A Rainbow Potluck Birthday
Updated: Aug 4
Hi everyone! Guess what. My birthday just happened! And it was awesome. I was not expecting my birthday to be awesome. Here's the thing. Since I turn 15, I have had fantastic birthday every other year. The in between year birthdays have, on the contrary, been the pits. It's no one's fault. It's just a thing.
Last year I had an amazing birthday. I through a black and white dinner party with black and white foods, black and white decor, and I forced my friends to wear black and white. The whole thing was a convenient excuse for me to bake the black and white chess board cake I saw on the Meilleur Patissier. My version of the cake was certainly in the realm of the pinterest-fail visually, but it was delicious and I was so happy with the birthday that I did not mind its rustic-ness.
Last year's birthday party was great. To balance last year's binary, I promised myself that this year would be full of color. Twenty-eight would be the rainbow birthday. Due to my premonition that events beyond anyone's control would make this year's festivities range from mediocre to mildly shitty, I didn't want to plan a dinner party that took a lot of time and mental energy. I wanted something low-key and low-involvement so that if it sucked I could lie to myself and say that I really didn't care - look at how little work I put into this! I always like being able to lie to myself.
If you, too, want to throw a party that celebrates the colorful bounty of summer while simultaneously shielding you from the bitter disappointment often associated with birthdays, the Rainbow Potluck Party is the party you have been waiting for!
To make the Rainbow Potluck Party happen, assign each guest a color (of the rainbow or otherwise. We included pink, white, and black in our mix). You can integrate the color assignment right into the invitations, like we did, or you could assign colors after you get your RSVPs. Ask each guest to bring a dish or drink that is the color they were assigned. You can specify no food coloring or allow food coloring as your guests see fit. If you do insist on no food coloring, you will almost certainly have a blue curacao cocktail presented by your blue team. That is a risk you will have to take should you decide to ban food dye.
A note about the invitations for this party: it is really difficult to design an invitation to a rainbow-themed party without making it looks like you are celebrating a 7-year-old's birthday. I'm not sure if I succeeded in making these invites read "28," but if I did it is because the Futura font is so damn classy. I really wanted to send the invited in envelopes that matched the color the invitee was assigned, but - alas - the paper store near my office is the worst and only carried envelopes for an Under-the-Sea/Welcome-to-the-Everglades themed party.
Incidentally, turquoise and chartreuse was also the color scheme of my bedroom in middle school.
The party start-time is fairly important. It is difficult to get a sense of the rainbow of dishes when some of the rainbow is arriving late. At the same time - who cares? You're not taking this party seriously, remember? Colors are beautiful whether or not team green shows up at the same time as teams blue and yellow.
You can also specify what type of item each color is to bring in order to get a full meal at the potluck (Red team bring an appetizer, orange team brings a dessert, yellow brings an entree, etc.) The guests at our party were given no such instruction, but they managed to bring a really fantastic mix of meal components with absolutely no direction from us. Many of their decisions were surprising to me. I expected team green to bring a salad, but they rebelled against such obvious expectations and brought dessert (green tea ice cream) and a drink (kiwi-mint margaritas) instead. I expected team white to bring cheese, but they baked a Jewish apple cake. Our friends are brilliant. I presume that yours are, too, so maybe you don't need to direct them, either.
As a side note, this was the first party I hosted that started at 4PM. I chose an early start time because it was a Sunday, but let me tell you something - I am a god damn convert to early parties now. We hung out for several hours, it got dark and we put the twinkly lights on in our patio, we drank a lot of booze, and everyone went home around 9PM feeling partied-out. 9PM! That gave us time to clean up after the party before going to bed. Did we clean up? No, we did not. But we could have. Early parties are the shit.
The party was wonderful - everyone sat around relaxing and eating the rainbow. It seems my birthday curse has been lifted!