This is truly a luxury problem but I struggle with this every Thanksgiving. Would love to know other people's thoughts and tactics!
It's the issue of people loading up on all the delicious appetizers and ruining their hunger for the main meal. Obviously, if people have traveled and it's hours to dinner, they must be fed! But I ask the local folks to arrive between 2 and 3, for dinner between 4 and 5. Even then, the last guests don't usually leave until about midnight.
We do assigned dishes and these folks are all wonderful cooks - it's always a lovely feast. But even if I tell people not to bring extra, in the joyful spirit of the day they always do, usually appetizers or extra desserts, and it would be rude not to put them out.
I've noticed the last couple of holidays that there is so much left over of the main dishes. Not than anyone minds the leftovers!
I'm wondering if I should tell people not to bring appetizers and I'll put out a very simple selection. Or should I just fuggedaboutit, be grateful for everything, and let providence take over?
Would love your thoughts.
Here, Pegeen, is another one, a way to pay it forward.
Find out what the needs are (format or type of food or both) of your local food bank or local thanksgiving feast. Or staff working hospitals, firehouses etc on the the holiday.
Then, in a note to your guests a week or 10 days in advance, thank them for their past contributions to the menu and suggest (without recriminations) that this year - if they want to bring something beyond their menu dishes - please bring x, y, z for the food bank, hospital, firefighters.
Collect what they bring and take it, that day or Friday, to the intended beneficiaries.
Why not *deliberately* make this a potluck?
Just tell people that if bringing a homemade dish or beverage doesn't work out with their schedule or travel logistics, they should bring a shelf-stable non-perishable food item to be donated to the local food bank. Cans of beans, instant ramen, boxes of pasta, doesn't matter.
That would give everyone the opportunity and choice to feel like they are participating regardless of their travel plans, budget, etc.
Nobody loses -- everyone (including some who might not be as fortunate) gets something out of the event.
You should also consider asking for people to bring mixers, favorite spirits/beverages, and bags of ice. Easier to leave a couple of ice bags in a bucket on the patio rather than have someone try to get to the ice maker in the kitchen freezer every twenty minutes.
That’s the more gracious way of handling this. Let people who want to contribute bring their offerings.
After all, it’s THANKS-giving. At least that’s my interpretation of the spirit of this get together.
If you have a dinner guest who has dietary restrictions, the potluck becomes an opportunity for that person to share what they can eat with others (gluten-free, vegan, nutfree, whatever). That way you as the host do not have to take ownership to cater to every single dietary restriction/dislike/etc.