As someone who typically hosts Thanksgiving, I have a unique perspective on what defines the perfect Thanksgiving guest (and to the members of my family reading this: Yes, you’re all PERFECT.) The most important quality is that they come with a joyful attitude ready to participate in lively conversation. Second most important? That they don’t hog all the stovetop or oven space by bringing a dish that requires a lot of last minute time in the kitchen, ’cause everyone knows that on Thanksgiving, the kitchen is a crazy place. If you’ve volunteered to bring a dish to the Thanksgiving celebration this year, amazing! Now be a good guest and show up bearing one of these totally make-ahead recipes that’ll keep you out of the kitchen and in the party.
If you offered to bring an appetizer:
It’s the perfect shade of orange and a light, healthy snack that won’t weigh everyone down before the feast.
Nothing gets a group in the holiday spirit quite like gorging on a spicy-sweet pretzel and nut combo. Set this one out and watch ’em go wild.
Lay out a pretty spread with the toasts, blue cheese, & pears, then let guests build their own crostini.
A cheese board will never let you down – here’s how to build one for under $25.
Bring a pretty cutting board and you’re 5 minutes away from the perfect hors d’oeuvres.
If you offered to bring a salad:
The longer this one sits, the more the sourdough croutons soak up all the yummy flavors.
Sturdy greens won’t wilt, even if dressed an hour before the meal.
Have you ever seen a prettier color combo? Bring the beets & oranges in a bowl separate from the yogurt, then arrange on a platter just before serving.
No lettuce required for this salad, making it a perfect make-ahead dish.
If you offered to bring a side dish:
A new, sophisticated twist on the classic potatoes au gratin – sage and rosemary make it classic.
Bring these in the cooled down cast-iron skillet you used to cook them, then put them on the stove and shake them around for a few minutes just before it’s time to eat.
Stuffing can be a little boring, but not when it’s kicked up with spicy Southwestern flavors.
Green beans typically need to be cooked right at the last minute, but these are served crisp and room temperature in a salad that can sit out for awhile.
My new fave way to make sweet potatoes. Make this recipe up until the final broiling step – then pop them under the broiler right before meal time.
If you offered to bring dessert
Why choose when you can enjoy both flavors baked up in the same dish?
Also seen here: your step-by-step guide to the prettiest Thanksgiving pie crust.
no bake chocolate pecan pie above: a treats affair
I’m partial to the pumpkin mousse with gingersnap crust.