Some potluck etiquette questions...

I've been fascinated by all of the recent potluck questions, because I haven't been to one since I was age eight or so--perhaps SE is spotting a new trend!

But I have a few questions:

1, Is the hostess obliged to display all of the dishes that are bought?

I only ask because I have attended numerous family dinners and because I feel that it is good manners to bring something I have bought (on different occasions): heart-shaped chocolate-dipped shortbread, bread, wine, chocolates, candy, and flowers all of which were 'circularly filed' by my stepmother. Obviously, I was hurt (especially since the other women had their stuff served).

But it would seem that at a potluck everyone's dish would have to be served--am I right?

2. Are there any dishes that are not 'okay' to bring--like things that require lots of refrigerator space/reheating?

3. Beyond general guidelines like 'bring an appetizer' how controlling can a host/hostess be regarding what people bring (food allergies, dietary restrictions and beliefs and so forth)?

4. Is there a certain limit to a number of people who can be asked--for example, some guests might be intimidated about cooking for large crowds.

I can't help chuckle because I vaguely recall my mother--who hated cooking--would always bring the same thing when there was a potluck at my Brownie troop--antipasto salad from the local pizza place (lettuce, salami, provolone, olives, peppers--all high quality) and so forth. At work, during 'enforced' potlucks she would bring paper plates, and mightily complain about the imposition. So as a final question:

5. Is it acceptable for a 'non-cooking' person or non-foodie to bring a store-bought item?


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