Unity at Holiday Potlucks


Each year my sisters and I set out to re-create a modern day Fezziwigs Ball on Christmas Eve. You remember Mr. Fezziwig from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: the generous, kind, and affectionate employer of Ebenezer Scrooge shown to him by the ghost of Christmas Past. Great food, great wine, and great music join hands to evoke a convivial spirit at our annual ritual. All newcomers are welcome with open arms while humor and uproarious laughter is encouraged.

Our feast, consisting of a potluck of appetizers, is always brimming with old and new favorites. However, sometimes a potluck can feel haphazard: Aunt Mildred’s blue CorningWare is placed next to my niece, Molly’s, Heath bowl. To avoid this confusion we always choose an underlying decor theme to make our event feel cohesive. One year it was lemons. Lemons were found everywhere throughout the house: on the wreath, intertwined with the banister, in the urns flanking the front door, on the mantel above the fireplace, and, of course, at the bar. We served lemon drops and lemon bars as the specialty drink and dessert. The bright pop of yellow and bright flavor of citrus brightened up the winter night.

My advice for sprucing up the tried and true holiday potluck? Make it festive by choosing an unanticipated element and carrying it through your night.

By Paula Nielsen, Bon Appétit’s Events Expert