The key ingredient to hosting a succesful party? Delegate!

Hero Images/Getty Images

A church hostess and a five-star general have one thing in common. They both know how to delegate. The same precise and logistical planning that go into a military operation also goes a long way in creating a successful party, whether it be a dinner-on-the-grounds at church or a potluck in your own home. A great hostess may appear to be able to do it all without getting a single strand of hair out of place, but it is only because she knows how to delegate. While it might be fun to show off all your skills in one setting - cooking, flower arranging, decorating, etc., hosting a potluck is not the time to do it. Besides, the very nature of a potluck or covered dinner is for everyone to contribute, right? Take some advice from successful church hostesses (and five-star generals) and let your guests have a hand in creating the festive and loving party atmosphere.

Know Your Numbers

Decide how many appetizers, sides, and favorite desserts you will need based on the number of people attending. If you have 20 guests and two are supplying desserts, they should each prepare something that serves at least 10 people. Other than dessert, however, most people won’t eat a full portion of each and every dish when other options are on the table.

Dish Out Assignments

Too much of a good thing really can be bad, so avoid having too many green bean casseroles by making some initial assignments.  Decide how many appetizers, vegetable sides, desserts, etc., you want, and let your guests choose from that list. Being the hostess, however, you can make special requests. If you know everyone will be looking forward to Aunt Lori’s famous squash casserole, gok ahead and ask her to bring it to the party.

Prep Your Serveware

Someone will always forget to bring a serving utensil for their dish, so be prepared with extra pie servers, slotted spoons, and one or two sharp knives. On the same note, keep a roll of masking tape and a sharpie ready and make sure your guests have marked their own dishes with their names.

Everyone Contributes

Not everyone likes to cook, but everyone loves to eat, so that means everyone shares in the work. For those guests who don’t cook (or may not have time) but still want to contribute to the party, ask them to help set up or clean up.

Remember to keep a supply of paper plates, plastic wrap and plastic containers in case guests want to take home leftovers. Happy hosting!