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Coordinate the Thanksgiving Gathering

Thanksgiving is a group event. It doesn’t matter how big or small, chances are, you’re either going somewhere or there is a gang of people coming your way. If you’re the cruise director this year, think a little ahead on what you’d like Crazy Uncle Ed to bring (besides his “pull my finger” trick.)

Thanksgiving - It's Easier Than You Think

5.Communicate and coordinate a plan with guests.

What does the host make?

A friend of mine told me that when her family hosts Thanksgiving, the host provides the turkey, stuffing or dressing, and any tableware. The guests bring all the other things. I LOVE this idea! I also love when everyone pitches in to do the dishes. 🙂

Sunflowers on the table

What are the best things for the guests to bring?

Based on my menu, here’s what I’d suggest:

Breakfast: If your guests are coming for the long haul, will they need or want breakfast? Put someone in charge of this.

Appetizers: This could be covered by the Breakfast section above, but just in case, have nibbles for people to enjoy. Make it light, and easy on you. Things that don’t require ovens, kitchen time or refrigeration are ideal.

Salads: Easy to throw together at home, pack in a container and put in a bowl or serving plate when they arrive. Make sure they bring, or you have available, serving utensils.

Sides: That green bean casserole, sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce. All easy to prepare and transport. Be sure to add them to your oven timeline.

Desserts: For us, this is pretty easy: Pumpkin Pie. If your guest has a handy cake or pie transportation container, this is pretty easy too, depending on how far they are travelling. This is also easy for the host to provide, as it can get tricky to transport. Desserts can also be “bar” cookies or other dishes that fit in a lidded container.

Bread basket

Bread: Buy it or make it, this is one of the easiest things to bring for guests. Mix it up and have them bring two (or even three) kinds of bread, unless you have a specific bread tradition. Those that can double as leftovers (you know, making the leftover turkey sandwich) are ideal. YUM.

Beverages: Have your guests bring a favorite wine, beer, soda, juice, sparkling juice or water. Coffee? Tea? Creamer? Make a list of things you’d like to drink at the table, and let people sign up for them. It’s easier on them and you when everyone knows the plan.

Want leftovers? Bring a container. You may have lots of leftovers, or maybe very little. If your guests want leftovers, encourage them to bring a reusable container to claim that sweet potato casserole. They get goodies, and you don’t have to empty your food container drawer.

Other tips:

Coordinate the “kitchen time”. Make sure you and your guests are on the same page when it comes to “kitchen time”. We’ll cover the time planning a little later, but this is a good time to chat with them about how much time they need in the kitchen. Will they need to prep or cook anything once they arrive? When will they get there? If you have one stove (most of us do), talking about this ahead of time will help you avoid those awkward situations where your beloved guest is taking up kitchen space you don’t have.

Anyone need special equipment? Make sure they bring it. Be sure you also have all the equipment and supplies needed. Do guests bring their own power tools? (Food processor, etc.), or will you provide all that? Talk about it ahead of time. Just because I would have a potato ricer, doesn’t mean my host would.

Will these tips make everything perfect? Well, no, but hopefully all this will help. Afterall, we want to increase the likelihood we will enjoy the time together… without resorting to heavy drinking. Now, that’s a Thanksgiving gathering to be thankful for.


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