Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of giving, but if you're responsible for feeding a large brood, it can be a bit too much to do by yourself. This year, consider hosting a potluck Thanksgiving instead by following these steps.
Make a guest list. In order to know how much food everyone will need to bring, you first need to have a guest list made up. Determine which friends, family members, neighbors and so on will be attending your Thanksgiving meal this year. Be sure to include any boyfriends/girlfriends and children in your count. Keep a written list of all the names of your guests so that you can easily keep track of the number of guests as it changes.
Come up with your menu. The next step to planning your Thanksgiving potluck this year is to create your menu. Of course, as the host, you'll likely want to prepare the turkey and/or the ham yourself. But what other foods would you like to offer your guests? Keep in mind that these foods need to be re-heatable, since your guests will be cooking them prior to bringing them to your potluck. A traditional Thanksgiving potluck menu includes several kinds of seasonal vegetables, potatoes, cranberry sauce, buns and butter, drinks and of course, desserts. Make a thorough list, including quantity if you want, so that your family members will know how much to bring to the potluck. It's always a good idea to keep everyone up-to-date on the number of guests that are coming as well so that they can adjust the size of the dish they're bringing if necessary.
Send the menu off to your guests. Thank goodness for technology! It makes throwing a Thanksgiving potluck so easy! Once you have the menu typed up, just email it to all of your guests. Have them get back to you on what dish they'd like to bring to the potluck. They'll likely be quite generous and offer to bring more than one. So if you've run out of dishes for guests to bring, you could always suggest disposable napkins, cutlery and plates as something else you'll need for the potluck. Give your guests a deadline for getting back to you so that you can ensure there will be no duplicates (or forgotten dishes).
Determine what everyone will be bringing. Once you have heard back from everyone, draw up a final potluck menu list. Then send it off to all of your guests (along with your most recent guest list) to confirm everything.
Ask for more help if you need it. If you think that you'll need some help on the morning of your Thanksgiving potluck, don't be afraid to ask your guests to stop by early to help. There will always be someone willing to help with decorations, food preparation or even cleaning before the big meal.
Set up your Thanksgiving buffet table. Potluck Thanksgiving dinners are best served in buffet-style. That way, your friends and family won't have to pass around the many dishes that you'll have at your potluck. Set up a beautiful buffet table with a nice tablecloth and a few warming plates and then invite your guests to dig into your Thanksgiving potluck feast.