The Do’s and Don’ts of Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

The holidays are right around the corner! Can you believe it? Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a wonderful opportunity to bring friends and family together for a memorable meal. But to ensure a smooth and enjoyable gathering, there are some important Do’s and Don’ts of hosting Thanksgiving dinner to keep in mind.

Do Plan Ahead

Start planning your menu and guest list well in advance to ensure you have enough time to prepare. Once your guest list is completed, send out your invitations with plenty of time for guests to RSVP. (Be sure to include when guests should arrive.)

I like to save time shopping by making a detailed list to easily navigate the busy grocery store and a day-to-day schedule to stay organized.

Do Prepare a Diverse Menu (But Don’t Experiment with Unfamiliar Recipes)

There are personal favorites and the classics: traditional Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. However, be prepared to accommodate guests with different dietary preferences and restrictions. Don’t assume they can just eat around certain ingredients.  (That being said, stick to recipes you know and trust. Trying new recipes on Thanksgiving can be risky.) Your consideration in accommodating everyone will be deeply appreciated and truly elevate your hosting prowess.

Do Have a Timeline & Delegate Tasks

One of my favorite time-saving hacks is to set my Thanksgiving table the night before. It’s one last thing to do day-of and helps me avoid waiting until the last minute to start preparations. It can also be very helpful to create a cooking and serving timeline to ensure everything is ready on schedule.

Everyone knows cooking and cleaning can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from guests or assign specific dishes for them to bring. You can even assign someone to help with serving and cleanup!

Do Offer Drinks and Appetizers

Greet your guests with a selection of drinks and appetizers while they wait for the main event. Remember, while wine and cocktails can enhance the meal and create a cheery vibe, avoid excessive imbibing. When you’ve worked this diligently, you don’t want anything detracting from the spirit of the gathering.

Do Create a Cozy Atmosphere & Festive Environment

I love to set the mood with music, lighting, and decorations to make my home feel warm and inviting. There’s nothing better than knowing my guests feel comfortable and welcome. When you set a beautiful table with appropriate dinnerware, flatware, and decorations, your guests will see how much you care and all of the thought you put into their enjoyment of the holiday. I’ve got some Thanksgiving Table Ideas if you need inspiration.

Don’t Forget Leftovers ( and Don’t Leave Cleanup for Later)

Be prepared with storage containers for leftovers, and encourage guests to take some home if there’s excess food. While it’s tempting to relax after a big meal, try to do some initial cleanup to make the post-dinner chores more manageable.

Don’t Overcommit

One of my best pieces of advice is don’t take on too much and accept help from others. Thanksgiving is about being together and giving thanks, not about having a flawless meal. Don’t stress if something doesn’t turn out perfectly.

Oh, and one last thing – take a moment during the meal to express gratitude and give thanks. This holiday is all about recognizing those you love and appreciating what you have.

Now that you’ve got the Do’s and Don’ts of hosting Thanksgiving dinner in mind, you will certainly have a successful and enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner that everyone will remember fondly.



Images by Jose Villa and Lauren and Abby Ross and Amy and Stuart