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  • Writer's pictureSarah McKee

10 Essential Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

Hosting and cooking the Thanksgiving meal is a big milestone in any home, but it also can be a moment of some anxiety and nerves. Here are10 essential tips to get organized, stay calm, and enjoy gathering loved ones at your home!


1. Potluck is Perfect

Thanksgiving is about coming together so a potluck affair embraces the spirit of the day perfectly. Let friends and family bring things, and be shameless about delegating the parts of the meal that stress you out. Hosts typically are on turkey and gravy duty for logistics sake, but don’t hesitate to divide and conquer the rest of the menu!

2. Make Ahead Whenever Possible

Prep ahead as much as possible in the days leading up to turkey Thursday. Plenty of the tradition thanksgiving items are great candidates to make in advance. Even if you can’t make a full dish ahead, look for ways to peel off pieces, like toasting nuts or breadcrumbs to avoid overwhelm as the clock counts down to dinner time.

3. Don’t Experiment

Thanksgiving is all about the classics, so no need to get too creative. This is not the best time to try out a new recipe.

4. Start Early on Your Non-food Prep.

It’s not just the food that needs to be prepped. Serving platters, extra silverware, napkins, and place settings all need to be cleaned & counted. Do all of that the week before.

5. Cook the Bird on Wednesday

If you are not married to the Norman Rockwell vision of slicing a whole bird at the table, you can cook and carve your turkey the day before and save a load of fussing and stress on the holiday!

6. Set Dishes the Day Before

With your table set and centerpieces in place you’ll feel festive and prepared heading into the holiday. Use post it notes to mark what food will go on what serving platter. Not only will this keep you organized but helpers can easily jump in to assist with last minute plating.

7. Have Beverages Ready to Serve

Have wine chilled or a batch cocktail ready to be poured when guests arrive. Set up your beverage station for guests to help themselves - put this anywhere but the kitchen!

8. Don’t be Afraid to Outsource

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying a few pieces of the meal, especially if it makes for a more relaxing day. Check out these local spots where you can pre-order Thanksgiving takeaway to lighten your load.

9. Make a Master Timeline

Avoid last-minute overwhelm by counting backwards from the time dinner is served and scheduling out prep and oven time. It’s best to make this list about a week in advance so you can add to it as things occur to you. The day of, set alarms on your phone for the really key moments.

10. Relax, Have Fun, and Enjoy Your Holiday!

And the most important piece of advice? Relax! Remember people are there to gather with you and one another, not to be served. Ask for help, enjoy yourself, and above all, find moments of gratitude for a full heart, home, and stomach!


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