How to Flawlessly Host your first Thanksgiving Dinner

How to flawlessly host your first Thanksgiving

A friend called me last week, completely overwhelmed. Her in-laws decided to come to New York City [NYC] for Thanksgiving. She was in a state of panic and freaked out at the idea of hosting Thanksgiving. So I took some time and planned a way for her to host her first Thanksgiving dinner flawlessly. She also had the option to have the entire dinner catered; several NYC restaurants offer to-go Thanksgiving menu items, but she wanted to do it herself, which was lovely.

I was able to calm her down. Then, we decided I would put together a plan for her, and we would spend some time on the phone over the weekend to make sure she had a well-put-together plan to execute.

My plan made it easy for my friend to navigate, so I decided to share it here since it may be helpful to someone else. When we got off the phone over the weekend, my friend was calm and confident that she could host her first Thanksgiving dinner flawlessly.  

The thought of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd can be overwhelming. But planning will help you remain organized and effectively complete your tasks. With these Thanksgiving tips + Tricks, you can flawlessly host Thanksgiving dinner in an organized, calm, and stress-free manner. 

Here is how to flawlessly host your first Thanksgiving dinner.


  • Take a deep breath and enjoy the plan.
  • Three weeks to one month before Thanksgiving, create your Thanksgiving Menu. Creating the menu this early makes things so much easier. It gives you enough time to research recipe ideas and make your lists. You should list all perishables, non-perishable items needed, and all the tasks you need to complete.

Pro Tip:

Before you plan your menu, make sure you find out if your guests have any special dietary needs–you will be able to find substitutions sooner rather than later.

Planning your menu so far ahead allows you to slowly purchase your non-perishables throughout the month.

Finalize Guest List and Plan Decor. Doing both tasks allows you to coordinate table decor, setting, and menu items. It is also an excellent time to review your lists and see if anything is missing. Make sure every little thing is on your list [nothing is too small or large to be written down].

Pro Tip:

This is the perfect time to determine what kind of supplies you will be using [for example, you may want to use disposable plates and utensils]. This is also an excellent time to map out the cooking timetable. As a result, you can get a  realistic idea of when a specific dish will be finished cooking. Also, note what dishes need to be made ahead of time.

  • Do not turn down Help. The guest list has been finalized; it is time to accept any help offered, or you can ask family members or friends to prepare a dish or two or pick up non-perishable items.

Pro Tip: 

Most people are often excited to contribute.

  • Two weeks before Thanksgiving. It is time to order your Turkey if that is what you are preparing. Also, it is the best time to take inventory. Ensure you have enough china, glassware, table linens, place cards, cloth napkins, tables, chairs, etc.

Pro Tip: 

This is a great time to wash or dry clean your table linens, create a Thanksgiving playlist, and deep clean your home, including all guest rooms and areas.

  • One week before Thanksgiving, decorate your home and the front porch and place final touches on guest rooms or areas. All of your non-perishable purchases should be completed, and this would also be a  good time to polish your silver if you’re using any.

Pro Tip:

This is the time to go through your pantry, home bar, or liquor cabinet to ensure you have everything you need or make a list of what you’ll need to buy.

  • Four Days before Thanksgiving, it is time to begin the thawing process [if you are using a frozen Turkey]–place the frozen turkey in the fridge to start thawing [24 hours for every 5 lbs]. It is also time to get out your china, glassware, table linens, cloth napkins, serving dishes, and utensils. Wash the china, serving dishes, glassware, and utensils. It is also time to purchase perishable groceries.

Pro Tip:

This would be a great time to confirm you have everything you need. In addition, it is an excellent time to check in with family members helping to make sure everything is on schedule. You can also plan for leftovers at this time, make sure you have enough containers, or purchase extra if needed.

  • Two days before Thanksgiving, do a final walk through your home to ensure all is well [especially guest rooms/areas]. Do a final clean of the bathroom and Set the table—Prep side dishes, veggies, pies, and sauces that can be made ahead. 

Pro Tip:

Set glasses [drinking, wine, cocktail] upside down on the table to keep them dust-free. Also, this is an excellent time to set up your bar area.

  • One day before Thanksgiving, create all make-ahead recipes and chill necessary dinks. It is also time to buy ice and fresh flowers for tables. 

Pro Tip:

Exhale; you have done most of the heavy lifting and are ready for a perfect day.

  • It is the big day, and you are ready. Cook the Turkey or Main meat, and make the stuffing and gravy. Next, reheat/warm any dishes that were made ahead. Finally, turn the glassware up and make a signature cocktail. 

Pro Tip:

Time to put on the Thanksgiving playlist and assign tasks to friends and family members as they arrive (for example, who answers the door, pours drinks, or hangs up coats, etcetera]. 

Dinner is served, and you did a fabulous Job–enjoy this time with family and friends; you have so much to be thankful for.

It may seem overwhelming; however, with a fabulous plan, you can host your first Thanksgiving dinner flawlessly. Remember, it is okay to adjust the plan whenever necessary so that it works for your situation.

Comment below do you have any tips or tricks to add to our list.

Nat C.


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