Guide to Hosting the Perfect Thanksgiving: Week 2

All the advice you need for hosting a low-stress, disaster-free Thanksgiving celebration

Last week you pulled together your recipes and inspiration for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, finalizing the menu and beginning to form a vision for the celebratory meal. You’ve gone through the glassware and plates, figuring out what you have (and what you need to buy), giving you plenty of time to order or shop for what you need.

This week it’s time to think about the days surrounding Thanksgiving, especially if you’ll be hosting houseguests, to lighten your load in the coming days. Also consider your bar — what will you be serving guests? And don’t forget to stock the pantry. Be it snacks in between meals when you’re too busy to sit down for something proper, or last-minute appetizer fixings should the dog steal your platter of pigs in a blanket. Because it does happen.

Click here to see last week’s planner.


1. Focus on the Table

With the menu squared away, focus on setting the scene. Pick a table look from your inspiration board and buy supplies. Add necessary flowers and other perishables to your master shopping list. If you’re going professional, act early and place your order now to ensure you can get what you want, from the floral designer you like. Click here for some ideas.


2. Make a Meal (or Two) in Advance

If you’re hosting the big day, chances are you have friends staying over the night before. As you’ll be busy cleaning, prepping, and catching up, dinner is often an afterthought until you’re so hungry you can’t think straight. Surprise them (and yourself) with a light and healthy homemade dinner. Make a big pot of soup, like butternut, or a casserole this week and then freeze it. Come the night before Thanksgiving, all you’ll need to do is pick up that bread and salad you already put on your shopping list with the rest of the perishables.


3. Stock the Bar

Buy wine, liquor, and sparkling water. Cross them off the list!  Feels good, right? Serving a signature cocktail? Make sure you have all the makings, garnishes, and equipment for that, too. Get an idea of what to have here — then read our advice for how much to have here.


4. Fill the Pantry

Whether you lose an appetizer to the family pet, burn something, or your guest who offered to bring dessert leaves it on top of the car and drives away, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for whatever snafu comes your way. Stock your pantry now with good nuts, crackers, and popcorn. Also, buy a few hard cheeses and jarred olives. Now you have easy appetizers and nibbles for houseguests — and snacks for you, too. Cross ‘em off the list. Pick up some cookies, chocolates, and ice cream (plus toppings) for dessert alternatives and you will be well-prepared.


5. Tackle Turkey Day Tasks That Can be Done in Advance

Like making and freezing your pie crusts, if you want (or roasting off the pumpkins for the pies and freezing the purée). Plus, you can cross those ingredients off your grocery list!

Click here to see A Guide to Hosting the Perfect Thanksgiving: Week 1.

Click here for the Thanksgiving Entertaining Checklist.