15 Essential Tips to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

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Are you going to host Thanksgiving this year? The anticipation of the holiday and the huge gathering of family members and friends you’ve been eager to see in one room for so long is probably paired for you with the panic about how in the world you’re going to organize the holiday for so many people at once.

This Thanksgiving preparation and hosting tips will help you avoid major stress, set up a perfect dinner, impress your guests with both great food and warm, inviting spirit and ‘recover’ from the great feast fast.

family having a thanksgiving dinner

Tips for hosting a perfect Thanksgiving without going crazy


  1. Plan your menu to include a lot of light appetizers, side dishes, as well as the classics you can’t imagine Thanksgiving without – roast turkey, delicious mash, steamed vegetables, pumpkin pie, and rolls.
  2. Start cooking a day (or even a few days) in advance. Including the dishes you may cook beforehand (like cold appetizers, sauces, dips, desserts) into your Thanksgiving dinner menu and prepare them a few days before the big holiday will relieve the pressure on the Thanksgiving day and let you enjoy the family gathering just as much as the rest of your family and invited guests will.
  3. If you need to feed a lot of people and can’t imagine cooking so much food in your little kitchen, don’t be ashamed to order from caterers, especially appetizers, bread-related things, drinks, etc. and cook the main dishes you’d like to impress your guests with at home. You may also ask the family members, who you know won’t mind cooking, to share your responsibility for the Thanksgiving dinner and bring over the dishes that are traditional in their families.
  4. Don’t be hesitate to ask for help. Cooking for holidays always brings people together and gives them an opportunity to unite above something and reflect on their past, maybe cry a little bit, talk about miscellaneous things and share their holiday memories. So, ask your closest friends or family members who’re invited to your Thanksgiving dinner to come earlier and help you prepare some dishes. I’m sure they’ll love it. Or, ‘delegate’ the preparation of some dishes to them.
  5. Similarly, if you’re invited to someone’s house for this year’s Thanksgiving, offer your help to the hosts and cook a few travel-friendly meals to bring over.
  6. Use your slow-cooker. It will make your Thanksgiving dinner preparation a lot easier. There’s a ton of traditional Thanksgiving slow cooker recipes you should employ to let some of the dishes (like mash, glazed ham, various casseroles, stuffing, apple cider, cranberry sauce) cook on their own while you’re busy cleaning the house before the guests arrive, getting your turkey ready for its grand show time, baking something, etc.
  7. When cooking for a big company, there’s always a struggle to find enough pots, pans, baking trays, storage containers, plates, dishes, and utensils. But, there’s no need in investing a lot of money (and kitchen storage space) in a ginormous pot you’ll end up using once a year or cute plates to serve your food when you may totally borrow whatever you need from the relatives that live in town and aren’t going to host the holiday this year.
  8.  Make sure to have enough drinks for everyone. That’s crazy how thirsty people get when they’ve eaten quite a lot of delicious holiday comfort food. Thus, it’s important to serve universal drinks (like apple cider, cranberry punch) both little kids and adults may drink without getting funny and too.
  9. Experiment with appetizers, but make sure to feature the all-time Thanksgiving recipes. And, as many people note, it’s better to stick to the well-tried recipes when you host a major holiday dinner to make sure that everything (or at least the game-changing dishes) turns out to taste exactly how you want it.
  10. Set the table the evening before and have the dishes you’ve prepared in advance stored in the dishes you want to serve them in. Thus, you won’t have to deal with purely organizational stuff when you need to concentrate on the grad meals, as well as plant the layout of the table.
  11. Don’t leave the hair wash on the Thanksgiving day. There’s a great chance you’re not going to have any time for that. So, shower and wash your hair the evening before.
  12. Have something fun planned for the kids? Little ones won’t sit at the table through the entire dinner. Nor will they listen to the boring adult stories being told for the 100th time. It’s better to keep the occupied with entertaining games, holiday-themed movies, and crafts to make Thanksgiving equally enjoyable for them as well.
  13. Don’t run around like a squirrel. Be a calm friendly host and forget about all the things that might go wrong to enjoy the holiday and be a part of a huge family that came to celebrate everything they have to be grateful for.
  14. You’re not going to be able to eat all the leftovers. Have a stack of tinfoil containers to pack some leftover food for your guests not to worry about having to eat all the stuff before it goes bad.
  15. You’ll be exhausted once the day is over. And, cleaning up the mess and washing mountains of dishes will be the last thing you’ll want to do after organizing such a feast. Thus, book a visit to the house cleaning services to erase the messy signs of a massive family gathering and get your home clean and ready for decorating for Christmas (if your family decorates before Thanksgiving, a throughout cleanup won’t harm as well).

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