Thanksgiving — the first holiday of the fall season! Honestly, hosting Thanksgiving dinner can feel like quite the feat, especially when whatever you make will likely be compared to legendary family recipes. Don’t freak out, the key to hosting Thanksgiving dinner is all about planning. Whether you’re a first-time host or simply want some fresh ideas, here’s your guide to hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving!
Recipes that can be made ahead
This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received! Anything that can be made ahead, should be. Better yet, if there’s a dish you wanted to make, find a “make-ahead” version! Cranberry sauce, gravy, apple pie filling, crusts, appetizers, salad dressing, etc. Try and make as much as you can throughout the week leading up to the Thanksgiving celebration — you’ll thank me later!
Grocery shopping in advance
Just like you should be cooking before Thanksgiving day, the same goes for grocery shopping. Slowly purchase your items in the weeks before the event, especially items like the turkey, cranberries, pumpkin purée (and even potatoes). Yes, I have unfortunately lived through a potato shortage the day of my Thanksgiving feast and trust me, it wasn’t fun!
Take inventory of everything
Similarly to how you would make a grocery list, make sure you have enough kitchen supplies to host a large feast. I’m talking about baking dishes, serving pieces, place settings, cutlery, glasses, and chairs! There’s nothing worse than realizing on the day of Thanksgiving when your guests are just about to arrive that you actually don’t have a serving dish for the green beans, or that aunt Susan won’t have a place to sit. If you don’t usually feed large groups of people, don’t feel like you have to buy all of this stuff — simply borrow pieces from family members or friends.
Limiting new recipes
While this might sound a little boring, I’d recommend sticking to recipes you know and love. It’s stressful enough to host loads of people — combine that with a big holiday and all the pressure to go along with it? No thank you! In my humble opinion, this isn’t the evening to take risks, but to each their own. Of course, if you’d like to make a new appetizer or a dessert you saw on TikTok, go for it! But I’d recommend that the bulk of your dishes come from a tried and true recipe book to limit stress.
Preparing your tablescape
To me, this is one of the best parts about hosting! Preparing your table just the way you like, with all those personal touches and beautiful centrepieces. Personally, I’d recommend doing this the morning of (or the day before if you’re just too excited!), just so you can see if anything needs tweaking. Trust me, you’ll feel better when your table is ready; one thing down, only a few more to go!
Rather than having to chase your guests down all night to make sure their glasses are full, why not make a self-serve drink station? Make a festive drink (such as Half Baked Harvest’s Thanksgiving Sangria or Ginger Apple Moscow Mule) and pour it into a pitcher so that everyone can serve themselves. Then, have wine directly at the table that way drinks are no longer your responsibility!
Have guests bring something
Last but not least, have your guests bring something. Everyone always brings wine, but if anyone asks what they can bring, genuinely take them up on their offer! I personally ask people to bring a salad because it’s something I always forget to serve, but the options are endless. Whether it’s dessert, an appetizer or a side dish, your guests will be happy to relieve some of that burden — take advantage!
Written by: Sacha Vincent-Toskin