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20 Tips for Hosting a Stress Free Thanksgiving

20 Tips To Prepare Your Home For Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner 

20 Tips To Prepare Your Home For Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner Hosting Thanksgiving can be stressful for some people. Especially if it’s your first time hosting. The main reason for this is because hosts try to do too much too soon. In reality, adding simple touches is what usually ends up making the biggest difference.

Let’s remember what the end game is. As a host, you not only want your guests to have a Thanksgiving to remember, and you want your family to want to come back every year. That’s the goal for many people when it comes to thanksgiving. That said, it’s not gonna come with deep-cleaning the house, cooking extravagant meals, or anything else along those lines. However, it is going to come through the preparation of your home.

living room with tall white walls, a white fireplace a tan couch and a white coffee table with books and plants on the coffee table

The priority should be a comfortable setting. If you can provide that environment in your home for each one of your guests, that will make this year’s thanksgiving a success. As a side note, a fabulous thanksgiving can have your family begging you to host Christmas. That’s when you know you had a perfect thanksgiving.

Now that we know what to prioritize and what to avoid, we can look into some specific strategies to host a great gathering. Here are twenty tips to prepare your home for hosting a thanksgiving dinner.

living room with tall white walls, two gray chairs a tan leather couch and a white marble coffee table

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes. 17 recipes that we all love and remember from family childhood  dinners and new modern favorites.   Made easy with simple ingredients and modern appliances for busy families.  Grab your copy right now to get a jump on holiday planning.

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1: Detailing Your Living Room

One of the things we mentioned that should be avoided is deep-cleaning your whole house. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid detailing some areas.

The living room is one of those places you should deep clean. The reason for this is because the living room is the first place guests usually go to after eating. They head straight to the living room to rest after a great meal. That said, not deep cleaning this room might leave you open to some friendly criticism and take away from the comfort of your guests.

Thanksgiving tables cape with white plates, gold silverware and greens in the center water glasses and vases, overhead view

2: Prepare Your Table At Least 1 Week Ahead

A good rule of thumb is to have your table set at least 1 week in advance. Or at least find all the items that you will need and have your table setting planned. Make sure you have enough silverware, plates, cups, and napkins. This gives you enough time to buy anything that is missing.

Wash and iron your table cloth. Make sure the glasses do not have water spots. Check on the guest list to make sure there is enough of everything.

I also like to make a few handmade items for my table. This also takes time, so starting early talks off a lot of pressure. Prepare a special DIY centerpiece. I often find items from nature, pinecones, buckeyes, and acorns to make a special centerpiece.

I also love to have special handmade place cards at each setting. Make your family and guest feel special by having a beautiful place card with their name on it. Each guest knows exactly where to sit and place their glass or plate

If you would like a simple place card design try a free Printable!

Another special touch is a decorative folded napkin. You can search for a beautiful origami or a cute napkin ring.

women folding a tan napkin on a wood table with a tan and white place setting in the forground

The idea behind this is that it gives you a couple of days to make some changes if you feel they’re necessary. The last thing you want as a host is a change of heart a day or two before thanksgiving dinner. This only adds more to your plate of responsibilities as a host. Make it easy on yourself by having time on your side.

a white kids table with two tan chair, with paper, paint brushes and cheerios on the table.

3: Consider Making A Separate Kiddies Table

Depending on how many kids are coming to dinner, you might want to consider making a separate kiddies table. This has more benefits than you think.

  • One, it gives you more space at the main table for extras.
  • Second, a kiddies table has been shown to add a touch of uniqueness for the kids.
  • It makes children at your Thanksgiving feel just as important as the guests sitting at the main table.
  • Positive reviews, even from the kids, count as much as everyone else’s.
white and black kitchen with a big picture window with snow trees outside, sink and eggs carrots and kale on the counter

4: Prep Your Kitchen In Advance

As a host, you can only imagine how busy your kitchen will be on Thanksgiving day. Guests coming in and out, forming traffic jams. Other similar issues may get in the way of you managing the kitchen the way you want to when preparing all the side dishes.

This is where the importance of prepping your kitchen in advance comes into play. As for how you do this, all it takes is some decluttering, appliance awareness, and knowing what dishes are where. Put your dishes and kitchen gadgets in place so it is easy enough to remember where everything is when it is time to prepare dinner.

The weekend before Thanksgiving Day you may have your fall decorations already up. But this is the time to take a good look at your kitchen. See what items you will not be using that can be removed or moved to another location. The goal is to have as much of your counter and table space in your kitchen as free of any declutter.

When all the baking and cooking starts you need all the room you can get. You may even consider placing a folding table in your kitchen if you have the room.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes. 17 recipes that we all love and remember from family childhood dinners and new modern favorites.   Made easy with simple ingredients and modern appliances for busy families.  Grab your copy right now to get a jump on holiday planning.

