11 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Thanksgiving

Hosting Thanksgiving? Here are some tips for a happy holiday!

Thanksgiving is a celebration of traditions and togetherness. Every year, you have attended dinners with your friends or your parents. And this year, it is your turn to host a fabulous dinner, and the thought of it makes you anxious.

Many questions swarm your mind, like “What if something goes wrong?” To nervous hosts like you, here we give amazing tips that guarantee a Thanksgiving hosting that is free from stress. Read on!

1. Create a Schedule

Prepare a game plan for the dinner, estimating each dish. This includes prepping and cooking times. For this, you may have to get organized using a notepad or the trusted MS Word or Google Docs.

Not all your dishes have to be made on the day itself. For instance, you can make salads, side dishes, and some snacks beforehand. When it is time for dinner, you can put them in the oven and serve them hot.

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

The turkey takes hours to cook, which means it may not leave you much room to deal with chopping, slicing, or baking. So, make the desserts the previous day itself or cut your vegetables and store them in the fridge.

  • Get your appliances in order. Check if there are in good condition.
  • Wash the serving dishes that you are going to need on the day of the meal.
  • When you invite people over, it is good to project a well-maintained appearance in your home.

3. Do Your Shopping in Time

Do not put off shopping until the last moment. You may think that you have everything needed to make the meal a huge hit. But by going over the necessities once more, you will know exactly where you stand on this front. Take some time off every day in the week before Thanksgiving to get your shopping done. La Plaza, and other Rio Grande Valley malls can get quite hectic during the previous days, especially the day before and during Thanksgiving day.

  • Groceries: Make an inclusive shopping list: turkey, liquor, beverages, meats, dairy, produce, nuts, grains, fruits, canned goods, and snacks.
  • Inventory: Check if you have sufficient tables, table runners, place settings, coasters, linens, and extra chairs.
  • Decorations: Get flowers, vases, and glass bowls for edible art.

Pro Tip: Go with minimum decor and keep it simple.

4. Set up Seats in Advance

You have set out the invites and got the RSVPs. Now all that remains is making proper seating arrangements. You cannot cram all your guests together, you know!

Dining Style: What kind of dining space do you want for your guests? Are you thinking of a formal sit-down dining or a much cozier buffet style in the living room?

Allow the Guests to Mingle: Do not club all the quiet people on end and chatty ones on the other. Mix them up, so that interesting conversations can happen naturally.

Pro Tip: Know your crowd, some of your tribe may not get along. Invite only the ones who are amicable to each other, and avoid awkward silences during the meal.

5. Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Getting an impressive lineup of scrumptious dishes may add up to your cooking repertoire, but at what cost? If you are overwhelmed by the amount of work, you won’t be able to enjoy any moment of it.

The whole point of a celebration is to bring friends and family together. And if you have trusted friends who can share your work, that would be great. You could ask for their help in arranging the table or tidying up afterward. Even a simple task such as serving the drinks, appetizers, or desserts will take a heavy load off your shoulders.

6. Stick to the Basics

Every holiday has a traditional set of delectables to be made. For Thanksgiving, it is mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, pie, and cranberry sauce. So, first, cover these basics, and later if you have the time, you can think of adding creative side dishes.

Pro Tip: Make the dinner a potluck, ask your guests to bring one of their favorite dishes.

7. Munching, Drinks, and Dinner

Put out a tray filled with beverages or fruits, and let the guests help themselves. For a larger gathering, set up a bar or keep a cooler with ice in a separate room.

Offer snacks and tasty appetizers before dinner in the sunroom or library. This will keep your guests from interrupting you in the kitchen.

Guests who are eager to help you can do so easily if you have labels on the dishes.

8. Keep Your Guests Occupied

Entertaining your guests does not begin and end with dinner alone. You need to keep them occupied for the time before and after the meal. Especially if children are attending, there is a chance that they may get bored before the evening ends.

You can provide a small play area for them, depending on their age. Or, better yet, usher them into your fabulous movie room or let them play video games and keep busy. Even for adults, you may try to make it into a fun game night.

9. Give Them Food Options

Generally, kids tend to throw a tantrum if they spot anything but their favorite foods. Many people have serious allergic reactions to certain foods and they inform you about it as soon as you receive a confirmation that they are going to attend.

However, when you invite people from diverse ethnic or religious backgrounds, you must make an effort to know their food restrictions. For example, some faiths and beliefs do not encourage the consumption of meat or alcohol. To accommodate the, you have to offer them nonalcoholic beverages and vegetarian options. Learn about their forbidden foods or ingredients and avoid using them, or at least you can prevent serving those to them.

10. Plan for Leftovers

Undoubtedly, there will be leftovers. And you cannot store them all in your fridge for future use. If your guests can bring plastic containers, they can take home some of the dishes.

  1. Give away the leftovers to your guests in foil containers, instead of using your precious Tupperware. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting your stuff back.
  2. Use the remaining food to plan for meals in the coming days. You can use the stuffing for soups, sandwiches, or add an egg to make breakfast.

11. Clean the House

Last but not least, you need to make sure your house is winter-ready. Make sure your kitchen and dinning room are clean. Clear the counters, and make sure all the necessary equipment is clean, sorted and ready. Pay special attention to your floor, since you certainly don’t want to have an accident while everyone’s supposed to be having a great family time. Don’t forget to check that all table linens are cleaned and pressed. Give your house a good going over.


No matter how careful you are, it is likely that something may not go as per the plan. But instead of fretting, try to relax and enjoy a stress-free party amidst loving friends.