Most funerals conclude with a reception in which mourners gather together to share a meal and memories of the deceased. In many cases, a potluck-style meal is hosted, which saves money for the family and reduces the amount of work that one person has to do while they are grieving. Sometimes, friends and family provide the food and other times, a group of people at the church where the funeral is held bring the dishes that are served. Planning the potluck is a good way to make sure there is a variety of foods and that there is enough for everyone.
Find out how many people might attend the funeral. Having a head count ensures that you have enough food on hand to feed all the funeral guests.
Divide the food needs into categories. This can include appetizers, salads, main dishes, drinks, desserts or soup. A larger group might require more variety of foods while a smaller gathering might do fine with just soup and salad.
Assign each person providing food a specific dish to bring. You can do this by giving each person a category or the exact item you want them to bring. If you worry that you'll get several of the same dish, it might be a good idea to tell each person what you want them to bring. Write down what each person is providing so you can hand out assignments without having to memorize what is already being cooked.
Tell people how many people you expect at the funeral. While they don't have to bring enough for everyone as a main course since there will be other food, you want to make sure there is enough to go around. For example, if there will be 30 people at the funeral, suggest two dozen brownies or three pounds of pasta.
Choose foods that are meaningful. Many people find comfort by serving funeral dishes that the deceased enjoyed during his life. If your loved one enjoyed burritos and tacos, consider setting up a Mexican-inspired buffet and ask people to bring tortillas, taco shells, beef, chicken, beans, lettuce, tomato and cheese and let guests build their own meal.
Consider dietary restrictions. If you know that some guests have food allergies or intolerances, make sure there is a dish or two that they can safely eat. You might suggest they bring something they know they can eat, but if they are not part of the crowd providing food, ask someone to find out what they can eat and bring something that works.
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