Hosting Your 1st Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

You’re all grown up.

You’ve already announced to your friends &/or family members that you’re hosing Thanksgiving Dinner at your house this year.

What were you thinking? You do good to zap a Hot Pocket without it exploding. How are you ever going to pull this one off without resorting to frozen pizza?

It’s all good. You have the internet.
Here’s a step by step guide for hosting a (mostly) pain free Thanksgiving Dinner.

As soon as possible you should:

1.) Make a menu
I understand it may sound elementary, but it really is important for you to write down everything you plan to serve along with any condiments. It’s so easy to remember you want to pick up a dozen yeast rolls and totally forget butter to serve with them. Gravy is another thing that’s easy to leave off the list. In your mind, you think of mashed potatoes and gravy as one item. In reality, they are 2 separate menu items, 2 separate recipes and 2 separate serving dishes you’ll need to provide.

Why make out a menu before you even invite your guest? It’s not unusual for people to ask what you plan to serve. This is especially true for those who have special dietary needs. They may have medical necessary dietary restrictions (diabetics) or have certain personal or religious beliefs that prevent them from eating something.

2.) Invite Your Guest
Remember: This is your event at your house. Do not feel obligated to invite anyone who brings drama.

Many new couples feel compelled to invite both families to holiday get togethers. Unless you had an arranged marriage or your families are already very, very comfortable with each other, DON’T DO IT! Choose one family for 1 holiday and the other for the next.

(Don’t ask me how I know)

At least 2 Weeks prior to T-Day

3.) Get an accurate head count.
Just because you invited 8 people doesn’t mean 12 people won’t show up on the big day. Before you buy that 20 lb Butterball, make sure everyone who said they would be there actually plan to arrive. It’s also a good idea to know in advance if any of your single friends plans to bring a date. Yeah, it happens.

Don’t forget about your guests kids. Don’t expect Chelsie & Charles to get a sitter for the day. Children typically go where their parents go on holidays. That includes your house.If you’re not comfortable with a 2-year old playing with your Star Wars collection – Don’t invite Chelsie & Charles because Little Chuckie will be tagging along.

If there will not be enough room at “The big table” to accommodate munchkins, plan to add the infamous kids table (complete with chairs) for the little darlings. If a highchair or booster seat is needed, it’s not rude to ask the parent to bring theirs. If you have carpeting, consider placing a large vinyl tablecloth on the floor, under the table area.
You’re welcome.

4.) Take Inventory

Make sure you have plenty of dinner plates, salad plates (if needed) dessert bowls, glasses, coffee cups, serving pieces, flatware, etc for every guest and menu item. This includes cloth or paper napkins &/or tablecloths for every table.

5.) Gather your recipes now.

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving morning to bake your pumpkin pie only to discover you’ve lost your recipe. This is especially important if you’re using a family recipe. You may need time for Mom to find her copy of Grandma’s Banana Pudding recipe.

While we’re on the subject of recipes, this is not the time to try a new recipe you’ve never tasted. I don’t care how good it looks on Pintrest. Untested recipes can easily turn into a hot mess on a plate. If you really want to try something new, try preparing it ahead of time to see if (a) you like it as much as you thought you would. (b) it’s not 10x harder to prepare than you thought it would be.

One week before

6.) Cleaning Day

I know you plan to clean your home before the big day. While you’re at it, don’t forget to clean out your fridge and disinfect any coolers you may need for drinks, ice or overflow food storage.

7.) Make a List and Checking it Twice

Go over each and every recipe and make a list of all ingredients you’ll need. Check the cupboard and put anything you don’t already have on your grocery list. Don’t forget to check the expiration dates on your spices and baking needs. If you’ve had them over a year, toss them out and purchase new.

8.) Now is not the time to take your time

If you’re getting a frozen turkey, but it NOW. If you wait many more days you either won’t be able to find one the size you need or won’t have adequate time for it to thaw. While you’re at it, pick up any other non-perishable items still on your list.

Not sure what size turkey you need or how long it will take to thaw?
Go to for an accurate calculator.

9.) The day before:

Bake your pies, cakes &/or cookies. It’s perfectly all right to prepare many of your side items and reheat or finish them in the oven while your turkey is resting. If you’re making candied yams, follow all steps up to adding the marshmallow topping. Same goes with green bean casserole. Prepare everything up to adding the onion topping and finish it just before dinner is to be served. Many salads can be prepared ahead of time as well.

With good planning, you’ll have plenty of time to visit with your guest and not be a hot mess in the kitchen.

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