8 Tips For Hosting the Perfect Thanksgiving

Writer / Shelly Bergman

Hosting family and friends for the holidays is daunting. The expectations of a Pinterest worthy meal and decor is high. We’ve lost what the true meaning of Thanksgiving is. In our family, Thanksgiving was the only time of the year we saw the entire family. Selfishly, I secretly wanted us to order pizza every year making less work and more time to spend with people. I still believe it’s necessary to streamline areas of Thanksgiving day to make less work for the host.

I recently heard the statement “Getting Ready is a Key Aspect of Performance.” Thanksgiving Day is as close to a performance as I give all year, so preparing is crucial. There are many steps you can complete 3 to 4 weeks ahead of time to reduce stress. There are also several hacks you can use to keep things running smoothly on the big day.

1. Make sure you plan a menu that only requires one oven
Have guests bring the sides and desserts leaving the oven free for you to do the turkey. Be sure to request contributed items to things that are easy to transport and set up once they arrive. Items like side salads, dinner rolls, wine, cold appetizers and cranberry sauce are perfect. If you need to keep food warm, place a towel and a bowl of hot water in the bottom of a cooler. Then, put your pans in the cooler until it’s time to serve. The food will still be warm for up to 2 hours.

2. Plan an Outdoor Activity
As long as it’s not raining, spend a little time outside with your family. Start a game of football, make a pumpkin ring toss, take a nature bingo hike. Anything that gets the family outside for some fun, especially if there will be kids. You can also have coloring books and board games set out on a table to keep the kids busy while dinner is being prepped.

3. Delegate tasks
Your friends and family want to help. Write out tasks ahead of time with the names of people who you know will offer their help. Have them be in charge of the outdoor activity, keep drink stations stocked, wrangle the kids for dinner and help serve. Make sure you tell at least one family member to take a few photos.

4. Prepare the table
Lay out all the serving dishes on the table with note cards of what will be served inside. Shop your house or yard for table decor. It’s likely you won’t need to buy a bunch of decor. Get everything set up how you’d like it to look, snap a picture and put all the dishes and decor in a laundry basket out of the way so you can easily pull it out Thanksgiving morning.

5. Eat early
Rather than filling up on veggies and hard-boiled eggs, have a plan to eat soon after guests arrive. This will leave plenty of time with family before it gets late. Plus, it gives time for bellies to settle before dessert.

6. Plan the flow of the house
Think about how people will travel through your house. Have the drink station out of the way so people don’t feel like a bother when refilling their drinks. Put the kids activity table in another room, in the basement or outside to keep them from running under foot during dinner prep.

7. Make clean up easy
If you want to use grandma’s china for this special occasion, I understand. There is also great joy in using paper plates when everyone’s able to clean up after themselves. Other time savers are to use a plastic crock pot liner or plastic cups with a marker to write names. Make sure you have an empty dishwasher before dinner so you can easily toss in serving ware. To make sure you get to host Thanksgiving next year, have a plan for storing leftovers. Purchase a bunch of inexpensive take-home containers or gallon bags for people to dish up their own leftovers.

8. Relax and enjoy
Look for small moments of gratitude in a busy, loud but delicious holiday. With all the prep weeks ahead of time you should be able to enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday with your friends and family.

If you follow these tips you are sure to have a stress-free Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy the time with family and friends!

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