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. 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. 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. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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. 🙂

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

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

  34. 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.

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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!!

  39. 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.)

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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!

  44. 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!!!!!

  45. 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!

  46. 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!

  47. When I was in graduate school, I had the most amazing group of friends. Being in school, we were low on money. We often traded in Saturday nights out for Saturday nights in… potluck style. My favorite was a brunch that my friend hosted, shortly after fall finals. Everybody brought a dish and we lazily enjoyed the day, that turned into evening The beauty was that this was a very diverse group of friends. We had dishes from different regions, different religions, different lifestyles (i.e. vegan). It was wonderful!

  48. We love doing a dessert buffet for Christmas. Almost everything can be done ahead of time and frozen so we don’t have to spend so much time worrying about the table. With so many functions going on, this is a stress free option.

  49. I love to entertain, especially when I have a theme to play with! One year, I threw my mother a wild west cookout birthday party (she chose the theme), complete with a cowgirl cake & cactus-shaped sugar cookies.

  50. Our current favorite potluck is dessert. Everyone brings a sweet treat to share. It is casual, it is fun, it is delicious!

  51. I fall into both camps – love the dinner parties and feel comfortable with the potlucks. Each fall, my friend Sue and I can quarts and quarts of tomatoes – all day long. She always prepares a simple but delicious lunch for a needed breather in the middle of our tomato project. I bring something from my garden and we share bounties. We’ve talked of expanding our circle; her son often joins us and one year another couple came – the lunch felt like a real celebration of shared food.

  52. I especially love throwing potlucks during the Olympics (or the World cup!) where people are encouraged to bring a dish from a specific country (of their nationality or any other). The offerings are always so varied and delicious!

  53. Had a falafel and mezze dinner party once–everything from scratch, was a ton of work but worth it! I’ve moved more towards potluck style in recent years, though, and I love the idea of a “middle way.”

  54. My oldest son, while in high school and early young-adulthood has fancy dinner parties, where no one has any finances to speak of and makes a huge inexpensive dinner. Yet all the kids glam up in their finest thrift store apparel. What a fun event for them! I enjoy the make-and-do parties; making a batch of jam or hard tack candies for Christmas with my girlfriends. What a wonderful day spent with those I enjoy being with so much! And there is always a variation to the treats we make since their are so many hands stirring the pot.

  55. Christmas 1978. Everyone brought a dish or a bottle of wine and the host cooked a turkey, which caught fire in the oven! An unforgettable meal for sure!

  56. Every year my boyfriend gets a frozen turkey from work at Thanksgiving…needless to say we can’t eat a 20-something pound bird between the two of us. We keep it in his parent’s freezer until say end of January when the rush of the holidays are done, and cook it up with at least a pound of bacon and do a pot luck with all of our friends. We all get so busy at the holidays (in addition to the rest of the year with young families starting, etc) that we usually will go a few months before seeing each other and needless to say it’s rare that we are all in one place at one time. This is the one party of the year that no one says no to. 🙂

  57. Potluck picnic in Central Park that was a joint birthday party for a friend (our birthdays are a day apart). Being surrounded by lovely people and yummy food and an inspiring place.

  58. Years ago, probably about 40, we went to a potluck where everyone brought something that helped make the ‘dish’ we were having for dinner. It was called Chicken Oriental, but am sure it was not anything authentic. The ingredients people brought were things like steamed rice, chicken prepared a certain way, chow mein noodles, chopped onions, chopped celery, shredded coconut, crushed pineapple, slivered almonds…you get the picture. Each person layered the ingredients on their plate as desired. I’ve faithfully kept that recipe in my box because I really enjoyed the meal, but have never made it again. 🙁

  59. miss the informal/potluck neighbor/family cookouts of my childhood…. nobody seems to do that anymore….

  60. I have a fun group of birthday girls, when we get together for our monthly night out, we like to have a pot luck, one time I made sweet rolls and set them on a chair by the coffee table…you guessed it they were sat upon and then when she went to stand up quickly they all stuck to her bottom!!! A good laugh was had by all!!!

  61. Our wedding party was a potluck! We had a small outdoor ceremony with close friends and family and went out to dinner afterwards. The next day we had a party at our house and just listed it as a potluck on the invitations. When getting ready for the afternoon my sister asked, “So, what’s everybody bringing?” I replied, “I don’t know, it’s a potluck.” She just stared at me shaking her head in disbelief. It all worked out great, the food was wonderful!

  62. Graduate school: our group of friends would take turns hosting potlucks. Some would bring the same dish every time (Buffy’s fried rice) others would try some new fancy recipe (Gourmet Magazine was Bert’s favorite source.) We always got razzed because our apartment was so small and everyone was crammed in sitting on the floor.

  63. When I met my husband 39 years ago, he lived in an old historic farm. His parents never had barbeques or family dinners and I always thought, what a waste! Now my husband and I are living here and having the gatherings that this place was made for!

  64. Every year we have a potluck for Christmas Eve in the late afternoon and invite all our relatives we won’t get to see on Christmas Day due to everyone having to visit everyone else. We also invite friends who aren’t able to visit their own families for whatever reason. After dinner we tell stories and play cards . We provide a turkey, everyone else brings all the trimmings. And pies. Lots of pies!

  65. Oh I love Ashley English! One funny party we had recently was a Cheez-its tasting party. We bought all the different flavors and did a taste test and voting. It was really silly but fun. Just so you know….cheddar-jack won.

  66. For at least the last 10 years, a group of my crafty friends and I get together in NH for a craft weekend. And, every year, the food is one of the best parts! It’s sort of a pot luck spread out over the weekend, with lots of crafting and conversation happening in between. Everyone who attends is in charge of 1 meal (I never take breakfast because I don’t want to be responsible for feeding people first thing in the morning), and that’s usually it for the weekend!

    I also love Thanksgiving, when everyone has to bring at least 1 dish and we all sit around and eat and talk and eat some more. We don’t go in for any decorating (which breaks my little craft-loving heart), but I love it just the same!

  67. Our thansgiving is a potluck & everyone brings something that they’ve put a lot into & it’s always delish!

  68. My boyfriend and I just threw a “living in sin” housewarming party… he just moved into my sweet little bungalow to live with me. We had a big hotdog bar and classic American picnic sides, lots of beautiful string lights in mason jars, yard games, and tables built out of pallets. It was so much fun!

  69. A friend of ours has a New Years Eve party every year. He used to go to a local catering place and get a couple pans of lasagne and shrimp for people to munch on while playing billiars, but one year I started “catering” it for him since I love to cook. It turned into a more formal dinner party. I think my favorite one was the year when I did a roast beef tenderloin and au jus with garlic mashed red potatoes and balsamic green beans for 20+ people. My Nesco roaster really came in handy. I also set up wine and cheese pairings and other appetizers, planned out cocktails, and decorated his house. It was so much fun!

  70. My favorite gathering is in November each year when our family gathers to make homemade Lefse. It is my husbands Norweigian heritage that brings us together for this event. My husband and I, our grown children and spouses, and our 7 grandchildren all look forward to this every year. Everyone brings a potluck dish, and it is an all day Lefse making party. We have since added apple pressing from our Apple trees to the gathering. Such a fun gathering.

  71. My favorite party would have to be the Ball canning party a friend of mine had. I learned a lot about canning that day. It was so fun! I was hooked after that.

  72. I just recently bought a pizza oven! I am thoroughly enjoying the parties we have been have around ‘the oven’. I supply the dough and everyone get to make their own pizzas!

  73. I like to host a potluck around an international/cultural theme, like a religious holiday or a certain country, and have everyone bring something in line with that. Those who don’t bring a dish are asked to bring a story or bit of trivia about the theme. That way, everyone not only gets to eat/drink something new, but we all learn something new in the process.

