Budget, Organize

Flawlessly Host Your First Thanksgiving

So the year has finally arrived when you are hosting your family’s Thanksgiving meal. If you are like me then you are super excited. . . and nervous! You want to make a good impression and carry on certain traditions, but you also want to make some new traditions. How do you balance the two? Keep it simple and don’t stress!

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Clean the House

One task to check off of your to-do list first is to deep clean your house. Make sure that there is no excess clutter laying around that will make your home seem smaller and cramped. My favorite way to stay-ahead of the cleaning is to use a cleaning calendar. Using a cleaning calendar will help you stay on top of the cleaning instead of doing it all last minute. Download and print my cleaning calendar below.

To learn more simple cleaning tips check out this post! 

Cleaning Calendar

Don’t Be Surprised by Surprise Guests

One thing that you can count on is that you WILL have a surprise guest at least once during the holiday season. Instead of stressing out when you hear those car doors slam, make sure that your home stays company-ready so that you can enjoy the season filled with family and friends. By doing a few simple tasks each day, you can ensure that your home looks tidy and feels cozy for any surprise house guests. 🙂

  • tidy up your home each day

  • keep hot beverage ingredients on hand (coffee, apple cider, hot cocoa, hot tea)

  • have simple snacks that you can put out for surprise guests (crackers, cheese, sliced meat)

Keep your home company ready by following these simple tips! 

Perfect Timing

  • 2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving-Create your Thanksgiving Day menu. Call up family to see if they will be bringing any side dishes or special desserts. Purchase as much of your grocery list items as possible to avoid the last minute holiday crowds.

  • 2-5 days before Thanksgiving-Thaw out your turkey if it’s frozen.  If you will be making homemade cranberry sauce (I see you, Mom) then you will want to do that now. For homemade chicken and dressing, make sure that you have some cornbread and white bread that is getting a little stale for your dressing ingredients.

  • 1 day before Thanksgiving-Today is the day for making ahead as many things as possible. Put together the dressing, green bean casseroles, and sweet potato casseroles so that they are ready to pop in the oven on turkey day! Set up your tables and make sure that you have the utensils, plates, and cups that you will be using.

  • Thanksgiving Day-Give yourself plenty of time to bake or fry your turkey. Take your time and enjoy the cooking process. Soak in all of the heavenly smells of Thanksgiving. If you are making mashed potatoes, give yourself a couple hours before lunch/dinner to cook and prepare them. Pop the casseroles and rolls in the oven 30-45 minutes before eating time. Assign someone to carve the turkey and say the blessing. Let’s eat!

Mix Old Traditions with New

It is a huge responsibility to feed your family for Thanksgiving for the first time. Make sure that in your excitement you don’t change ALL the traditions that your aunts, uncles, and grandparents are used to. Sit down and think about all of the family traditions. Pick out the most important ones and try to incorporate them into your Thanksgiving Day. Feel free to add some new recipes, games, and traditions to introduce your family to. A little vintage with a little contemporary is always a good thing. 🙂

Ask for Help

Just because it is your first year hosting Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean that you have to do it all alone. Ask close family members (moms, aunts, etc.) if they would like to bring a certain dish or prepare something special that they enjoy making. See if someone can come a little early to give you an extra set of hands. 🙂

Thanksgiving Food Pinspiration

If you are like me then you are always searching for new, yummy recipes. Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where people tend to forget their calorie counters and enjoy every bite of the delicious meal. Use real butter, don’t skimp on the cream, and add a bit more cinnamon and sugar. Thank me later. 😉

For some new Thanksgiving Day recipes check out my Thanksgiving and beverage Pinterest boards!


You may have pre-conceived ideas that every bit of the Thanksgiving meal has to be made from scratch. That’s simply not true. Don’t be afraid to use already made items such as:

  • rolls

  • cranberry sauce

  • canned green beans

  • canned corn

 Never cooked a turkey before? No problem! There are tons of restaurants who will smoke or fry a pre-bought turkey for you. Some restaurants will even purchase the turkey for you. 🙂

Get the Most Out of Your Space

Unless you live in a very large house, you will probably have to arrange some furniture and utilize your outdoor space to accommodate a large family for Thanksgiving. Try these tips for more space:

  • remove unneeded furniture

  • rearrange furniture to have the most walking space

  • add chairs if possible

  • use hearth as seating area by adding pillows

  • utilize your covered patio for large tables and chairs

  • change your dining table to the “buffet area”

  • turn the parade or a football game on outdoor TV (if applicable)

  • set up corn hole (baggo) boards

  • get a fire going in an outdoor fire pit

For more tips on utilizing your space check out this post! 

Fine China versus Paper Plates

If you are hosting a smaller Thanksgiving crowd then by all means use the fine China (because you probably don’t get the opportunity that often anyway).

If you group is like mine, closer to 20+, then break out the festive, high-quality, Thanksgiving paper plates. Walmart and Sam’s Club always have great options. 🙂

Set the Ambiance

The wonderful smells of food wafting through your home will be more than enough to set the mood for the day, but you can also try turning on the Macy’s parade or the football game. Make sure the blinds are open, lamps are on, and a few wax warmers are on.

I like to have seasonal items sprinkled throughout the house. Place some pumpkins on the table. Sprinkle some faux autumn leaves around. Put some apples in a pretty bowl. These things may seem silly, but your guests will notice. 🙂

For more seasonal decorating tips check out this budget post! 

Relax and Enjoy the Holiday

Now that the work is done and family is arriving, you can sit back and enjoy the day. Remember that no holiday is perfect, but your mood can change the atmosphere for better or worse. If you are stressed out and running around then the environment will not be one for relaxing for your family and friends.

Have you ever hosted a Thanksgiving meal at your home? Do you have any helpful tips? I would love to add them to my post. Drop them in the comments below. 🙂

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