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Host a Thanksgiving potluck

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

How to host a holiday potluck

Preparing an entire Thanksgiving meal by yourself can be stressful. Besides the big turkey that takes hours to roast, there are all the sides and desserts — not to mention the cleaning and prepping for guests. This year, make it easy on yourself by hosting a Thanksgiving potluck so that everyone contributes.
No-stress holiday entertaining
How to host a holiday potluck

Besides being easier on the host, a Thanksgiving potluck can be a lot of fun. It gives everyone the opportunity to bring his or her favorite traditional dishes, combining cultures and backgrounds in one delicious feast.

Guest list

First, decide who to invite to your Thanksgiving potluck. Will it be friends, family or a mix? Whether you'll be hosting the same group as always or starting a new tradition with a new group, don't leave invitations to the last minute.

Get more tips for hosting a winning potluck >>

Get organized

Being organized is the key to a successful potluck. Although you can just ask everyone to bring something and see what happens, you don't want a Thanksgiving with 20 pies and no main course. Once you know who is coming, consider creating a sign-up sheet where everyone can list what they are bringing. Use a program like Google Docs so that everyone can access the list from wherever they are to see what everyone is making. Besides the turkey, there should be a few sides, bread or biscuits and desserts. Anyone who doesn't want to cook can bring beverages or sign up to help with clean up.


On the day of the Thanksgiving potluck, as the host you need to anticipate your guests' needs. Some may need to finish assembling their dishes in your kitchen, and many may want to heat up what they've brought. Try to have your preparations finished by the time guests arrive so you have the space to accommodate everyone. Consider setting up some hot plates or chafing dishes to keep everything warm and clear out some space in your fridge for things people may bring that need to stay cool.

Find out how to host a Thanksgiving leftovers potluck >>

Be thankful

Sit down, enjoy the Thanksgiving meal and be thankful that you have such wonderful friends and family with whom to share an incredible, collaborative dinner. Ask everyone to go around and share what they're thankful for or tell stories about their favorite Thanksgiving traditions or childhood foods.

spray bottleClean up

The other great part about hosting a potluck is that there's more likely to be a joint cleanup effort. When everyone chips in, cleaning up can be quick and even fun!

How to host a holiday potluck

More Thanksgiving ideas

How to start your own Friendsgiving
Friendsgiving favorites: Dishes to pass and share
Potluck recipes

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