Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Idea: Checklist and tips for hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.
It's also my turn to host and I enjoy every minute of it.
I love the idea of counting our blessings, the aroma, and the cooking prep with my family.
I love the food, the company, and especially the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
If you don't squeal with joy at Santa's grande entrance during the parade, are you even real?!

I've watched and helped my mother host Thanksgiving since I was born.
Once she was unable to host anymore, I took over the holiday with a family of my own.
I take great pride in continuing her traditions and adding a few of my own.
Madre may not say it out loud, but I can see that she is just as proud!
With all of this experience behind me, I'm happy to share some of my tips and tricks.

thanksgiving hostess tips and ideas; thanksgiving dinner checklist; thanksgiving ideas

Ideas:  Tips for Hosting the Perfect Thanksgiving

Three weeks before

_Create a menu.  This should include beverages, appetizers, main course, and dessert.
_Create a to do list for all prep work.  
Don't be afraid to add as you go.  I know I do!
_Gather recipes where necessary.  Store them in your recipe book for next year too.
_Create a full shopping list.  Separate by store and try to add prices where possible.
_Set a firm budget.  You should use your shopping list as a guide.
_Spring clean your home to prep for the big day.
I love a deep cleaning before the holiday season!  Clean the pollen off the windows and scrub the oven.
_Send out informal invitations to your guest list with a designated time.
_Start purchasing nonperishable items weekly to lessen the burden of the full shopping.
_Double check that you have enough table space and chairs for your guests.
Tip- You'll need to purchase or ask to borrow extra chairs and tables now if needed.
_Start to make room in the fridge and freezer for your Thanksgiving food and leftovers.
_Request the day before Thanksgiving off of work for prep work.

Two weeks before

_Purchase the Turkey before the right size, brand, and price is gone.
I'll never forget the year my mother waited and had to flirt her way to her ideal bird!
_Ensure that all last minute decorating of your home is done.
_Pick out your family's outfits and your apron for the big day.
_If you have an extra refrigerator or freezer, plug it in to store the turkey.
_Pull out your fine china, silver wear, and table clothes for a quick cleaning.
_Purchase the wine and other beverages you budgeted for.


_Finish all of your grocery shopping.
For me, this includes Target, the local grocery store, Costco, and Trader Joes.
_If you're having overnight guests, set up the guest room and bathroom.
_Get the furry family members washed and groomed.
We want to smell the Turkey, not a wet dog!
_Make the sauce for the stuffed shells.
Tip- I make meatballs and extra sauce to freeze.  Sauce without meat isn't the same!


_Put the turkey in the fridge to start the slow defrost.
_Make the fresh cranberry sauce.
_Make the chocolate pudding pie and/or jello.


_Clean, dry, and set aside all dishes, cups, and utensils that have been sitting in storage.
_Get fresh flowers and arrange them nicely for the table.
My personal favorite is a sunflower arrangement with deep green leaves and eucalyptus.
_If needed, gather all extra tables and chairs.
_Remove and store the glass protecting your dining room table in a safe place.
_Add the leaf to your dining room table for extra space.
_Iron the table clothes.
_Put away any everyday decor that you won't be using in a safe place.
_Recruit any last minute help to prepare the meal.  I always call nanny to help clean the turkey!
_Bake the homemade pumpkin pie.
_Bake the homemade apple pie.
_Go to bed early and prepare the most hectic day of the year!
At least it is for me.  I like to make as much as I can the day before so it's fresh.


_Wake up before the sun comes up and send the kids out of the house.
_Tell Alexa to play your favorite play list.
Tip- Cook all pre-made dishes in aluminum half trays or oven safe serving trays for easy warm up.
_Prepare the stuffed shells with your homemade cheese stuffing and sauce.
_Make the homemade stuffed mushrooms.
_Make the sweet potato casserole. I make mine extra sweet with a crumb topping.  Yum!
_Make the brussel sprouts.
_Make the butternut squash.
_Prepare the stuffing for the turkey.
_Make the mashed potatoes.
_Prepare the guava and white cheese.
_Make the corn bread.  I make them as muffins for easy serving.
_Make the pumpkin bread.
_Make the flan.
_Wash the turkey and prepare it for the big day tomorrow.
_Set up all seating arrangements and folding tables.
_Set the table in the special holiday way.
Tip- Get your kids involved.  Ask them to be creative with a centerpiece or place cards.
_Finish all last minute cleaning and dusting.
_Charge the camcorder.
_Set your alarm clock and coffee pot with enough time to cook the turkey.


