It’s almost that time. When the guests will gather and food will be placed on tables with care and anticipation. As exciting as it can be, hosting Thanksgiving can be stressful and overwhelming, no matter if it is your first or tenth! So I gathered helpful tips for hosting Thanksgiving.
Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving
Never Turn Down Help
This one is extremely important, especially if this is your first time to host. Never turn down help! Let friends and family arrive early to help you cook or let them bring whatever dish or dessert they want. Potluck is not a bad idea when it comes to Thanksgiving, considering how much cooking is involved.
Delegation is key. In fact, be shameless when it comes to delegating. Just because you are hosting, doesn’t mean you have to take on every single task alone. Pick the dishes that mean the most to you, maybe they are family recipes that you look forward to cooking each year, and delegate the rest to friends and family.
Accepting help from others will help keep your stress level down, which will make it easier for you to enjoy yourself. Remember to soak in your time with your friends and family.
Make A Detailed Menu, Shopping List, And Schedule
I am a lady that loves her lists! Thanksgiving is definitely not an exception when it comes to list-making. Make a detailed menu for Thanksgiving dinner. If you are having friends or family members bring certain dishes, make note of that on your menu.
A detailed shopping list is imperative when it comes to Thanksgiving planning. I like to go dish by dish to make my shopping list. Once you get your menu and shopping list written out you can move onto making the schedule. The schedule is extremely important, make sure to include pre-work, not just your schedule for the day of the meal.
Make As Much As You Can Ahead Of Time
A time management tip for hosting Thanksgiving is to make as much as you can ahead of time. Do not wait until the morning or day of the big meal. The most stressful part of hosting Thanksgiving is the last-minute rush. When you are working on your detailed menu (see above tip), make note of the recipes that can be made ahead of time. Some meals might not be able to be finished completely ahead of time, but you might be able to complete some prep work to make finishing it easier on the day of Thanksgiving.
Examples of food that can be made ahead of time include pies, casseroles, and cranberry sauce. Stuffing can be put together the night before and popped in the oven on the day of the dinner.
Choose Recipes Wisely
The amount of stress can directly correlate with the recipes. I have learned that it is extremely important to choose your recipes wisely. Casserole-style dishes are great choices for Thanksgiving dinner because they are easy to make, can be made ahead of time, and can feed large crowds. Casseroles also have the added bonus of not needing a lot of dishes. So fewer dishes to wash! Win-win!
Try to stick to recipes that don’t take a lot of steps. Recipes that feed a lot and require little prep are the best.
Don’t Get Experimental
Most recommend to not experiment on new recipes during the holidays. However, if you really want to try out something new I highly recommend cooking it at least once before the big day. This might also be a good idea for all recipes, especially if this is your first time hosting. If you aren’t used to cooking these recipes, practice is always a good idea.
Thanksgiving dinner is rooted in traditions so most families are going to expect you to stick with the tried and true recipes of dinners past. Don’t overthink or over-complicate.
Non-Food Prep Is Essential! Start Early!
We have talked about starting early on food prep. Non-food prep is essential too. If you are planning on pulling out the China and holiday tablecloths. Don’t want until last minute to wash the China and iron the tablecloths. Be sure to count your silverware and napkins. This way you have time to buy or borrow more before.
Also keep in mind, if this is your first time hosting you might need to purchase a few new kitchen tools. Examples:
- Meat thermometer
- Large roasting pan
- Turkey baster
- More dishes…
It is important to purchase whatever tools you might need ahead of time because most stores aren’t going to be open on Thanksgiving day.
Set The Table Early
I recommend setting the table at least the day before, if not earlier. This will give you one last thing to worry about on the big day. Plus this makes it easier for you to identify if you are short on anything. Need more forks? Add it to your list for non-food prep.
Plan For Leftovers
As much food as most people cook on Thanksgiving, plan for leftovers. I like to have Tupperware for my guests to fill and take home. This way I am not left with way more than I can eat. Also, I like to make plans for making new meals with the leftovers. For example, make turkey soup with the leftover turkey. This way you are using up the leftovers, but making them a little different so you don’t get burned out.
Relax And Have Fun!
Remember, even though this might feel huge, Thanksgiving is still a holiday that is all about family. The food might be a huge part of it, but it really is about making memories and spending time with the ones you love. So remember to relax and have fun!
Last Few Tid-Bits!
- Get your kids involved! Allow them to help set the table or decorate the cookies and cakes.
- If you aren’t doing the appetizers, make sure you give them to someone that won’t arrive late.
- Grocery shopping should be done days ahead of time. This way you have time to make a couple more trips for anything you might have forgotten.
- Don’t let the turkey scare you! Click here for tips on cooking a turkey.
- Using cookbooks? Make a copy of the recipes and put the cookbooks up. This way they won’t get dirty and it frees up some counter space. I like to tape my recipes to my cabinets or put them on my refrigerator.
- Line your garbage can with multiple trash bags. This way when one is full all you have to do it pull it out and you already have another bag ready.
- Feeling overwhelmed? Cheat on your desserts. Buy a few pies from a local bakery.
- Decorate ahead of time.
I hope you find these tips for hosting Thanksgiving beneficial. If you are looking for some food inspiration for your Thanksgiving menu these posts won’t disappoint.
- 100+ Thanksgiving Recipes
- 100+ Thanksgiving Recipes, Part II
- 40+ Dessert Recipes For Fall
- 40+ Drink Recipes Perfect For Fall
I wish you many blessings. May your hearts (and bellies) be full! From my family (and kitchen) to yours, Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!!
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18