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4 Hosting Tips for a Stress-Free and Successful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner
Written by Abby Terlecki

The following guide can help mitigate Thanksgiving stress and prepare to host the best dinner ever with these tips in mind.

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It sounded like a good idea at the time. “Sure, I’ll host Thanksgiving dinner!” And you meant it. That is, until you realized it was a very bad idea. But everyone’s counting on your commitment and there’s no backing out, so take a deep breath and replace stress with a positive can-do attitude.


The following guide can help mitigate Thanksgiving stress and prepare to host the best dinner ever with these tips in mind.

1. Table Setting

The dining room table is the Christmas tree of Thanksgiving (except we gather for food, not presents, which is even better for a foodie). On Thanksgiving Day, the dining room table transforms into your home’s festive meeting place where friends and family celebrate the holiday. This year’s decorative theme? Simplicity.

First, make a statement with a gorgeous Thanksgiving centerpiece or floral arrangement that you can easily have delivered to your doorstep. Then adorn the centerpiece with natural accents found right in the backyard like leaves, acorns and tree branches. Also, set blank place cards at each place setting with a few pens on the table. Before dinner starts, ask your guests to write down what they’re most thankful for to get everyone into the spirit of the holiday.

And don’t forget the kids table: cover a table with white butcher paper and let kids decorate it with crayons or Play-Doh favors (a.k.a. the babysitter) so they can create their own Thanksgiving feast.

2. Early Prep

Any Thanksgiving host pro will warn you: Never wait until the last minute. Prepare. And start early.

Lists are your best friend. Use your phone for support and replace pen and paper with a to-do list app like Google Keep or Any.do. Set those alerts and don’t ignore the notifications. These organizational tools help you stay on track leading up to the feast, unlike the Post-it note you lost in the grocery store parking lot. Make lists, plan to clean, get all the ingredients (besides the perishables) and order the turkey in advance.

Reserve Thanksgiving Eve for touching up the house, preparing the kitchen and setting up the table. Start early enough so you can relax during the evening and rest up for the big day.

3. Dinner Menu

Of course a Thanksgiving hostess feels the pressure to impress. But don’t forget, you’re a real-life normal person with work obligations and family responsibilities on a budget with limited kitchen space—not an expert culinary chef ready to battle it out on “Iron Chef.” So stick to a traditional turkey and tried-and-true side dishes. (Side note: Stay off Pinterest during this sensitive time to avoid the fancy recipes wormhole.) Also, if guests ask if they can bring something, don’t be afraid to say yes. Suggest they bring their favorite Thanksgiving food, a unique dish they’ve always wanted to try or mixings for a delicious holiday cocktail.

4. The Day Of

Wake up early before sunrise to enjoy the calm before the storm. Enjoy a great cup of coffee and take a few moments before rushing into hosting duties to embrace gratitude, the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Use this as your opportunity to appreciate what you’re most grateful for on this day of thanks. Then it’s on; the moment you’ve been preparing for has finally arrived. You and the kitchen are about to create the most epic Thanksgiving feast ever.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner requires teamwork. Volunteer your family to help with designated tasks like peeling potatoes, chopping vegetables or carving the turkey. Give kids the responsibility of pouring drinks for guests. Once the table is full, congratulate yourself and indulge.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

Living in Maui and paddleboarding every day is just a fantasy, sigh. Actually, I’ve accepted that I’ll never be a girl who loves to wear heels and look glamorous. I’m a low-maintenance sneakers girl with a beachy carefree style who would rather stay in, than go out.

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

My honesty, loyalty and my family and health.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

Writing something that entertains or deeply resonates with a reader and still a goal is to write a memoir of short stories.

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?

I stumble socially around new people and make bewildering sarcastic remarks to make up for my social shortcomings. I can be optimistically challenged with a cynical sense of humor, but can always count on the positivity of my loved ones to create a harmonic balance. I drink too much wine, say the wrong thing and go to work with toothpaste in my hair. Life is a comedy.

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)

Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?

I love my family and friends who complete my universe…and my CrossFit gym.

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About the author

Abby Terlecki

Abby Terlecki sees herself as one of those creative writer-types who always prefers to tell stories with her keyboard than through her mouth. When Abby's not writing freelance articles, text messages, to-do lists, or CrossFit scores, she enjoys the outdoors and perfects her craft as a full-time writer for a digital content marketing agency in Phoenix, Arizona.

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