Thanksgiving Dinner as a Guest
Attending Thanksgiving dinner as a guest usually implies you are part of the family, or a very close friend. But that does not change the fact many people will want to bring something. Of course, there is likely to be a lot of food and drink. Duplication is not a good idea. So, ask the host what might make a good contribution.
There are some things you should avoid. Remember, the last thing that is needed is conflict. If another person is bringing a certain dish that you make much better, and people tend to discuss the lack of quality quietly year after year, avoid the temptation to bring a competing dish. Hurt feelings will occur if one dish is left untouched while a similar dish is eaten until there is nothing left.
Another problem to avoid is to bring a nice bottle of wine if at least one alcoholic is to be present. Do not be the reason a person over-indulges.
If there is no problem, wine is a good addition to a meal. If it is best served chilled, you can bring it at the proper temperature so waiting later for a glass is not an issue. Wine can be transported in an insulated wine carrier. Carry as many as four bottles at a time for a larger gathering.
Salad is served cold. Consider bringing the makings of a salad in individual containers. Also, since the host may not have one, bring a serving dish for the salad. The serving dishes shown below can be used with ice to maintain a portable salad bar.
Once the meal is over the leftovers can be placed is the containers, which you do not mind leaving. You can then dump the ice and reclaim your serving tray.
Chilling serving trays also work for fruit and for raw vegetables. So, you can bring what you wish, and it need not be a salad.
A casserole can work, but it must be served hot. Two things you should avoid here is assuming the host has enough burners on the stove to heat another dish and assuming there are enough pans to facilitate the warming. The oven is likely to be at capacity.
If the distance you will travel is not too far, heat the dish first, and you can bring it in an insulated carrying case. Also, since the dish might not be fully consumed you should bring disposable pans for the dish that you need not bring back home, especially if you are not going to stay long after the meal.
Another option, but check first so that there is not to be too many, is a dessert. Cakes and pies always work. Do not bring a fancy cake plate. Instead, bring the cake or pie in something designed to protect it in transport.
Another consideration is small pieces of dessert, such as cupcakes. They also do better in a proper container for transport.
Regardless of which of these you decide upon, bring a large paper plate, preferably a decorative paper plate, to which the dessert can be transferred.
For more information on bringing items to a dinner party look at the article Party Food and Safety. It is important to remember food safety even while transporting food. Party food is often out for a period of time. Make certain the food is safe when eaten. There are items available to help with this.