Hosting Thanksgiving

Does hosting Thanksgiving or planning a party sound like a stressful or overwhelming task? It certainly can be, but I hope to help you out with that today. You see, for the last several years Aaron and I have hosted our families for Thanksgiving. With some thoughtful planning, we have been able to have a mostly stress-free Thanksgiving. I say mostly because I tend to stress out about things no matter how prepared I am. 😉

Whether we are hosting Thanksgiving or any other party I always start by making a list. I should probably warn you now that I make a lot of lists. In fact, I live by making lists, ha! Anyway, the first list I make is a draft menu. I try to include all of my ideas and then I can always add or take away from there. You also should keep in mind how many people you will be serving so you have enough food. Below is the draft menu for our Thanksgiving this year. We will be hosting approximately 10 adults and 8 kids.

Draft Menu

The next list I make is a big grocery list.  I look through all the recipes I plan to make and write down everything I need. Below is the list I made last year. I divide my list up so it’s easy for me to place each ingredient when looking at the recipe. I also include how much I need of each item. Once I have all the ingredients on the list I place a check mark next to that menu item. That way I know that I went through the recipe. Creating this list helps me ensure that I will have everything I need for the event. Running to the grocery store at the last minute is the last thing you want to do when hosting a party!

Grocery List

Next, I read through all of my recipes again and figure out a plan of action. I try to prep as much as possible the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Often times rolls, pies, and some side dishes can be prepared ahead of time. Aaron also takes the day off before Thanksgiving so he can help me prepare. In the past, he has been in charge of making the turkey. We will completely cook the turkey the day before, slice it up, and put it in gravy. So, on Thanksgiving day, we are just reheating the turkey.  We really look forward to the day before Thanksgiving because we get to hang out cooking in the kitchen together all day. We also make sure we have plenty of champagne on hand to drink as well. 😉 It has become our tradition.

daily plan

The last list I make is usually a timetable of when to start putting everything in the oven the day of Thanksgiving. It will usually look something like this….

  • 12:00: Cut cheese and salami
  • 1:00: Pull mashed potatoes from fridge
  • 2:00: Start mashed potatoes
  • 2:30: Pull turkey out of the fridge
  • 3:30: Pull everything else out
  • 3:45: Start top oven at 350
  • 4:00: Put turkey in top oven
  • 4:15: Start bottom oven at 350
  • 4:30: Start beans (bottom) covered for 30 min. (uncover 15 min. more)
    • Stuffing (top) uncovered 30 minutes
  • 5:00: Sweet potatoes (bottom)
    • Gravy
    • Salad
  • 5:15: Rolls 10 minutes
  • 5:30: EAT!

I hope this helps you plan your next Thanksgiving or party. If you have any other useful tips I would love to hear them as well. My motto is that you can never be too prepared, ha!


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