  74. I actually have never hosted a dinner party, but want to once we have the space. Within the year I hope! I would be thrilled to have this book for inspiration. Thank you for sharing!

  75. When my children were school aged, we, along with my sister’s family, would always gather at the lake for cookouts and picnics. Somethings remained the same food staples, but I always liked to sneak in something new to try. Miss those days……

  76. My girlfriends and I make it a point to get together at someone’s house for dinner once a week. The hostess will usually cook the main dish and everyone else brings a side or dessert. Tonight I am bringing some cornbread over to my friend’s house and she is making chicken chili.

  77. Any fourth of July event with the Sivyer’s. It’s a blessing to share a meal with a large family. 🙂

  78. Years ago I bought a sushi recipe book & some supplies (rolling mat, sushi plates, etc.). I was single at the time & lived alone, so I rarely went to all the trouble & expense to make sushi just for myself. A number of my colleagues & friends also loved sushi, so I hosted a sushi potluck. I made the sushi rice, had the nori (seaweed wrappers), the gari (pickled ginger), wasabi & some of the fish & veggies. Everyone else brought some fish & we had a wonderful assortment of ingredients & all had a go at making the sushi. We had great fun while eating a memorable & delicious meal.

  79. I threw a turn-of-the-century tea party for my niece’s baby shower last year. Flowers, big hats, tea cakes and tiny sandwiches. The ladies had so much few they didn’t want to leave. LOL

  80. Two apartments ago, we had a back-of-the-house kitchen and a small backyard, so we set up tables in the back yard and threw a summer dinner party with delicious seasonal treats and sat outside watching the fireflies while eating tasty food. It was delightful!

  81. We always have a big dinner party for Winter Solstice. Slow cooked meats all day in the crock pot, root veggies, and plenty of hot cider. It is usually an informal party with everyone sitting around the bonfire and sharing stories of the past year and wishes for the next one.

  82. I guess that I would have to say my most memorable potluck was at my wedding. My husband comes from a large family and for the reception potluck dishes is what they would do. Of course we didn’t really ever get a chance to sit down and eat however I do distinctly remember our best man standing beside me and feeding me macaroni salad so I would at least get a little something to eat.

  83. I am a grad student and each year there are many of us that can’t make it home for Thanksgiving. Enter: the Annual Orphan Thanksgiving and Pie Competition! Most of the time, we were all so full from dinner that all we could manage was a tiny nibble from each pie on which to base our votes to select a winner. I have such fond (and tasty) memories of these parties from which I’ve formed lasting friendships.

  84. Our first party post-baby. He was teething, and my plan to put him to bed quickly and get back to the guests went horribly awry. Thankfully, Grandma and Grandpa had decided to come up at the last minute and were happy to help with Mr. Fussy.

  85. We used to get together with neighbors weekly for a “Survivor” viewing and potluck – the most memorable was “bowl of cerial night”.

  86. Every party we throw is a pot luck – I once tried to throw a party that wasn’t and every last guest walked through the door with something saying, “We know you didn’t really mean it”. That was how I ended up with three birthday cakes that year.

  87. I love both potlucks and dinner parties. I had a Midsummer Thanksgiving this year, on summer solstice I grilled a turkey and did a summer spin on Thanksgiving food. It was super fun!

  88. My favorite potlucks are through our community outreach. There is a free clothing closet at the Hope House that provides clothing, tp, personal needs products, sometimes furniture, whatever the community has to donate. Every August we gather school supplies as they are quite expensive when you have to purchase the whole long list. We have a community potluck, with a bounce house and provide the supplies. Our outreach is without expectation or sermon. It is just gift, and relationships. I really enjoy the monthly summer block parties as we call them.

  89. I recently had a backyard dinner party potluck style to celebrate the summer solstice. We put up a screen tent to protect against the bugs and let the wine flow. My favorite part was playing party games such as “if you could have one super hero power what would it be and why?” It was great fun learning everyone’s answers

  90. On my dads side of the family all gatherings are pot luck. When Grandma was alive she always made a HUGE batch of Frog Eye Salad…I have no idea what it is really called but that is what she called it. Grandma has been gone 9 yrs now but My aunts have picked up the tradition and this 4th of July weekend family gathering was complete with Grandma’s salad. Funny how one food can become a tradition for a family…memories…keeping memories alive.

  91. Would love a copy of this, looks so beautiful! No specific event comes to mind, but potluck is so much a part of my community that any party becomes one, it’s fabulous!

  92. Your blog always reminds me of one of my favorite annual parties… Canapalooza! We start a week prior by choosing recipes. then early in the weekend with a trip to the farmer’s market. Everyone brings a potluck dish to keep us sustained (as well as their own jars), and we can all weekend. Great harvest time fun!

  93. I’m a big fan of potluck picnics in the summers. Or just a bring your own everything picnic (cups, plates, drinks, etc.), that always works too!

  94. I remember when I was in college my friends and I would have weekly dinners and it was my turn to cook. For some reason I decided to try a brand new recipe. I don’t know how but everything turned out amazingly. The food was delicious, the company was great. Couldnt have asked for a better evening. I think my friends and I will have to bring that tradition back.

  95. Back when my husband was still in school, we would host potlucks where each person would bring an ingredient and then together we would make the meal! They were so fun and it was a great way to entertain in our extreme poverty of the time! We would still do that but all those dear friends have moved to greener pastures. I bet this book would be a great way to inspire us to start getting our entertaining together again!

  96. My favorite potluck is not one I can attend anymore as it happens back in Kansas City. Anyway, at the law school where my mom works (and I used to work), during the week of Thanksgiving, a day is designated for the law school’s Thanksgiving where staff, students, and faculty bring in dishes and the school family all celebrate together.

  97. One of my favorite potluck parties was a themed salad bar. The host provided various lettuces and grains as a base and the guests were asked to bring toppings ranging from favorite proteins, nuts, grilled veggies and seasonal fruits, homemade dressings. It was such a fun night making various combinations!

  98. My favorite dinner party was a barbecue pizza party. We provided the personal sized dough balls and a variety of toppings. (along with beverages and salads) We did this on our patio near the barbecue. Everyone – kids and adults alike had to stretch or toss their own pizzas and top them. We helped with the cooking. It was so much fun with lots of laughter and great food.

  99. My favorite get together was a book club party during the winter. We had different soups, homemade breads and desserts. It was so cozy and fun!

  100. I love potlucks!!! I think some of the very best meals i have had have been potlucks, or family get togethers where we all bring a dish or 2 to share!!! And i love how you get to keep going back for more!!!

  101. My husband and i host a crawfish boil/bbq that gets bigger and bigger every year as we make new friends and friends bring others.

  102. I just had my son’s first birthday party in our backyard. I usually stress about the food so much but I decided to just let it go and grill hot dogs and buy some pre made sides! Everyone loved it and I got to enjoy the party and our wonderful party so much!

  103. We host a neighborhood dinner once a month. Everyone pitches in and we have a lovely time. Pizza, sushi, ramen, fondue, all awesome and in August breakfast!

  104. My favorite party was my wedding because it was beautiful, outside, casual, had great food and everyone seemed to have a great time.

  105. I love to have build your own taco or pizza gatherings. Make homemade from scratch margaritas or wine slushies…enjoy a bonfire with s’mores or brownies. People together celebrating life is beautiful.

  106. We do pot luck style parties with friends all summer and this would be a great addition to the planning and ideas department!

