The Worst Potluck Horror Stories of All Time

published Nov 9, 2017
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The potluck is a time-honored tradition that makes most of us pull out our slow cookers, dust off our festive-themed holiday serving dishes, and indulge in way (way) too many cookies. However, it’s also a time when the best of intentions go awry. From raw chicken to accidental babysitters, here are some of the most cringeworthy potluck experiences ever.

Rose B., Califronia: I went to a work party and someone brought one of those huge Costco trays of cookies and they attached a sign that said “ONLY TAKE ONE!” Of course, we all thought it was because she was worried about having enough cookies even though there were more than enough for people to have multiple cookies. We found out at the end that she put the sign there because she wanted to bring the leftovers home for herself.

Stephen S., Massachusetts: I know my coworkers are into food. I’ve gone out to dinner with them. That’s why I’m really surprised by the fact that I feel like I’ve been to nine potlucks where the majority of offerings are terrible dry celery and white baby carrot crudités with some questionable dip that’s like somewhere between ranch and despair. What gives?

Jason C., New Jersey: I am known for my double chocolate Oreo crunch cookies at work. I make them every year and bring them into work for the holiday party. However, I am also known for my spicy fried chicken at home, which I brine for 24 hours. I brine the chicken in an opaque plastic container. I use an identical container to transport the cookies to work once a year. Guess what showed up at the holiday party? Luckily, nobody mistook uncooked chicken wings for chocolatey dessert.

Christine A., North Carolina: When I was an intern, there was a holiday party held in the office building after work one night. I didn’t want to arrive empty-handed — I make a mean cheese plate, so I got some fancy triple creme cheese and gorgeous preserves and headed to work the day of the party, planning to pull out the plate after work when the party started. When we all closed up our computers and headed to the party with our potluck items, the other interns and I really made ourselves at home … babysitting the kids of the heads of the company. Little did I know, interns were considered glorified babysitters and the entire evening was spent trying to surreptitiously drink cocktails while also keeping the kids from crashing into the marble pillars in the lobby.

Sam N., New York: When I brought my young daughter to a holiday potluck held at a kosher friend’s home, it never occurred to me to tell her the sandwiches we were bringing were filled with turkey. However, when she loudly announced, “Boy, these ham sandwiches aren’t good at all,” I pretty much wanted to crawl into a hole. Although my friends were incredibly sweet and thought it was funny, it’s worth noting there were quite a few turkey/ham/mystery meat sandwiches left over by the end of the party.

Alan R., California: One time at a horrible seasonal job, Fridays were general potluck or BBQ days where different teams traded off bringing lunch. Of course, things like allergies or dietary restrictions were taken into account … by most. One coworker announced that she was going to be making sloppy Joes for her turn one week. When it was pointed out that there were several vegetarians, she got a blank look on her face, and said, “Well, they can just eat the bun … ” Several of us got dirty looks the day of the potluck, when we left to get lunch elsewhere.

Daniel B., Arizona: “I once witnessed a coworker cut off a piece of community chocolate cake with her car key, before licking the key clean and putting it right back in her pocket.”

Marc C, NY: “During school, I dated someone who lived in a communal house where each housemate cooked for the others, about 30 people, once every month or so. She chose to make lasagna for her night and asked if I would help. Neither of us knew how to cook it, but she knew she needed three kinds of cheese and noodles. I cooked the lasagne noodles for about 47 minutes and then she slapped those soggy noodles into a pan followed by layers of cream cheese, cottage cheese, and cheddar. I tried very hard to be supportive but this soup of a dish resembled a sludgy/cheesy ramen more than lasagna. Not sure if she ever had to cook for the house again, or if this masterpiece got her out of cooking duties for good.