A communal Thanksgiving table that represents many histories, generations and helping hands is the heart of this bountiful celebration. In that spirit, we at Pottery Barn would like to share the special Thanksgiving dishes made by our families with yours. You'll find videos of our associates cooking up family recipes and telling the stories behind the dishes. You can then print out the recipes and try them yourself. We cherish the potluck tradition as busy parents and professionals. In throwing them, we know we are sharing more than food. Practically speaking, it lets the host out of the kitchen to manage other important aspects of the event, like decorating, making drinks and planning activities. For a Thanksgiving crowd, that may include everyone from great grandmothers to newborn babies, a potluck may be a host's best friend.
As host, decide first if your house will be making the turkey, so you can direct the other dishes. Invite friends and family at least a month prior to the feast so there's plenty of time to plan and shop. You'll want guests to bring lovingly crafted, home-cooked meals with special meaning, whether it's a memory, a piece of family history or a bit of cultural information. Be sure to ask for that in your invitation, and ask the guests to bring copies of the recipes, complete with names and stories to share. Specify also how strictly your party will adhere to a traditional menu. Perhaps you want a Thanksgiving tasting of several different types of stuffings, potatoes and sauces. Maybe you're open to food from all different cultures. Our free, downloadable invitations include checkboxes of dishes to make coordinating easier.
In setting up your party space, consider having stations set up for appetizers, main courses, sides and desserts. These could be separate tables, buffets or countertops, all clearly marked. Though guests will likely serve themselves buffet-style, you'll need to decide beforehand if everyone will sit down together at once or eat casually on the go. Either way, it's ideal to have a separate kids' table and a large dining table reserved for guests to gather, eat and socialize.
To preserve the feeling of a special occasion, use ceramic plates and real flatware, stemmed glassware and linens. Real table settings achieve a beauty and authenticity that paper and plastic never do.
Most likely, there will be plenty of people to help with the post-mealtime cleanup. Set up a special area just for the table settings, or place the proper plates and dishes with the food stations. To keep the table interesting and preserve space, use serveware of different heights like multitier trays or stands to elevate and separate different foods.
Decorate in the spirit of Thanksgiving by using natural colors and simple materials. We chose a palette of white ceramic and natural flax for a classic, understated look. For color, we added seasonal fruits and displays of autumn leaves and flowers. The restrained palette makes a subtle backdrop for food presentation. More importantly, it underscores the idea that Thanksgiving is essentially about gathering and not glamour.
The fun part about decorating comes when you add your own twist. We used casual, inexpensive materials - like recycled brown butcher paper that's the same color as the natural linens. The paper serves as both menu and table cloth, allowing guests to comment and cooks to write dish names, serving notes and, of course, an artist's signature. Other simple touches with creative flair are flatware bundles tied with twine, vases of almost-bare autumn branches and candleholders made out of whole apples that have been cored to fit long tapers. Lastly, create your own music playlist, or download ours, to keep the mood festive and buoyant.
Hosting a potluck is easy when you have quantities of matching dishes, wine glasses and utensils at your fingertips. Our Caterer's Boxes of white ceramic dinnerware, stainless steel flatware and stemmed glassware, modeled on the methods of professional caterers, take the thinking out of setting the table.
Set out piles of our Linen Hemstitch Napkins in Flax for guests, and to line the bread basket. The color echoes the paper tablecloth, and linen's nubby, woven texture adds a warm, seasonal accent.
For this and every other holiday event, our Caterer's Sets are key to keeping big meals stress-free and looking beautiful. From dinnerware to flatware and serving pieces, our Caterer's Sets are designed to give you everything you need to serve 12 guests in style.
A classic gravy boat like the one from our Great White Collection is a mainstay of the Thanksgiving table - and meals throughout the holiday season.