The Ultimate Guide to Hosting an Unforgettable Thanksgiving 

Thanksgiving is all about eating and spending time with family. However, cooking the delicious meal everyone expects and preparing the house for a big get-together can be stressful. With a seemingly endless to-do list, it can feel like you will always need more time to be ready. Follow these steps to have the perfect Thanksgiving dinner prepared in no time. 

1. Plan Ahead of Time

Before you get started, it helps to have a plan for your vision. Plan every aspect of your party. How many people are you going to have over? What dishes do you want to make? Who is bringing what? Are there any dietary restrictions to be mindful of? 

Hands kneading dough

Making a checklist of all everything you have to do. This takes off the pressure to remember everything. Split up tasks by day, so you know exactly what you have to do on a daily basis to prepare. 

2. Create a Baking Schedule

Thanksgiving dinner is the most involved meal of the year. With a variety of dishes needing to cook at different temperatures for differing amounts of time, it can be hard to plan what to cook and when. The best way to do this is to create a baking schedule. Since the turkey will take the longest, be sure to start it with plenty of time to spare. 

Cook as much as you can before time. Then instead of cooking after the turkey comes out, just put in the already completed dishes to stay warm until dinner time. If you have anything that can’t be cooked the day before, put that in the oven just after the turkey comes out. 

3. Enlist the Help of Others

If you have a lot of guests, it may not be feasible to do all the cooking yourself. Be sure to know your limits and enlist help ahead of time. Having everyone bring something to dinner will help take the pressure off of any one person and will give you a wide array of dishes and cooking styles. You could also have a cooking party on Wednesday and finish off some dishes with family the day before. 

4. Create a Fall-Themed Ambiance 

Thanksgiving desserts on a table

The key to creating an amazing Thanksgiving get-together is to fully immerse your guests. Decorating the house specially for the day is a great way to add extra flair to your party. Adding a few fall-themed decorations celebrates the season. Add some leaf or pumpkin accents, fall-colored table clothes and dishes, and seasonal beverages to level-up dinner. 

5. Plan Family-Fun

Thanksgiving does not have to be just about eating. Plan a few age-appropriate games for everyone to enjoy. If it’s a nice day, maybe plan a game of touch football, or have some barbecue games out on the lawn. Have a few board games on hand in case everyone gets stuck inside. This also gives you a backup plan in case making dinner takes longer than expected. People can play a game instead of sitting around waiting. 

6. Don’t Get Too Wrapped Up in Perfection

Father helping daughter cut a Thanksgiving turkey

When planning a large get-together it can be easy to feel like everything needs to be perfect. Remember the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving: to be thankful for everything we have. Thanksgiving is about spending time with family and enjoying each other’s company. If you get too caught up in planning a great party, you lose sight of what matters. 

The best Thanksgivings are the ones where everyone spends time together. Be present throughout the day even if you're rushing around making sure everything is out of the oven on time. Create memories with your family. That’s what will make your Thanksgiving dinner truly unforgettable. 

What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments below. 

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