Posted: Nov 08, 2012 10:00 AM
Throw a Thanksgiving gathering that spotlights family favorites and culinary surprises. At a potluck, everyone gets to chip in and share the celebration.

Daunted by the idea of putting together a huge meal on your own? Try teamwork this Thanksgiving. Use these entertaining tips to gather friends and family for a Thanksgiving potluck that embraces shared traditions. When everyone pitches in, you'll all have more to be thankful for.

Assign dishes early on

The key to a Thanksgiving potluck is to make sure you don't end up with seven batches of stuffing. Coordinate with your guests a few weeks before Thanksgiving to make sure the meal will feature a wide variety of dishes. Consider using a group email or shared spreadsheet to keep organized. Ask your guests to suggest three dishes, and then assign based on the suggestions you receive. Don't forget vegetarian options and desserts. To make things easier, stick to the beverages yourself and ask your guests to bring serving utensils with their dishes.

Do the turkey yourself

As the host, make sure your family is in charge of the main dish. If you've never made a turkey, read up on the best ways to roast a tender, juicy bird. Don't try anything super fancy if you're a beginner. Most people prefer a traditionally roasted turkey to a deep fried bird. You may want to order a baked ham in addition to your turkey for a variety of main meats. When it comes to serving the bird, plan on about 3/4 pounds of turkey per guest. This should give you plenty of leftovers for turkey sandwiches and turkey pot pie.

Create a serving buffet

Clear a table for your potluck buffet. If you have a breakfast bar in the kitchen, that may be enough space, but you may be better off using a buffet table. Try covering a foldable table with a table cloth. This is your chance to shine when it comes to holiday decor. Choose a theme and run with it, whether it's mismatched plates or a monochrome shade inspired by autumn. When serving at a buffet, it's important to have sturdy plates. Don't use flimsy paper or you'll have a disaster on your hands.

Be prepared for leftovers and recipe sharing

When a variety of guests are bringing Thanksgiving dishes to your potluck gathering, you're likely to have a generous supply of leftovers. Purchase an inexpensive set of storage containers so that you can send all of your guests home with a thank you gift in the form of delicious leftovers. In anticipation of a lot of questions about recipes, ask your guests to bring along printouts or recipe cards so that everyone can swap and share. Alternatively, you can ask your guests to email you recipes beforehand. Print them on small recipe cards and display a stack in front of each dish at the buffet table so that people can take home the recipes they loved.

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