The best thing about hosting a Thanksgiving potluck is -- with different minds, palates, and talents contributing to the meal -- you’re almost guaranteed to try something new.

 

 

Plus, there’s something cool about getting to share your grandmother’s famous casserole with your closest friends.

 

That said, when you’re the host, it’s important that you lay out a plan for delegating dishes -- otherwise you may end up with three boxes of cookies and no vegetables.

 

Here are a few simple steps for planning a well-rounded Friendsgiving menu.

 

Set up a signup list, and be specific.

As the host, decide what you want to make first (this should include the turkey and gravy for logistical reasons). Map out what kinds of dishes you want for the rest of the meal. Add those items to the sheet in the form of categories (e.g. a potato dish, something fried) or specific items (e.g. candied yams, green bean casserole), and let friends can sign up for what they want. A nice balance might include one protein (usually turkey); one or two carbs (mashed potatoes, stuffing); a green vegetable and/or a salad.

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Take note of food allergies and dietary restrictions.

Include a note with the RSVP or contact guests individually regarding special diets and allergies. Be considerate by offering dishes that will accommodate them, such as substantial vegetarian sides (we suggest vegetarian stuffing, since it is usually the most filling dish after turkey) or serving nuts on the side of the salad if someone has an allergy.

 

Supply extra snacks and appetizers.

We’ve all been there when the four-hour turkey takes six. Ask a couple of people to bring snacks or appetizers, and keep a couple of backup options (like chips or pretzels) on hand in case dinner gets delayed. Nothing is more stressful than a bunch of hungry guests waiting on you to serve them. If you are stuck providing appetizers, stick to items that do not require preparation and can be replenished easily, like cheese or veggies and dip.

 

 

Provide variety when it comes to drinks and dessert.

Provide (or have guests bring) an assortment of alcoholic beverages to accompany the meal. It’s always a good idea to have both red and white wine, as well as beer. You can opt out of hard alcohol altogether, or if you do provide, consider making a signature cocktail that guests can help themselves to if you’re busy. As for dessert, we like to have a couple of options in addition to pumpkin pie to suit all palates. Our rule of thumb is one fruity item, like sorbet or an apple crisp, and something chocolate, like chocolate-chip cookies. Besides, there’s no such thing as too much dessert.