Hospitality: Hosting Thanksgiving

I don't know how many of you host Thanksgiving at your home.  We do it every year, and with just family (including my parents, our future daughter in law and granddaughter, our son in law, and our niece) we are at 14 people.  Add in some guests and you've got a great dinner party!

This year we will be having 11 from our family and Tim's brother and his family which adds 6 plus our friend Denny, if he is not on the road.  So at this point we are looking at 18 for dinner.  We are looking forward to it!

The following tips are important for having a stress free day.

1. Slow Roast your turkey overnight.  I have a fool proof recipe that came out of  Emilie Barnes book 15 Minute Family Traditions and Memories.  Here is the link to my post about it.

2. Have your guests all bring a side dish and dessert.

3. Set up a buffet for serving food.  We have a 9 foot counter that works perfectly for buffets and we use it regularly.  

4. Feel free to use paper products.  There are such pretty seasonal paper products, or great disposable plates that look like china, these days.  If you are hosting a crowd, give yourself a break and make clean up easier.  After all you want to be able to enjoy the day, too.  

5. Delegate.  Make a plan (even if only in your head) for the flow of the day, and ask guests ahead of time if they will help with clean up or to provide a craft/game/activity for kids.  Most people are willing to help.

6.  Have no big expectations for the day.  This is important.  Don't get yourself all worked up over some "Norman Rockwell" ideal.  Know your family and your guests for who they are and go with it!     If your family is difficult, this is especially important.  If you have no family, invite friends to share the day with you.

7. Have a drink station set up for self serve coffee, tea and hot cocoa.  It will allow you to focus on food in the kitchen, and then later allow you time to sit and enjoy your guests.  This can be as simple as a small table in your dining room with your coffee maker, an electric kettle, and of course a variety of teas and cocoa.  This can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it.

9. Remember that this is a day for giving Thanks!  Provide a way for your guests to share what they are thankful for, and don't forget to tell them how thankful you are that they are their with you.

10.  Set the tone in your own home.  Have beautiful Thanksgiving music on an iPod, light some candles, have football on in the family room.  Its up to you!

We always take the opportunity to have family photos taken that day.  This year, my niece will be with her boyfriend's family on Thanksgiving, and Lindsay and Joseph will be with his family.  Thankfully, Joseph's family lives 3 minutes from us and they are planning on coming by for photos, then to his family.  Good thing, too!  Lindsay is the one with the camera and tripod!

Thanksgiving 2012

What plans do you have for Thanksgiving?  Are you hosting?  What are some traditional food dishes that your family must have every Thanksgiving.  My Canadian friends can join in too, even though they have had their Thanksgiving already!


  1. Two things are a must have: Sarah always expects my Cranberry salad. Yum,,, and we must have Pumpkin Roll

  2. FANTASTIC advise. We had our Canadian Thanksgiving last month, but your advice works for Christmas as well!

  3. We have Thanksgiving at the Fellowship Hall at Church! Our family is TOO big for anyone's home and for that we are thankful! We have a dessert table, a drink section, a table for paper products etc and the food is all set up on the counter! I am looking forward to it! We are adding in my Friend and her Mama, as well as any of their family that wants to join us! They lost their Daddy/Husband this year and they said they weren't going to have Thanksgiving! SO... we said, just join us:) We have SO much to be thankful for, don't we? Enjoy your evening dear friend, HUGS!

  4. Lots of great tips! You know I follow your turkey recipe to a t (except for the washing and patting dry). It is not my turn to host the big dinner this year, but we shall honor the day still. Is your college student coming home for Thanksgiving? What joy in the camp! Okay, I am going to look at your mom's Pinterest board right off quick...somehow I think things are happening there!

    My one other tip? Let it be fun for the children to choose or NOT choose what they will or will NOT be eating. There are some whacky foods served up at holidays and making a child try everything is just overwhelming for everyone involved. =D

  5. Being together is the main thing. Sometimes we have turkey, sometimes we don't (this year we had ribs). Pumpkin pie makes a regular appearance.

    Great ideas for hosting a crowd.

  6. We host every year. And there are so many "must haves" at our Thanksgiving feast that it's embarrassing! :)

  7. Wise words here. We also do photos every thanksgiving except this year we had them early. It will be my first year not to have Thanksgiving in a many years. I know I will miss it but that's the way it is this year.

  8. I definitely have to try that overnight turkey roasting!

    I don't know for sure if we are hosting the Thanksgiving dinner or if it will be held down the road at Mr. & Mrs. Christopher's place. That depends on who wins the debate... Mr. C. or Mrs. C. ;)

    One way or another, the house gets a good cleaning. I started it last week. And I will cook the turkey, dressing, gravy, pumpkin pies, and cranberry salad. It may be served here or there.

    But I don't mind since I understand my daughter-in-law's desire to have it in her home for all of us (for her family joins us, too).

    Have turkey... will travel!

  9. Those are all great tips especially to not think everything has to be perfect.

    I like for everyone to bring something. When my MIL hosted she insisted on doing everything herself and then she was always to exhausted to enjoy it!


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