Although my family's annual celebration is reasonably organized after years of practice (and my mother's borderline pathological attention to detail), my pals and I are still trying to turn Friendsgiving into a smooth, stress-free operation. Our first year we learned that yes, it is possible to have too many sweet potato side dishes, and last year our gluten-free friend realized that she couldn't eat anything except the salad that she'd prepared.
Even though the setup looked halfway decent, I think everyone wished that we'd just ordered pizza instead.
We're still learning from our experiences, and we now know that our biggest mistake has been the fact that we plan the event without a sign-up spreadsheet. I know, using the word "spreadsheet" automatically deducts about 50 percent of the fun from any celebration, but I'm trying to believe that this will make the entire situation so much better.
Several of us got together for a pre-Friendsgiving planning session (I know, again) and we've put together what we think is a simple-but-solid sign-up sheet for any potluck-style meal — not just the ones that involves several casserole dishes of stuffing.
Here's what we decided.
1. Google Sheets is the best way to go.
We're using a shared Google Sheet, so everyone who's attending can see the document and any changes that happen to the doc in real time.
2. The doc needs seven sections.
Our document is divided into sections for appetizers, breads, salads, main dishes, sides, desserts, and drinks. We debated listing each Thanksgiving meal component and then allowing everyone to claim what they'd like to bring, but decided to leave it open-ended instead. With the seven sections, people can look to see what needs the most help and volunteer accordingly.
3. And four columns.
Each section has four columns. The first one is where people put their names (duh); the second is where they put the dish they'll be bringing (more duh); the third is for people with food allergies or dietary restrictions, so that we can denote any items that will be fill-in-the-blank-friendly for our food-sensitive friends; and the fourth column gets any notes about prep, reheating, or refrigeration needs so the host will be able to make space and plan ahead.
Got it? Actually, you don't have to. We've made our sheet public for you to use.
Steal our Friendsgiving Potluck Sign-Up Sheet
To access the Friendsgiving Sign-Up Sheet, within Google Spreadsheets, please go to 'File' and 'Make a copy' and save to your own Google Drive.
This will create your own version of the spreadsheet, which will only be accessible to you — and anyone you choose to share it with.