Fall is known for being full of crunchy leaves, cooler temps, and thankfulness. If it’s your first time (or turn) to host Thanksgiving dinner, you might not be feeling all the warm and fuzzy feelings. Never fear! Use this guide for hosting Thanksgiving without the stress and headaches. And make sure that you read all the way to the end to get your very own planner to help things run even more smoothly!
Pick a Date
Are you going to be hosting guests on Thanksgiving day? Maybe you’re hosting a Friendsgiving instead and picking another day of the month. The date doesn’t matter as much as the people you’re gathering with. You can reach out to potential guests to try to coordinate a date or pick one that works best with your family’s schedule.
Keep in Touch
There are lots of ways to stay in touch and keep everyone on the same page. How are you going to let your guests know about the gathering?
- Private or secret Facebook group
- Group text
- Invitations (by mail or electronically)
- Facebook event
Use the Guest List in the printable below to help you keep track of who you’ve invited and their responses.
Accommodating Allergies and Special Diets
Ask your guests if there are any allergies or special diets you’ll need to consider during your meal. Remember that it’s impossible to make everyone completely happy so don’t make yourself crazy trying to meet everyone’s needs. They’ll appreciate that you did your best. You can communicate with them to let them know the menu and let them know they can bring things to supplement your menu they’re able to eat if they’d like.
Pick Your Menu
Most everyone expects to find things like turkey, stuffing (or dressing), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and other delicious dishes on the table for Thanksgiving. Go through your family recipes for traditional dishes. You can also find lots of options on Pinterest too (I’ve got a whole board dedicated to all Thanksgiving food).
Divide and Conquer
Hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that you need to provide everything. There’s nothing wrong with asking your guests to bring a dish to enjoy. Be specific with your requests and either assign people a specific dish (stuffing, cranberries, ect) or just something from a category like desserts or side dishes. Even if some of your guests aren’t great in the kitchen, there are things you can ask them to bring that don’t require culinary skills:
- drinks – be specific with what kind of drinks you’d like them to bring (wine, lemonade, bottled waters, coffee, ect)
- paper (or plastic) products – if you’re using disposable plates, cups, or silverware, this is something anyone can pick up from the store. They can also pick up plastic storage containers for the leftovers (great if you’re sending things home with your guests because they don’t need to worry about getting them back to you)
- dessert – bakeries make delicious pies and other desserts that would work perfectly with your meal
- bread or rolls – again, bakeries and stores make pretty good rolls and bread that will work with the rest of your meal
- dips or apps – there are some pretty good dips you can run to the store and grab on the way to lunch or dinner along with other finger foods (a cheese or veggie tray for example)
Decorate and Tablescapes
Part of hosting people includes decor. Since you’re hosting Thanksgiving, people might expect some turkeys or pumpkins around. Make sure you add any decor items you’ll need to the printable shopping list available below so you don’t have to run back to the store any more than necessary. If you need some ideas, you can check out my Pinterest board with crafts and printables to give you some ideas.
Get a Plan
Once you know when you’re hosting your get together, who’s coming, the menu, and how you’ll be decorating it’s time to start getting a plan together. Last minute rushing isn’t any fun so the sooner you can start prepping the better. Use the action plan and cooking list to help keep everything organized. Don’t forget to include things like
- Cleaning yourself
- Getting ready the day of the get together
- Time to rest and relax
- Clean up
Now the perfect time to take a few shortcuts where you can. Homemade means made at home. It doesn’t mean you need to make everything from scratch either. Don’t be a slave to your kitchen and wind up missing out on the fun and time with your loved ones.
- Order groceries online and have them delivered to your house or pick them up so you don’t have to fight crowds in the store
- Have someone come over and clean your house before (and after!) your guests arrive
- Purchase pre-chopped vegetables or already made charcuterie trays
- Order pieces of your meal from local restaurants or grocery stores so you don’t have to make everything yourself
Probably the most important thing to remember is to stay organized. Use these printable sheets to help you. And here’s the secret: stick to the plan!!! One of my biggest downfalls is wandering the aisles of the stores adding more food to my cart (which means more prep and cooking that I didn’t plan for) or scrolling through Pinterest and wanting to do all the cute things I see. Sticking to the plan you have will help keep the panic at bay and keep you from overdoing it.