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Thanksgiving Potluck: Less Work & More Fun

Why do all the cooking for this holiday meal by yourself, when going potluck is less work and a lot more fun.


ENTERTAIN SMART | Unlike Christmas dinner, which is usually reserved for next of kin, our Thanksgiving meals invariably involve friends who always ask, “What can we bring?” We used to suggest things like wine or light hors d’oeuvres, and would then slave away in our modest-size kitchen to churn out everything else: a photogenic bird with all the trimmings, four sexy sides and a few scrumptious homemade desserts.

Then several years ago a good friend and great cook who loves cooking for crowds moved back to Vancouver and insisted on sharing the work. This prompted us to rethink the whole participation thing, and since then all our Thanksgivings have been potluck—and way more relaxed and communal, the way Thanksgiving ought to be.

4 Tips For A Perfect Potluck Thanksgiving

1. Cover The Basics As hosts, we always prepare and provide the essentials: the turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry apricot compote, sweet potato mash (or other basic veg), all beverages (alcoholic and non-) and a few random nibblies like olives. Our family and friends bring everything else, and this consists mainly of beautiful roasted vegetable side dishes and fabulous homemade pies.

2. Remember, Size Matters This has never happened to us, but a friend of ours once threw a holiday potluck and a few of the guests brought portions too small to serve everyone in attendance. Make sure all contributors know exactly how many people their dish(es) is expected to serve, and ask them to please err on the side of plenty.

3. Make Scratch A Rule This is one of the annual meals that should be all about scratch cooking and homemade dishes; encourage everyone involved to create rather than buy ready-made dishes.

4. Have A Back-up Plan The basic vegetable dishes we provide (see Tip #1) are our insurance policy (along with a few pies in the freezer). If someone can’t come at the last minute we are able to handle the loss. —Ruth Rainey

Photo: Courtesy Butterball Canada

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