"It's really hard to keep potluck food looking good," Wardel said.
Wardel suggests arranging ahead of time to complete the final steps of the dish at the host's house to ensure a fresh, hot dish that has not had time to cool.
"Think ahead about the final presentation a little bit," Wardel advised.
In the moment, the pressure to be polite and try all the food can be stressful.
"I feel like you have to be nice, go through the line, and leave with an empty plate," Wardel said.
Kantor endorses a bit of subterfuge in order to discretely toss a plate of unappetizing food.
"Most people won't stand there and watch what you eat and don't eat," Kantor said. "You're just there being social, doing what everyone else is doing."
Wardel has her own proven tactics for evading people who urge her to eat more of their dishes. She claims to be on a diet.
"Or else you're the girl who throws away a full plate of food," she said. "And you don't want to be that girl!"
Some preparation beforehand can put many potluck fears to rest and keep guests germ-free. Keeping food at the proper temperature using ice or a heater, having plenty of serving utensils and fresh plates on hand, and making labels so that guests know what is in each dish, can help calm a nervous eater.
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