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Tips to Host a stress-free Thanksgiving Dinner

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Host a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner with these winning tips

No matter if it’s your first or twentieth, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is never easy. Even the best hosts in the world feel some kind of pressure when family and friends gather around a table and can’t wait to see what’s for dinner. Thanksgiving is seen as one of the biggest family holidays, and some even make a bigger fuss about it than Christmas, so it’s only natural to feel stressed when you have to cook a multiple-course meal for more than four people. 

If it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, and all you want to do is panic, we got you covered. Arm yourself with a glass of wine, and keep on reading because we got you covered. You are going to have to start planning, so take some paper and a pen and start taking notes as you read on. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so get down to business! 

Thanksgiving dinner
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Get as much help as you can

Throwing a Thanksgiving dinner alone is pure suicide, so do try to get someone to help you. Your partner and children, maybe some friends, even consider delegating some of the tasks to the guests. The point is that you can’t do it all by yourself and get out with your sanity untouched. 

If there are more people in your household, get everyone to participate in doing the grocery shopping, setting the table, decorating the house, and cooking. If you have kids, turn everything into a fun family activity and make them feel it’s all a game. Let’s see who can fold more napkins or who can clean up their room faster. Rewards: one extra slice of pie at dinner or maybe even putting on a good word with Santa.

Asking the guests to bring some of the food in or take care of the drinks supply is another way you can take some of the pressure off of your shoulders and take care of your budget as well. A good leader knows they can’t do everything alone, so delegate, delegate, delegate! 

Make a very detailed plan

Now is the time to put that pen and paper to use and start planning everything out. This includes the menu, the guest list, the grocery list, the type of party you want to have, and the décor. Doing this will help you be more organized and make sure you don’t end up at Thanksgiving dinner without glasses, or even worse, without a turkey. 

First, decide what type of party you want to host. Are you making a proper dinner, with everyone gathered around the table, or are you planning on a buffet, with plenty of room for lounging and dancing? This, of course, depends on the crowd as well. If there are going to be more than ten guests, a buffet is much easy to put together, but if it’s a small family party, then you can do just fine with a traditional dinner table setting. 

After you decide on the party and guests, it’s time to work on the menu. Don’t try to include every single traditional dish, as you will have enough leftovers to last you until Christmas. Instead, try to pick a few family favorites and focus on them. You don’t need both cranberry sauce and cranberry cream, and you don’t need two potato dishes. 

Confirm your guest list

Especially if you are hosting a traditional dinner, you need to know precisely how many people will be at the table. Make sure everyone confirms at least a few days before the party, and make a point to know how many adults and children will come. This will help you think of recipes and produce enough food for everyone. 

If guests offer to bring something, don’t say no. It means less stuff for you to think of, and you need all the help you can get. However, do make sure that they don’t all end up bringing the same thing, or you will end up with ten pies and no stuffing. 

Thanksgiving Turkey
Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Set the table the day before

Start cleaning the house a week in advance so that you can start prepping for Thanksgiving in a fresh environment. On the day before the big dinner, start setting up the table to ensure you have everything you need. Keep your guest list close and place nametags so that everyone knows where to sit.

Don’t forget to make the house festive and decorate at least the dining room. You can do a bunch of nice decorations, including a centerpiece for the dinner table with cheap grosgrain ribbon, and it can be a fun activity to do with the people in your home or whoever helps you with preparations. 

Setting up everything the day before will help you stay on schedule and allow you to relax a bit on Thanksgiving Day. This way, all that’s left to do on the big day is finish up with cooking, taking a long shower, and putting your best outfit on. 

Family get-togethers are overwhelming, but booze makes things a tiny bit easier to handle. Make sure you have some drinks ready to go before the guests start arriving so that everyone can relax. 

Do the shopping a week in advance

Ideally, you should know what you are making for Thanksgiving at least one week in advance so that you can start shopping. The stores are very crowded this time of the year, so plan smart and try to go shopping early in the morning, when people are still at home.

If you are planning on ordering some of the dishes, make sure you do it in advance. Many bakeries and restaurants stop taking orders the week before Thanksgiving, so you need to act fast. And don’t feel bad for letting the professionals handle some of your work. Order that turkey if you are not the type of person that can keep an eye on the oven every 5 minutes. 

Use a Thanksgiving Calendar to help you plan what to do each day prior to Thanksgiving so you will have less to do on the big day and can enjoy your company. You can even get a half-sheet calendar.

Use our Thanksgiving Planner or baking planner to help. Keep track of your Thanksgiving decor with an inventory sheet.