Holidays · Organization · Time Management

Hosting A Stress-Free Thanksgiving Meal {Part Two: November}

It’s officially Thanksgiving season! With just three weeks until Thanksgiving, it’s time to get serious about planning and preparation. Today I’m sharing with you five of the things I’ll do this month to make my Thanksgiving day as stress-free as possible!

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  1. Confirm The Guest List: I reach out to all my guests and confirm their attendance. At this point I also communicate what time we will be eating. I like for my guests to arrive at least 30 minutes before meal time so I can visit with them for a few minutes before “crunch time,” when all the last minute meal prep tasks have to be completed.
  2. Finalize My Menu: I save all the recipes to my Pinterest board for easy reference while shopping and cooking. Once I know exactly what I’m serving, I also make note of what I would like others to bring. Often guests will ask if they can bring something, and I’m always happy for their help!
  3. Practice My Table Setting: It helps me to gather all the linens, plates and glasses for a “trial run” of my table setting. I make sure I like how everything looks together and then snap a few pictures of the final product. This helps me to easily re-create the look when I set the table on Thanksgiving Day. You can definitely set the table several days ahead if you like! I also iron and hang all my linens so they will be fresh and ready to go when I set the table.
  4. Create The Thanksgiving Day Schedule: It takes a little bit of planning to have all that food hot and ready at the same time! I work backwards from the time I want everything ready and decide when to put each dish in the oven. To get an idea of what that looks like, click here to see my schedule from 2014.
  5. Designate and Label Serving Bowls: For some reason, this is such a helpful step in my planning process! The day before Thanksgiving, I decide what bowls I want to use for serving each thing on my menu. I set them out on the counter and put a post-it note on each dish so I don’t have to think about what goes where during that last minute “crunch time.”

I hope these tips are helpful for you and that your Thanksgiving Day will be stress-free with plenty of good food and sweet time with your family and friends! 

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15 thoughts on “Hosting A Stress-Free Thanksgiving Meal {Part Two: November}

  1. We are secret sisters as I like to do all those things as well. This year Amelia is hosting at her house so I do not have as many things to make but I need to get started collecting the ingredients. I am in charge of Dressing, Oyster cracker appetizers( dill and fire cracker) and it seems like I was supposed to make a dessert. Better check on that!! Amelia has a new kitchen so she is looking forward to showing it off.

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  2. Great pointers! I host Thanksgiving every year. I
    Love hosting- except for the cleanup that comes with having 15-20 people for a fairly formal dinner. Several years ago I came up with a list of simple jobs to help with clean up. I have everyone draw a number and tell them what their job is. The kids go first and their jobs take 3 minutes at the most- put hot pads in the drawer, 2 kids collect, rinse, and put silverware into the dishwasher. 2 more put leftovers on the counter beside the Tupperware. The adult jobs are also short and simple- take out the trash and replace the bag, 2 adults put leftovers in tupperware, 2 scrape plates and serving utensils and put them in dishwasher, Etc. Clean up is done in about 15 minutes every year now. 😃 🍽 🍗

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  3. That’s so smart to write out a schedule for Thanksgiving when you’re hosting. The cleaning, food prep and table decor always take longer than I’d planned so it would be good to have a timeline to work with. I try to help my mom with the table settings, overall cleaning and lighting candles before everyone arrives.

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  4. Love your organization! We travel back home to families so I prepare dinner there! Yikes!!! I have to be organized and ready to hit the cooking full speed. Do you have a post planned with your menu or is that an after how-it-went post?!? I am more interested in….tell us about appetizers you plan to have out! I never know what to do. It shouldn’t be anything too filling or take precious big day time to prepare. I worry about so many snacks have so much sodium or sugar. Something light but pretty! Great family time memories!

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    1. Wow – travelling AND cooking, that’s a lot to manage! I do plan to share my Thanksgiving menu – not this Monday but the next week. I don’t set out a lot of appetizers, but that would be something you could ask people to bring (if they offer). If I was hosting a large crowd, I would probably go to Costco and pick up some pre-made stuff like dips and veggie trays, just to make my life easier and to give me time to focus on the main meal. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful!

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  5. Sounds like your meal is going to go off without a hitch. Great planning! I like the idea of a trial run on table settings. In theory some things work okay, but then you get to the moment and go “Oh, no!” When you have limited space to begin with, it’s especially important.

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      1. You won’t likely have this mishap, but my aunt once made her pumpkin pie with salt instead of sugar. It wasn’t very tasty! People kept looking at each other, and finally her son (my cousin) said, “Mom, what’s with the pie?!” 🙂 Double-checking ingredients has now become my mantra.

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