By Diana Elizabeth Steffen
Do you love food? Who doesn’t! I love to host but hosting a full meal can be a lot of pressure. Have you thought about a cookbook club? It’s like a potluck, but every guest brings a recipe from the same cookbook. Not only does participating in a cookbook club allow you to try out new recipes and cuisines, but it also provides a sense of community and camaraderie with fellow food lovers, friends, and makes party hosts like myself happy to set a table! By rotating hosting duties among members, each month or quarter, you get to try a new cookbook and share your favorite dishes with others. My friend Lauren invited me to be part of a new cookbook club, and I was intimidated because I’m not confident in my cooking, but I was encouraged to join and give it a try!
I’m sharing photos from our first cookbook club, which is Magnolia Table, Volume 3 by Joanna Gaines. Every part of that meal was scrumptious and I highly recommend it!
Another great thing about hosting a cookbook club is that it gives you the chance (the chosen host) to set a beautiful table and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your friends to enjoy with the theme of the book. It’s even more magical when you can set up the dining table outdoors!
If you're interested in starting your own cookbook club, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
I’ll give a few tips on how to start and organize a cookbook club – as this is what I gathered from Lauren’s expertise of being in a few cookbook clubs and some ideas we bounced off each other before starting this one.
The host - monthly or quarterly
- The volunteer host selects the cookbook, and sets the date after coordinating with everyone.
- The host goes through the recipe book to offer a few different types of dishes, usually by sharing a photo of the recipe page with a photo in a group text message. It is optional to buy the cookbook, some might not want to and can select their recipe from a photo.
- The host handles the main course in case members can’t make it last minute. The recipes shared are plentiful, you want a drink, appetizer, a few sides and desserts, and the main course. You want a good overall meal with a variety of courses.
- First come, first claim the recipe in the group text message.
- The host sets the table, usually with the same theme of the cookbook, and lets guests know the theme. Usually though, everyone helps set up and clean up.
- Remember to ask about any food intolerances, allergies, or dietary restrictions and make sure everyone knows or is reminded of them before they make their dishes.
How to decide who is invited to cookbook club
Our cookbook club is at a comfortable 6 members. It’s easy to set a table, it’s enough dishes to assign, and it works!
If there’s a member who can’t make it and gives enough time to notify the host, the host can fill the seat with a guest of their choice (given that guest has proper time to prep and bring a dish too!). You could also allow the host the option to invite others if they can accommodate seating.
My tip is to select committed people, but I understand life happens and one might miss due to sickness or scheduling, and that’s okay. These photos from our recent club gathering are simply mouth-watering. I wish I could relive it! It was amazing to see how everyone worked hard on their dish, and it not only tasted incredible but was also visually appealing. I can't wait to see what our next gathering will bring. Kudos to everyone involved!
A tip about hostess gifts – while potlucks are an exception to not having to bring a gift, it is nice to show appreciation with something small. As a hostess myself I know how much work goes into coordinating an event like this and also setting up.
Cookbook clubs are a fun way to discover new recipes with friends and have an incredible meal at a house which is more fun than being at a restaurant! We plan to meet every three months and I am already thinking about which cookbook I’d like to pick when it’s my turn! I was thinking of Audrey Hepburn’s book which has her favorite recipes in it!
I hope this inspires you to start up a cookbook club. It is pretty delicious and fun. Our cookbook club plans to meet quarterly. Of course I plan to host the cookbook club outdoors when the weather is more accommodating in Phoenix and my garden is in full bloom!
Diana Elizabeth Steffen is a Phoenix-based photographer and blogger at dianaelizabethblog.com where she shares her home and garden projects with camera in hand!