10 Tips For a Flawless Thanksgiving Day Celebration

by on Nov 11, 2017

People sitting around a table with windows nearby.
Photo: The Kitchn

There’s no doubt about it, hosting Thanksgiving dinner is a big undertaking. But there’s something so rewarding about creating a big meal for family and friends to enjoy together. So whether it’s your first time hosting, or you’ve done it before and you’re looking to streamline the process – here are ten tips for a flawless Thanksgiving celebration.   

dinnerware set on the diniting table
Photo: BH&G

1. Plan your menu a few weeks in advance. Figure out where you’ll get your turkey, make sure to take into account any special dietary needs, and find out if you have all the necessary kitchen equipment. Check out Better Homes & Gardens Thanksgiving Countdown Planner here.

2. Test out new recipes ahead of time. This is the fun part! Thanksgiving day is not the time to test out something new, even if you’re confident that you won’t mess it up – you just never know what might happen. So be sure to do a dry run of all new recipes a couple of weeks in advance.

3. Print out and collect all of your recipes. I don’t know about you, but I use a lot of recipes from Pinterest and other websites. But when time is of the essence, it would be silly to have to search through your Pinterest boards for each recipe – print everything out (or photo copy recipes from cookbooks) and staple them all together in the order that you’ll be making them.


Roasted squash in a bowl next to rosemary sprigs on a tea towel.
Photo: NYTimes.com

4. Prep as much as possible ahead of time. Make sure to do all of the cleaning and organizing a few days in advance, but you can also do a good portion of the cooking ahead of time too. Cut vegetables, and par cook things like casseroles. Check out some other planning tips over at NYTimes.com

5. Create a written schedule. People often say that the timing is the most difficult part of hosting a big dinner. Take the guesswork out of it by making an itinerary of sorts with everything you’ll be cooking. Also note how many dishes need to go in the oven, because there’s a limited amount of space in there. Make sure you choose a couple of dishes that can be made on the stove, the grill or in a crock pot. Which brings me to my next point…

6. Use crock pots to your advantage. I always cook mashed potatoes in the crock pot, and then I leave them there during dinner so they stay hot throughout the whole meal. There are tons of ways to use slow cookers for your Thanksgiving meal – you’ll find a lot of ideas on Pinterest. Check out tons of other great tips over at The Kitchn.

7. Put apps in a room other than the kitchen. People tend to congregate where ever the hosts are, which is usually the kitchen… and that can be overwhelming if you’re running around trying to finish up recipes. But if you put appetizers in the living room, people will most likely migrate toward them as they start to get hungry, freeing up valuable space in the kitchen.  


A person's hand holding a small tray that contains two pieces of cooked chicken and a side of colorful vegetables.
Photo:  MeowMeix

8. Stock up on tupperware containers. There’s nothing worse than spending the whole end of the evening trying to find extra containers to put leftovers in. Have plenty of them all ready to go, then you can spend your time with family instead. Check out MeowMeix’s great meal combo ideas for leftovers.

9. Buy backup. I always buy backup gravy just in case, and it’s smart to buy extra basics like paper towels, snacks and beverages too. You can always use them up later, and it’s better than having to run out to the store with a houseful of guests waiting.


Pie shell filled with sliced strawberries and a serving utensil, sitting on a blue cloth.
Photo: Genius Kitchen

10. Delegate! If guests say they’d like to help, they probably mean it – give them an easy task or two. And take advantage of guests’ offers to bring dishes as well… I’m not the best baker, so I will often have someone bring the pies. Check out more tips over at Genius Kitchen.

Do you host Thanksgiving dinner? Share your tips for a flawless celebration in the comments section below!


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