  107. family gatherings often involve potluck – that’s when i can experiment with recipes and i have a captive test group of eaters! LOL

  108. My favorite party was a family dinner party with the whoooole family (my hubby is Italian and Polish, so that is a LOT of people). The adults wanted something a bit more exotic to eat, but we have a lot of kids in the family, so I volunteered to put together what I called “McMom’s Meals” for all the kids. I decorated brown lunch bags and filled them with homemade chicken tenders, baked French fries, a little cup of fruit salad (mostly apples and peaches, because that’s what was ripe in the yard), a homemade cookie, and a small toy. They were a bigger hit than the fancy adult meal! (Sorry, Mom!) 🙂

  109. This sounds perfect for our large family–to create some structure when we get together, and spreading the work.

  110. It’s always tough getting people together. I love when a gathering of good people and food happens and it’s low stress and casual. I recently went to a BBQ with my friends family like that.

  111. Every year my husband and I have a Christmas party with out friends and family. It is one thing that I look forward to doing so much that I begin planing months ahead. There is something so special about having those you love all under one roof. Probably one of my favorite things about our party is to see the new relationships that we have made in the past year and see how our friendships change year to year as people move away and new friends come. Always special to have new and old friends together!

  112. I must say that I’m dying for a copy of this book! I love entertaining and we frequently have potluck a AND controlled dinner parties. One of my favorites was a few years ago when we had a Paula Deen themed southern dinner party where everything I made was from her cookbooks (no processed food dishes – I carefully selected from-scratch dishes). It was a huge hit – it was before the whole diabetes and racism scandals lol.

  113. One of my favorite party memories is a build-your-own grilled pizza party with a few friends. Guests contributed salad and dessert while we provided the pizza fixings and drinks. It was a warm summer evening with laughter, sipping chilled rose and Arnold Palmers, diving into cheesy pizzas fresh off the grill, and lingering outside in the backyard over empty plates!

  114. My extended family doesn’t get together anymore, but in the past there were occasional family reunions centered around my great-grandma’s birthday (she lived to 102!). I was too young to contribute to the meal, and embarrassingly picky to boot, but I still remember the grilled shishkebabs and Jell-o salads and wish I could recreate those sunny family gatherings.

  115. So many great memories of potlucks growing up. I remember many summer evenings sitting on the red-white-and-blue quilt my mom made, in our yard or a neighbor’s yard, spitting watermelon seeds, eating corn on the cob from my dad’s garden, and always going back to the table for more.

  116. One of my favorite parties was a St. Patrick’s Day shindig I threw. I had about 12 guests and provided food and drink on a reasonable budget. I tried some new recipes (I usually don’t do that without testing!) and they turned out great. All the food was gone and everyone had a good time.

  117. I just attended a sweet, backyard potluck wedding. The couple said their vows before most of the guests arrived, then everyone’s food was brought out and placed on long tables. People came and went as they needed to. The weather was beautiful, the atmosphere was cozy and fun. Everyone loved it.

  118. I live on a small farm. Every October we plant about 200 lbs of garlic and many hands make light work! We usually have a big farm party to gather our helpers. At that time of year the bounty makes a perfect setting for a party. I think I’d love this book.

  119. We have an annual party in October that is pumpkin themed. There is carving, pumpkin beer, pumpkin desserts, and savory pumpkin dishes. We have it pot luck style and challenge people to skip the pie and get creative. It is the party I look forward to most each year!

  120. I can use all the help I can get for potlucks and dinner parties. I’m woefully inadequate at them. Although I love the idea of hosting them, they actually stress me out.

  121. I love potlucks–hosting or attending them. I’m lucky to run in a pretty foodie crowd, so our potlucks are spectacular. The best recent one was my boyfriend’s birthday–we threw a Spanish-themed party, made a few tapas, and asked our friends to bring others. And there was sangria. Oh, was there sangria. It was a blast.

  122. I love hosting potlucks. If I’m going to one I love taking a fresh dessert and maybe freshly made hummus and pita for appetizers.

  123. Spur of the moment pot lucks are the best, you just message a group and invite them over, tell them to just bring a dish…you could end up with 9 desserts and 1 savory! Fine by me!

  124. Our favorite “potluck” is pizza nights. We cover the dough, sauce, and mozzarell, and everyone else brings a variety of toppings.

  125. One of my favorite potlucks was a Valentine’s themed girl party, where we all brought something delicious to eat and a fancy toiletry that was then donated to a local domestic abuse shelter (for birthday and holiday presents for the women there). Delicious food (asiago pizza, chocolate tart), and everyone got REALLY into picking out luxury items for the women.

  126. I love game night with my close friends- usually we make pizza and crudites then sit around the table enjoying each other and trying out new board/card games. We just moved across the country, so I’m really missing those right now!

  127. Family reunions are some of the best. You get that homecooked, well-loved food you love: the corn pudding from one cousin, that incredible 10-layer cake from another cousin, those amazing chicken & dumplings from your great aunt, and the list goes on. Plus you get to spend time with family you don’t see often.

  128. I have always been amazed at how well potlucks go together even when folks just bring what they want or have. My favorite has been for me to prepare a main entree type ( barbecue pork, chicken, taco meat, etc) & just tell others to bring a dish. There will always be wonderful salads, appetizers & desserts! All of us love to eat! Thanks for the giveaway! I would love to win! Mary Ann

  129. My favorite family gathering was always one of the random, no special event potlucks. We’d end up at Grandma’s house everyone just contributing something or bringing in take out. I remember as kids we’d eat on the porch and have dish duty after. I felt so grown up the first time I was asked to actually make something for the gathering

  130. This past Christmas my dear friends from 3 different cities came for dinner. We filled the dining room table to capacity and ate soup and homemade cake. It was wonderful to have everyone together! 🙂

  131. For a while my friends and I used too cook together every Friday night. It was always delicious, but we never sat down to eat until at least 9!

  132. We did a New England clambake in our Michigan backyard! My husband dug a pit, made a coal bed with wood, lined it with seaweed & we piled on Lobster, clams, mussels, corn, potatoes, etc. it was fabulous & so fun! We served dinner on a big table in the garden. Best dinner party I’ve ever had 🙂

  133. We have pot luck dinners at a friend’s house at least four times a year. No one plans what they are bringing and somehow it always works out.

  134. What a beautiful book! One memory I have is when I lived in my first apartment on my own, I had friends over for a fall gathering. It was low-key, just appetizers and conversation, but I enjoyed making the invitations myself, and just relaxing and visiting during the evening!

  135. Sadness, as ever that I can’t win, being in Canada…but I will look for the book. You hit the nail right on the head for me when you said that it doesn’t stray over the line into “cutesy”,’cause that’s a land I don’t want to visit.

    When my roomie and I bought our first Christmas tree, for our first post-uni apartment, we had a party to trim it. Everyone had to bring an ornament to add to the tree (along with a potluck dish). To our surprise, people actually took the time to choose something that suited our personalities. I still have a little wooden cross-country ski-ing Kermit the Frog ornament among the treasures from that party (and it was 24 years ago!). One of our better hostessing adventures!

  136. Best potluck was with a group of parent friends from our school to raise money for tricycles we needed on the kindergarten yard. We had cheese platters and chana masala. A hodgepodge but I always find the best gatherings are always spontaneous!!

  137. I love potlucks – otherwise I worry about stuff during the whole event instead of just making sure there are enough plates and utensils and then enjoying my guests.

  138. We do a New Years Eve fondue with friends. It has grown from an intimate party of 2 couples, through my 1st trimester nausea so bad I couldn’t even be in the room with the fondue pot, to our (total between 2 families) 5 girls participating in the prep and cooking of each fondue course. It’s a event we anticipate the entire year!

  139. My favorite memories of a gathering were my birthday parties when I was little. They took place on a farm of my mothers cousin. All the relatives were invited and each person brought a dish to pass. I’m not sure the reality of the scene, but the picture in my mind was out of a book on how gatherings should be done. Long tables with table cloths, lots of food, family and fun!!!!

