As long-time Thanksgiving hosts for our families, my husband and I love having everyone gather at our house to spend the day together. People never believe me on that. But truly, we have both of our families in our home and we enjoy the day.
If you have a family member or friend who loves to host the holiday, you may find yourself wondering what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner to make everything easier on them and more enjoyable for everyone else.
Well, my friends, I’ve thought through my own experience and listened to advice from others about what to bring (and what not to bring) to a Thanksgiving dinner. And not only are all of these things helpful for your hosts and enjoyable for the group, any of the products I mention actually help people around the world and are kind to the planet.
In other words, everyone will be thankful you brought...
Thanksgiving Day can be a long one. When you have the whole day off with nothing else going on, the parade, and football, and prep, and eating can only take up so much time. It’s always fun to have games or puzzles that the whole group can participate in during the lulls of the day.
My family spent hours the week of Christmas last year huddled together, trying to solve this Triangle Puzzle Game from Global Gifts (we only solved it correctly once). Or you could try the group Bounce Battle Game from Uncommon Goods.
Only what you’re asked
Remember that scene in The Office where Michael brings the tupperware of potato salad to the catered company event? You may end up looking like Michael Scott if you bring extra dishes to a Thanksgiving dinner that’s already planned out.
Our Thanksgiving dinners are not fancy, but I do think carefully through everything and only ask people to bring what is needed. Having an extra dish that isn’t needed can really throw off what your hostess has already carefully planned out. So, ask if you can bring anything, but only bring what you’re asked (and bring it prepared, so you’re not taking up counter or oven space).
“Great party—but there was way too much ice” - said no one, ever.
I mean, seriously, have you ever been to a social gathering when you haven’t run out of ice? This is an exception to the “only bring what’s asked” rule. Bring ice (in a small ice chest, for extra points) and there’s a 90% chance it will be needed. If not, it’s okay...it’s ice.
A Hostess Gift
While I don’t think it’s a must, if you’re going to Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house, it’s thoughtful to bring a hostess gift to let them know you appreciate them. What should you give? Depends on who your hostess is, but I’ve got a few suggestions for differing budgets and different hostesses.
For the hostess with the mostest, think about this beautiful charcuterie board from Would Works. For the one who just can’t wait for Christmastime, consider bringing some handcrafted Candy Cane Soap or a holiday candle. For a sweet tooth, a couple of candy bars can go a long way. And finally, I think any hostess at all would appreciate this Spa Day Box from One for Women.
We all know that family holidays can bring about conversations that really mess up the time together. Save the controversial or uncomfortable conversations for another time. At Thanksgiving dinner, help keep the conversation relational, warm, and...well...thankful.
Come armed with questions and conversation starters like: “What is the kindest thing someone has done for you this year?” “What’s your favorite/least favorite Thanksgiving food?” “What’s your favorite holiday tradition?” “What’s the hardest you remember laughing this year?”
Also, remember that games can help with this. Seriously, bring games!
Whether your host has guests staying with them or not, nobody wants to get up the day after Thanksgiving and cook breakfast. Consider bringing some simple pastries, or a gift card to a breakfast spot. Maybe even make something ahead to bring (check out Women’s Bean Project for some delicious biscuit or scone mix).
If you’re staying overnight with your host, take it a step further and bring everything you need to make a killer breakfast in the morning. And don’t forget the coffee!
Writer, editor, and all-around language enthusiast who uses her love of words to help others.