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on the table  
tips for planning your thanksgiving menu 

by Yee-Fan Sun |
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continued from page 2

5 Because knowing is half the battle… If you haven't eaten with your dinner guests a billion times before, don't just assume that because you made it, they will eat it. As with any dinner party, ask your guests ahead of time whether there are any allergies, religious or cultural restrictions, vegetarian needs or general food aversions that you should know about. Every dish does not have to be suitable for every guest, but you do want to make sure that everyone at your Thanksgiving table will be able to enjoy at least a good portion of the meal in front of them.

6 Avoid potluck chaos. Deciding to do Thanksgiving potluck-style might mean less cooking for you, the time-strapped host/ess, but even if your guests are contributing their own culinary masterpieces to the meal, you'll need to take some level of control over planning the feast. When friends ask you what they can bring, don't just toss off a vague whatever. Assign categories of dishes, so you don't end up with ten variations on a theme of mashed potato and not a speck of veggie anywhere in sight, and keep track of who's bringing what. Better yet, try and get folks to tell you specifically what they're thinking of making; the more you know, the better you'll be able to get everyone coordinated.

7 Different isn't always better. So you're toying with the idea of doing something really special for Thanksgiving -- fish instead of turkey, an all-veggie meal, a pasta spectacular. Before you get too married to the idea of doing something different, remember this: for many, many folks, Thanksgiving is all about the tradition. If you're thinking of going completely gourmet and veering substantially away from the regular turkey day suspects, run the idea by your fellow Thanksgiving-mates first. If the crowd's up for a change, fabulous. But if you sense some resistance, it's probably best to stick a little closer to the normal Thanksgiving foods. You can always offer just a couple of experimental fancy dishes if you really can't stand the idea of cooking the same-old same-old.

8 Share and share alike. If you're cooking this dinner with friends, don't turn all despotic and insist on crafting a Thanksgiving menu that looks exactly like the one your mom put on the table every year of your youth. Even if your mom is the Best Cook in the World. Doing a Thanksgiving with friends means accommodating people's various visions; a little compromise is going to be necessary, and who knows, you just might discover that you friend Jen's pumpkin pie is actually better than the one your aunt would bring to the family gathering every year when you were a kid. A big part of the fun of doing Thanksgiving on your own is that you'll be creating new traditions of your very own -- and some of the best traditions will be the ones that have been introduced to you by significant others and good friends, things that they've brought over from their own families, stuff they've now passed on to you.


check out these related articles: 
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