How to Plan a Potluck Thanksgiving

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Potluck Thanksgivings are great because no one person gets saddled with doing all the cooking. Of course, whoever hosts the meal will have to do much of the cleaning up afterward.

Things You'll Need

  • Holiday Cookbooks
  • Low-fat Cookbooks
  • Vegetarian Cookbook
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Plastic Bags
  • Plastic bags
  • Figure out how many guests to invite, taking into consideration the size of your home, the number of chairs and the number of tables. If you'll need more dishes and silverware than you already own, consider asking a few guests to bring along reserves.

  • Determine the food preferences or restrictions of your guests. Are there any vegetarians or people with food allergies?

  • Plan the meal before you assign dishes to guests. Consider the sequence of the meal and its balance. Balance heavy, starchy foods like mashed potatoes with lighter vegetable dishes. Figure out how many courses you want to serve, as well as how many appetizers you want available before the meal.

  • Once you've planned the menu, delegate responsibility by assigning one dish to each guest. As the host, you'll probably want to cook the turkey at your own home, but if one of your guests is a whiz with turkeys, consider inviting that kitchen maestro over early to work the poultry magic. For guests who don't like to spend time in the kitchen, consider anointing them Thanksgiving Day wine stewards.

Tips & Warnings

  • People generally expect turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.
  • Leftovers are expected, so take that into account. Make sure you have plastic wrap and sealable baggies on hand so your guests don't go home empty-handed after all their work.
  • Don't ask people what they want to bring or tell them to bring "something"; you might end up with a lot of wine and five pumpkin pies. (Well, that might be OK.) Make sure you either assign dishes in fairly specific categories - side dish, salad, dessert, and so on - or assign specific dishes, such as mashed potatoes or yams.
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