How to Plan a Community Potluck Picnic

by Felicia Greene

A community potluck picnic brings residents, similar-interest group members or other attendees together for a delicious meal and a relaxing afternoon. Through your choice of an attractive location and coordination of picnic facilities, you'll set the stage for a memorable event. Coordinate a well-rounded feast and provide attendees, including children, with a lot of game options to hold attendees' interest throughout the afternoon. Getting the word out via several forms of communication helps you to reach everyone you'd like to see at the picnic.

Choose the Destination and Date

Choose a familiar, easily reached picnic destination to make it easy for attendees to get there. For residential community members, a common area or shared green space is an attractive locale. For a community-garden or service group, consider the spot in which the group conducts much of its work, or choose a picnic pavilion available to community and nonprofit groups. Ensure wheelchair-using or limited-mobility guests can access the picnic area. Select a date that doesn't interfere with the group's scheduled calendar. Schedule a rain date to account for unfavorable weather.

Furnish the Picnic Facilities

Coordinate enough picnic tables and/or folding tables and chairs for your projected turnout, plus a few extras. Make sure wheelchair-using or other limited-mobility guests can seat themselves comfortably. If the site doesn't include clean, functional restroom facilities, rent portable restrooms for the event. Pick a location that has plenty of nearby parking.

Coordinate the Scrumptious Feast

Your nicely rounded picnic menu generally includes a main dish of meat such as hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken. While some community associations or groups provide the meat, other groups request multiple attendees each bring a portion of the protein. Recruit other attendees to bring rolls, side dishes, salads, desserts and condiments. Ask each family to bring their own nonalcoholic drinks. If the group doesn't provide plates and utensils, assign someone to those supplies. Keep vegetarian, vegan and special-diet attendees in the loop. Ask them to bring a diet-friendly dish they'll enjoy sharing with others.

Engage in Extracurricular Activities

While picnic-goers will enjoy sitting down for a tasty meal, including additional activities makes the event even more appealing. Consider games such as croquet, horseshoes or other contests for teen and adult guests. Ask a kindergarten teacher or other child-savvy attendee to coordinate tug-of-war, sack races and other games for younger children. In short, offer something for everybody.

Getting the Word Out

For a residential association, publicize the event in the organization's monthly newsletter along with a flier placed in residents' doors. For a community or service organization, splash an initial notice on the group's social-media page and add regular updates to whet attendees' appetites. If possible, promote the event at the group's meetings prior to the picnic. Encouraging maximum participation will lead to a cornucopia of food along with a lot of chances for attendees to socialize with new acquaintances and old friends.

Photo Credits

  • Jochen Sand/Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.