How My Dad Hosts Thanksgiving

A simple, sweet souvenir for your guests.
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A simple, sweet souvenir for your guests.
 The actual menu from 2012 Thanksgiving 

 The actual menu from 2012 Thanksgiving 

At every Thanksgiving I've attended, there's always been some version of labeling dishes. Usually it's a piece of paper perched next to a dish, with "Bacon Brussels Sprouts" scrawled across it, but it's only recently struck me—especially since I started hosting my own Thanksgivings—how special my dad's take on this often overlooked tradition is. 

Rather than label the assortment of potluck dishes as they are laid out in the dining room, he'll ask every guest for the name of their dish ahead of time, then create a printed menu. Usually there's a ClipArt turkey involved, but it always feels fun to see the piece of paper upon arrival. It's a way to give everyone credit, so even if you brought the crudités with ranch dressing, you feel like you contributed in an important way. More importantly, it connects everyone to a dish, which often creates sentimental conversations about their fondness for the food and their memories around the holiday. And, this may sound dorky, but having the entire menu in your hands at the beginning helps you strategize what to eat.

It's not a groundbreaking concept, but I cherish this simple yet sweet tradition he's brought to the table (pun intended). I've kept every printed menu he's made and love that when I look back at them, I'm instantly transported to meals surrounded by family and friends.