  140. When I was still in college, I had a bunch of friends over for an asian themed dinner party in which I cooked everything. homemade eggdrop soup, whole poached fish, everything. it was a delicious dinner, but also when I learned that I really prefer a more laid back party when I’m hosting, and that most of my friends enjoy it more if they can contribute – and if I’m free to actually entertain them. Now I do most of my cooking in advance, and when someone asks if they can bring something, I always say yes!

  141. I’ve had numerous dinner “parties” where I’m scrambling at the last minute to get stuff done. Then my friends show up and pitch in and it all comes together! I’m a firm believer in that the only requirement for a party is to pick a date. As long as people have a reason to get together that’s all that’s really required!

  142. The past couple years my fiance and I have thrown a crawfish boil. We get 40 pounds of live crawfish shipped in from Louisiana, and boil it outside in an enormous pot with a bunch of other goodies. It’s so much fun!

  143. I love throwing get togethers when the majority of the meal consists of build your own, or its already prepared ahead of time. That way you can really enjoy your friends, and not be stressed in the kitchen all night. The last time we had a get together we did build your own individual pizzas and then grilled them. The salad was made earlier in the day, all the toppings were put in bowls earlier, all I had to do was put everything out on the table and enjoy myself!

  144. I live on a small farm and every year we plant about 200lb. of garlic in October. Many hands make light work as they say so we invite all our friends to a big farm dinner-planting party. The harvest bounty at that time of year makes such a picturesque backdrop. It’s my all time favorite gathering. I think I’d love this book!

  145. I’m in a monthly book club that I a potluck. The host furnishes the main dish and others bring the rest. I usually volunteer to bring an appetizer the better to use up preserved items. This month we read a book called The Fig Tree so I’m bringing olives, Fig and Ouzo jam an yogurt cheese.

  146. My husband and I host a brunch for both sides of our family every fall, and it’s so nice to have created our own little tradition at our favorite time of year!

  147. I’m truely a potluck style person. Who cares if you end up only with desserts at a potluck… that’s half the fun!

  148. Have had many dinner parties over the years. My favorite being a Chinese dinner for 24 to celebrate my husbands birthday a few years ago. I made everything from egg rolls and dim sum to moo shu pork. We are a large family so we have potluck gatherings all the time- easier for all!

  149. My favorite potluck is my families New Years Eve celebration. Everyone brings their signature dish, it’s a full on buffet of comfort food, that I have been lucky enough to have my whole life. Some of my Aunt’s make traditional dishes that my great grandparent’s use to make, and some of my cousins experiment with new recipes. There’s nothing like eating food that reminds you of people you have loved that have passed away, and sharing new food with the people you love.

  150. Family gatherings are tops, of course, but the photos of this book make me think about summer and being outdoors. A few years ago, my husband threw me a surprise birthday party with a plant theme. Every guest brought a plant as a gift. At the end, our home was full of beautiful, sometimes surprising plants. Some of them still live with us.

  151. Fourth of July was my last big party! I had the whole family over. I made barbecue for lunch, and then the kids made hot dogs and corn on the cob for dinner. They really liked helping and it gave the adults a chance to actually get to relax. We all had a great time!

  152. Some of my favorite gatherings have been with my family when we all get together and do some canning with the season’s bountiful harvests. One year we got enormous bags of fresh corn and we all sat together and shucked it and took the kernels off the cobs outside. Then we canned some fresh, we made creamed corn and canned that too. Then while they cooled we had a nice bbq and split the jars we created so everyone took some home. It was so much fun!

  153. Our book group has a potluck dinner during the monthly meeting when we choose the next year’s worth of books. Everyone brings a favorite dish, which does not have to be book related (but it’s fun when it is). The great conversation and friendship make it a great time.

  154. Thanksgiving is my jam! Two years ago I hosted a huge dinner in my brothers “workshop” that we converted to an dining hall. Paint drop clothes to hide all the equipment, lights strung across, two turkeys, a turducken and prime rib…with all the fixings. It was a special memory 🙂

  155. New Year’s Eve, a few years ago… We were at a friend’s apartment, and just after she finished cooking, the power went out. We had an awesome candlelit dinner, and sang songs with the guitar. Magical!

  156. This book sounds perfect for me as someone who used to be dinner party person who has become more of a potluck person! My favorite dinner party memory is the first housewarming party I had in my first post-college life apartment. A friend and I cooked a way-too-elaborate meal for my galley kitchen that involved many many new cooking skills and was preceded by some serious sleep deprivation. The food was very late in coming to the table and let’s just say that no one really ate the main dish (the leftovers of which had to be thrown out). BUT, it was a few weeks after meeting my husband and that was the night we became romantically involved, so the night was a win!

  157. I’m definitely more of the potluck type though i’m often envious of the “put together” presentation some of my friends’ dinner parties have. I can’t really pick just one party i love but i can pick one family who always has the best parties. it’s my best friend’s parents. They do a casual dinner party approach and everything is always so nice! They always have delicious but not overly fancy/cutesy food. The decorations are always tasteful and not over the top. And every single dinner party they’ve thrown has been so comfy and casual. Where the fellowship of friends is the focus. That’s what this book reminds me of as i read your review!

  158. For the past 8 years we have hosted a “2nd Thanksgiving Party” for friends and family. It started quite small when we were out of town for Thanksgiving Day and I was informed by my kids that we still had to have home cooked turkey and all the “fixens.” That first year we only had a few of their friends join us. It has now become the favorite holiday of the year with up to 50 people dropping in for flag football and woofle ball on the beach, followed by potluck at our house. We deep fry three turkeys, mounds of mash potatoes, yams, and home made yeasty orange rolls. Everyone brings a side dish or dessert, lots of wine, beer and good conversation.

  159. I love any get togethers that involve being outdoors. The 4th of July and Iditarod restart in Willow, AK are my two favorite days for a party!

  160. I love the idea of this book. I have had a few informal ‘gatherings’ as a result of people wanting to learn how to make jam with the fruit they have in their yard. I love the idea of taking it to the next level

  161. A close friend and I used to plan dinner parties based on a particular cuisine. We chose China this one time. I made sweet and sour pork, she made chow mein and her husband said that he would make a surprise dish. Imagine our surprise when he brought a can of Chung King and heated it up on the stove.

  162. Our Supper Club lets the hostess pick the them-region, ingredient, whatever-and then everyone picks a different course to contribute. Such fun!!

  163. When the church I used to play piano for found out I was moving out-of-state, they threw a going-away potluck reception after service on one of my last Sundays. It was a lovely and delicious parting gift!

  164. Potlucks always remind me of my early 20’s. I tend more toward dinner parties now, I admit I like control…

  165. I just had a wonderful dinner party: started with letting my guests rummage through my “giveaway” box (recently moved, and it helped lighten the load of stuff to donate), then a delicious burrito dinner, followed by a movie with our new projector!

  166. 18th bday my mom surprised me with a party with my friends after school. Never had a surprise party before. After eating cake we went prom dress shopping with my friends. Best birthday memory. Thanks mom.

  167. My favorite party was our middle son’s graduation party. We had about 75 teens for Mexican food in our backyard and on our deck. It was a great time and those kids just would not go home because they were having such fun. We love to entertain and would make good use of this great book.

  168. I once hosted an incredible Easter/spring potluck. I roasted a leg of lamb, and everything else was provided by my guests! Many of my guests had never had a big Easter dinner, so it was a lot of fun to decorate eggs, give away baskets and EAT!

