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The Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is meant for laughter, good food and spending quality time with your family around the table; not pulling your hair out! It’s easy to forget the true reason for Thanksgiving if you are busy preparing dinners, decorations, activities, and so on. Hosting Thanksgiving this year may seem like a daunting task, but I assure you it’s possible to enjoy a great dinner with family without pulling any hair out; no, not one strand. If you’re hosting this year, take a good look at our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving so your guests will leave waddling out your door with their belly’s plump and big grins on their faces.

Plan, Plan, Plan

It is so important, not only for your sanity, but for time and budget’s sake to plan the different recipes you’ll be preparing; write them down and organize the ingredients into a grocery list. You can find a huge list of easy Thanksgiving recipes here. It’s also important to get an idea of how much food will be needed, so get a head count of your family and friends you expect to come.

It’s also a super smart idea to use a “time check list”. This list gives you a checklist from 2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving, up to the day of. You will be making several dishes, all of which take different cooking/heating times, so with a check list you will know exactly when to start a dish, put it in the oven and when to pull it out. This method allows everything to get done around the same time. You simply need to look at the prep time and cook time for each recipe you’ll be making. Be sure to pay special attention to recipes where the meat needs to brine or marinade overnight.

Host a Potluck

If you don’t want to deal with cooking multiple dishes all by yourself, you do have the option of hosting a potluck! Tell everyone coming to the dinner to bring one dish (designate dishes to make sure there’s no repeats) and all you will have to worry about is preparing one dish and setting out plate settings!

Prepare Ahead of Time

Last minute Thanksgiving shopping is the absolute worst; the whole neighborhood is at the store and many popular items have already run out of stock. To avoid this, simply shop early; a week in advance is perfect. Be sure not to get any grocery items that will go bad within a week; you can save those for a quick stop as Thanksgiving gets closer (i.e. delicate vegetables and fresh bread).

You can also save yourself a lot of headache if you prepare meals in advance and just pop them in the oven the day of. There is simply nothing easier than pulling a dish out of the fridge, setting it on the counter to come to room temperature, and tossing it in the oven. You don’t necessarily have to make big dishes to get ahead. Make parts of recipes beforehand, so as you assemble the dish on Thanksgiving, you’ll be saving on time and stress. Prepare pie crusts, cut and blanch vegetables, brine your turkey, make pie fillings, soups and so much more to save at least part of your sanity. If you’re traveling by car to a Thanksgiving dinner (being hosted by someone else), you can easily make a casserole ahead of time and plop it in their oven when you get there.

Ask for Help

Whether this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving, or 50th, there’s never a problem with asking for help. Planning such a large meal for so many people is quite a difficult task, even for professional chefs. Ask a few of your family and friends to come over early on Thanksgiving to help with preparing the meals.

Get Festive!

Of course your guests will be more than impressed with the dinner you create, but if you want to go over and beyond, decorate! There are plenty of easy, DIY Thanksgiving decorations you can create. You can also give your guests something beautiful to look at while they eat with a simple and easy centerpiece for your table.

Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner can take a while, leaving young children bored and up to no good. Create fun and easy Thanksgiving activities to keep them busy and out of your way in the kitchen. Download free printables, and have an adult (who’s not in the kitchen) help entertain the kiddos.


You see? Hosting Thanksgiving isn’t too bad once you prepare a few meals to get your mind at ease. With your family’s help, you’re sure to rock Thanksgiving this year. So keep our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving nearby these coming weeks and host a Thanksgiving your guests will never forget!

Have any other tips for our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving? Let us know!

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