Last Minute Thanksgiving Dinner Hosting Tips

Shannon Quinn - November 26, 2019

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? The experience can be exciting, and you will feel really proud of yourself for the fact that you pulled off hosting one of the largest parties of the year. But the experience can also nerve-wracking, because there is so much work to do in such a small amount of time. Don’t worry! It is truly worth all of the amazing memories you are creating. Here are thirty tips for hosting that will help make this the best Thanksgiving ever.

Even young children can help by peeling potatoes. Photo Credit: KIRYAKOVA ANNA/Shutterstock

40. Plan to Delegate

Even though you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, that does not mean you have to do all of the work on your own. In fact, most friends and family will offer to help you as soon as they arrive at your house. You should plan ahead to delegate certain tasks to other people. This may be as simple as asking for someone to peel the potatoes or cutting carrots. Or, someone could do the dishes or set the table ahead of time.

Your friends and family will want to help you cook for Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

But if you are not prepared to give anyone instructions, you cannot fully take advantage of help when it is offered to you. Telling someone to choose anything they like in the kitchen is not necessarily going to be the best help they can possibly give. If you like, you could actually set up small workstations on your kitchen table ahead of time. This way, when someone offers to help, you already have a space ready for them.

Thanksgiving crafts could be as simple as buying construction paper. Photo Credit: Terrie L. Zeller/Shutterstock

39. Find an Activity for the Kids

Thanksgiving is often like a large family reunion. So, it is likely that you may have nieces, nephews, kids, or grandkids coming over to stay. Don’t forget to give the kids an activity to do. Nowadays, parents tend to lean on technology to keep their kids occupied. Some kids are satisfied with sitting around and playing games on their Nintendo Switch or iPad. Others might want to go outside and play football.

Kids will love to get into the Thanksgiving spirit. Photo Credit: FamVeld/Shutterstock

While this is all well and good, it will most likely take several hours for the dinner to be ready. So try to plan a crafting station ahead of time especially if there are younger children who are in the preschool age group. Try the traditional Thanksgiving crafts of making turkeys out of construction paper, autumn leaf hats, or pinecone pilgrims. You can find a million amazing Thanksgiving craft ideas on Pinterest. For older children, you could provide board games, puzzles, and playing cards.

It’s okay to ask friends and family to cook something for you. Photo Credit: Emilie Farris/Shutterstock

38. Outsource Dishes Whenever Possible

Even if you are hosting Thanksgiving, that does not mean that you have to make every single dish by yourself. If one of your friends are family members offers to bring something, you should not feel ashamed to say yes. Outsource your dishes whenever humanly possible. For example, if someone offers to make the sweet potato casserole, and another person brings a bottle of wine, all of these favors will add up.

Your friends will probably be happy to bring a dish to your Thanksgiving gathering. Photo Credit: Erickson Stock/Shutterstock

Hosting Thanksgiving can be very expensive, and there is almost not enough time for one person to do it all alone. So having a potluck style meal makes it easier on you, but it also makes your guests feel great about themselves to know that they helped with the process.

You should expect a random person to show up for your Thanksgiving dinner. Photo Credit: Kristen Prahl/Shutterstock

37. Be Prepared for Unexpected Guests

If you are inviting your extended family over for Thanksgiving, you never know if an unexpected guest will suddenly appear at your front door. This person might be a new boyfriend or girlfriend that someone wants to introduce to their family. Or it could be a foreign exchange student that your cousin brought home from college. Most of the time, people understand that they need to let you know ahead of time if they are bringing an extra person. However a lot of people (especially if there are young) have never hosted an event before, so they don’t even think to bother asking to bring someone else.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, the more the merrier. Photo Credit:

You should not react to this with passive aggression or stress. This can ruin the entire dinner for everyone. Instead of getting upset over unexpected guests, you should expect and prepare for the possibility that someone else may come. This might mean making sure that there is an extra table setting, additional food, or more alcohol. Remember that there is no harm in having more than enough food on Thanksgiving. If you find that there are less people than you expected, it just means that everyone else has more delicious leftovers to bring home with them.

