Not only is it pretty expensive to buy all of the trimmings for your Thanksgiving dinner, it’s an extremely long and and exhaustive process to cook and bake everything (unless you’re Martha Stewart). Consider hosting a Thanksgiving potluck instead. It divides up all of the work, helps you save money and you can still enjoy all of the delicious turkey day favorites. Follow these tips for a flawless holiday potluck with friends and family:

Create the Guest List

You may wish to invite a lot of people to your apartment, but keep in mind you don’t want it to get too crowded. Determine how many of your friends and family can realistically fit in your space. Once you establish the number of people to join you for dinner, you can decide who is going to get an invite.

Divvy Up Dishes

Even though mashed potatoes are delicious, you don’t want six people bringing that dish. To prevent this from happening, send out an email with a spreadsheet where your guests can write down exactly what they’ll be making. You can even supply everyone with a list of foods that they could bring, and let them pick what they would like to prepare. Don’t forget to include beer, wine and/or cocktails on the list. Have guests who have to travel the farthest contribute foods that are easy to transport and don’t need to stay hot for a long period of time.

Provide the Turkey

Because you’re the host of Thanksgiving dinner, you should be the one to prepare the turkey. After all, transporting a bird isn’t the easiest of feats. You can prepare the gravy from its drippings at home for a mouth-watering scent to treat guests as they come through the front door.

Stock Up on Serving Gear

Make sure you have a selection of platters, serving spoons and casserole dishes, as well as trivets or warming trays to protect the table. You could also ask your guests to either bring their dish in the container they’d like to have it served in or to tote it along to be placed in one of your dishes.

Plan the Placement of Food

When you set up your buffet table, plan the placement of the food before guests arrive. Use sticky notes to designate where certain dishes should sit so that your loved ones can add their contributions easily and quickly. Arrange the flow of plates, bowls and serving trays so the cold ones are first, followed by the hot items.


Have a sheet of blank labels prepared for when all of your guests arrive. Ask them to put their dish on the buffet table and write down what they brought. This way, if one of your friends brings a plate of mystery meat, everyone will know what it is and feel much better about digging in