What To Bring To Thanksgiving Dinner As A Guest

If you’ve been invited to Thanksgiving dinner this year, consider yourself lucky!

Preparing this famously traditional meal can be quite the feat and can certainly pose a few challenges along the way. The chance to attend a Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy dinner with your loved ones.

However, since your hostess is putting in all the work you may be asking yourself what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner as a guest and how to properly thank them for going the distance to present this wonderful meal for the gathering.

There are quite a few things that you can bring that will come off as gracious and appreciative you were able to be a part of your friends or family holiday dinner. These ideas are sure to be a big hit with the hostess and will be remembered and appreciated by the whole crowd.

Thanksgiving meal

Bring A Host/Hostess Gift

This traditional approach is a sure way of saying, “Thank you for inviting us,” and your host or hostess will certainly appreciate the effort.

This could mean a fancy cutting board, a gift card, a candle, or a handmade gift from the heart. Gift ideas are certainly endless and can include a wide array of items.

Maybe you want to share your favorite brand of chocolate or maybe you already know this person well enough to choose something more personal. Whatever you choose, your host/hostess will feel appreciated for the kind gesture.

Bringing a gift shows that you understand the effort that went into this exceptionally large meal and that you appreciate her time and willingness to host the gathering. 

Discover our selection of the best hostess gifts to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner >>

Bring A Trusted Family Recipe

If your family has one of those “tried and true” generational recipes that were passed down from many relatives, this is the type of dish you want to bring on Thanksgiving day.

Family recipes have a heartfelt, heartwarming way about them that people truly appreciate and adore. If you bring Aunt Nancy’s famous sweet potato casserole, it’s sure to be a hit just for the mere fact it holds great importance to you.

Sharing that old family recipe at Thanksgiving dinner is a wonderful way to show appreciation to those you are spending it with. Not to mention, there is nothing wrong with having more food and choices at the table.

You might want to check beforehand with your host what the Thanksgiving menu is going to be, and what they might need help with. They probably have the traditional dishes covered but they might appreciate it if you bring some appetizers, side dishes, or any Thanksgiving dishes they might not have time to prepare.

Thanksgiving meal

Bring Some Fine Wine

Nothing says “Let’s celebrate” more than a nice bottle of wine to crack open when it’s time to cut that turkey. You could bring your favorite, the host/hostess’ favorite, or something entirely new to experience with your loved ones. You could bring one to share at the table and one for the host/hostess to enjoy later as a generous gesture as well.

If your family doesn’t typically drink wine or alcohol, consider a bottle of sparkling apple cider or ingredients for a hot cocoa, coffee or tea bar to enjoy at dessert time. Your hostess is sure to appreciate the effort, no matter which one you choose to bring. 

Bring A Centerpiece

One thing that is often overlooked while preparing Thanksgiving dinner is the accents for the dinner table. The host/hostess is extremely busy prepping the meal of the year and would definitely appreciate a nice floral or faux floral centerpiece to add that elegant touch to their Thanksgiving table.

Visit your local florist for a gorgeous floral arrangement, sure to impress all and show the host that you are so appreciative of the invite.

If you have a craftier side, head to your local arts and crafts store of choice and start arranging your own floral masterpiece. This fun idea is definitely one that is creative and really adds to the Thanksgiving spirit during your gathering.

GBtroo Farmhouse Mason Jar Centerpiece - Versatile Home Decor for Kitchen, Bedroom, and Bathroom - Handcrafted Table Centerpiece for Dining Room - Ideal Gift for Any Occasion


Can you really ever go wrong bringing dessert to any kind of gathering? Bringing dessert to Thanksgiving is definitely a popular tradition.

The host/hostess is spending the entirety of their morning preparing a giant meal and sometimes dessert is put on the back burner (no pun intended!). Bringing a dessert is definitely adding some excitement to the Thanksgiving feast and having an assortment is always enticing.

Make one of your favorite desserts or purchase a special pastry dish from your local bakery, such as a pecan pie or a pumpkin pie.

You really can’t go wrong or ever have enough desserts, especially during a fun, family gathering.

Pecan and pumpkin pies

Board Games

Despite the fact that everyone gets a bit sleepy after a dinner party, it’s time to liven things up a bit for some entertainment. Bring some board games to set the tone for a fun-filled evening, post meal.

Whether you are with friends or family, there are tons of fun games to incorporate into this holiday and keep things interesting. Keep it classic when you’ve got a family of kids with games like Life, Monopoly, Uno, and more.

If you’re looking to get social, go for Outburst, Taboo, or Charades.

There are so many ways to keep the party going, and board games have the ability to bring everyone together and engage in great laughter and even greater memories.

Breakfast For The Next Day

After a long day of cooking and preparing the biggest meal of the year and hosting Thanksgiving, chances are your host or hostess is not waking up the next morning to prepare a giant breakfast.

Bringing breakfast is a great way of saying thank you, but also a wonderful way to show that you understand how hard they’ve worked and to tell them they deserve the chance to sleep in and have breakfast ready and waiting.

You could bring fresh donuts, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and more if they are into pastries. If they prefer savory, prepare some bacon and bring English muffins with fresh fruit.

They will highly appreciate this gesture because it’s likely that they are so busy, they haven’t even thought that far ahead. 

Breakfast Table

Beverages And Ice

It’s always nice to bring the things that may have been overlooked or put aside, and then forgotten. Bringing extra beverages is always a nice gesture, since it’s easy to forget about or run out of.

You could bring an assortment of soft beverages, juices for the kids, or anything you think that the crowd could use during the get together.

Another thing that is often forgotten is ice. It’s always a nuisance when you’re in need and run out or don’t have time to get to the store.

These two items are appreciated and needed to have a successful family gathering, so bringing extra is always a good thing! It will not go unnoticed that you thought of something useful!

Your Cleaning Hands

After dinner, the host or hostess is bombarded with dirty dishes galore! One incredible way of showing appreciation is by rolling up those sleeves and washing dishes, loading the dishwasher, and putting food away.

If there are others already on it, start taking out trash, shaking out the linens, and sweeping. There are endless ways to help the process go faster and smoother and your Thanksgiving host will appreciate the help.

Ask what needs to be done and get right on it. Once all is clean, everyone will feel more relaxed and able to enjoy the rest of the gathering.

Utensils & To-Go Containers

Two things that are often overlooked are food storage and having enough utensils for serving. Bring an extra pair, just in case they run out. Your host or hostess will appreciate the fact you thought ahead and can supply them with a backup.

Also, if you plan on taking some leftovers to go, it’s always nice to supply with your own containers or storage bags. They are generous enough to cook and even more generous to give you some freebies, so pack a few to-go containers just in case there’s enough to go around.

They will appreciate not having to hand them out since they will surely need a lot for the storage of their own food! 

Being invited to Thanksgiving dinner in someone else’s home is always an exciting event to look forward to. You’ve dodged having to be the host/hostess and can sit back, relax and enjoy a traditional home-cooked meal with the people you care about most.

Bringing something to show your appreciation is always important and a lovely gesture. Your effort won’t go unnoticed and chances are you’ll be invited yet again next year.

When you greet your family or friends this year for Thanksgiving, surprise them with one of these sentiments and enjoy the holiday gathering with your loved ones. 

Related Posts:

Save it on Pinterest for later:

What to bring to Thanksgiving Dinner