Potluck is the new dinner party

Remember the 'hostess gift'? In the glittery nineties, if you were invited to someone's house for a party during dinner time, you offered to bring something and were refused. To compensate, a hostess gift was the way to go.

And then, 2008 rolled around. We're not banking quite so much free cash these days, and it seems the height of folly to offer to foot the bill for a sumptuous meal for your friends. Potluck is so much friendlier! Not to mention you can forget worrying too much about your guests' dietary needs. If your good friend Sarah has decided she will heretofore only eat locally-grown, organic food, whole grains only, and no sugar!, well, she can make her own quinoa snow pea salad. I've been to three potlucks in the past two weeks and I'm hosting another tomorrow; I think I can say with some authority that potluck is the new dinner party.

I've been wondering how it is my friends and family have been able to relieve ourselves of the societal urge to provide for the every need of a guest in our home.