5: Meal Plan With Individuals In Mind

One of the biggest mistakes hosts make is not meal planning with individuals in mind. Instead, they go for cooking traditional dishes over personalized ones.

This leaves you open to two problems. One, it gives your dinner a generic and even boring feel that you don’t want. Also, it excludes you from the chance to make your dinner specifically unique to each guest.

While this tip might take a little bit more work initially, it will surely pay off in the end.

Thanksgiving tables cape with white plates, gold silverware and greens in the center water glasses and vases, white mini pumpkin and white big candle on tale

6: Don’t Over Decorate Your Dining Room

Another thing you’re going to want to avoid is over decorating your dining room. Remember to keep things simpler rather than extravagant.

You don’t want a scenario where a huge decorative centerpiece is blocking the view of your guests.

This brings us to the issue of dining room space. Make sure your decorations don’t get in the way of your guests having space to eat and move around. This also reduces the chances of someone causing an accident like a food spill.

Like reviewed in #2 make a simple DIY centerpiece that does not take up took much space but sets the mood.

red front door with pumpkins fall flowers and straw bales on the steps

7: Don’t Forget Your Front Door for a Fun Thanksgiving Touch

While you’re caught up on managing multiple things at once as a host, don’t forget about your front door dΓ©cor. You’d be surprised how such a simple touch can delight and surprise your guests.

Think of your door dΓ©cor as you would a Christmas tree. Imagine how strange Christmas would be if there wasn’t a tree. The same goes for your door decoration. It will be the first thing your family and friends see when they arrive.

It’s a tradition that can’t be forgotten. If you want to make it a bit more special, consider having a special touch for front door decoration for the kids

Thanksgiving tables cape with white plates, gold silverware and greens in the center 4 mini white pumpkins

8: Absolutely No Paper Plates/Cups!

For the love of God, don’t serve your dinner with paper plates and cups. This just makes it seem like you didn’t want to put effort as a thanksgiving host. Weirdly, it can even make your guests feel like they’re not valued.

Once again, remember that your job as a host is to prioritize comfort. Having paper plates to serve heavy thanksgiving dinners on isn’t comfortable when your paper plate is floppy.

In our family, the tradition is to set the Thanksgiving table with our special Spode Christmas China. My husband’s mother had a huge Spode collection and she started us on these beautiful dishes that have a Christmas tree as the center of the plate. So with the beautiful centerpiece and Thanksgiving place cards and napkins, I decorate the table with Christmas dishes and silverware.

This tradition started when we were first married and our families wanted to have Thanksgiving at our house. We only had 6 place settings of everyday china and 6 of our wedding chins, but 20 of our Christmas settings. Money was tight so we had enough dishes and new traditions.

two women sitting on a front parch drinking wine and laughting

9: Prepare An Outdoor Chill Spot

If you are in an area that is warm for Thanksgiving preparing a location outside is a perfect option. If you have the space for it, preparing an outdoor chill spot will create an amazing experience for guests for several reasons.

The first thing this will do is make your home seem bigger than it is. Apart from that, it spreads your guests about your home which avoids congestion. Overcrowded and congested guests are simply not as comfortable as guests with space to socialize.

cheese, fruit, sliced meets popcorn, chider on cheese board on a white wood table

10: Have Appetizers Out Before Dinner

Main course thanksgiving meals take time if you’re cooking or re-heating the day of. So, if you’re going to have guests come over early, an important thing to have is pre-made meals. The purpose of these meals is to keep your guests satiated while they wait for dinner. However, you don’t want to make these meals too heavy. Light meals such as cheeseballs or cranberry bites will do the trick.

Check out some traditional Thanksgiving Appetizers recipes!

11: Declutter Your Fridge/Buy A Mini Fridge

No matter how many guests you’re cooking for, it’s always a good idea to declutter your fridge. Only leave room for your Thanksgiving dishes. The idea behind this is so you don’t get overwhelmed with too much in your fridge. You’ll be able to easily pick out dishes as you wish.

Another good idea is to get a mini-fridge or have a smaller fridge in the garage or basement. If you have to keep the items in your main fridge, the spare fridge will serve the same purpose as decluttering your main fridge but with less space.

I have a smaller fridge that was given us by a family member that is perfect in the garage and I use it all the time. I declutter both the main fridge and the one in the garage the week before Thanksgiving so I have all the room I need.

If you are in need of a second fridge, check out the big box store scratch and dent area for some good sales, you will also find many medium-size fridges that will fit in a smaller area.

white kids play kitchen stove and sink set with wooden dishes and eggs and basket on the bottom.

12: Set Aside A Kids Play-Place

Remember how creating a separate kids table would make them feel special, having a dedicated play-place for their works the same way. The best way a kid’s play-place works is by keeping them occupied while meals are being prepared for dinner. It gets them out of your hair.

Growing up our family always had a special table with crafts for the kids to work on while the adults talked. I have carried this tradition in our family.

