How to Host Your First Thanksgiving Dinner

Stop stressing! These tips and tricks will help you pull together a fabulous celebration with minimal angst.

You will need

  • Adequate seating and tableware
  • Traditional favorite foods
  • Mini-pumpkins and gourds
  • Votive candles
  • A cleaning service (optional)
  • Two small turkeys (optional)

Step 1 Check logistics Figure out if you have enough chairs, seating space, and tableware. Borrow from friends and neighbors to fill any holes. Or check out a thrift store; if you don’t need or want it afterward, donate it back.

Step 2 Call your guests Call your guests so you’ll have a handle on how many people are coming – and an excuse to fish for contributions. People often want to contribute, especially if it ensures that their holiday favorite will be on the table.

Step 3 Ask for help Don’t be shy about asking for assistance before, during, and after. You’ll need all the help you can preparing the food, getting your home ready, serving, and cleaning up afterward.

Step 4 Plan to have all the favorites Honor traditions; even if you personally think that green bean casserole is disgusting and cranberry jelly out of a can a disgrace. If it’s important to someone, serve it – and let them take the leftovers home.

Step 5 Cook two birds Consider cooking two small turkeys instead of one big one. They’re easier to handle, cook faster and more uniformly, and are more tender and juicy than a large, older bird. Plus, they provide twice as many drumsticks!

Step 6 Finalize your menu Finalize your menu and go shopping. Figure out what you can make a day or two ahead so that the big day is not such a rush. And remember: Now is not the time to attempt a dish you’ve never tried.

Step 7 Make a simple centerpiece Make a simple table centerpiece out of a bowl of small gourds and mini-pumpkins and line the table with votive candles. You’re all set!