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Tips for Hosting a Stress Free & Successful Thanksgiving Dinner


The holidays are fast approaching (feels like they really surprised us this year), so if you haven’t already started preparing to host Thanksgiving, it isn’t too late! While November and December holidays are all about giving thanks, spending time with loved ones, and staying warm in the colder months, they are also inevitably filled with that holiday stress. Family time can be healing, or it can really try your patience. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some tips to help make you minimize stress this Thanksgiving! Stick to what you know, plan ahead, and keep it simple. Focus on the company, and save the party tricks for Easter. 

For a lot of families, the turkey is the center of a good Thanksgiving meal. If you haven’t already ordered your turkey, stop whatever you’re doing and order it now! Whether frozen or fresh, you’ll want to have your option lined up ahead of time, lest you end up with the bottom-of-the-barrel supermarket leftovers.

 While we’re on the subject of planning ahead, it’s a good idea to write down a list of your guests food allergies or sensitivities before you plan your menu. That way, you can avoid having to make last minute substitutions, or heaven forbid, deal with a peanut allergy scare. If you are hosting family, you may already know their quirks. But you also never know when your cousin’s trendy new beau is going to decide they have a gluten intolerance, so go ahead and ask ahead of time.

A week or so before the big day, try to take a few hours to deep clean the public areas in your home (hallways, living room, kitchen, guest restroom, etc). Mop the floors, clean the baseboards, windowsills, glass, cabinets, door handles, and especially anything at eye level. That way the day before the big day, you can get away with minor dusting. And while you’re already moving around the house cleaning, consider the age, mobility, and drinking habits of your guests. You might want to put away any expensive items or those with sentimental value if you’ll be hosting children. Another good idea is to move decorations off of side tables to leave room for people to set down their drink, and move any items you don’t want covered in red wine should someone accidentally spill a glass.

   If there’s anything more important than food on Thanksgiving, it’s decorations! Wreaths of red and yellow leaves, bright orange pumpkins, ears of corn, they are all staples of American Thanksgiving style. Not everyone is partial to decorating, but it can certainly change up your space and make a give a standard room extra pizazz. Swap out your usual napkins for some orange, dark red, or pale yellow options, throw some flowers in a vase, or add fairy lights to window frames to create a simple yet festive environment. If you have a small dining table, consider skipping the center pieces or large serving platters and put them elsewhere, like on a side table or buffet. Or you could even leave food in the kitchen and have guests dish up there.

On the subject of your dining table, plan ahead about how many guests you can fit at your table. You’ll want about 24 inches of space at minimum for each person to sit comfortably and avoid bumping elbows. Consider your chairs as well, you want them to be about 10” to 12” shorter than the bottom of your dining table for guests to fit comfortably. Rather than trying to squeeze a too-tall or too-short accent chair into your dining space, consider buying a collapsible model that can be stored in a closet, or even rent a few appropriately sized chairs. Your guests will be better able to enjoy your cooking if they are seated comfortably.

Another good thing to consider in terms of space is how your furniture and home layout affects the flow of people. What works for your day-to-day life may not be the best option for a high-volume dinner. If you have unnecessary furniture such as decorative pieces or bookshelves, consider moving them around a bit if it helps to give you more room for seating or to avoid bottlenecks (especially between the kitchen, entertaining areas and powder room). As Houzz suggests, it might even be a good idea to completely rethink your dining area if you are limited on space. Rather than trying to cram guests onto your kitchen table, consider moving it to the living room (or patio if your local weather is favorable).

The most important tip to remember, have fun! Thanksgiving is a great time to connect with friends and family. Focus on enjoying your guest's company and keeping them comfortable, rather than worrying about perfect food or Instagram-worthy decor.