_Season, dress, and stuff the turkey.
Tip- Set multiple timers for basting and to check the temperature.
_Turn on the Thanksgiving parade and relax for a moment with your cup of coffee.
_Pick up fresh Italian bread from the bakery.
_Pick up the struffoli from the bakery.
_Stop and watch Santa Claus end the parade.  
Don't forget to watch the dog show because you're too busy to change the channel!
_Bread and fry the artichoke hearts.
_Prepare the antipasto.  I use cold meats, sliced cheeses, pesto, nuts, and dried fruits.
Tip- I plate mine on the biggest cutting board I have to save serving trays for the main course.
_Once the turkey is cooked, cover in tin foil and plate the stuffing.
_Make the gravy.
_Make the salad.
_Slice, cover, and plate the bread.
_Prepare for an easy clean up after dinner.  Wash the dishes, clean the stove, and take out the trash.
_Hang some extra dish towels in an easily accessible place for the helpful guests.
_Preheat the oven to a low setting to warm up all your dishes.
_Fill the ice bucket.
_Put out beverages and don't forget to fill the water pitcher.
_Put on some calming dinner music.
_Warm up your dinner, serve, say a prayer of thanks, and feast!!
Tip-  Don't forget to put the wishbone aside so it has time to dry!
_After dinner is cleared, make the coffee and espresso.
_Heat up any desserts that should be served warm.
_Break the wishbone.
_Go around the table to say what you're thankful for.
_Be prepared with a light hearted, fun game to play with your guests.
Tip- Be aware of alcohol consumption.  You may want to order an uber or make another pot of coffee!
_Make to go plates if your leftovers are real excessive.
_Don't forget to take lots of pictures to remember this day.
_After your guests are gone, take a moment to relax and count your blessings after a successful day.
_Dust off your Elf on a Shelf to greet your kids Friday morning!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?


  1. You can get a bird by flirting?
    It takes four days for the bird to defrost??? OMG
    Why doesn't the turkey stuff itself?
    Why does the bread have to be Italian? Shouldn't it be Indian and made from corn?
    Who would eat a day old mashed potatoes, deary? :)))

    1. Wow, lots of questions here! Yes, you can get a bird by flirting. They always have extra in the back. Bat your eyes, and suddenly the "sold out" sign will disappear for one last turkey. Yes, it takes a very long time for the turkey to defrost. Luckily, my grandma still does this piece for me. Cleaning the turkey out skeeves the crap out of me. The turkey can't stuff itself because it's dead, but I do agree it should come stuffed. lol The bread must be Italian so that we can dunk the bread in the sauce from our stuffed shells. I'm not a fan of mashed potatoes, so a day old or same day doesn't make a difference to me. Maybe I should make them fresh though since it's my husband's favorite. :)

  2. Wow, your ocd is in overdrive with Thanksgiving haha

    I think I'd lose an arm if I tried to bath the cats, not really, but you never know. Be sure and have those blankets covering the furniture too. Never know lol Can't say I squeal of any sort at fake Santa. You'll sure have it all down though, even stuffing the turkey's butt. And you say you hate birds lol

    1. LOL I printed this out two weeks ago for us to use and check off as we go. My husband was so shocked at the site of it that he took a picture of it to send to my father to tell him how I waste time. Organization is never a waste of time!!

    2. lmao over-organization may be a waste of time though.

    3. That's not true. I never heard of someone being TOO organized. SMH

  3. Wow, it's my least favorite holiday, probably because I've been the host for 15 years. I'm not a fan of the food and my family insists on the traditional dishes. I'd die for some stuffed shells for T Day!

    As it is, I'm planning to do my grocery list today and get the turkeys tomorrow, in hopes they will thaw by next week. Props to you for being such a great planner!

    1. Come on over, I always have extra of everything. :) If I don't plan properly, I start to twitch. It's a borderline medical condition. lol

  4. Wow. Can I come to your house? I'm tired and all I did was read the list!

    Watching for Santa is the best part of Thanksgiving and reminds me of my mom. We'd always watch it and when Santa made his appearance, she proclaim the holidays can begin. My son is working for a law firm on 5th Avenue and I told him he HAS to see if there is window overlooking the parade route and invite his mom. That would be like a big bucket list item scratched off. To see the parade IRL.

    1. There's something so magical about it, even at 30! Girl, kudos to you because I would never ever want to go to that parade. Unless, you know, I was in an executive building with a bathroom and escape route. LOL

  5. I just show up, but it's my least favorite holiday. It all balances out.

  6. I'm exhausted just reading this list. Thankfully, my mother in law does Thanksgiving dinner since I do Christmas breakfast. I did decide to do Friendsgiving this year, which will be this Saturday. I've been spending this week getting the house ready and the menu finalized/food purchased. Friday I'll have all of the desserts made and make a last minute grocery run for anything I may have forgotten to grab (because let's be honest. There is ALWAYS a last minute grocery run that needs to be done lol)

    1. I'm glad you decided to do it. I remember you saying that you were on the fence about it. It's definitely a lot of work and very tiring, but the reward is worth of all of it. & yes to the last minute grocery shopping.. even with all of the lists in the world, it always seems to happen!

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