  169. My girlfriends and I get together for what we like to call “Epic Breakfast.” Sometimes it’s potluck, sometimes the hostess provides everything. We meet in someone’s kitchen on a weekend morning and have all our breakfast favorites… biscuits and sausage gravy, bacon, waffles, eggs in scrambled and omelette form, smoothies… Breakfast lasts all day and we laugh and talk and have the best time!

  170. There is something nice about a sit down dinner with good friends and a bottle of wine. Nothing fussy to eat — in fact, one of my favorite dinner parties we served beef stew and buttermilk biscuits.

  171. Wow, what a great book and giveaway.

    We have several family gatherings during the summer and I always tell everyone the main course I am making and tell them to bring what they want. And then, we eat whatever everyone brings.

  172. Back when I was single, I would get together with 3 other friends for a supper club. We rotated the main dish, vegetable, drink and dessert. It was a lot of fun!

  173. My favorite potluck was me giving myself a birthday party after 2-3 years of utter crap in my life (finishing grad school into divorce, debt, and a terrible job market, etc). I invited my friends over and said I wanted them to bring a dish to share and to perform for me. I didn’t care what their talent was, but if they attended, they had to perform somehow. One woman sang a couple of songs a capella, one played his own composition on a japanese bamboo flute he’d made, one who is *terrified* of public speaking read aloud two poems by my favorite poet (and gave me the volume too!), another friend read the strangest short story I have ever hear (and I say that in a good way), two women danced (not together, so extra performances!), and I can’t even remember what else now. And everyone brought something interesting to the potluck. That may have been the first time I’d ever tried biscotti – homemade, too. And the first time I’d ever seen watermelon gazpacho.

  174. Back in the dark ages (before email) my then-best-friend-now-hubby co-hosted a party at my place. I wrote up the invitation and he was to copy and send it. Little did I know that he doodled all over it. Spaceships, aliens and in one corner, in tiny print, “in order to show galactic unity, bring a pink flamingo”.
    So everyone did. I had no idea why but when everyone showed up we had a flamingo shower curtain in the door, lawn flamingos, floating flamingos, flamings glassware, flamingo pictures, stuffed flamingos, flamenco music and even a friend wearing a flamingo…. well, I’ll leave that to the imagination!
    I have never lived it down. I still receive flamingo themed items, all year and from all over the world, even from friends who didn’t attend the party.
    I think, with a book like this, I might be able name the theme next time!

  175. EVERY time I gather with friends or family to share a meal is my FAVORITE potluck time! Thank you for this opportunity to win!

  176. Many years ago (I hate to think how many), when I was heavily involved in a church, we used to have pot luck lunches every Sunday after church. One of the things I loved is that you never quite knew what sort of food would turn up (sometimes there was a lot of bread and not much else), who would turn up, or how many people would turn up. Yet, it was always a really enjoyable experience. I don’t miss much from those days – but I do miss those pot luck lunches – oh, and singing in church.

  177. My favorite memories are doing a baby shower for my 1st grandchild. A couple of friends came to help because my mom had a heart attack 2 days before the shower. (She survived, but did not make the shower…lol) Having all boys this was a GIRL so I was able to decorate everything including food PINK! May have went over board with the pink but I could not help myself! All in all it was a shower to remember! (And since then, 2 more baby girls have joined!!!)

  178. When we moved into our house five years ago we hosted a potluck for the neighbors on our block in the backyard. We had so much fun meeting the neighbors. It was a great tradition to start and so far a different neighbor has offered to host another party each year.

  179. I had a cookout with a hot dog topping bar. Put up some cute “recipe ideas” with pictures for a cute touch. It was a huge hit for kids and adults!! Using some homemade sauerkraut or kimchi would be awesome!

  180. I would love to win this for my friend, Faith. She loves entertaining and I know she would love this book.

  181. Thanksgiving is one of my favorites with friends, where I’m usually in charge of some vegetarian dishes for the party at a friend’s place, and another friend takes care of the rest of the vegetarian food (because the rest of the people aren’t vegetarian, although we now have a Paleo friend among us). I think it’s because I love the giant stuffed and roasted pumpkin we seem to do every year 🙂

  182. I love to do both, but usually only have time to plan one dinner party a year. Potlucks, are another story. I plan loads of those at work. Every birthday, work anniversary, you name it, I plan a potluck. No two are alike and everyone of them is better than the last. Nothing better than working with a crew of “foodies”!

  183. I learned early on that I hated missing my guests at my own party…so I am a staunch advocate of potluck style gatherings. I love the surprise of unexpected dishes arriving with my various guests! Plus, potluck practically ensures that there will be enough food for everyone!

  184. My favorite party was a “make your own grilled cheese party”. I had all kinds of cheese, other fillings and bread choices. There was home-made tomato soup as well. No one had any room left for dessert!

  185. I love hosting dinner parties where my guests don’t need to think about a thing… except maybe a bottle of wine! I make myself a list of prep to do throughout the week, prepare a big antipasto board for when friends arrive and usually pull a giant roast and seasonal sides of salads and veggies out as we gather around the table. I shop local and always make a point to try out some new recipes that have come to me in a dream.

  186. All of my childhood I went to my Dads company picnic, which was a big potluck of amazing foods from all of the people at his work. It was so much fun and one of my favorite memories. It is where I developed my love for pickled beets and eggs

  187. I have never been to a potluck, nor have I hosted one. However, I can image it in the house that I am dreaming of purchasing. A relaxing afternoon with a handful of friends, taking about nothing in particular and everything in-between. It would definitely be centered around food and drinks and wane on into the evening where a fire pit would be lit and more drinks would be shared. Fairy lights and lets be real, something to keep the mosquitos away.


  188. I am learning to love the casual and almost accidental gatherings where expectations are low and laughter is high and conversation flows. I love pot luck with our friends and the one Thanksgiving we spent with friends where we all brought our must haves and did not worry if anything was missing. It was was wonderful and no stress. We were all rested at the end of the day!

  189. Just celebrated my twins one year old birthday. There were so many people to thank that had helped out this last year. It was a thank you party as well as bday celebration. It was a fantastic feeling making food, hand stamped invitations, and individual onesies-there hasn’t been much time for such things this past year. Adults and babies had a blast.

  190. I always take care of the same house over Christmas and host a huge Christmas Party there (with permission!) They are mostly a potluck and always a huge success!

  191. I’m in a book club that also in a dinner club. The meal is structured around the book being discussed. We have had some very interesting dishes. Penguin shaped cupcakes for a book about the South Pole. Lemon cakes and direwolf bread for Game of Thrones. Champagain cocktails for The Great Gatsby. It is a potluck with the host supplying the main dish.

  192. I always get to do the cooking, planning and decorating for all the events in our family. I love doing it but sure could use new ideas with this book.

  193. Had a dinner for six planned.. Salad, Calazoni, Strawberry Pie.. As time approached, each couple canceled.. We prepared platters, and “gifted” our neighbors.. It actually turned out for the best.. One neighbor recently home from hospital.. Another recently found out her husband suffered with cancer..

  194. I love the seasonal approach to entertaining, not just the holidays. This book would be inspiration for my get togethers.

  195. Yep. Always fun. The free-for-all of a pot luck can be so amusing if you happen to end up with multiples of one food – say all baked beans or all salads. Those would be the most memorable, except that it has never happened at any I’ve attended.

    Every group seems to have at least one member who obsesses over “planning” a pot luck to make certain that the “right” number of things arrive. Invariably, after all that planning, things are still out of balance, much to the disappointment of whoever planned what, by definition, requires no planning at all. The happy compromise is to give the obsessive planner the task of arranging an entre, bread, and drinks while everyone else just brings side dishes.

  196. I love potluck get-togethers that are themed — they are my favorite kinds of parties where everyone brings something, and we have a great time together.

