We love Thanksgiving around here. It is the holiday we begin planning early in October. What can I say? Food is our thing. My parents host Thanksgiving every year, but this year will be different. My mom is scheduled to work this Thanksgiving, which means it’s up to my dad and me to organize the holiday.
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I’ve watched and helped my parents make a Thanksgiving feast and host the holiday for years. Since mom will not be there on Thanksgiving day, I’ve been thinking through all the lessons I’ve learned about hosting Thanksgiving. The truth is, my parents make hosting look easy. Today I’m sharing tips for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving from the masters of Thanksgiving, my parents.
8 Tips for Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
1 | Delegate
When I was kid, my grandmother and my mom did all the Thanksgiving cooking. Now my mom does most of the cooking but delegates a lot of the jobs. I do dessert and my sister-in-law does appetizers and decor. Many times guests will ask if they can bring something, so take advantage!
2 | Make ahead
Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy with your family, so make the enjoying part easier by prepping dishes head of time. Anything you can make ahead, do it. I’ll be making pie crusts this week to put in the freezer until I’m ready to bake. My mom will be preparing a few dishes days ahead of Thanksgiving so they only need to be cooked the day of.
3 | Free up your oven
In the past, it was difficult to time all the different dishes when all we had was the oven. Over the last few years my parents have started making turkey on the grill instead of in the oven to maximize space and make an extra tasty turkey. They’ve used both a Weber and a traditional grill, but this year they’re taking it up a notch by smoking the turkeys on the Traeger Grill. We will also be freeing up the oven at our house by attempting to smoke the ham on our Traeger Grill (seriously the best investment we made this year). Whether you are frying, smoking, or grilling, get dinner on the table on time by freeing up the space in your oven.
4 | Make clean-up easy
Our Thanksgivings traditionally have 20-25 people each year. We don’t have enough china place settings for everyone, so we’ve started using fancy disposable party plates. Clean up is a breeze. The plates are dressy enough for the holiday, and everyone is thankful they don’t have to hand wash delicate dishes after dinner.
5 | Invite all, invite early
We’ve been inviting friends and distant relatives to our Thanksgivings for years. It’s become a tradition. We love opening up our home to anyone who hasn’t made plans or has family living far away. We try to get out our invitations early, but many times we make last minute invites. At our house, we always have plenty of food. We’ve had many enjoyable Thanksgivings by making these types of invitations. Why not show our friends how thankful we are for them by inviting them into our family? For us, the more the merrier is definitely a thing.
6 | Have appetizers after dinner
My parents had the ingenious idea last year to serve appetizers after the main meal. Every year we would struggle with trying not to eat too many appetizers so we could actually eat the main course! Last year we ate dinner early and enjoyed appetizers and leftovers in the evening. It was a hit!
7 | Plan activities for the kids
If you have lots of kids in your family, they can usually find ways to entertain themselves but it’s nice to have at least one activity planned. We usually buy a couple Gingerbread House kits for the kids to decorate later on in the day. It’s messy but super fun.
8 | Be ready to pack up leftovers
The reason we always have plenty of food for guests is because we always make enough food for leftovers. One year we didn’t have any leftover turkey and everyone was disappointed. Since then, my parents have been making two turkeys!
We buy to go containers for guests to take home without needing to worry about returning. Make sure you get an accurate count of how many to-go bags to make so no one ends up empty handed!
I hope this makes your holiday planning a little bit easier! Please share if you found this helpful!