5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Thanksgiving

It's almost time for my favorite holiday of the year!  And if you're like me, you're hosting.  I love hosting Thanksgiving and have done it for our family multiple years running.  I enjoy the planning, the cooking, and the fellowship in our home.  Over the years, I've certainly honed my skills and am ready to share a few of the tips that have served me (and my guests!) well.


Tip #1: Serve a delicious main dish.

Whether your vegan, vegetarian, an omnivore or carnivore ensure that the main dish is well-seasoned and generously portioned.  If you're a traditionalist like me and you're looking for a moist and flavorful turkey, I've literally made Martha Stewart's Cranberry-Glazed Turkey (sans stuffing) every year I've hosted.  Don't forget the cranberry glaze and pan gravy!

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Tip #2: Remember, THANKful not STRESSful.

This is a time to be thankful and enjoy the company of loved ones.  Stressing about inconsequential details or trying to create the most "Insta-worthy" scene shouldn't be the primary focus.  While it is perfectly acceptable to turn to social media for inspiration, focusing on duplicating tablescapes and decor curated by professionals months in advance of the holidays is not only futile it isn't original.  Your guests are coming to spend time with you and enjoy the table you put together.  It's okay to be yourself.  Create a Thanksgiving table and menu that is within your:

  • skill-level,
  • budget, and
  • schedule.

Then, you can photograph and share an event you can be truly proud because it was created by YOU!

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Menu Cards

Simple menu cards can make a substantial impact on your place settings with minimal cost and time.  If you're skilled at lettering, start writing, but I took the Photoshop shortcut and printed these. Host time contribution: 25 minutes

Could I have ironed the tablecloth that year?  Sure.  Do I care that I didn't?  Not really, because I channeled that energy into nailing the green bean casserole--complete with hand-dipped, from scratch, faux fried onions.  There are plenty of activities that go into hosting and you simply cannot do all of them at 150%.  Figure out which corners you are okay cutting and cut them.  Maybe that means catering certain dishes, paying someone to clean your house, or only making three side dishes instead of five; whatever keeps you sane is the right answer.  Your guests will have a much better time if their host/hostess is happy versus crying in the kitchen while drinking wine straight out of the bottle. 

And if you think based on this post that I've never had a Thanksgiving setback, ask me sometime about the year I lit one of my recipes on fire with our gas-burning stovetop...


Tip #3: Don't underestimate the power of simplicity.

A few well-placed candles and flowers can make an incredible contribution to your tablescape.  Pick a YouTube tutorial (like this one, this one, or even this one!) on how to arrange the flowers you scored from the grocery store or farmer's market to keep this a low-dollar, low-stress investment.

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Grocery Store Floral

Purchased a single large bouquet of mixed blooms from the local grocery store and split it between a large taller vase and two smaller bud vases.  Host time contribution: 15 minutes


Tip #4: Accept help from others when offered, early.

Most guests are perfectly happy to bring something to the feast: a bottle of wine, the dinner rolls, or even the classic green bean casserole.  Many hands make light work and certainly lead to a more enjoyable holiday.  But if you're planning on allowing others to bring something make sure you accept their kind offer early or have a standing arrangement.  This should be expressly agreed well in advance--to be fair to both the host and the guest(s).  It would be in poor taste to wait until the Tuesday before to confirm that you would in fact like them to bring what they offered when you extended the invitation to join you for the holiday.


Tip #5: Have tech-free fun available.

There is nothing quite as unifying as a traditional board game.  Ensure there's opportunity for your guests to connect in an unplugged way this holiday!  If you don't already own your own board games, this may be an easy way for guests traveling a fair distance to contribute something to the day without having to be concerned about keeping food items within appropriate temperature ranges while traveling.

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Classic Board Games

Pull out some family favorites whether that's Pictionary, Scrabble, Dominos, your choice! Perhaps just not Monopoly if you're guests are known to being adverse to bankruptcy on holidays! Host time contribution: 2 minutes

Wishing you a happy and stress-free Thanksgiving!

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Lifestyle, Latest PostsHannah F