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How To Prepare For A Potluck Thanksgiving

Food & Travel
By on Nov 11, 2018
How To Prepare For A Potluck Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is a great time to gather together with family and friends. However, if you’re hosting it takes a lot of work to prepare your home and cook a large meal. One way you can make it easier for yourself is to plan a potluck Thanksgiving.

A potluck gets everyone involved with the celebrations by asking each guest to bring a dish to share. While it will make the cooking easier on you, it does mean you’ll have to properly plan to make your potluck thanksgiving successful. Here’s how to prepare for a potluck thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving Potluck Ideas

While you’llThanksgiving pressure of cooking the perfect Thanksgiving dinner with help from others, there’s still a lot to do when planning a potluck. First, remember that you too will have to take care of a dish. Many who host a Thanksgiving potluck choose to provide the turkey. It’s a good rule of thumb to have at least one pound of turkey per guest.

Second, you’ll want to take care of the cutlery, décor and some beverages. While you can ask visitors to bring a bottle of wine to share if they’d like, it’s best to have other non-alcoholic beverages available such as water or iced tea. Keep in mind, after dinner drinks like coffee or cocoa will also be needed.

Here are a few other potluck Thanksgiving tips:

  • Organize A Meal Plan
  • Consider Kitchen Flow
  • Ask What Guests Will Need
  • Decorate The Table
  • Have A Leftovers Station

1. Thanksgiving Potluck List

One of the most important steps in organizing a Thanksgiving potluck is communication. Whether its six people attending or sixteen, you’ll need to make sure everyone brings a dish that contributes to the meal. As I mentioned above, it’s best if you handle the main course, and for most Americans that’s the turkey. Offer up side dishes, dessert and appetizers as options for what people can bring. You may also want to help with a few recipe requests for those who aren’t sure what to make. Here are a few ideas:

One of the easiest ways is to create a shared document where everyone can put their name down for what they’ll be providing. You can share this via email with all your guests. Additionally, now is the time to communicate if there are any food allergies or dietary restrictions to everyone is cooking so no one has to worry about their health come Thanksgiving Day.

2. Consider Kitchen Flow

Before your guests arrive, decide how you’ll serve the food. Will it be buffet style, where everyone makes their own plate away from the dining table? If so, stage the area so all flows nicely starting with the salad first, working to the main and side dishes, finishing with any biscuits or rolls. Place silverware at the end so they can’t be missed. You may even want an area for beverages if it’s not already on the table.

Others choose to serve food family style, where all dishes come out on the table at the same time and are passed around. This is a great way to celebrate thanksgiving together if space allows.

3. Ask What Guests Will Need

There should be no surprises day of. Ask those who are cooking for the Thanksgiving potluck if anything specific is needed for their dish. If it must be kept warm, make sure your oven has space for that or have a slow cooker ready to go. Also, get a few serving trays from the store. Guests will likely bring their dish in what it was cooked in, and that might not be best for serving. Large spooks and serving utensils are also a necessity for any potluck.

4.  Decorate The Table

One of the best parts of hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is being able to decorate for it! The table is the highlight of your decorations. Be sure to make the perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece to draw the eye towards the middle. However, if you decided to serve your food family style, you won’t want too much table décor. A unique table cloth and decorative napkins can go a long way.

I love including place cards on my Thanksgiving table. It not only help the flow but adds an extra touch to make my guests feel welcome. I love these place cards from Fantabulosity that feature your guests name as something to be thankful for. These are free printable that wrap around the silverware. Adding this special touch to your table has never been easier!

5.  Have A “Leftovers” Station

Once the meal is over, the clean-up has still yet to begin. In my opinion, one of the best parts about Thanksgiving dinner are all the leftovers you’re able to enjoy long after the big event is over. Stock up on containers for your guests and set up a station where they can choose what leftovers they want. Because it’s a potluck, be sure to confirm with each cook if they’re willing to share the leftovers with everyone. This can also help return any baking dishes and serving ware back to it’s rightful owner, so you don’t have to worry.


If you’ve been stressed about Thanksgiving dinner, a potluck is the way to go. Having everyone contribute is a lot of fun and can help to connect people together as they celebrate the holiday. Use these tips to make it as successful as possible.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Share with us in the comments below!

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