Thanksgiving Potluck Ideas

19 Thanksgiving Potluck Recipes and Ideas for Blended Families

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Some of my favorite childhood memories involved a Thanksgiving potluck with my extended family. I come from a very large, blended family.

I consider this a blessing because we had so many family gatherings. Sure, the holidays were hectic, but my cousins, siblings, and I had so much fun during the holidays!

Blended Family Holidays

Not only were my parents divorced and remarried, but my grandparents actually divorced and remarried when I was just a baby. 

This made holidays crazy busy but so much fun! Our parents and grandparents always found ways to make the holidays special. 

My family never had much money. In fact, our family was adopted by the Rotary Club one year, and I learned how to budget for Christmas gifts around 8 or 9 years old. 

So we had to be extremely frugal when it came to Christmas and just our lifestyle in general.

One way we saved money on holiday expenses was to participate in a Thanksgiving potluck.


Thanksgiving Potluck Recipe Ideas


Organizing and Hosting a Thanksgiving Potluck

Just because you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean you have to take on all of the cost and responsibility of the entire meal.

Large families offer more people to help out!

[ss_click_to_tweet tweet=”Hosting Thanksgiving so much easier and gives a much better variety of foods when you outsource and delegate some of the foods and sides to others with a potluck!” content=”Hosting Thanksgiving so much easier and gives a much better variety of foods when you outsource and delegate some of the foods and sides to others with a potluck!” style=”3″]

My Aunt Mary used to make the most amazing Mexican casserole dish for Thanksgiving every year. This is so unique and different from the traditional turkey and dressing, but we all scooped some onto our plates and there were never any leftovers. 

It’s been almost 20 years since my Aunt Mary passed away unexpectedly, and every Thanksgiving, I feel connected to her in the kitchen as I try to recreate her Thanksgiving potluck dish. 

Side note: If you connect a specific recipe with a loved one, ask them for the recipe. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find them once they’re gone. 

Thanksgiving Main Dishes (Turkey Alternatives)

We all know that turkey is a staple for Thanksgiving dinner. We actually deep fry a turkey every single year, and it frees up space in my oven to bake other dishes (like homemade dressing).

Other ideas for the main course include:

  • Pork Butt

    – Marinate in Dale’s seasoning overnight (in a plastic grocery sack) in the refrigerator. Add your favorite rub and coarse black pepper. We use a Weber charcoal grill and place the pork butt on indirect heat (the side opposite the coals), turning every 25 minutes for 5-6 hours with grill gloves.

    The gloves are an absolute must (unless you want to burn yourself). Yes, this is a long process, but if you put your husband in charge of this, he can hang outside on the porch and watch the kids play. And I can guarantee you’ve never had better pork!

  • Ham and Beans

    – Non-traditional but oh so good! If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and simply can’t afford a turkey with all the fixins this year, opt for this simple, delicious meal and pair with cornbread. 

Side Note: This is also a great use of leftover ham. You can also make breakfast quiche or casseroles.

When you’re hosting a Thanksgiving potluck, it’s important to put together a guest list first. That way you know how many people will be coming along with how much food you’ll need to feed everyone.

I like to delegate Thanksgiving sides and desserts to guests so that I can focus on the main course and extras like dinner rolls and other staples that we can’t live without (like chocolate cream pie).

Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas

Here’s a list of Thanksgiving side dishes to delegate to family members. 

  • Homemade Stuffing (or Dressing)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes or Yams
  • Sweet Bean Casserole
  • Cranberry Sauce – We all have that one friend who can’t cook! 
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cream Corn
  • Brussels Sprout – I love drizzling mine with olive oil and adding chopped pecans and these (my secret ingredient)!
  • Macaroni and Cheese

Bonus points if you can get them to bring their own slow cooker so you don’t have to wash their dishes! We recently bought a carrying bag for our Crockpot so my husband could take cocktail weenies and meatballs to work for their company potluck!

The carrying bag has a strap that seals the lid in place so you don’t make a mess! Brilliant!

Here are some of my favorite items to make a Thanksgiving potluck easier for everyone.

[amazon table=”10017″]

Thanksgiving Desserts

My stepdad is probably the only person I know with type two diabetes who bakes 15-20 pies every single Thanksgiving. 

You don’t have to go overboard with the desserts. Some affordable Thanksgiving desserts to bake include:

  • Cherry Pie
  • Apple Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Banana Bread
  • Chocolate Cream Pie 
  • Cheesecake

When to Buy a Turkey For Your Thanksgiving Potluck

It’s important that you plan your holiday meal all the way down to when you’ll buy the turkey.

If you’re deep-frying a turkey, keep your turkey under 16 pounds. Any heavier than that, and you’ll be spilling peanut oil all over the place (and you might even get burned). 

If you’re looking at buying a frozen turkey, you can buy it up to a year in advance. After-holiday sales offer great discounts, and you can deep freeze a turkey for Christmas or even next Thanksgiving. 

If you prefer a fresh turkey, unfrozen, buy it one or two days in advance. It takes a good couple of days to thaw a frozen turkey, so you’ll want to be aware of this. 

I always shop for our turkey when they go on sale for super cheap. I’m not always super frugal, but when I am, I get my turkey for $.19 per pound with a $50 purchase. 

Related: 17 Things Frugal People Usually Don’t Do

I wait to buy everything I need at one time so that I can get the best price per pound. Shop around and find out which grocery stores offer the best deals and take advantage of coupons and discounts. 

Thanksgiving Decor from Do It On a Dime

I found Kathryn’s channel, Do it On a Dime, when searching for cheap Dollar Tree decor, and she has so many incredible videos about how to decorate on a budget. 

I didn’t even realize you can shop Dollar Tree items online, and yes…everything is still just $1

Check out this video where she created a Thanksgiving tablescape. 

Bottom Line

Hosting a Thanksgiving potluck is not only a great way to save money this holiday season. But it’s also an amazing way to make memories by bringing your family and friends together. 

You and your kids will remember small things like special dishes (like Mexican casserole) and playing charades or drawing names for your Secret Santa gift exchange.

How do you do Thanksgiving on a budget? Or do you prefer to go all out and completely forgo a written plan? Let me know in the comments!




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