Running a successful bakery means putting in long hours, so Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the owners of Baked in Brooklyn, New York, often throw potluck parties as a time-saver. Here are their foolproof tips for a perfect potluck:

Assign Dishes

Lewis asks each guest to cook from a specific category—appetizers, salads, main courses or desserts—to make sure there will be an appropriate balance.

Clean Out the Refrigerator

"The hardest part of most potlucks is having enough room in your fridge," Lewis says. He stacks dishes and organizes shelves the day before to make space.

Cook Comfort Foods

Tastes can vary wildly, so successful dishes tend to be ones with familiar flavors. "Comfort foods are always a big hit," Poliafito says. "I try not to cook anything too eclectic."

Supply Serving Bowls and Utensils

The hodgepodge nature of potlucks can make the table look untidy, so Poliafito transfers food into his own serving bowls. "I like things to look more uniform," he says.

Limit Cooking at the Party

Lewis always asks guests if they will need to finish dishes at his house, but he tries to keep things simple. "I had one person come over and basically start everything from scratch once," he says. "We aren't friends anymore."

Prepare Take-Out Boxes

Inevitably people make too much food for potlucks, Poliafito says. He sets out Chinese take-out boxes or plastic containers at the end of the party for guests to pack leftovers to go.

More Great Holiday Recipes:

Three-Ingredient Prime Rib Roast
Credit: © Con Poulos
A Sweet Holiday Potluck
Herbed Crème Fraîche Dip with Crudités
Credit: © John Kernick