8 Worst Thanksgiving Dinner Planning Mistakes And How To Avoid Them (Slideshow)

8 Worst Thanksgiving Dinner Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be intimidating. It's the biggest food day of the year for Americans and the official kickoff to the madness of the holiday season, and there's always pressure on the host to make sure everything is just right. If it's not, it could leave a bad taste in your mouth — and your guests' mouths, too — that no amount of mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie can fix.

Inviting Too Many People

If your dining room only holds 10, restrain yourself and keep the guest list short. If extending invitations via mail for a formal affair, you should address envelopes clearly to those who are invited to leave no room for misinterpretation. 

Not Setting a Specific Arrival Time

To avoid someone arriving while you're still elbow-deep in the turkey cavity, be sure to specify either in person or by formal invitation both the time you'd like guests to arrive for pre-prandial cocktails and sit-down dinner time.

Forgetting About Serving Platters and Silverware

With the million side dishes and the big bird itself, don't forget to count your serving plates, casserole dishes, pots, and pans long before Thanksgiving Day. If you don't have enough of a certain vessel or enough cutlery, don't be afraid to get something disposable.

Underestimating the Amount of Food/Alcohol

Nothing could be worse than sending your guests home hungry, on this of all days! Here's a helpful hint: It is recommended that you have at least one pound of bone-in turkey per guest — so a 12-pounder for a dozen guests, and so on. As for alcohol, one bottle of wine per guest will be more than sufficient, but it never hurts to have leftovers.

Insisting on Cooking Everything Yourself

Turn your Thanksgiving into a potluck! Ask everyone to bring a dish when they RSVP. Even if someone just brings along rolls or a green bean casserole, every little bit saves you time and stress.

Cooking Everything on Thanksgiving Day

It may seem lazy to serve something "leftover" on Thanksgiving, but dishes such as stuffing, casseroles, and pies can be prepped ahead of time and popped into the oven before dinner. Even basic prep work such as cutting vegetables can save precious hours of your time.

Trying New or Complicated Recipes

Stick with the family favorites and dishes that you are comfortable making. Why risk something being improperly cooked or plain old gross if everyone wants mom's famous stuffing and simple buttered corn anyway?

Not Having Anything for Guests to Do

Though it may seem like eating is the activity, if there is nothing else to do at your dinner, it could get boring really quickly. Putting out board games for the kids, starting a pick-up football game in the yard, or — of course — turning on the big game can all keep people engaged before (and after) the meal.