November 13, 2006

Five Things You Can Ask Guests to Bring on Thanksgiving

You’ve carefully planned a full Thanksgiving menu, bought your ingredients, and arranged a lovely feast—and then, inevitably, someone asks, “What can I bring?” You have everything under control, but you also don’t want to turn away help or hurt anyone’s feelings. What do you say? Here are a few suggestions, excerpted from my book Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner:

  • Wine: If your family drinks wine with Thanksgiving dinner, that’s a safe and easy choice; you’re not even obligated to serve the guest’s wine with that particular meal if you already have something else that you feel goes better.
  • Bread: My suggested menu does not include bread—I figure you have enough starches with the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. But people will eat bread if it’s on the table. I recommend asking for either dinner rolls or larger rolls suitable for leftover turkey sandwiches. You’ll be glad you have them the day after!
  • Dessert: You’re probably already planning to serve pumpkin pie, but many people prefer apple pie or mincemeat pie—or even (gasp!) a non-pie dessert. A guest could bring one of these. Another suggestion: good-quality vanilla ice cream, which goes with just about any dessert. If time is short or stress is high, you might even decide to skip making your own pumpkin pie and let someone else bring it.
  • Hors d’oeuvres: Your guests will probably arrive well before the meal, so it’s always a good idea to have something light to snack on. Anything from mixed nuts to fresh vegetables to deviled eggs could be a good choice.
  • A personal specialty: If a family member who makes the world’s best gravy, cranberry sauce, or something else on this menu offers to bring something, take the hint! You’ll save yourself some work and give the guest a chance to show off.

For many more Thanksgiving ideas, including detailed instructions for making a complete traditional menu from scratch without going crazy, pick up a copy of Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner.

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