Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my family in

the past and I feel like I learned a lot each time. Hopefully

learning from my mistakes and using my tips can help you

host the perfect Thanksgiving dinner for your family!


  1. Get your shopping done EARLY!

Waiting until the day or two before to do your

shopping is only going to leave you frustrated, low

on supplies, and, most likely, turkeyless. I have

found it is best to start your shopping about

2 weeks before your dinner.


  1. Appetizers are a must.

If your family is anything like mine then they will probably start showing

up waaaay before the scheduled eating time and, after fasting for days

leading up to Thanksgiving dinner, they certainly appreciate the setting

out of little snackies. My favorite go-tos are meat and cheese trays with

crackers (think charcuterie board!) and deviled eggs..


This is the charcuterie board I helped create at my friend’s 25th birthday

party. This would be perfect as an appetizer for your early guests.


  1. Allow plenty of time for the turkey.

Not only do you want to make sure you allow

enough time to defrost your bird* (because

apparently trying to unthaw your turkey in

the dryer can be disastrous)


New Girl - Jess trying to defrost a turkey in a tumble dryer


but you also want to make sure you start

cooking it at the right time. You want to make

sure to put your bird in the oven with enough

time to cook thoroughly, but not long enough

that it turns into the turkey from A Christmas Vacation.


How to avoid a Griswold Christmas Turkey | Christmas vacation, National  lampoons christmas vacation, National lampoons christmas


Below is a great table for helping with cooking times.

How Long It Takes to Roast a Turkey


*Allow 1 full day for every 4lbs of turkey.


  1. Take the size of your turkey into consideration.

Size does matter when it comes to your turkey.

First and foremost, you want to make sure you

get a turkey big enough to feed everyone

coming to dinner.


Infographic showing how much turkey you need for Thanksgiving dinner


Next you need to make sure that your turkey

is going to fit in your oven and that you have

a pan big enough to cook the turkey in. I learned

the hard way on these things and found myself

scrambling Thanksgiving morning for a pan for my

turkey. Save yourself some stress and plan for

all this before the day of.


  1. Create a cooking schedule.

One thing I learned is to try and cook as much

food as you possibly can the day before because

if you only have one oven that is going to be

occupied solely by your turkey for the majority of

the day. Also, trying to cook as much as you can

the day before will save you so much unnecessary

stress on the day of and will (hopefully) ensure you

get food on the table in time. Here is my

cooking schedule:


  1. Thanksgiving is not the time to be fancy

Cooking a huge Thanksgiving feast is not the

time to be trying new recipes or learning new

things in the kitchen. Stick to what you know and

save the homemade butter for another time.

Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 7.31.06 AM

I really did make my own butter for a holiday dinner one year. lol 

  1. Don’t be a turkey and try to do too much

I have a problem with constantly trying to do more

than I probably should, especially when it

comes to hosting events, and that has gotten

me into some pretty stressful situations. So learn

from my mistakes and know what you can handle

and plan ways to make hosting this holiday dinner

a more manageable feat! For instance, you could turn

your dinner into a potluck. (I did this for my Friendsgiving and it

was perfect! Article here). Make as much of the

food ahead of time as possible and choose simple

decorations (fall house tour here). Forget about seating charts and

place-cards…let everyone sit where they want!

Oh and don’t wait till the last minute to

clean the house or get ready.

  1. Brine your turkey

This is a Thanksgiving dinner game changer

hands down. Find yourself a large stockpot, fill it

with salt water, and throw in your

turkey. You will never look back!


Use this link for more information on how to brine your turkey.


What are your tips for hosting a Thanksgiving

dinner? Do you enjoy hosting Thanksgiving

dinner? Have you hosted before? Let me

know in the comments.



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