Make Hosting Thanksgiving A Breeze With This Guide!

As the season of gratitude and togetherness approaches, it’s time to plan a spectacular feast that will leave everyone feeling warm and cherished. For some, the idea of hosting is stressful and overwhelming. In my family, we take turns hosting. While I love hosting and having a reason to show off my decorations, I am also just as happy to sit back and let someone else take the reigns. If you’re hosting this year, let me share some strategies to make hosting for the holidays a breeze (or at least less overwhelming!). Here’s a step-by-step guide to hosting the perfect Thanksgiving celebration:

1. Plan Ahead and Set the Date

Choose a date that works for everyone and start planning well in advance. We start talking about dates mid-September. This works well for us since the majority of us live in the same area. If your family members travel from afar, have to take extra time off work, or need to save up, you may want to start the conversation much earlier. Planning ahead ensures that you have enough time to prepare and that your loved ones can mark their calendars.

2. Create a Guest List

Compile a list of family and friends you’d like to invite. Send out invitations early and ask for RSVPs to help you know how many to plan on. If you want to be fancy, you can create cute invites and mail or email them. My family just sends a group text and keeps it simple. We often end up inviting people who don’t have somewhere to go. So our ultimate numbers change nearer the date, but it gives us a good base to start with.

3. Craft a Beautiful Ambiance

Decorate your home with autumnal touches – pumpkins, colorful leaves, and rustic centerpieces. Set the mood with warm lighting and cozy blankets for chilly evenings. I love fall decorations, almost as much as I love Christmas ones. My favorite places to decorate are my mantel, front porch, and of course, the dining table. I also like to add some fall flair on top of my piano to bring a little cheer to that room too.

4. Perfect the Menu

Craft a mouthwatering menu that includes traditional favorites like roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Don’t forget to accommodate dietary preferences and restrictions. Check out my post on the perfect Thanksgiving menu!

5. Delegate Dishes

Encourage your guests to bring their favorite Thanksgiving dishes, or make assignments. This not only eases your workload but also adds a variety of flavors to the table. This is how our family has done it for the last 10 years. It’s absolutely amazing! No more days of prep or early, stressful mornings. We are each responsible for a dish or two and transport it to the hosting family members house. It not only makes prep a breeze, but the clean up too!

6. Prep and Cook Ahead

Prepare as much as you can in advance. Chop veggies, make sauces, and bake desserts ahead of time to make the day itself less stressful. There is no worse feeling than finally making your dish only to realize you’re missing a necessary ingredient! Don’t fall victim to that this thanksgiving. Whether you’re creating the entire feast or just 1 dish, plan ahead. Also, don’t feel like everything has to be made from scratch. While we love a good home baked pie, we have been known to grab a Costco one if the job becomes too much.

7. Set Up a Beverage Station

Create a self-serve station with a selection of drinks. Our families thanksgiving is non-alcoholic so we find creative and festive drink options. Cranberry Ginger Ale is a crowd favorite. As is sparkling apple cider, and flavored water. Be sure to provide enough glasses and ice to keep everyone hydrated and refreshed. Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on non alcoholic beverages to liven up your party!

8. Engage with Activities

Organize activities like a thankful jar, where guests can jot down what they’re thankful for. Read them aloud before you dig in to dinner. You can also have a friendly game of touch football or a cozy movie marathon. For kids, I like to have an art station with themed thanksgiving coloring pages and crafts. If the weather isn’t too frigid, set up a few outdoor heaters and a bonfire pit and set out some cozy blankets to take the party outside for a bit. We are in southern California so our Thanksgiving temperatures range from scorching hot to a nice little chill. Hard to prepare in advance but it does give us a wide range of possible activities!

9. Express Gratitude

Before the meal, take a moment to express gratitude and share what you’re thankful for. This heartfelt tradition sets a warm and appreciative tone for the gathering. We do this every year too. We go around the table and each person has the chance to share their gratitude. It’s a beautiful moment in a beautiful day.

10. Serve with Style

We’ve served it up a few ways over the years. Our usual go to is a buffet-style serving area to make dishing up easy and convenient for everyone. Keep serving utensils handy, and make sure the food is labeled for those with dietary restrictions. We do this when we have a large group and passing dishes around the table would be cumbersome.

11. Create a Cozy Corner

Designate a cozy corner with cushions and blankets where guests can relax, chat, and enjoy post-dinner conversations. Once that tryptophan hits, my brothers are down for the count. Having a cushy spot to relax is a must.

12. Capture the Memories

Set up a photo booth or a designated photographer to capture the special moments. These photos will be treasured memories for years to come. This is a task I usually take on. We share it to the group chat or create a google photos album for everyone to share to.

13. Give Thanks to Your Helpers

Show appreciation to your guests and anyone who helped with the preparations. Small gestures like thank-you notes or party favors can go a long way. You don’t have to do much, a verbal thank you is more than sufficient. However, a little notes, a flower stem, or some other small gesture would be welcome, I’m sure.

14. Remember Dessert and Coffee

Finish off the feast with an array of delectable desserts and a steaming cup of coffee, tea, or apple cider. It’s the sweet ending everyone looks forward to.

15. Relax and Enjoy

Amid all the planning and preparation, don’t forget to enjoy the day. Take a deep breath, savor the delicious food, and soak in the warmth of the company. As hosts, its so easy to get lost in the stress of playing hostess that we don’t really get to converse or enjoy the company around us. Cleaning up can wait. Sit down and enjoy being with those you love. Better yet, hopefully everyone helps clean up and then there is still plenty of time to be together.

By blending delicious food, meaningful traditions, and heartwarming company, you’re crafting an unforgettable Thanksgiving gathering that celebrates gratitude, love, and togetherness. 



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