T and I invited several of our favorite friends and their kids to come party potluck style the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I took care of the main dish in addition to preparing a couple simple sides and an appetizer. We bought a few 6 packs and some soft drinks, made a boozy apple cranberry punch and pretty much relied on our party to fall together. And it totally did.
I made these bomb chicken thighs with chorizo and orange zest (no potatoes this time), a green salad, delish green beans with garlic, pine nuts and basil, minestrone and a bruchetta appetizer. Our guests came through with a cheese and cracker plate, creamed corn, cranberry brie bites, two macaroni and cheeses (!) and lots of different desserts and drinks.
After most people had eaten (we kept it casual - it wasn't a sit down dinner or anything), we made smores and had drinks by the fire.
- Don't try and be a hero. Make what is feasible for you and rely on friends to help out. We specified on our invite that guests were to bring a side, app, dessert or drink to share. As the hostess I was able to make a big main dish and regular sized sides knowing that our guests were going to contribute.
- Pick easy dishes and dishes that you can prep in advance. I had my minestrone done in a flash earlier that day. I also parboiled my green beans and had the garlic for them minced so that before our people arrived I could saute them together really quickly and serve warm. The main chicken dish took hardly any attention at all - you basically throw some things together and forget about it while it bakes.
- Clean your kitchen as you go! And make sure before you begin cooking that your dishwasher is empty.
- Fire! Build a fire outside if you have the means. There's literally no better tool to get your guests gathered together and chatting. Everyone wants to be by the fire. Plus, smores.
- Make a good playlist!With songs that people like; ones that are easy to listen to. I love Led Zeppelin and Wu Tang but that's not the best music to have conversations over. For this party I went with a 60s/70s soul vibe and picked the songs myself. You can listen here, or Spotify has a bunch of great playlists available.
- Let things go and have fun. People will move your flower centerpiece arrangements in order to talk with the people across from them. Kids will drag toys into the living room, wine will spill....whatever. Have a good time and deal with it tomorrow. :)