  197. We just celebrated my grandson’s birthday in Cambridge Vermont with a potluck taco dinner at his home. It was a great format for a group having a wide range of food intolerances and allergies. We all had a lot of fun and it was nice to kick back and give up some control (I am more of a dinner party person by nature)
    Would love to read the book.
    Love your blog

  198. We did a pot-luck, friend Thanksgiving a few years back. That was fun….though I had to forgive the person in charge of bringing potatoes for bringing boxed au graten… that was Thanksgiving blasphemy!

  199. Lovely Giveaway! In my Native american tradition we have what we call “Ghost Suppers” This is a potluck where after a loved one has left this world, one year later we call a Ghost Supper for everyone who knew and loved this cherished person to bring one food that your loved one enjoyed. As you enter the line for your potuck food you normally take a small amount of everything to honor this person. This potluck Ghost supper is always filled with fun, laughter and lots of good sharing stories. You can imagine what this feast will hold in good eats!

  200. This summer, some friends and I brought basic serving and preparing utensils to a park near the beach, including a knife, cutting board, charcoal grill, and empty cooler. Then we walked to the market and bought what looked good for our picnic! It was a nice middle ground to having control versus going with whatever happened.

    I would love this book for more ideas!

  201. I like to think that I have a pretty casual take on the whole “dinner party” portion, but I really struggle with letting people help out. Even casual requires a bit of menu control. Can’t wait to read up on how best to balance…

  202. I and my college girlfriends get together twice a year for a weekend of visiting, crafting and cooking. For the cooking, we all take turns sharing our most recently-discovered delicious recipes we’ve been cooking for our families.

  203. With 3 young children, I have been unable to host gatherings so far, but dream of doing so! I would love a book to look to for seasonal inspiration and planning tips!

  204. I took a spinach and strawberry salad to a church potluck. The pastor teased me that it was just like a garden, having to pick through the greens to get the strawberries.

  205. Every Fall I host a Wine and Cheese party and I make so many amazing appetizers to serve to my guests. I love using my fresh and dried herbs in different recipes and the compliments fly! Makes me so proud when people ask for recipes…that’s How I know it’s a hit! Everyone brings a bottle of wine for others to taste test and enjoy and the party is always a hit 🙂

  206. potluck….folks showed up with take out pizza to homemade chicken dish to broccoli to a jar of dip. supper was interesting and lots of fun!

  207. My grandparents used to throw enormous potlucks in the 70’s at what was then their camp (now their home.) It wasn’t unusual for fifty people to show up, all bearing food, drink, fireworks, and other various rural party gear. I can barely remember the very last one in the very early 80’s – I wasn’t quite in kindergarten yet, but I still have vivid memories of the camp being stuffed full of people (they hit a hundred and stopped counting 🙂 with a roast pig on a rotisserie outside and every table overflowing with game dishes and salads and endless coolers of soda and beer. There were outdoor games and skeet shooting and a big campfire to sit around and fireworks. It was magical.
    Someday when we own a little land my husband and I would like to do the same. Although I’m not sure we even know that many people 🙂

  208. This past Superbowl was pretty great. Went all in with non-packaged foods; favorites were the soft pretzels, followed closely by the slow cooked buffalo chicken sandwiches (homecooked everything: rolls, chicken, coleslaw, and ranch).

  209. Love to have a backyard cookout when my tomatoes start to ripen. So I can impress with a big platter of sliced tom’s and mozzarella with homemade pesto. Yes, pride, pride, pride!

  210. I love planned potlucks (so that we don’t have 17 plates of brownies…) and like best to host them. I enjoy making a welcoming space and seeing to the details that make everyone comfortable.

  211. My favorite festivity to date was a large event I hosted the year we bought our house. It was definitely a potluck – everyone brought something – and we scattered throughout my home and backyard eating, socializing, playing music, singing and laughing our heads off until the late hours of the evening.

    I am doing as much seasonal eating I can this year. I would love this book to learn more on being a seasonal eating hostess!

  212. I have potlucks and people email what they are planning to bring – they way we get a variety. This book would be helpful for added ideas.

  213. I throw Fall & Winter Soup Gatherings at my home……love them!! It’s an open invite to all my peeps and their friends…come, visit, eat soup! It’s been wonderful & I have met the best of people over a bowl of soup!! xoxo

  214. This is just the kind of book that I enjoy sitting down and looking at! My back yard was just a barren patch of weeds last year but I’ve been working hard this spring and summer to make it the kind of place where I can have gatherings of friends over. This is the first year I can actually have a back yard party and it looks like the book would be a great inspiration! (ps. I also just started canning this year).

  215. What a beautiful book! We do have lots of family gatherings and those are usually at my house, but I would love for us to entertain more often than we do, and this sounds like a perfect gateway to achieve that goal.

  216. My co-workers and I have potlucks about once a month. It’s a fun way to get together and talk about other things than work. 🙂 I hope I win this book, I love trying out new ideas.

  217. My most memorable dinner party was one of the first that I threw for some good friends. We were going to eat ribs but I managed to char them beyond recognition. We ate salad and cookies instead. Thankfully I’ve improved since then

  218. I remember a potluck in which ingredients were scarce and everyone brought something different made out of potatoes. It was fun and a great expression of creativity with the common spud. 🙂

  219. A few friends and myself hiked up to the top of a mountain on my birthday a few years ago, and we packed in a bunch of gourmet food that we prepared. It was wonderful to have all these beautiful plates of french inspired food custom with peach bellinis using fresh peaches from our area!

  220. I just hosted a first time family reunion this July 4th. I could have used this book for suggestions. We all love to cook. And we all can and dehydrate our foods

  221. I don’t have a favorite memory because I’m not good at thus type of thing. it looks like a beautiful. book full if ideas. maybe I will win and pick up tips on making memorable party moments.

  222. Hospitality and having people over for dinner has been a big part of our family’s ministry in the body of Christ and in our homeschooling network growing up. There is really no substitute for having people into your home and eating with them when you are getting to know someone. Whether it is making something for church lunch, having a new family over for the first time, or celebrating the Fourth in our backyard with our cousins as we do every year, fellowshipping around the table brings back countless fun, crazy, and all around wonderful memories. 🙂

  223. Some of my favorite gathering memories revolve around the birthday parties I would put together for my two sons when they were young. We’d make snacks, gift bags and plan games for the kids. It was so much fun and all the moms would tell us how much their kids loved coming to our parties. This is just the kind of book I would love!

  224. I enjoy doing a good many of our family gatherings. I’m afraid, though, that I fall into the more controlling hostess type! My favorite gathering ever was Mothers’ Day about twenty years ago at our cottage in Homewood. I rented two long tables and those fabulous white folding wooden chairs. Both our parents were there, and even one pair of my husband’s grandparents. Our little garden was in full bloom and I asked my oldest son to shop the house and garden and create a whole tablescape of low vases and object d’ art. He did an amazing job and it was a very memorable day. My parents are both gone now, and so are my husband’s grandparents, so I look back on those photographs often lately.

  225. I did a baby shower for a friend in April and worked so hard. My favorite part was that I transformed my chandler into a cloud with tissue paper poofs and then sewed pink and blue hearts with clear thread to make rain drops. Then I put flowers in silver baby cups and empty glass baby food jars. My theme was “April Showers bring June Babies”.

  226. We love hosting pot lucks for all our neighbors. We supply the main course (hamburgers, hot dogs, etc) and everyone brings their favorite side dish. I’m not sure how these potlucks always land at our place but we love it. <3

  227. My sister and I planned her nieces wedding shower, from decorations to food. It was a lot of work but turned out great! Definitely not potluck, but super fun to do, at least once in awhile. I think potlucks are a bit more fun, we tend to do that for Thanksgiving with guests bringing the sides and desserts.

