Those of you who know me personally or who have been following my blog for a while know that we live in a VERY rural and VERY sparsely populated area. Our entire county has fewer than 1,000 residents. Consequently, we drive long distances for recreation activities, restaurants, shopping, etc. One of our community's most popular local activity is pot lucks. We have pot lucks for homeschool socials, sports socials, church socials, volunteer socials, and just about every other reason one could think of. They are most often held in church basements, the court house court room, the senior citizen center, the volunteer fire station and individual homes.
Usually the guests / participants observe proper manners at these pot luck functions. However, we will occasionally observe someone who is simply unaware of certain social graces. Those who are guilty of failure to exercise certain manners are usually younger or from large cities where pot lucks are not quite so common. For families who maintain a tight grocery budget regular pot luck socials are a great budget saver and inexpensive family entertainment.
As fun and entertaining as pot lucks can be, there are certain social graces that must always be maintained. Young children should be reminded of these social graces before every pot luck gathering, especially those concerning hygiene.
1. If the organizer has provided a list of specified dishes, such as last names beginning with A-F bring main courses, G-L bring salads, M-R bring side dishes, S-Z bring breads OR desserts, PLEASE always bring a dish from the specified category. Example: Even if your broccoli, rice and cheese casserole is the best dish you make and the best in the community, do not bring it unless your last name begins with M-R for side dishes. NOTE: If a list of specified food items is not provided or mentioned then, by all means, bring one of your best or a family favorite.
2. If financial or time management obligations prevents you from being able to contribute a food item, ALWAYS assist with set-up AND clean-up. The concept of pot lucks is to prevent the expenses and labor of social gatherings from falling on one or two individuals. As they say, "Many hands make light work". Quite frankly failing to contribute by bringing a food item or contributing to the labor will earn you and your family the very unflattering title of "mooch".
3. ALWAYS wash your hands before set-up, progressing through the food line or after you cough, sneeze, etc.
4. Want seconds? ALWAYS obtain a clean plate. No one wants to come behind you and eat from a food item in which the serving spoon was tapped onto your dirty, germ filled plate. Using a dirty plate for seconds - HORRINDOUSLY poor manners.
5. Aside from basic table manners, which I've personally realized can vary significantly from family to family, ALWAYS clear your and your young children's place settings when you are finished. Disposable dinnerware should be placed in the trash, other dinnerware should be placed in it's specified area for washing. If you don't know where the wash area is, ASK.
Our family enjoys our community pot lucks. They give us an opportunity to visit and catch up with friends and neighbors. They solidify community spirit and cooperation. They offer fellowship and celebration for various community or holiday events. Observing the most basic of pot luck etiquette makes the experience most enjoyable for all in attendance.