When it comes to potlucks, most attendees fall into two distinct camps: those who take pride in what they bring, and those who take pride in having friends who take pride in what they bring. But between those two poles, there's an entire middle ground of makers and moochers. Despite their differences, you'll probably see all 27 of these types hovering around the bowl of guac.
The Guy Who Brings Beer (For Himself)
He's hoping nobody notices him when he walks in. Good chance he's holding a cheap domestic sixer with a gas station price tag on it. Feels uncomfortable eating too much food, but totally does anyway. Six beers will do that.
Made a really killer seitan casserole that "really tastes just like meat". Except it doesn't. At all. But it's still pretty good! Also a very pleasant conversationalist until somebody asks her if she's tempted by bacon.
The Person Who's Embarrassed Because His Dish Sucks
Likes to talk about cooking, but is terrible at it. Or decided to step outside of his usual repertoire of sauteed vegetables and pre-cooked proteins. Strong relation to soup guy. Recently graduated from guy-who-only-brings-beer status.
The Lady Who Spent Way More Than Everyone Else on Ingredients
Why, yes! That is sushi-grade tuna on those crostinis. And the glaze is a saffron reduction. And she really hates guy-who-only-brought-beer because she generally can't drink anything cheaper than a $31 Pinot.
The "Last Minute" Excuse Guy
Just got off work. Or wasn't planning on coming and finished work early. Or is unemployed so he doesn't have any work to give him money. Really, work is always included in there somehow.
The Guac Guy
Generally has a recipe that he's been working on for awhile. Will happily rattle off ingredients for you and drop a nice anecdote about squeezing lemon juice on the guacamole to make it last more than 20mins in your fridge. Is a big fan of garlic and probably has an informed opinion about tortilla chips -- and that opinion is that you should make your own.
The Guy Who Didn't Bring Anything
Thinks that if he hovers around that plate of mashed potatoes long enough, people will think he brought it.
The Girl Who Genuinely Didn't Know It Was a Potluck
Last-minute invite. Pretty embarrassed about being empty-handed. Doesn't touch anything but the chips and salsa, but even the chips-and-salsa-dude is quietly judging her.
Works in the restaurant industry. Is not impressed with anyone's dish. Mentions the family-style staff lunches that he cooks on the regular. Drinks heavily. Still unclear what dish is theirs.
The Other Guac Guy
Is pretty new to this whole sauce-making thing. Lists ingredients with much less confidence. Is probably too big a fan of garlic, and hopes to hide behind his opinions about tortilla chips. As the party dies down, sadly watches his guacamole wilt uneaten and doesn't understand why. Goes home sad, puts on Bon Iver, and eats a lot of definitely-not-his-guacamole.
The Chips and Salsa Dude
Usually comes in pairs.
The Pinterest Girl
Very excited about potlucks. Usually works around a theme. Might bring a little placard listing the name of the dish and noting whether it has meat in it and if it is gluten-free. Has very good handwriting and a keen eye for stationary. Whatever she made is already on her Tumblr/Pinterest/personal lifestyle blog.
The Empty-Handed Friend of a Friend
Really the best person to be at the party. Nobody knows her so she's immune to blame, especially if she's good looking. Rolls her eyes a lot at the other-guac-guy.
The Guy Who Made Soup
On the plus side, there's plenty to go around, and it took a lot of work. But realistically, the host doesn't have enough bowls. Or spoons. And nobody has enough hands to hold a plate and a beer and a bowl and a spoon unless they're the Krishna of potlucks, which isn't on our list because it doesn't exist.
The Guy Who Got Red Wine/Salsa/Gravy/Borscht All Over His Khakis
Poor motor skills. Participates in awkward small talk with both new potential romantic interests and previous sexual partners. Is wearing khakis. Is always wearing khakis.
The Girlfriend Who Did All the Work
Her counterpart doesn't do much talking when they enter, but there's a good chance that he's holding a Pyrex casserole dish full of something that he doesn't understand the component parts of. Very forgiving. Excellent at small talk.
The Person Who's Pushing His Food on Everyone
He's been working on a green bean casserole forever, and humblebrags that, this time, he really nailed it -- except no one likes green bean casserole other than older generational family members at Thanksgiving.
The Dude Who Brought a Prepared Dish from Whole Foods
Hey, he's not so bad, he probably just had to work late, OKAY?!?!
The Portion Controller
Has a careful eye on the serving trays. Keeps a rigid mental inventory on par with most street bookies. Likely to instigate a Tupperware-redistribution session.
The Person Blissfully Unaware That There's a Finite Number of Chicken Wings
Oh, they just thought they'd take two because they're really hungry but there are only eight of them and, like, 15 people. Either incapable of basic math or just inconsiderate. Probably both.
The Person Who Brought a Salad
Helpful for reinforcing the illusion that you're getting a full plate of food. But, like the dish, this person is really just taking up space without adding substance.
The Person Who Brought a Salad Topped with Meat or Imitation Bacon
Went the extra mile. Helps guys feel better about their vegetable intake, and imitation bacon purveyors stay in business.
The Host Who Expects Too Much of His Friends and Is Disappointed
Nobody is on time. The truffle manicotti is getting cold. When the first guest arrives, it's painfully obvious that Lone Star doesn't pair with red sauce. Ends up eating a disproportionately large amount of their own dish. Is furious about it. Vows to never do this again, for at least three weeks.
The College-Aged Host Who's Mainly Throwing the Party to Save Money
Everyone loves beans and rice, right? Guy who brings cheap beer is his best-friend guest.
The Dude Who Didn't Bring Enough for Everyone
Yes, your eight homemade mini-calzones are delicious, but now there is a steak-knife fight over the last one, because the friend of a friend ate the first three.
The Girl Whose Dish Just Needs Another 30mins in the Oven
It's almost ready, except it isn't at all ready. And won't be for another 29mins.
Rick's awesome. And he brought beer, and money, and good looking friends of friends for everyone!
Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's national food and drink team. He is usually the guy who brings beer, chips and salsa dude, Whole Foods guy, or the soup maker that one time he was feeling ambitious. Follow him to the best tortilla chips you can buy at @Dannosphere.