The Etiquette Scholar blog answering you dining etiquette questions.
Other Dining Occasions
A potluck (or covered dish) supper is one in which everyone who comes contributes something to the meal (a dessert, main dish, paper plates, cups, something to drink...).
Be clear when issuing a potluck invitation.
- "Potluck" means that all guests share the food.
- "BYOF" means "bring your own food," and guests bring their own food and dishes are not shared.
Organization is important so that the potluck menu will be varied.
- Give participants a choice of foods within categories (salads, vegetables, breads, casseroles, desserts).
- Organizers should know what participants plan to bring so that they can ensure a balanced menu.
Participants should be informed of how many people will attend so they can bring enough of their item.
Organizers may an entree (like hamburgers or hot dogs) or a dessert.
Guests not able to cook can bring packaged items like buns and chips or paper plates and napkins, coolers and ice, or bags of charcoal.
If alcoholic beverages are included, participants often bring their own.
The progressive dinner is similar to a potluck in that several participants provide the food. The difference is that each course is prepared by a different cook.
- Traditionally, guests go from house to house, and the number of homes visited depends on the number of courses served.
- Today's progressive party might be held at one location, though different cooks prepare and serve each course.
The dinner might be organized by the hosts or by a group such as a gourmet food club or wine club or it might be held to celebrate a holiday.
Menus are carefully planned and coordinated, and the people who aren't cooking are considered guests for the occasion, though they may assist with serving.
Progressive dinners can range from very casual to very formal. When held at several homes, each host usually decides the format (seated, buffet, semi-buffet) for his or her course.
Friends who share an interest in wines get together for a multi-course dinner (or sometimes lunch) in order to enjoy different wine varieties served with appropriate foods.
Wine-tasting dinners might have a single host but are often staged by groups of wine lovers on a fairly regular basis.
One person usually selects the wines to be served.
A sparkling wine is often tasted first, followed by a selection of whites and reds during dinner and a sweet dessert wine to finish.
Before each wine is tasted, the person who chose it will talk a little about the wine and the reasons for his or her choice.
A guest shouldn't take a sip before the spiel is finished. Nor should anyone ask for a wine that isn't being served.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
If you find any typographical errors, inaccuracies, or inconsistencies, or if you just have something to add, please email us.