A potluck can be a great way for friends and family to get together without a single host being saddled with a lot of cooking. Everyone brings a favorite dish, a bottle of wine, or both. What can possibly go wrong?\r\n\r\nWell, a few things, it turns out. Everyone might show up with tortilla chips and guac. Maybe one person makes enough of their dish to feed an army, and you end up with quarts of leftover dip. It\u2019s possible that most guests eschew cooking for a stop at the bottle shop, which means that there\u2019s not enough food to soak up the wine.\r\n\r\nOr, perhaps most tragically, you end up with the right number of appetizers, entr\u00e9es, desserts and wines, but they don\u2019t really go together well: The dishes don\u2019t complement each other, the pairings are lackluster. As host, you worry that people aren\u2019t having the best meal they could.\r\n\r\nWe\u2019re here to save you from that fate. Use this guide to help facilitate a potluck where everyone has a delicious dinner and gets a chance to express their gastronomic creativity or show off their pairing prowess.\r\n\r\n\r\nPick a Theme\r\nYou don\u2019t need to have a full-on theme party, but it\u2019s a good idea to pick a style of cuisine or a main dish to act as centerpiece. Then, direct guests toward categories for other contributions. This leaves them room to prepare a favorite recipe, yet ensures that the meal will feel cohesive.\r\n\r\n \tYou roast a chicken.\r\n \tYOUR\u00a0guests bring roasted vegetables, salad, bread, a light-bodied red wine.\r\n \tYou make pulled pork.\r\n \tYOUR\u00a0guests pack a picnic with cornbread, coleslaw, pickles, a deep-hued ros\u00e9.\r\n \tYou prepare a salad loaded with protein and toppings like avocado.\r\n \tYOUR\u00a0guests supply chips, dips, hors d\u2019ouvres, sparkling wine.\r\n \tYou make dough balls for personal pizzas, with tomato sauce and mozzarella on hand.\r\n \tYOUR\u00a0guests provide their favorite pizza toppings, plus bubbly or a textural white or orange wine.\r\n\r\n\r\nBottle Service\r\nChances are, there\u2019s someone in your circle who\u2019s not a great cook or doesn\u2019t have a lot of time on their hands. \u201cBring your favorite bottle of wine,\u201d is always a friendly directive. Also, it can often serve as a conversation starter: What makes this bottle special to you? How did you discover it?\r\n\r\nAs with the food, though, it\u2019s your duty as host to make sure that there\u2019s enough wine for everyone, and that it will complement the meal.\r\n\r\nCha McCoy is a certified sommelier and hospitality professional who founded Cha Squared Hospitality, which organizes a series of wine-pairing dinners called The Communion. She has a few food-friendly suggestions to help keep guests happy.\r\n\r\nGamay Suggestions\r\nSheldrake Point 2016 Gamay Noir (Finger Lakes)\r\nMarcel Lapierre 2016 Morgon\r\n\r\n\u201cGamay is my go-to grape for hors d\u2019oeuvres,\u201d she says. \u201cIt can handle all the flavors at the same time and still remain elegant.\u00a0It also goes well with fish, rare cuts of beef, turkey or steak, or tuna tartare.\u201d\r\n\r\nOn the lighter side, \u201cEveryone loves sparkling wine. You can\u2019t go wrong with Champagne,\u201d or other traditional-method sparkling wines, McCoy says. \u201cFried dishes go well with bubbles, too.\u201d\r\n\r\nSparkling Suggestions \r\nAndr\u00e9 Clouet 2008 Mill\u00e9sime Brut (Champagne)\r\nIl Mosnel NV Brut (Franciacorta)\r\n\r\n\r\nCrowd Control\r\nAvoid the temptation to turn your home into the school gymnasium or church basement of your youth. The ideal number of guests is 6\u201310. There will be enough food for everyone, even if couples bring a shared dish. Plus, not everyone has to cook, and no one has to make a huge quantity.\r\n\r\n\r\nBe Prepared\r\nYes, this is a joint effort, but as the host/organizer, you have some responsibility to make sure that everyone is fed. This includes having allergen-free options to suit any guests with restrictions, as well as backup food in case there\u2019s not enough. Leela Cyd, author of the cookbook Food With Friends, looks to store-bought items to cover her bases.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019m a connoisseur of always having the little nubbins of cheese,\u201d she says. The small cheese ends and samples are an affordable way to stock your fridge, and they allow you to put together a cheese plate at a moment\u2019s notice.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn addition to the recipe to the right, Cyd recommends Marcona almonds, hummus dressed up with a swirl of good olive oil, or a dollop of good fig jam on a cheese platter. These can add a feeling of fanciness without a whole lot of prep.\r\n\r\nShe also advises to have ingredients on hand so that you can put together a big, meal-size soup or salad. Sometimes, people get busy and can\u2019t bring their dishes, but this can round out a meal so that everyone leaves satisfied. And if you don\u2019t need it, you\u2019ve now taken care of lunch for a few days.\r\nBuy, Baby, Buy\r\nIf there\u2019s one guest who should not, by any means, bring a home-cooked dish, find a gentle way to break the news. Try saying something like, \u201cYou have that great bakery near your house. Would you mind picking up bread?\u201d or, \u201cAny chance you\u2019d be willing to dig into your cellar? I don\u2019t think I\u2019ll have time to find a bottle of wine as interesting as anything in your stash!\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nIs This the End?\r\nNot everyone enjoys dessert, nor is everyone a dessert maker. Bear in mind that potlucks tend to be a bit more leisurely than a standard dinner party, and people often eat a little more so that they can taste everything. You might find that guests are too tired or full for dessert.\r\n\r\nHave coffee, tea and a digestif that you love handy (Amaro Meletti, with its dessert-like caramel flavors, is a good bet). If someone wants to bring a dessert, urge them toward something that\u2019s easy to parcel out and take home, like pastries, cookies or cupcakes, versus a large, sit-down affair like cake. That way, guests can eat dessert together or have a sweet reminder of the evening later on\r\nInvite Only\r\nWe\u2019ve given you all the tools to throw a great party, here\u2019s how to spread the word.\r\n\r\nYou\u2019re invited to a potluck!\r\nI\u2019ll be hosting it on [date], at [time], at [address].\r\nLet\u2019s all get together and eat!\r\nI\u2019m planning to make [main course], and I\u2019m hoping you guys can cover side dishes, appetizers, wine and dessert.\r\nPlease RSVP by [date] and let me know if you have ideas about what you\u2019d like to bring, as well as any dietary restrictions. And feel free to bring a take-home container. With this crew, I\u2019m sure we\u2019ll have plenty of delicious leftovers.\r\nI hope you all can make it!\r\n\r\n\r\nWarm Olives\r\nCourtesy Leela Cyd, author, Food With Friends (Clarkson Potter, 2016)\r\nIngredients\u00a0\r\n\r\n \t1 cup\u00a0Castelvetrano olives\r\n \t\u00bc cup Marcona almonds\r\n \t2 smashed cloves garlic\r\n \t1 wide strip lemon zest\r\n \t2 tablespoons olive oil\r\n \t\u00bc teaspoon dried oregano\r\n \t\u00bc teaspoon red pepper flakes\r\n \tsea salt\r\n \tblack pepper\r\n\r\nIn small saucepan, combine Castelvetrano olives, Marcona almonds, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and sea salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes to heat through. Toss and serve immediately in shallow bowl. Makes 1\u00bc cups.