This story is part of 2019 Holiday Survival Guide, featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.
The last thing you want after spending hours making that perfect Thanksgiving side dish for your family potluck is for it to get smashed, jostled or spill out between your home and your host's. Thanksgiving celebrations that are at least part potluck are becoming increasingly common these days, with guests often bringing an extra pie or casserole -- and you know you'll be uninvited or disowned if you don't make your famous dip or deviled eggs. This is doubly true for Friendsgiving, where the meal is usually communally curated.
Making the dish is just the first step. Safely transporting it is the next. We rounded up some of our favorite products for packing food and bringing it to a potluck or party -- because sometimes plain, old plastic wrap just won't do.
From casserole carriers that keep your stuffing warm to pie-protecting boxes so not one crimp comes to harm, and even cute containers you can pack with leftovers for lucky guests, these will ensure your delicious dishes travel well. And here's our ultimate Thanksgiving survival guide for making sure all goes to plan, from exciting new recipes to the underutilized tools you should make the most of while you cook.
You didn't know you were missing a box for pies in your life, did you? Made out of sturdy, unfinished pine, the PieBox will keep your 9-inch beauty from crumbling. Spring for the extra leather strap ($28 on its own or $55 when bundled together with the box) to help carry your pecan pie to Grandma's house; you can never be too safe. And if you're not a big pumpkin pie fan, think about putting the CakeBox, CookieBox and/or BiscuitBox to use instead.
Making your casserole, deep dish pie, vat of mac and cheese or sheet cake in one of those disposable aluminum pans makes cleanup so easy, but they're admittedly not as pretty on the table, nor as sturdy as a glass or ceramic pan. These casserole carriers are designed to keep your flimsy aluminum pans secure and gussy them up at the same time -- simply pop out the clear lid to serve your masterpiece straight from the carrier-covered pan. These come in green, red, charcoal and white, and are also available on Amazon in even more shades.
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If you don't attend enough potlucks to make the reusable carriers worth it, consider these holiday-themed disposables instead. You get four round and four rectangular pans with enough lids for all of them, with cute illustrations and slogans ("'Tis the Seasoning" and "Thankful for Leftovers" -- so they're also good for packing up extras for your friends or family to take home with them). World Market is also selling a set of pans with illustrated lids that have space for you to label your dish.
This insulated carrier lets you leave your house with a piping hot green bean casserole that's ready for the table when you get there. A real lifesaver if your host is short on oven space. (They will be -- and they'll be thankful to have one less dish to wrangle and reheat!) There's an upper section where you can stash utensils (with elastic loops to keep them in place) and smaller sides or other accessories. But if you're bringing two casseroles (...show-off), this two-tier insulated casserole tote will keep them both warm at once.
Whether you're contributing Crock-Pot dip, butternut squash soup, a warm slow cooker cocktail, hot wings (for a football nosh, natch) or anything else you make (or can heat up) in a Crock-Pot, this carrier will keep it nice and toasty in transport; it fits slow cookers from 4 to 8 quarts.
Pumpkin pie isn't the only Thanksgiving-appropriate dessert around. Just check out our pumpkin spice cupcake recipe, for instance. A tiered cupcake carrier is non-negotiable if you're transporting anything over a half dozen, though. This snap-together, snap-apart carrier is great for storing in a small apartment, and you can also use it for dinner rolls, or anything else you don't want to get smushed.
If "investment pieces" aren't your thing when it comes to baking (see: PieBox and CakeBox above), look to these cheap, disposable cake boxes to transport your dessert instead. They're fairly sturdy and make any cake or pie look like it came straight from a bakery.
If you want something along those lines that's extra festive even before you lift the lid, these fall-themed bakery boxes are perfect. They'll fit a 10-inch pie, cake or assorted smaller baked goods and are great for presenting a home-baked host or hostess gift.
If your concern is transporting leftovers, whether you stockpile these from your favorite Chinese restaurant or order them in bulk online, these classic to-go bowls are great for reheating food in the microwave. Since they're disposable, you can send home extra turkey and stuffing with guests and not have to hound them for your meal prep containers next week. If you'd rather cut back on waste, though, there's always Pyrex.
Somewhere between those two options lie these compostable paper containers with charming fall designs. There's also a larger size set if you're feeling more generous with the spare sweet potato casserole.
If you're assigned the cranberry sauce and the canned stuff just won't cut it, the classic Mason jar is the best way to go. It's cheap (so it won't matter if you don't get it back), and more importantly, it won't leak in your bag or over your Thanksgiving outfit. Also good for bringing extra homemade gravy if you're worried there won't be enough, or your famous pickles for the relish tray if your family still insists on having one of those. (Or try toting chow chow this year; it'll be amazing on those leftovers sandwiches.)
This may not be the prettiest deviled egg platter around, but what really matters is that there's no chance of losing your grip. You can fit a full dozen eggs in here or 24 halves. As the name implies, you can snap and stack even more container layers together if you want to make a bigger batch of eggs -- never a bad idea, because these always go fast in the lead-up to turkey time.
Not assigned to bring anything but the wine? Make sure it stays chilled (and avoid taking up valuable fridge space) by packing it in this insulated tote bag that holds four bottles. It also includes a corkscrew that attaches under the lid, in case the house wine opener gets misplaced or you just can't get into the kitchen with all the commotion.
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An earlier version of this story was written by Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy.