A potluck Thanksgiving is a sure-fire way to ensure a stress-free holiday. When guests bring a dish, that’s less work for the host. Plus, it allows guests to enjoy (and share!) their own favorite Thanksgiving dishes.
Whether you’re hosting or attending a Thanksgiving potluck this year, here are a few crowd-pleasing ideas to make the planning, preparation, and party more fun.
FOR THE HOST
When hosting a potluck, serving the food buffet-style is the way to go. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth buffet setup.
Before guests arrive, cover the top of the buffet table with packing or construction paper. Put out a jar with colored pencils or markers so guests can write out the names of the dishes they bring. Set up one dish as an example so your friends and family know what to do.
Note: If you keep the roll of paper at one end, you can easily re-cover and label the table once you move from dinner to dessert.
Place a few trivets on the table to accommodate the hot dishes, as well as serving plates and some large serving spoons.
If you’re not setting a formal table, roll silverware in napkins and tie with ribbon or twine. Place the rolled silverware on the buffet table so guests can easily grab it as they’re fixing their dinner plates.
You can add a couple of seasonal touches, such as flowers or small pumpkins. But leave plenty of room on the table for the dishes.
It’s also helpful to have a box prepared under the table with all the post-meal necessities (plastic wrap, to-go boxes, bags, etc.) so that guests can easily pack their leftovers and re-cover their dishes before they depart.
FOR THE GUEST
Potluck Dish: Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
If you’re looking for a delicious dish that doesn’t take too much time or require too many ingredients, look no further. Bonus: Mashed cauliflower can be the guilt-free option at the table.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- ¼ c. Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp. butter
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Once tender, drain cauliflower in a colander.
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic until softened, about 2 minutes.
Combine the drained cauliflower, garlic, Parmesan cheese, butter, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Blend using an immersion blender or food processor.
FOR THE HOST OR GUEST
Potluck Dessert: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Although pie is a staple at any Thanksgiving meal, it isn’t the most ideal dessert for guests to bring because it can be hard to transport, or it may need to be baked on-site. And the host may not have time to make one! Here’s a solution, no matter who’s in charge of dessert: cookies that combine the traditional Thanksgiving pie flavors of pumpkin and chocolate. Best of all, the cookies can be made a couple of days ahead of time.
- 1 c. canned pumpkin
- 1 c. white sugar
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. milk
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
In a mixer on low speed, combine the pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer.
Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and add to the mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and chocolate chips.
Scoop 1-inch balls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown, around 10 minutes.
Note: If you’re making the cookies ahead of time, store in an airtight container.