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6 Easy Ideas to Arrange a Thanksgiving Potluck

October 24, 2018 | By Louis Tully

There’s no sense in letting Thanksgiving gobble up your budget, especially if you’ve recently taken out a title loan for financial relief. For this year’s Thanksgiving party, use these 6 easy ideas to host your own potluck that won’t break the bank.

Playing Host

Throwing a potluck can easily be the most cost-effective way to throw a festive party. It also takes a lot of the stressful workload off your shoulders and allows your guests to get involved too. As the host, your responsibilities should include the following:

  • Invite the guests: Get the word out by sending your invitations online. Facebook is the perfect place to do this.
  • Clean house: Of course, you’ll want to make sure your home is spotless before your guests arrive. Nobody wants to eat off a dusty table.
  • Set the table: Since Thanksgiving is mostly centered around dinner time, you’ll want to at least make sure the table is set and ready to go!
  • Decorating: Decorating doesn’t necessarily take priority for Thanksgiving, but it’s always nice to have a few pumpkins here, a garland of fall leaves there. If you have some decorations boxed up, break them out to add a little festiveness to the party.
  • Entertainment: This part’s easy. Throw a football game on the living room TV for the adults and maybe set up a little game room for the kids. If your guests are bringing kids, maybe ask them to bring something for their kids to play with while they’re there.
  • The turkey: Since it’s a potluck, you won’t have to go crazy with the cooking, but you will need to at least cover the turkey. Make sure you get a turkey big enough for all your guests and place it in the oven hours before everyone arrives. Turkeys can take about 5 hours to fully cook.


Guest Duties

Assuming you have less than 10 guests coming over, you can ask them to bring at least 1 to 2 dishes each. These dishes can include appetizers, side dishes or desserts. Crockpot dishes are best since they can just bring over the pot and plug it in, saving space on the table. If it’s more than 10 guests, you can notch it down to 1 dish per person. While you’re at it, don’t hesitate to ask a few of your guests to bring some beverages or a bottle of wine. If your guests aren’t sure what to bring over, here are some ideas you could drop on them:


For appetizers, it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy or expensive. You can have your guests stick with the basics by bringing easy finger foods you’d find at a Super Bowl party.

  • Spinach and artichoke dip
  • Deviled eggs
  • Nut mix
  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Melted cheese dip
  • Celery sticks, carrots and ranch dressing (or blue cheese)
  • Chips and/or pretzels
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Wings

Side Dishes

Side dishes are going to be a big part of the meal, so make sure everybody brings a side that covers the Thanksgiving dinner basics:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Dinner rolls or biscuits



Desserts are always fun. You probably already have an idea of what you want your guests to bring. But just in case, here’s a list to cover the basics:

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Cookies (any kind plus chocolate chip)
  • Cheesecake
  • Fudge brownies

Putting it All Together

Now that you have some basic ideas on how to throw your Thanksgiving potluck, it’s time to get the word out. It’s wise to give everyone at least 2 weeks’ notice so they can prepare what they’re going to bring. You can either assign each guest a specific dish or have your guests choose from a checklist. Make sure everyone is letting you know what they plan to bring so you can keep the checklist up to date to avoid having doubles. Doing Thanksgiving potluck-style will give you plenty of room in your budget for Christmas so you can better avoid financial emergencies and have a happier and healthier holiday season. Good luck and enjoy!