Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens

Are you looking for ways to keep your teens entertained and productive during this crazy time we’re all living through? Come check out this Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens that we used to help break up the monotony and “spice things up” a bit for dinnertime.

Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens

How are you and your teens holding up during this crazy time of self-distancing and quarantining? For the most part, we are doing pretty well here in the Hernandez household. 

Zach is starting his second week of online classes, I’m continuing to keep myself busy by finding ways to help all of you, and Patrick is working his normal crazy schedule outside of the home. 

Things are almost the same as usual around here…except for that little thing called boredom that’s slowly creeping into our lives.

Handling this epidemic with a teenager brings its own set of struggles. In a matter of weeks, their independence and lifestyle have been completely shut down. There are no more meet-ups with friends at Wendy’s, trips to the comic book store, or even driving to class for that matter.

Sure, us parents of teens are lucky in the sense that we don’t need to create full-blown daily schedules to keep our kids happy. We also don’t have kids waking us up at 6 am ready to go for the day…If you’re like me, you’re having to wake yours up by 1 pm!

We do, however, have to worry about our teens spending way too much time on social media and all the amazing issues that come with that territory. 

In just this past week, my son had two “fun” videos created about him on TikTok for all to see. And I say “fun” in quotes out of pure sarcasm. Lucky for him, the video creator was kind enough to leave his name out of the TikToks, and I hear recently switched the account to private, so unless you know them personally you wouldn’t know who the videos were about. 

I’ve also heard from him about the many podcasts that are being created by some of his classmates where they’re doing phone interviews and asking questions to get as much dirt as possible on one another. They then post these podcasts for everyone to hear.

Along with the videos, these podcasts are anything but fun and meant to stir things up. Or at least that’s my opinion on all of it. 

Personally, all this has me worried about the mental health of these kids. I know so many who are already struggling with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, and I can’t help but think that this time of quarantine will take an even bigger toll on them. 

This thought scares me as much as the virus itself does. 

I also feel it’s important to say here that I know 100% that my own son is in no way perfect in this department. If I’ve learned anything from these teen years, I am fully aware that I only get PART of the story when it comes to these situations. 

Teens love to tell you what everyone else is doing wrong or what others have done to them. They tend to leave out any wrongdoing that they’ve done to others. It’s just a reality.  

Things haven’t changed much in that department since I was a teenager though. I think we’ve all lied by omission to our parents at least once in our lives. Am I right? 

So this is a PSA for my parents of little ones. The grass isn’t greener over here! I kind of envy your daily crafts and storytime. I’d much rather be doing that then desperately trying to monitor every phone or online interaction my son has these days. 

Is there a solution? I’m not sure there is one, but this is how I’m trying to combat all of this. I’m desperately trying to keep the doors of communication open and spending as much time as possible as I can with Zach to keep him off of his phone. Ugh, the struggle is real!

I’m pulling out all the stops and trying to get as creative as I possibly can to help tackle boredom and keep Zach engaged. I’m doing this while also trying not to be super “cringeworthy” with my activities. 

I was beyond happy when my idea for a family potluck dinner was embraced with open arms and there was actual enthusiasm expressed about the idea. One point for mom!

The thought came to me after seeing the “Fancy Dinner” trend that’s been circulating lately. Have you seen it yet? It’s adorable. Families are getting all decked out in their fanciest attire, pulling out all their expensive China, and eating a 5-course meal. 

The majority of these families have been home for weeks together with all adults working from home and the kids working remotely. Their wardrobes consist of loungewear and pajamas. They used the “Fancy Dinner” as a way to add a little something fun to the mix and a reason to get dressed…if only for that one dinner.

With Patrick still working outside the home, a fancy dinner wasn’t something I thought would be as appealing for him. He’s still wearing a polo and slacks every day for work. Getting him to dress up on his day off would be a battle I wasn’t interested in fighting this weekend.

A “Fancy Dinner” wasn’t in the cards for us, but a family potluck dinner was definitely feasible. So I gathered my thoughts, got a plan together, and shared it with “The Boys”. In no time, we had a Sunday dinner planned that was fit for a king. 

So for fellow families with teenagers, let me share with you my fabulous idea. 

Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens 

Create a theme

Begin by picking a dinner theme together as a family. It could literally be anything you want. A fancy dinner could actually be your theme if you wanted to go that route here. The skies are the limit here folks: Mexican night, Pizza night, 80’s night, diamonds & jeans, under the sea, etc.

Because we knew we wanted to be outside enjoying the lake, we opted to do a Lakeside BBQ as our theme.

setting outdoor table

Create a menu

Once we came up with our theme, we moved onto the menu. This is where the “potluck” concept came into play. We thought about the items we would need to make a full meal (appetizer, protein, vegetable, starch, and dessert) and wrote them down on a piece of paper (totally not fancy!).

We then headed into the kitchen to look in the fridge/freezer and pantry to see what we had on hand to cook. Because I did the shopping, I was able to give suggestions for the different parts of the meal using things I knew we had on hand. 

From there, we each signed our names next to the items we wanted to contribute to the potluck. We let Zach pick first. He opted to use a bag of Caesar salad as an appetizer and chose roasted broccoli and cauliflower for the vegetable. Patrick wanted to man the grill so he picked NY Strip steaks with garlic butter for the protein. I decided on smashed potatoes for the starch and a molten lava chocolate cake for dessert! 

This wasn’t on the original menu, but I made my signature strawberry margaritas for Patrick and me and then a mocktail for Zach using this strawberry peach juice by Tropicana. Next time I’ll add “drinks” to the menu because it was fun to create!

Strawberry Peach juice Tropicana

Add jobs/responsibilities to your sign-up sheet

At the bottom of the menu, I added some jobs that we could divide up amongst us. *If you have young ones at home, or teens you don’t trust in the kitchen, these jobs would be perfect for them.

Things like setting the table, clearing the table, and washing dishes/loading the dishwasher are great ideas for your list.

setting outdoor table

Decide on dinnertime and discuss the time/space needed to prepare dishes

This is a super-duper important step! With everyone in the family making something different to contribute to the potluck, you need an idea of how long it’s going to take to make each item and what space is needed to cook and put it together.

I did help Zach with the cooking and prep time needed for his meal contributions. This is a great lesson on time management for your teens!

Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens

Cook and Enjoy!

All that’s left to do at this point is to cook your meal and enjoy! We each served our own dishes to each other and talked about how we made them. The meal was fabulous, the view was awesome, but the company was by far the best part! 

prepping broccoli and cauliflower

garlic smashed potatoes

steaks on the grill

teen boy serving family salad

Steak, veggies and smashed potatoes on plate

Steak, roasted veggies and smashed potatoes on plate

I must admit, this fun family potluck dinner idea for teens turned out even better than I could have imagined. It consumed the majority of our day and had us all in the kitchen cooking, chatting and enjoying our time together. I loved it so much that I plan to do more of these dinners in the near future.

Family Outdoor BBQ

Want to remember this? Post this Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens to your favorite Pinterest board!

Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens

Fun Family Potluck Dinner Idea for Teens


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  1. This is great Tiffany! From what I’ve read a lot of families are slowing down and remembering what’s most important–family time! And what is better than family time in the kitchen cooking up a storm! Love all the ideas and how you involved everyone in the family–I won’t be surprised if this doesn’t become one of the most memorable family dinners you’ve ever prepared together.

    Thanks again for your great ideas, tutorials, and pics–always top-notch! Stay safe and happy!

    1. Thank you so much!! We really had the best time and will definitely be doing more of these 💗

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