Your guests will be perfectly happy with a store-bought pumpkin pie. Photo Credit: Anna Shepulova/Shutterstock

36. Remember It Doesn’t All Have to be From Scratch

Some people have really high expectations of themselves when they think about Thanksgiving. They want to make every single thing from scratch, because they feel that it proves that they are a great cook. However, you are only human. Even if you are professional chef, many things take hours to cook from scratch, and it would not be humanly possible.

Dinner rolls don’t have to be baked from scratch. Photo Credit: ND700 /Shutterstock

There is absolutely no shame in buying a store-bought pumpkin pie, stuffing mix, or any of the other items that are from a box. And if someone complains, kindly remind them that it took you hours to make the turkey and all of the other trimmings. Invite them to bring their own version next time if they like. For anyone who has actually hosted in Thanksgiving before, they will immediately sympathize and understand the reason why you need to take some things out of the box.

It is possible to save time if you make side dishes ahead of time. Photo Credit: Alliance Images/Shutterstock

35. Cook Sides Ahead of Time

In a lot of cases, you can cook side dishes and desserts the day before Thanksgiving and keep them in the refrigerator. Many of the food will just need to be heated up in the microwave so that you can take it to the dinner table. Just make sure that you are cooking the right things ahead of time and keeping the items that tastes best fresh for the day of.

Mashed potatoes can be made ahead of time and reheated on Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: WilliamEdwards14/Shutterstock

For example, rolls typically do not taste very good on the second day compared to when they are fresh out of the oven. And green bean casserole gets soggy overnight, which takes away the delicious crunchy texture of the onions. But mashed potatoes still taste great on the second day. It would also cut out a ton of work to peel, slice, boil, and mix them. They are especially good if you add an extra dollop of sour cream and give them a good mix before putting them out on the table.

You may want to set your table ahead of time to save time. Photo Credit: Natasha Breen/Shutterstock

34. Set the Table Ahead of Time

If you have both a dining room and kitchen table, there is no reason why you can’t set the table ahead of time. In fact, by setting the table either the night before Thanksgiving or the morning of, You are putting a huge chore out of the way immediately, as well as clearing up dishwasher and cabinet space. This way when the food is done, everything is ready to go on the table or on the buffet immediately.

If you are trying to make your table look perfect, you should do it the night before. Photo Credit: Stephanie Frey/Shutterstock

If you are looking for a task to delegate to a helper, having them set the table for you is a great thing for them to do. However, if you have an idea about setting the table to look Pinterest-perfect, it’s best for you to do it the night before. Speaking of Pinterest, check out their list of Thanksgiving table setting ideas for inspiration.

Some people are deathly allergic to nuts. Photo Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

33. Double-Check for Allergies or Dietary Restrictions

If you are having a huge family reunion, you never know if someone may have decided to go vegan at some point during the year. Or, someone might be inviting over a new boyfriend or girlfriend and they have a food allergy that you are not aware of. Always ask everyone ahead of time to remind you if there is a food restriction.

Ask your friends and family if anyone has gone vegan. Photo Credit: Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

This can be done quickly if you create a group text and ask everyone all at once. At least you will have given everyone the opportunity to respond ahead of time. Once you learn about the dietary restrictions. You can look online about some options on what vegans can eat. Or, they may want to bring their own dishes like tofurky or something else that they can enjoy for Thanksgiving.

Most people roast their turkey whole, like this picture. Photo Credit: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

32. Roast the Turkey in Pieces

Most people cook their entire turkey in the oven at the same temperature. Everyone has the picture of serving a full, perfectly intact bird onto the table. In reality, though, most people will take the bird out of the oven and then start carving it so that the meat is easily accessible on a serving plate. Few people realize that different parts of the turkey should be cooked at different temperatures. Turkey breast is thick and will overcook as soon as it goes over 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The legs, have more fat, and actually need to be cooked at 175 degrees or above.

