The most important part of your potluck dinner is the friends you invite, but a killer menu will make it truly unforgettable. Make sure that all of your menu items are easy to make and transport, and provide a relaxing atmosphere for your guests once they arrive. Include foods that are appropriate for all ages if children will be present, and have a selection of entertainment options to keep the little ones occupied.
Start the dinner off with a tasty bang. Try crispy fried veggies and hummus, homemade Tex-Mex egg rolls, or bake dinner rolls with cheese and bacon bits in a muffin pan. You could also slice refrigerated pizza dough into mini pieces and bake them with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella and pepperoni halves. If you want a lighter option, offer lettuce wraps -- just stuff large lettuce leaves with chopped grilled chicken and grilled blue cheese or feta crumbles and drizzle with creamy dressing before rolling.
Give your potluck an international theme. A Chinese theme, for example, could include sweet and sour pork, beef lo mein or Mongolian beef with vegetables. For a more traditional dinner, try a hearty meat-and-veggie dish like chicken and broccoli bake or chicken Parmesan. You could also try meatloaf stuffed with chopped vegetables or a grilled pork loin brushed with honey and brown sugar. If you need vegetarian options, try a three-cheese pasta bake or veggie lasagna. Stir in dry dressing and seasoning mix to give any dish a flavorful punch.
Keep your side items light enough to enjoy along with plenty of your main course. For example, try large portobello mushrooms stuffed with feta cheese and red peppers or fried butternut squash. Buttery new potatoes sprinkled with dry dressing and dip mix make an excellent and hearty side dish. You could also try grilled vegetable skewers or even homemade potato chips. Bake the chips for calorie-conscious guests. Don't forget green bean casserole. With just three ingredients -- green beans, cream of mushroom soup and French onion straws -- it's a fast, simple and delicious option.
Don't feel restricted to desserts you eat with a fork. Try cinnamon-infused hot chocolate in the winter months or fruit-filled smoothies in the summertime. You could also make pumpkin pie cookies or low-fat blueberry muffins for a sweet finish without chocolate. If you want to give each guest a personalized dessert experience, try individual strawberry shortcakes or molten chocolate cakes. For a quick, easy dessert that will make everyone think of childhood, set up a s'mores table and let guests indulge as much as they like.