Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it centers around food, and it’s relatively low stress. There are no gifts to wrap, no childhood magic to make. Just food, stretchy pants, and the promise of leftovers the next day. That said, making all of that come together does take some planning. We’ll help you prepare for Thanksgiving so you can enjoy your day as much as your guests do.
If it isn’t you, relax! You’re off the hook! Ask what you can bring and plan for a hostess gift. We’ve got a great list of gifts to bring to the host of your holiday celebration.
If you’re a guest, and you’re bringing something to share, be sure you bring everything you need along with you. That includes any last minute ingredients and serving utensils. Yes, your host might have these things on hand, but your host has also likely been working all day and unplanned changes might throw a wrench into their plans. If you’re bringing something that needs to be warmed up, please confirm ahead of time that there will be available oven space.
If you’re hosting, great! That’s the first step checked off of your list!
Thanksgiving Guest List
Invite your guests and request an RSVP at least a week in advance. Sure, most Thanksgiving dinners can feed an army, but it’s always nice to be able to plan accordingly. Thanksgiving invites need not be fancy. A simple text or phone call will suffice.
Feeling a little extra? Opt for a fun printed invite!
Use our handy guest list planner for a handy way to track invitees and RSVPs.
Now it’s time for the good stuff. If you’re hosting a small gathering and worried about making entirely too much food, check out our guide for a small Thanksgiving meal.
Despite what you’ve been told, there are no rules when it comes to Thanksgiving. It’s time to make your own rules, set your own menu, create your own traditions.
A few things to think about when creating your Thanksgiving menu
- How many people are attending? This will determine the size of the turkey, plus the number of sides you serve
- Will you ask your guests to contribute? Sometimes it’s easier to ask guests to bring things like dessert or appetizers – something you can live without. I know I would cry if the person responsible for mashed potatoes had to back out at the last minute. Also, I’m a control freak.
- Are there any dietary restrictions or preferences among your guests? How will you accommodate that?
- Let go of the desire to make everything from scratch. There are so many great store-bought options for appetizers, pies, cranberry sauce – you can even get a full meal prepared elsewhere that you just heat up.
Use this menu planner to plan out your Thanksgiving menu.
Create a Shopping List
Schedule your shopping day, and please do yourself a favor and schedule it for a day that is NOT the day before Thankgiving. A few things to remember!
- Serving trays and utensils – do you have enough or do you need to supplement with some disposable options
- Plates & Utensils – Same question. Don’t forget dessert – you will need a second set of plates and forks for pie!
- Leftover storage – Do you have enough containers on hand for your leftovers? Will you be sending leftovers home with your guests, and what containers will you use?
- Decor? (I don’t do a lot of decorating, but we love this sweet Thanksgiving printable.)
- If you’re buying a frozen turkey, remember that it will take DAYS to defrost, so plan accordingly. (Did you forget to defrost the turkey? No problem! Here’s how to safely defrost a turkey quickly)