So, you've been invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend or relative's home. Your parents raised you to never show up to an occasion empty-handed, but you don't have time to cook a gourmet dish. There are plenty of reasons for this, and none of them are invalid.
If you're struggling to come up with something easy to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, fear not! These 16 ideas offer some solutions.
1. A veggie platter
You can buy a vegetable platter straight from the food store, but if you don't want to be that lazy, you can also create your own. You can find carrots, celery and broccoli already chopped into platter-sized pieces. All you'll need to do is arrange the vegetables — and figure out what you want to dip them in. Ranch and hummus are probably your safest bet.
If you really want to get fancy, you can also make a turkey out of your vegetables. But then, you probably wouldn't be looking at this list if you wanted to work that hard, now would you?
2. Slow cooker mashed potatoes
OK, so you don't want to be the person who shows up with mashed potatoes straight from the box. That's understandable.
Luckily, you don't need to go through too much trouble to make mashed potatoes from scratch. If you own a slow cooker, it will do most of the work for you.
3. Maple-glazed carrots
With this recipe, you might succeed at getting your relatives to eat — and even enjoy — their vegetables this Thanksgiving. All you need to do is marinate carrots in maple syrup. It doesn't take long, and it tastes delicious!
4. Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce is a classic Thanksgiving side, and it's one that's super easy to make. For a simple cranberry sauce like this one, all you'll really need is a bag of frozen cranberries, lemon and sugar. Of course, if you do have a little extra time, you can also add some flavor with pomegranates or other fruits.
Bringing a salad might sound boring, but you actually have plenty of options when it comes to making one for Thanksgiving dinner. You can go the classic route, bringing a basic salad with balsamic vinegar dressing. Or you can spice things up with fruits or less-common vegetables.
Whatever you decide to do, the guests dieting through Thanksgiving will be grateful for your contribution.
6. Macaroni and cheese
If you're above the age of 18, it's probably best to avoid bringing Kraft or Velveeta to Thanksgiving dinner (unless you relish in hearing your relatives complain about 'these damned millennials').
Don't fret, though. Believe it or not, homemade macaroni and cheese isn't so difficult to make — even if it does take a bit more effort than making it out of the box. Plus, you can add whatever toppings you want and use the slow cooker to help.
7. Garlic bread
Given that garlic bread often comes with fancy Italian meals, you may associate it with gourmet cooking. But it's simple to make on your own — and the only ingredients you really need are bread, garlic powder, parsley and butter.
Bring some oil or marinara sauce to dip the bread in if you want to look like you really gave this some thought.
Let me guess. You love stuffing, but you don't want to make the one out of the box. The guests will notice, after all.
You're in luck. With this easy stuffing recipe, you'll have homemade stuffing in no time. Who knew you just needed to mix and bake croutons and bread with the other ingredients, then bake?
You can cut out the turkey, too, to make this vegetarian-friendly and even easier on yourself.
9. Corn on the cob
Corn on the cob blends surprisingly well with other Thanksgiving side dishes, and you can seriously just buy it at the store and bake it. As long as there's plenty of butter, the guests won't care where it came from!
10. Monkey bread
OK, monkey bread is a delicious dessert that does require some effort to make. But, in comparison to most other desserts, it's not so time-consuming.
All you'll need to do is cut up biscuits, marinate the pieces in sugar and cinnamon, and bake them in a pan. So, yes. It's a bit more effort than the other recipes on this list. But once you try it, you'll realize that it was so, so worth it.
11. Fruit kabobs
If you're searching for a far easier dessert, bring fruit kabobs to Thanksgiving! These require absolutely no cooking on your part. Just chop up your desired fruits and put them on a kabob stick. It's actually that simple.
12. Chocolate covered strawberries
You can also stick with one fruit and make chocolate covered strawberries. This will be significantly easier if you own a fondue pot, but there are also recipes that make do without one.
13. Mini pies
Everyone loves dessert, and mini pies are easy to make (and transport). All you need to do is grab mini pie crusts and whatever filling you want — apple and pumpkin filling are usually available in the supermarket, so you won't even need to do much preparation.
Bring ice cream or whipped cream to really "wow" Thanksgiving guests.
14. Candy corn cupcakes
We can probably all agree that cupcakes are not much of a hassle to bake. And for the holidays, all you need is a little zest with the toppings. Add orange and yellow sprinkles or candy corn to the top, and your cupcakes will look great with all of the other Thanksgiving desserts.
15. Apple cider sangria
If you're the person who likes to bring alcohol, but you don't want to just bring a bottle of wine this year, try making this apple cider sangria. It's festive, and once you've done all the chopping and mixing, the majority of the creation process takes place sitting in the refrigerator.
When in doubt, you can always just bring a bottle of wine. Showing up with wine is always deemed classy, especially if it's a decent brand. And whose relatives don't want to be smashed for the holidays?