says:

    I have the fondest memories of the potluck dinners I attended w/ my dear departed Mother at the San Antonio Herb Society feasts. There was always lots of herb themed yummies. 🙂

  33. 33
    Kel says:

    It will always be 4th of July – a tradition in our family – bbq, homemade ice cream, and fireworks.

  34. 34
    Janet Mack says:

    A few years ago 2 of my friends and I auctioned off a dinner at our church yard sale. The winner got dinner for 6 cooked and served at their home. It was so much fun, every body had a blast.

  35. 35
    robin says:

    I love to host a brunch for my friends several times a year. We do it potluck style and it usally lasts all day while we catch up, eat and knit. Lots of fun!

  36. 36
    Haley P says:

    While camping with family on our last night at the campground we all brought out our leftovers and had a pot luck meal.

  37. 37
    Bradley says:

    Being a part of two student organizations that focus largely on food, I attend potlucks and community meals almost weekly. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but the most recent was a small gathering of six at our own garden. I brought most of the food, including a from-scratch pie with a sourdough crust and berries from around the garden! Potlucks and community meals are the highlights of my weeks; I love the sense of accomplishment, camaraderie, and fulfillment.

  38. 38
    Kristen says:

    Favorite potluck is just about anything with friends and family. We love the ‘small bites’ / tapas theme – you get to enjoy lots of things without the overabundance of a large ‘scoop’ of something!

  39. 39
    Leslie Pringle says:

    My all time favorite gathering is Thanksgiving. I so enjoy fall and making a huge dinner for everyone. This is the time I break out my “corn chow” relish, apple sauce and fruit compotes that I canned during summer.

  40. 40
    Sophia says:

    Would love to get into this book !!

  41. 41

    Lunches at the farm:
    Recently we have having farm lunches. We get there early clean up the never tidy tent area, set up the tables with eclectic and bright table cloths, we go out into the fields around and cut fresh flowers and herbs and pick baskets snack produce (i.e. snap peas, strawberries, blackberries, etc.) to adorn the tables. One time we grilled fish that someone had caught that morning! someone always bakes bread and brings it over still warm! there are endless salads and produce from the farm. One thing we have done on a number of occasions is have a trade table, items that people make and sell but would be willing to trade for other items or farm produce, it has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to the next one! It is open to all and any, so while we have some regulars, the gatherings are very dynamic with new faces every time!

  42. 42
    Courtney says:

    I am always looking for inspiration for hosting get togethers! I like both potluck stress free evenings with freinds, as well as dinner parties to try new recipes! This book look very cool!!

  43. 43
    Nancy says:

    Every summer, we rent cabins at a state park with a bunch of friends. Each and every night (for a week!), we share potluck dinner. So good! (Thanks for the giveaway. The book photos are gorgeous.)

  44. 44
    Diane Lindsay says:

    Holidays of course are the best for sharing homemade goodies…..we all have or little experiments during the year and at Christmas we share them.

  45. 45
    J says:

    We just had a vegetarian grilling potluck with all kinds of grilled veggies, grilled caprese skewers, grilled street corn, and cauliflower burgers…it was awesome.

  46. 46
    Linda says:

    Fun comments! My husband and I recently served a Royal Tea (“Royal” means champagne is included) for some beloved friends, and one friend sat next to the corn plants lining the patio. The corn fronds curled over her head and shoulders–she looked like a 70-year-old Corn Maiden.

  47. 47
    Angie Allen says:

    One dreary February when we were sure Spring was never coming, I posted an event on Facebook for a Chocolate Potluck. Everyone was to bring a dish containing chocolate and a copy of the recipe to share. I cast the invite to a pretty wide net and didn’t know if anyone would come, but they did! We had a great time eating and talking and friends from different parts of my life (work, church and family) got to meet each other. Thanks for your excellent blog; I enjoy it so much. This lovely book would look so nice next to your two that I already have!

  48. 48
    beth e says:

    the best part of the potluck with our family is that someone always brings a dish of pudding pie with graham cracker crust and whipped topping. i don’t have the recipe or even want it because it is so good to eat and so bad for you. aaaahhhhh!!!!!

  49. 49
    Karen D. says:

    We have an annual after Christmas sledding party where everyone brings their leftovers and eats and sleds. It’s usually a lot of fun and a low stress gathering after the craziness of the holiday!

  50. 50
    Amy says:

    I have mid-week potlucks twice a month. You never know who is going to show up, but it always is a fun time, whether 5 or 15 people. Most of my friends are involved in local foods somehow, so the food is always super fresh and delicious!