Thanksgiving is the perfect time of the year to invite friends and family over to share a meal. It gives you the chance to spend time together and remember what you loved about the year. 

While it is a great tradition, not everyone feels as comfortable about hosting Thanksgiving as others do, especially if it’s their first time. You might worry that it takes too much work or that you have too much to do and not enough time. But hey, it doesn’t have to be that way!

This simple guide will walk you through the steps of planning and hosting a Thanksgiving that no one will ever forget, from the decor planning to what to serve. Keep reading! 

“We do not remember days, we remember moments." – Cesare Pavese  

Make a List

Before you start thinking about Thanksgiving table decor and dishes, sit down and make a few lists. The first one should include everyone you want to invite. If this is the first time you’re hosting Thanksgiving, you might pare down the list to just a handful of guests. 

Keep in mind that the more people you invite over, the more prep work and cooking that you’ll need to do. After that, make a second list with the dishes you want to make and those that your guests will bring.

Schedule Your Time

Keep veggies cut on the fridge to save you time on the day. Source: HGTV
Keep veggies cut on the fridge to save you time on the day. Source: HGTV

Don't assume that you can cook everything on Thanksgiving morning and the night before. Party and event planners often recommend that you make dishes the week before and freeze them, as many side dish recipes and appetizers freeze well. You can reheat them before the guests arrive. Making pies and other desserts the week before can help, too. 

Tip: Don't forget to include prep work and cleaning in your schedule, since you'll likely want to clean all of the rooms your guests will see. Include some time in your schedule to relax and recuperate also, so you don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks and end up not enjoying the holiday properly. 

Consider Store Bought

While you might spend hours looking at Thanksgiving decoration ideas and picture a dinner made completely from scratch, consider adding a few dishes to the menu that you can buy at the store. It can take hours to make pumpkin and apple pies yourself, and some local stores can make pies that taste homemade and often cost less than what you would spend on ingredients. 

Also, many delis sell cranberry sauce that you can doctor up with a few spices. You don't need to make everything from scratch to have a great holiday.

Gather Your Supplies

There is nothing worse than spending weeks planning a big dinner only to find that you forgot something important at the last minute. As many stores close for Thanksgiving, finding the supplies that you need may be difficult and even impossible if you leave it for the last minute. 

Take some time to gather all of the supplies, equipment and ingredients that you need a few days in advance. This allows you to check if you have enough baking dishes, pots and pans for your meal. Make sure that you have all the ingredients that you need too, including herbs, spices, butter, milk, and eggs.

Add a Grazing Station

If you've ever been to a Thanksgiving celebration before, you likely remember hearing the hostess tell people that the food wasn't ready yet and hearing guests complain. Adding a grazing station is a good way to keep guests occupied and make sure that they stay out of your hair. 

You don't need to spend a lot of time or money to set up a grazing station. Hit the deli counter for a selection of meats and cheeses and add a vegetable tray with a few dips. Placing one of your Thanksgiving centerpieces on the table will encourage guests to graze before dinner.

Set the Table

The focal point of your Thanksgiving dinner is the table where you sit to eat with guests. Using the right decor will impress your loved ones and make them even more eager to try your dishes. 

Remember to set the table the night before so it can save you some time. Put out all of the dishes and bowls that you need with glasses and utensils. Make sure that you leave enough room on the table for the food that you want to serve. 

Tip: You can also use one table for food and another for eating and allow guests to serve themselves.

Plan for the Unexpected

No matter how much time you spend planning and preparing, the unexpected can always happen. You can either learn how to deal with it or let it ruin your day. Have extra plates and utensils on hand for guests who show up at the last minute and enough food to serve them. 

You may also want to come up with some activities to keep younger guests occupied such as asking them to make banners or tags for each seat. 

By contacting a local cleaning company to help you out over the weekend, your Thanksgiving will be much easier on you. Save yourself the hassle and request a free quote! 


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