How To Host Thanksgiving Dinner: 7 Easy Tips

The holiday season is here, which means it’s time for special family gatherings and delicious dinners! Thanksgiving dinner can be a big event, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time or you’ve been around the block a couple times, here are 7 easy tips on how to host Thanksgiving dinner.


1. Make As Much Food Ahead Of Time As Possible

Thanksgiving Meal Prep - Cutting Vegetables

Don’t try to make all of your food the day of Thanksgiving; that will result in too much stress and not enough time. Instead, decide on what foods you can make the day before to save yourself on the day of the holiday.

While there are some foods you should definitely make the day of, such as the turkey and any other dishes that need to be served fresh, there are many things you can make the day before that will still taste amazing the next day! Here is a list of Thanksgiving dishes that you can definitely make ahead of time. Some of these will simply need to be reheated on Thanksgiving and they’ll be ready to serve!

  • Stuffing
  • Any type of casseroles
  • Vegetables (to prep: chop them all up the day before and cook the day of)
  • Gravy
  • Baked desserts (such as pie, cake, or cookies)
  • Soup
  • Cranberry sauce

2. Set Up Your Table The Night Before With All Of Your Dishware

Thanksgiving place setting

You don’t want to be scrambling around on Thanksgiving day trying to make your table look nice and presentable. Instead, set up your table the night before or even a couple days before to get it looking exactly how you want!

Arrange your place settings with festive plates, gold utensils, red or orange cloth napkins, and drinking glasses. Create a fall color scheme with the help of a fall themed tablecloth or runner, along with placemats.

You can even set some of your non-perishable foods out on the table the night before. This can include small snacks such as bowls of nuts and candies. Use serving dishes that match your table’s color scheme and make sure to cover everything with lids until you’re ready to serve the next day.


3. Make A Timeline Of The Night To Stay Organized

Thanksgiving to do list

In order to stay organized and make sure you’re on track with cooking everything that you need for the dinner, set up a timeline for yourself. That way, you’ll know exactly when to place certain foods in the oven, when to serve certain dishes, and it’ll allow you a little time for potential errors.

The best way to create your Thanksgiving dinner timeline is to start at the end of the night and go backwards. Map out how long each item will take to prepare and cook, and plan out when you want to work on each dish. You can even set alarms on your phone to alert you when it’s time to put something in the oven.

Your turkey is the star of the show and it takes the longest to cook, so make sure to include that at the very beginning of the day on your timeline so that it will be fresh and ready to serve with your other dinner items.


4. Make Sure You Have Enough Beverage Options For Each Person

Thanksgiving dinner with wine glasses

While food is of course the main part of your Thanksgiving celebration, you can’t forget the beverages! Since everyone has different preferences, it’s best to have a variety of drink options to choose from.

For the adults, have both red and white wine options, along with a couple different types of beers. If you want to do mixed drinks, have several mixer options to allow guests a choice of their favorite. You can also encourage guests to bring their favorite wine or alcoholic beverage to add more to the mix.

For kids and those who don’t drink alcohol, make sure to have a decent selection of other beverages and non-alcoholic versions of mixed drinks. Set up a selection of different sodas, juices, and of course, water. Having something for everyone will allow for a satisfactory Thanksgiving!


5. Decorate Your Home Several Days Before To Get It Looking Festive

Thanksgiving table centerpiece with pumpkins and candles

In order to create the entire vibe of your Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll want to decorate your home with festive fall style! If you want your home to look nice, you don’t want to save your decorating for the last minute; decorate a few days before to make it look beautiful.

Since you’ll mostly want the main level of your home to look festive, accent all the areas that your guests will be in. Here are some Thanksgiving decorating ideas to make your home feel warm and welcoming:

  • Set up a fall themed console table in your entryway, complete with pumpkin or cinnamon candles, fresh flowers, and pumpkin accents.
  • Display a Thanksgiving centerpiece on your dining table – fill a decorative bowl with pine cones and ceramic pumpkins and set up some red and orange candles nearby.
  • Hang up fall wall art in your entryway, dining room, and kitchen that features sentiments such as “thankful”, “blessed”, and “family”.
  • Include several turkey themed accents throughout your home, whether it’s incorporated into a centerpiece or displayed on a side table.
  • Decorate your home with warm colors such as orange, red, and beige.

6. Ask Each Guest To Bring A Side Dish Or Dessert

Thanksgiving side dishes

The great part about hosting Thanksgiving dinner is that you can ask your guests to bring specific items to make it easier for yourself! Plan this out in advance to make sure that each person is able to bring something.

Once you plan out your Thanksgiving menu, decide which items you are able to cook on your own. Don’t overload yourself because that will only make the day more stressful. Have your guests bring all the side dishes or desserts to save yourself time for the main items.

You can also asks guests to provide the drinks so you can instead focus on the food menu. Remember that you don’t have to do it all by yourself; your family members will be glad to step in and help!


7. Make Sure You Have Enough Room In Your Fridge For Your Meal Preparations & Leftovers

Thanksgiving leftovers

Another important part of hosting Thanksgiving is making sure you have enough room in your fridge for all your food preparations and leftovers. Planning this advance will prevent any issues from happening!

When you’re starting to meal prep, designate an area of your fridge for your Thanksgiving spread. Make sure you don’t prep more food than your fridge will allow room for. Then, after your dinner, make sure to have enough space for all your leftovers.

If you seem to run out of room for your Thanksgiving leftovers, remember that you can always send your guests home with some food! Buy some disposable food containers ahead of time that your guests can take with them after the dinner party.


Now that you’ve learned some tips on how to host Thanksgiving dinner, check out some more Thanksgiving dinner inspiration and holiday entertaining ideas. Shop our selection of Kitchen & Dining items to find festive serving dishes, decorative table linens, baking and cooking supplies, and much more!


Read Next: 5 Easy Fall Kitchen Decorating Ideas

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