The craft does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as coloring pages, or big kids puzzles. I like to have a craft that makes a Christmas decoration. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get into the Christmas feeling and make a handmade gift for a family member or an ornament for the tree.

3 kids playing with a wooden alphabet puzzle on a white blanket.

13: Keep Vegetarians/Vegan Attendees in Mind

Thanksgiving meal planning comes with paying close attention to vegetarian and vegan guests. Not doing so has the potential to throw off your entire dinner.

That said, this doesn’t mean you have to plan your home organization or meals around them. If anything, this allows you to create an even more unique experience for them. There are plenty of thanksgiving side dishes that work perfectly for special diets.

Also, consider asking the vegetarian or vegan to bring a dish to share. That way are sure that one dish will help them keep to their eating pattern.

14: Consider Adding Some Professional or Friend Help

Believe it or not, your planning and preparation for thanksgiving can use the help of a family friend or a professional. No rule says you can’t have a helper for the big dinner. If anything, having the help can give you time to add details to your home organization to create the most special thanksgiving setting.

Some options could be that some of the meal is prepared by your local grocery store. Most stores will even have a full Thanksgiving meal cooked for you.

Try to think outside the box. Is there a friend or neighbor teen that would be willing to help you prepare your home for guests? Even if they will be with their family for dinner you could have them help the day or two before.

Maybe a person who would be embarrassed to let you know they will be alone would love to have a role in a family event. Let me know if you have any ideas on this one.

woman in a white shirt on a tan couch, with a white dog reading a book.

15: Give Yourself Some Relaxing Time

Perhaps the most important tip you can implement is giving yourself some relaxation time. You don’t want to overwork yourself too early in your organization for Thanksgiving. The downside to getting tired too early is that you won’t have the ability to enjoy everyone the way they would want to on Thanksgiving day.

A good way to get around this issue is to set small resting times of maybe ten to fifteen minutes periodically. This will help you stretch your energy until the end of the day.

Take time to sit and talk with all of your guests. You can recharge and relax while making your family and guests feel special.

Thanksgiving tables cape with white plates, black silverware and greens in the center water glasses and vases, mini white pumpkin and a sprig on the plate

16: Personalize The Seating Arrangements

A simple touch that will help boost your dinner setting is by personalizing the seating arrangements. This can be done by adding unique nametags to plates, decorative cards in front of seats, or any other creative touch along those lines.

17: Consider Buying A Dinner-Ready Turkey

Just like asking for professional help, there’s no rule against buying a dinner-ready turkey. Most people have the misunderstanding that if your turkey isn’t homemade, it isn’t special enough to be served. This is simply nonsense.

The idea of getting a dinner-ready turkey goes back to the idea of prioritizing comfort. The benefits to this include a perfectly cooked turkey every time, more time to spend on organizing your home, and being less stressed so you can spend more time with family.

Just make sure that you give yourself enough time to order your turkey or side dishes. This option is becoming more popular so get your order in early.

18: Consider Having A Dinner being Pot Luck

Traditionally, families at Thanksgiving have an unspoken “bring your own dish” rule. This is where each guest contributes to the meal with a dish of their own. However, you benefit a step more by planning ahead with each family member.

Start the first week of November by contacting your guests and seeing what they would like to bring. The benefit to this is that you ensure that each guest brings a dish that they like and you have a balanced menu. This guarantees that your guests will have something they love to eat and feel that they are part of the joy of creating a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Robe hanging on a ladder in a bedroom next to a night table white a white lamp.

19: Have Bedrooms Ready for Overnight Guests

What’s the one feeling everyone gets right after eating a heavy meal? The answer to that is sleepy. In other words, it’s a given that you’ll have sleepy guests. This is where having guest rooms ready for your overnight guests comes into play.

If you have an older family they may not want to travel home. Out of town guests will love to stay at your home to enjoy the family experience and the morning after.

Even a quiet napping room needs to be ready. If the family has young kids you will need a room where parents can feel safe to let the little ones nap. You may even want to have a portable play crib so they do not have to travel with all the things.

Make sure that all the bedding is clean and the room picked up. If possible have space in the closet for them to hang up clothes. Check to see if the pillows are in good shape.

I like to have clean towels in the bedroom so families do not have to search for them, along with a small basket of toiletries.

In addition, I try to have some cute Thanksgiving decorations in each bedroom to make the room extra special. I love having overnight guests so I want each family member to want to stay each year.

clear bag with 9 short bread cookies wrapped with a red bow.

20: Add Personalized Take Home Gifts

Last but not least, add personalized take-home gifts on top of everything you’ve offered your guests so that each family member feels special and has a memory to take home.

The best part about this is that this gift doesn’t have to be extravagant. This is a good example of where simplicity is a better fit. In this case, your take-home gift could be something like a decorative table piece or a recipe.

For the kids the craft that they made or a small toy.

Family and friends also love to have a small gift of baked goods to have at home to remember all the fun of Thanksgiving.

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