  228. The biggest potlucks i remember as a child were always the ones on Derby Day. I’m from Louisville, KY, so Derby is a huge deal, and most of the city is either at the track or at one of the massive number of parties going on in every neighborhood around the city. Part of the tradition for most derby parties is a potluck, so every year my parents and i would spend the morning making several of our go to party meals, and then we’d drive to where ever the party was being held, and i would be stuck in the back seat my lap piled with at least two dishes. They were always something i really liked to eat, since i was a picky eater as a child, so when i was small that drive was a special type of torture, 15-30 minutes of staring intently at a food i wasnt allowed to touch.

  229. Master Gardener potlucks are especially delightful because the table is often laden with the gardeners’ own produce.

  230. A friend of mine asked a favor of me one day, actually the day of her daughter’s wedding rehearsal. She called me about 2 in the afternoon and asked me to fix dinner for the event – nothing had yet been purchased, no plates or flatware and no food, so nothing was cooked yet. We brainstormed and decided on spaghetti and salad, for the menu, to feed 20 people.
    I had to finish my work day and get what I could, where I worked. Then drove to closer to where they lived (about an hour from me) and then hit the grocery store for the rest. In the end, I fixed lots of spaghetti and sauce, both with and without meat and garlic bread.
    In the end, we left for rehearsal only 5 minutes late, as we almost forgot to grab the garlic bread. Everyone had a good time and was well fed, especially since there were 2 folks in the wedding party that really didn’t like spaghetti, but evidently mine was pretty good, as both went back for 2nd and 3rd helpings. The day’s groom still hasn’t figured out what my secret ingredient was, but that’s ok.

  231. I recently put together a Rainbow party for my grand daughter’s birthday. We had rainbow frosting on rainbow cupcakes, rainbow decorations everywhere, and the girls had crafts to choose from using paints and stickers. We all had lots of fun.

  232. About a month ago we hosted a potluck barbecue with 30 people, 14 of whom were motorcyclists from New Zealand! The bikers were riding from California to the East Coast, and than driving back. We invited them to stop at our place since we live within a bus ride of NYC. Our friends were dying to meet them as well.

    Our theme was American picnic. We supplied burgers, hot dogs and chicken and veggie sausage, deviled eggs and home canned applesauce. Our friends brought salads, baked beans and a shoo-fly cake for dessert.

    Everyone had a wonderful time and we all made new friends!

  233. I seem to go from one extreme to the other. At times, I like to control an entire event. Other times, potluck just seems more fun. I look forward to learning how to approach entertaining from the middle. The review alone makes me think I’d love to entertain from the middle from now on.

  234. Family gatherings with everyone bringing a dish or two are my favorite. It helps if you come from a family of really good cooks!

  235. There’s nothing better than gathering all your friends and loved ones around for a good potluck. My favorite potluck memories are of my grandfather’s cooking…he always made a wonderful dill dip served in a rye bread bowl, and even though he’s no longer with us, it’s still the most requested item for our family to bring.

  236. A group of fun friends recently had a Tropical themed Progressive Potluck Party! It was really amazing….all 5 homes were within 8 blocks of each other so we could ride our bikes or walk between houses! The food, drinks and conversation were wonderful. It’s great to have friends who really are “foodies”, we always have a great time and enjoy what Lassen County has to offer!

  237. Our best party was over the 4th of July weekend…we hosted our daughters engagement party and it was by far the best party we’ve had. It was very casual chic…under the stars, cocktails, appetizers, and desserts…people lingers until after midnight.

  238. I do not have one favorite potluck or party – but the best ones are the ones when we all bring a great variety of good foods and love our time together. Cannot get any better than that !!

  239. My favorite party to host is our annual BYOP (bring your own pumpkin) party. We set up tables in the garage to carve pumpkins and I always make pulled pork and chicken corn chowder in the slow cookers so I can enjoy the carving along with everyone else!

  240. One of my favorite potlucks that we switch of hosting with friends is our Fantasy Football draft potluck we always make a bunch of new and old appetizers. Our almost embarrassingly simple stand-by is cream cheese and salsa. It tastes so good and everyone loves it, people are disappointed if we fail to provide it.

  241. We threw a wonderful graduation party with desserts that reflected not only my son’s likes but that were reminders of his school life: little rhubarb and blueberry pies because he likes pie and pi, his favorite cream cheese chocolate chip cookies, and donuts because we always had donuts the first and last day of school. We scattered small framed photos of him that spanned his growing up years on all the tables. We had a “tree” on which the guests could hang notes of encouragement or memories of him. It was simple and delightful!

  242. I had a neighbor who always made a huge pot of the most amazing baked beans for our monthly potluck dinners. I loved growing up in a small town where sharing a meal with friends and neighbors was the norm.

  243. Every year our cul de sac has a party on the 4th. Food. Fireworks. Fellowship. We’re a multi-generational, multi-national street. So many wonderful foods from around the world brought to the table.

  244. I love all things bread-related: my brother and his wife make an extra loaf of of bread and their incredible sourdough waffles whenever I visit. Down in Baltimore, where I live, I keep things carby by hosting pizza parties in the winter and waffle/crepe brunch throughout the year. I make the dough/batter and basic toppings like mozzarella, tomato sauce, maple syrup (and jam!), which still leaves room for friends to bring over their favorite toppings. It’s fun to do, and it doesn’t get too expensive for me or anyone else, which is great when people have different budgets.

  245. One of my favorite gatherings was a women’s lunch meeting at church. All but one of the dishes brought were desserts!! So…we all had a tiny bit of salad and a lot of dessert!!

  246. My favorite potluck was one my partner and I threw for Mardi Gras – in Rhode Island. Some friends drove for hours to celebrate and then a big storm came and made the party last even longer!

  247. Indian food al fresco after a 10k. One lovely person stayed home to cook huge amounts of delicious food off the runners.

  248. Last summer, a friend & I who both can decided it would be fun to host a canning night for our theater company. It was mostly just a chance for us to create together, but it turned into a really incredible night! Everyone helped prep fruit & pickle ingredients, and we all were able to relax after a difficult show and enjoy some jam & cheese. I’ve just returned for another summer with the company, and a few folks have asked when we’re doing it again!

  249. My favorite party is a bonfire/hayride. We build a nice bonfire, roast hotdogs & marshmallows, ride the hay wagon along the country roads & stay around the fire late into the night – love it!

    We just built a screened porch onto the back of our house & I’m so looking forward to some fun suppers there with friends as the weather cools later in the year. I’d love to win the book for some new ideas!

  250. I love to get together with family – especially in the summer when we can enjoy being outside and the warm weather. Usually, this means grilling vegetables and some meat! But, the best part is just being with family.

  251. I recently went to a sausage making class and a woman brought cheese and crackers to share with the group. She served it with a tomato jam that was to die for. She told me the recipe was on Food In Jars. I can’t wait for the tomatoes to come in and will make it for the monthly happy hour pot luck we have at our VFW for the veterans.

  252. I had sent invitations for a baby shower. I wanted the kitchen counters replaced and scheduled them for the week of the shower. THE DAY OF THE SHOWER the crew arrived. They left at 3pm. My father was visiting from the Midwest and saved the day. We whipped out a combination buffet and sit down dinner, complete with decorations in 3 hours. He saved my sanity and the shower.

  253. I love when i bump into friends at the farmers market and, when the weather is nice, we pull together picnics on the spot. Everyone supplies something, and the more the merrier!

  254. A group of us started a game night/pot luck tradition last year. This past December, the gang threw us a surprise engagement party at what we thought was going to be a run of the mill game night/pot luck with a secret Santa thrown in as the holidays were just around the corner. It was totally unexpected and so very thoughtful of them. Best 4-in-1 party ever.

