Be the Guest with the Best: What to Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner


“What can I bring?” To ask or be asked this question on Thanksgiving is to enter into a contract as sacred as the turkey itself. This agreement between the kind and frazzled person so generously offering a seat at his or her table (hereinafter referred to as host) and the ever-so-grateful invitee (hereinafter referred to as guest) relies on three incontrovertible rules:

1. Don’t come empty-handed. 
2. Don’t get in the way. 
3. Do as you’re told.

What follows is the ultimate not-to-be-violated hospitality agreement, made and entered into on this holy day of overeating, as witnessed by dear Aunt Sally.

The Meal

1. Don’t Bring a Dish Unless Asked
The host has been planning the menu since Labor Day, and while your carrot dish is undoubtedly delicious, she’s already got three.

2. Guest Shall Not Chop!
If you do bring a dish, prep everything ahead of time, and don’t pick up a knife unless directed. You do not want to be that guest (hereinafter referred to as HE-WHO-IS-NOT-TO-BE-INVITED-NEXT-YEAR) who takes up half the counter space slicing sweet potatoes, and Oh, is there any extra thyme?

Photo: Mark Wiens

3. Make Yourself Useful
Offer to come early to help prep or set the table (but not without permission from the host), and hop on dish-washing duty after dinner.

Photo: Christopher Testani

4. Salad Is Always a Good Idea
Chances are the host forgot to include a salad in her plan—and everyone will want a bracing bite of greens. A salad is easy to transport, needs no reheating, and the guest can dump it in a bowl without bothering the host.

Salad on the Move, a How-To:
A. Wrap washed and dried salad greens in a dish towel.
B. Pack each component (dressing, croutons, etc.) in ziptop bags or jars.
C. Store and carry in the same bowl you’ll serve in.
D. Assemble just before serving.

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Source:: Bon Appetit