How-to Throw a Successful Thanksgiving Potluck

The benefits of a Thanksgiving potluck? You don't have to do all the dirty work alone, sync the cooking time of all dishes, or spend a ton of money. Many hands make light work of Thanksgiving, a notoriously stressful occasion. Divide up the meal so you and your guests can spend more time being thankful, (and mowing down) – that's what Thanksgiving is all about. Here are our tips for planning a seamless potluck.

Delegate dishes

If you focus on the main dish (turkey, tofurkey, whatever you decide will be the main event), you can delegate the other dishes among your guests. If you want to go traditional, get someone to take care of the appetizers, grains (potatoes and / or squash), salads, rolls, and dessert.  It might feel bossy, but it saves your guests from wondering what to bring, and avoids an unbalanced meal. All too often, young adult potlucks end up being carb fests (carbs are cheap and easy).

Know your turkey facts

A few things you need to know before cooking a turkey: allow the bird five hours per pound thawing time. After that, it needs to sit at room temperature for 90 mins – 2 hours before it hits the oven. Roast it in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes per pound. Also, the more flavourful your stuffing is, the more flavourful your bird will be. Use fresh herbs, onion and garlic in your stuffing.

Pretty up your place

Clean your place, make it look festive and set the table ahead of time. You're an adult now (!) For a quick and easy centerpiece for your table, hollow out a pumpkin and stick in a vase and fill with flowers. Or, hollow out gourds and stick in tea lights. A straight up jac-o-lantern works too, if you  feel particularly creative.  

Prepare for cocktail hour

Since not everyone will arrive at the same time, welcome your guests with a festive cocktail and some snacks. This could be as simple as hot apple cider and whiskey, or for something more refreshing, like vodka and cranberry. Have a few bowl of seasonal munchies distributed around your place. Think mixed nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, or kale chips.

Serve smart

Potlucks save you from the dilemma of trying to make sure all your dishes are ready at the same time. As your guests arrive, put their offerings in the oven or on the stove (make sure your turkey is done by then!) and keep them warm until everyone is there. Serve buffet style, and stash plates in the oven for a few minutes before serving so food stays hot.

Don't get stressed, get grateful

Remember, it's Thanksgiving you're celebrating here. The point is to give thanks! Raise a toast to your guests and let them know how much of a pleasure it is to have them in your life and over at your place to break bread with you. 

Tags: Diet, thanksgiving hostess tips, Thanksgiving potluck, throwing a party

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