Growing up, my family hosted most holidays. We had the most space and a house that was made for decorating. Hosting also involved doing most of the cooking. My grandmother was in charge of the bread, my aunts would bring something to share and lots of people brought desserts, but generally speaking the meal was made by my step-mother.
Several years ago I attended my first Thanksgiving with my (now) husband’s family. I made a dessert, of course, and showed up feeling very proud. Little did I know that holidays with the O family are an “all hands on deck” affair. They had crafted a system over several years after the kids took over hosting duties. Not wanting the host family to be overburdened, they started dividing up the cooking between all the families.
It’s a system that requires some planning, but as someone who’s now hosted this traditional dinner twice, I think it works great!
How it Works
The host family provides the space and prepares the turkey and mashed potatoes. This makes sense because, really, no one wants to transport a cooked 20+ lb turkey, juices and all, to another location, and mashed potatoes are best right out of the pot.
Everything else, from appetizers to dessert to wine, is brought by the guests. This year we’ve got 29 people coming from 8 families, so we divided up the rest of the food between us. I like to add specific dishes that are “must haves” (like stuffing and wine) under each category to make sure those are covered. Here’s our organizer for this year:
Not only does this make it easy to see if we have what we need, we can also make sure no one’s bringing the same dishes. How embarrassing! Clearly, someone needs to get on top of this roll situation!
Download a Thanksgiving Printable for your own planning. There’s still time for you to plan a fabulous pot-luck feast!