  255. We hosted a party for my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. My husband introduced all Mom’s children, their spouses and all the grandchildren except…. he forgot to introduce me! Other than that, the food was excellent, the company was great and we all had a good time. The desserts were the best – we had triple chocolate cake, pear cobbler and goodies from Mom’s homeland. And…… I made half-pints of mixed stone fruit jelly ( Melisa’s recipe) for party favors …. all 100 jars of them! Thanks, Melisa, for a great recipe and the tutorial!!

  256. A tea in the garden. A few tables and chairs scattered in the shade of the fruit trees while we share last year’s bounty – some jarred, some frozen. I need feedback for this year’s “putting up” sessions. While everyone sips iced lemon verbena tea spiked with local honey, they also enjoy the current delights of a very productive garden. Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkled with pungent basil, miniature summer squash quiches, and roasted peppers stuffed with goat cheese and the leaves of herbs that scent our hands as we stroll to our destination. Summer sorbets of strawberries, apricots, and rhubarb would complete the day, but with all the lavender recently harvested, we must have lavender and lemon thyme spiked shortbread! And the empty canning jars that will soon be filled again are perfect for serving – tea, cookies, dessert, and of course, for holding utensils, napkins and flowers, flowers, flowers!

  257. When I worked for a staffing company, I would travel to different states and live there for 3 months at a time. At one hospital, there were several other travelers also working there. We decided to do a once weekly potluck with a theme (ie soups, or something orange, or favorite appetizer). It was a good way to be social in a place where you didn’t know anyone.

  258. I had some lovely dinners and potlucks in my small kitchen in Quito, full of expat friends. We would often get together to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving, when we were all missing family and the traditions of home.

  259. My family has a potluck with friends from church the first Sunday of every month. It is always a delightful time. My wife would love that book — she’s pretty crafty too.

  260. I always said that when I got married, I wanted to be outside, I wanted to be barefoot and I wanted a potluck meal. We ended up getting married three times in three states in six weeks, with one of the wedding celebrations legally binding. We were outside and barefoot all three times and we had a potluck as part of every gathering, whether there were two of us in the wilderness in Colorado, fifteen of us in northern New Mexico or eighty plus people on the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota.

  261. We are definitely potluck people. For a while last year (and we need to resurrect this!) we had Sunday night suppers with all the other twentysomethings from our church. I’d make a main dish, everyone else would make or bring something random, and it was miraculously always a good time, despite the occasionally unusual mix of attendees.

  262. I’m in that stage of life where it seems that everyone is getting married or having kids or graduating from grad school – and I find myself volunteering to host the celebrations for each occasion. I have Celiac disease so it’s a partially selfish act – at least I know that I can eat the food that I made, safely. Regardless of the time or work that goes into hosting these events, it’s always a great time with good people.

  263. Game Days and Family Gatherings have always offered an opportunity to try something new. One time we tried a cheese display encouraging people to bring as many different cheeses as they could find. We feasted like mice.

  264. I moved back to my hometown and left some really great friends, and my church, in the big town of Raleigh, NC. We had the BEST potlucks – being single for years and no one to cook for just makes me drool over home-cooking, especially when it’s so good and there’s soooo much of it! I have to give it to folks at the Pleasant Valley Grove United Methodist Church – not just the women – the men are superb cooks also! I really do miss my friends – not just the food. Now that I’m thinking about it, I need to take a trip up there and see my people. Thanks for reminding me, Ms. Marisa!

  265. we do picnic potlucks where we provide an “x” amount of everything: a drink, an appetizer, an entrée, a side dish, a salad, a dessert, etc. that way everyone else who participates can just bring whatever they like, and there will always be a complete “menu”.

  266. My favorite party was mostly catered by myself, it was last year’s Halloween party and I did it pirate themed. I had a ton of fun picking themed details and making chili and chicken wings and Stromboli for the guests. I did have a few friends provide desserts. My friends still talk about how much fun they had at the party!

  267. My favorite potlucks are the impromptu kind! These are the ones that are destined to be and seem to magically come together. At the last minute we hosted friends on Thanksgiving day when we heard that their power had gone out and my friend was not feeling very festive. We made a holiday-themed craft with the kids, which we used as table décor, and we combined a unique blend of cultural, family foods. It all turned out perfect! Our gathering created a new energy of fellowship and fun and I can’t tell you who felt more blessed!! We both continue to reminisce about that day. These are moments I don’t want to miss!!!

  268. A structured potluck is my entertainment style I usually provide a main dish and a beverage. Guests bring sides and desserts. I could use this book

  269. Every year we overgrow vegetable garden and fruit trees. As the season goes on we throw a potluck dinner with neighbors from the bounty. Everyone uses old family recipes or asks elders for avant garde recipes. The abundance from the garden are the staple ingredients. We have homemade break and use preserves from the previous year as appetizers. I never tire of gazpacho!!

  270. My favorite potluck experiences were at a farm in Hawaii. We would bring a dish and also spend a few hours working in the veggie garden before dinner. There was always a large group and new friends to be introduced to. I wish I had participated more often when I lived there. I miss it! I think this book would help inspire me and guide me in hosting my own potluck events.

  271. We bought an old house in a small town, on main st, and one of the biggest reasons was that it had a huge kitchen, so we’d be able to host parties- and after living for 4 yrs in a tiny philly condo, that thought was amazing! We now regularly host an annual 4th of July party and bbq, as the house is on the parade route, and while the planning can be daunting, I love it each yr!

  272. I co hosted an evening engagement party for my best friend in my parent’s backyard last September. Their yard is fenced in with a large vegetable garden, scattered cosmos and hollyhocks and a rock water fountain that my step-mom had just finished constructing after three seasons of hunting for perfect rocks off the mountain. We set up intimate seating areas throughout the yard with small tables adorned by lit candles and vases of flowers. We have an old, very large, iron cauldron that kept a nice roaring fire going all evening.

    The back porch was lit with white twinkle lights and this was where we set out all the food. We decided on serving only appetizers and my co host and I each made something and had other close friends bring their favorite hors d’oeuvers as well. My step-mom and I had baked cupcakes earlier in the day which we decorated with frosting and a variety of candies using the color scheme of the party (red, turquoise, white and black). The cupcakes were displayed on a tiered holder and was used as the centerpiece of the main table. A large metal trough like container filled with ice was centrally placed and kept our beer and sodas cool throughout the event.

    My co host produces commercials for a living and we had spent three weeks earlier in the summer creating a music video for our friend and once it became dark enough we projected it onto a white sheet hung from a clothesline. Lots of laughter and tears. It was a huge success!

    This is by far the most meaningful and memorable party I have ever thrown. The evening was perfect and I felt everyone had an enjoyable time eating, drinking, and celebrating the engagement.

  273. During the summer (specifically summer solstice) we love to have friends over for a pool party and clam bake cook off. We all provide a yummy clam dish and something easy to throw on the grill and vote on the winning dish at the end of the night. Yummy libations and wonderful fellowship are always flowing! Thanks @foodinjars! Love Ashley and can’t wait to see this book!

  274. any family get together. the food doesn’t have to be fancy just being with family makes everything seem incredible. oh, and did I mention wine. Plenty of good wine.

  275. When we first moved into our neighborhood a few years ago, it was winter in Denver and nobody wanted to come out of their houses. By June, we still didn’t know anyone but our next door neighbor. I made up invitations to give everyone on the street inviting them to a potluck at our house. Five households showed up. Folks who had lived across the street from one another for 15 years finally learned one another’s names! Can you imagine? That potluck tuned into a monthly knitting/sewing group. Thanks to that one potluck, we have become not a neighborhood, but a community.

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