A Step-by-Step Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving

Hosting your first Thanksgiving can be overwhelming, so we've put together a step-by-step plan that will take you from prep straight through dessert.

Related To:

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

An Easy, No-Fuss Thanksgiving Dinner

Are you hosting Thanksgiving for the first time? Hosting family and friends can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide that will help things go smoothly even if you're a rookie.

Make a Schedule

The key to a stress-free Thanksgiving is to plan ahead. Stick to a schedule to avoid any major hassles. We recommend the schedule below for Thanksgiving week:

Monday = Inventory

Tuesday = Shopping

Wednesday = Cooking

Thursday = Assembly + Reheat Food

Take Inventory

Take inventory of everything you have, including serving pieces, baking dishes, place settings and cutlery. Depending on how many guests you have, you may need to buy or borrow additional pieces. To save money, follow our tips on how to find vintage pieces for a perfectly-collected tablescape.

Text Your Invite

Our motto for Thanksgiving first-timers is, "Choose the easy way." Skip the hassle of sending out formal invites, and send your guests a text instead. Try Punchbowl app, which has great seasonal holiday invites to choose from.

Spend Time on Prep to Save Time Later

Plan out your menu, and spend sufficient time on prepping all recipes to make things easier on Thanksgiving day. For a simple meal, stick to just the classics - turkey, roasted veggies, cranberry sauce, stuffing and dessert. Warm things up with a fall soup like curried butternut squash with fried sage.

Set the Table

On Thanksgiving morning, tackle setting the table. If you knock this off your list first thing, you won't have to give it a second thought the rest of the day. Add simple yet intricate details, like fresh sage wrapped in twine at each place setting. Get 15 more inspiring table setting ideas.

Display a Candle Centerpiece

Arranging flowers is timely and costly. Skip the flowers, and display candles you have on hand instead. Incorporate texture by placing eucalyptus leaves in small vases, and place throughout your tablescape. Try our other Thanksgiving centerpiece ideas you can make in minutes.

Make Easy Appetizers

A bruschetta bar is one of the easiest (and most delicious) appetizers. Place different spreads, such as cheese, olive, roasted tomatoes and feta salad, on a tray, and pair with crackers. Try our other quick and easy appetizers.

Set Up a Self-Serve Drink Station

Set up a self-serve drink station to avoid constantly refilling your guests' drinks. Provide cans of wine instead of bottles to avoid messing with a corkscrew, and offer non-alcoholic options like apple cider and sparkling water.

Give Everyone Their Own Bread Basket

Use little silver buckets to make mini bread baskets for each guest. This will prevent you from passing around or refilling a larger bread basket during dinner.

Partially-Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Maybe you have time to make cranberry sauce from scratch (and we highly recommend you try Joanna Gaines' recipe), but you most likely don't have the time. Make a partially-homemade sauce by mixing fresh or frozen cranberries with a can of cranberry sauce. Garnish with orange peel for color contrast.

Easy Roasted Veggies

Roasted veggies are a great item to include on your easy menu. Use one pan to roast a combo of your favorite fall vegetables. We combined and roasted colorful potatoes, carrots and radishes with butter and fresh thyme for 30-40 mins.

Cook Your Turkey the Day Before

Cooking a turkey is usually the biggest challenge for a Thanksgiving first-timer, so we recommend tackling it the day before Thanksgiving. Then, just set aside some time on the day of to reheat it. This herb-roasted turkey and gravy recipe is one of our all-time favorites. If you aren't up for cooking your own turkey, order a pre-cooked one from a local market, add fresh herbs and lemon slices and put it on your own serving platter. We won't tell your secret!

No-Bake Mini Pies

These cute pies don't require a recipe or any baking time. To make, buy pre-made pies from a local gourmet market, and cut out mini versions with a 2" biscuit cutter. Top with whipped cream.

Encourage Your Guests to Take Leftovers

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers, so share the leftover love with all your guests. Set up a take-out station with inexpensive and grab-and-go containers or use berry containers from the grocery store.