I'm involved in 1-2 potlucks a week, and next week I'll be the host. We typically do national/regional cuisine themes, like New Mexico or Japanese or whatnot. I'd like to do something a little more abstract, but not so abstract that people don't "get" it. So far I've thought of maybe a color theme, but blue is impossible, green would produce too many similar dishes, etc. I was also thinking of memories, like favorite foods from childhood, but there's a reason we don't eat the things we ate as kids anymore. I was also considering eras, like the Great Depression (too depressing) or the 1950's (funny, but not actually tasty).
Decades are always fun -- take a look at gourment magazines from the era to get ideas or other ads....
I had a yellow theme before for kids b-day party. Lots of good yellow food.
Maybe use a movie as an idea - Casablanca, Gone with Wind, Godfather etc..... Moroccan, Southern....
Caribbean food. Luau food etc..
Maybe your favorite food from childhood - but modernized and made tasty?
City Theme - San Francisco, Santa Fe, Chicago......
I was planning a potluck for this month as well and leaned towards a casserole theme since it'd be comforting for the winter and generally easy for most participants. Carnival and Mardi Gras would also be suitable for this season.
I'd agree that going with a green theme might produce too much of the same, but yellow and red could get you a good variety of dishes. Depending on your sense of humor, you could do a play on words and tell your friends to "Get Stuffed" and invite them to bring their favorite stuffed dishes (mushrooms, chiles, chicken, grape leaves, cabbage, etc.).
We've done several theme dinners and/or potlucks. I think the last one with some L.A. 'Hounds was our Mom-Food Extravaganza, in which everyone was asked to bring some family or childhood favorite. Plenty of pasta and potato dishes, hamburger casseroles and stuff. We've had Your Mom and Dad's Cocktail Party with party foods from the '50s and '60s, A Weekend in Spanish Harlem (multiethnic Latin), and our annual "White Trash (or whatever kind of trash you are)" party, which is usually a daytime-into-evening thing with appropriate costumes and stage props. There were a couple of others that everyone remembers, but which are a bit too risqué or in questionable taste to discuss here, much less suggest …
I've been to "green" potlucks where everybody brought very different things so it is possible.
How about using an emotion as a theme: foods that make you nostalgic, or melancholy, or happy.
For next week: foods to feed a Lincoln or a Washington
Potluck themes have a rich history here in CH land. A search will get you some interesting Place.
I say color is a great theme for Potluck. As I have posetd before. Assign color and dish, such as pink/appetizer. Do a blind pick. Sure it is not easy, but fun.
You can also do things like :can only use a straw. Must ask another for recipe, and just plain, Your are 5 years old, make food.
1-2 pot lucks a week is an amazingly alot!!!!!! What on earth do you do?
BTW Purple main dish = stuffed red Cabbage\
My blue food was fingerling blue potatoes, boiled whole in skin (secret to keeping them blue) the slivered, quick sauted in bacon fat and a light sea salt once drained.