One of the obvious questions when money (or time) is tight is: “Is it socially acceptable to host Thanksgiving dinner as a potluck?”
Don’t worry, says Nik: "Potluck dinners rock but it's all about how you go about organizing them. As the host, always take the principle item whether it's the meat, poultry or vegetarian entree. Once this is decided, assign the starters, sides and desserts, based on each guests' expertise," says Nik.
Tact is key so you come off looking like a consummate host, not a cheapskate. With relatives, avoid "over-sharing" that you’re going potluck because throwing Thanksgiving dinner yourself costs so much and it’s not fair etc, etc, etc!
Instead, flatter your guests’ cooking acumen. Of course, they’ll want to contribute! Nik suggests phrasing potluck requests along the lines of " 'This Thanksgiving, I really want to enjoy all my favourite dishes and, Suzie, I’d be so honoured if you’d make your Asian slaw. I know everyone will love it as much as I do!' "
With this approach, “everyone leaves feeling warm and fuzzy. They ultimately enjoy a fabulous dinner and also help in the preparation. Everyone's a winner,” says Nik.
Non-cooks can be assigned wines. Tell them what foods are on the menu and ask them to source appropriate drink pairings.
Decorating the table
Forgo pricey custom flower arrangements if your budget’s tight. In fact, you may find what you need in your yard or at the farmer’s market, says Nik.
“This time of year allows us to raid our gardens and local fruit and vegetable stands where the simple addition of fresh cut fall flowers and the seasonal autumn harvest can add instant decor to any setting,” he says.
In addition, look for anything pure Canadiana. “I'm seeing a nod to everything Canadian. Perhaps it's the growing excitement as we prepare to host the Olympics!” laughs Nik. “Go rustic with cones, birch-bark-wrapped candles, nuts and berries, but also think about showing off cranberry and amber coloured glassware, handmade pottery and jadeite. Woven linens, wood and stick placemats ... anything that says ‘I'm so Canadian!’ ”