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit on YouTuber

Experts usually wait until the turkey is almost done cooking. Then, they cut the legs off and put them back into the oven at a higher temperature to make sure it is cooked perfectly. Remember that your guests will remember the taste far more than the presentation. If you want more tips on cooking the perfect turkey, check out this video from Bon Appetit, where they go over selecting your turkey, wet versus dry brine, and so much more.

If you peel and cut your potatoes before baking, they will be crispy. Photo Credit: wideonet/Shutterstock

31. Bake Your Potatoes

If you did not make your potatoes the day before Thanksgiving, you may be able to save some time by baking them in the oven along with the turkey. Most people think of boiling the potatoes in water. However many types of potatoes actually taste better when they are baked. This also dries out the potato more, you might think that a dry potato would not be a very good thing, but the dryer they are, the more they absorb sour cream and butter when you mix them together. This actually makes the potato taste amazing when it is mashed.

Baking potatoes whole will be good for mashing. Photo Credit: norikko/Shutterstock

To make baked potatoes, you should bake them whole, and wrap them in aluminum foil. Use a fork to poke holes in the foil through to the potatoes to allow steam to escape. You can remove the skins after they have been baked by using a paring knife.

A pumpkin and pecan pie. Credit: Bon Appetit

30. Watch Bon Appetit’s “Perfect Thanksgiving” Series

When most people cook Thanksgiving dinner, they usually look to their parents for advice. Or, they might look up a recipe online at the last minute. If you want to have an even more flavorful experience for Thanksgiving, you should really check out the new series on Bon Appetit called “The Perfect Thanksgiving.” This is a series of YouTube videos starring some of the best chefs that work for the magazine.

The chefs sitting down to eat the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Credit: Bon Appetit on YouTube

The test kitchen chefs spend hours and hundreds of dollars worth of food in order to go through every single iteration of turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, and side dishes that could be served on Thanksgiving. In the end, they figure out how to make the best tasting version of everything that you would expect to see on Thanksgiving day. If you don’t have time to watch the entire series, they have the written recipes in their November 2019 magazine, and it can also be found online.

Grated butter melts a lot easier than solid chunks. Photo Credit: Joerg Beuge/Shutterstock

29. Grate Your Butter

Nearly everyone has grated cheese before, but many people do not think about grading butter. On Thanksgiving Day, a lot of people love to eat warm dinner rolls. However, if you don’t have spreadable butter ready to go, it can ruin the roll if you have to take a cold clump of butter with a knife. One solution to this problem is taking a stick of cold butter and using a cheese grater to break it apart into smaller pieces.

You can grate butter the same way you grate cheese. Photo Credit: Julija Sapic/Shutterstock

These small pieces of butter are much easier to put on a warm dinner roll and let it melt with the heat of the bun. This also works very well if you are having a hard time melting butter when you are making your mashed potatoes, or anything else that requires you to have softened butter.

Reorganize your fridge before Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

28. Make More Space By Organizing Your Fridge

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, you should be reorganizing your fridge. You will need all the space you can get to hold the various dishes. And it will be necessary to refrigerate completed dishes while you’re making things in the oven. If you are making certain dishes a day ahead of schedule, it will be totally necessary to put them away overnight. You will also need to store a lot of the leftovers once the meal is over. The last thing you want is to have a stuffed fridge that you need to clean on Thanksgiving day.

Fridge organization boxes from Amazon. Credit: Amazon

If you are struggling to make enough room in your fridge, consider buying a set of clear plastic fridge organizers. These will help you categorize the items in your fridge. This makes cleaning out your fridge very simple, because once the items are in bins, it makes it very easy to take things in and out in just a few seconds.

This pumpkin is being used as an ice bucket for drinks. Photo Credit: stockcreations/Shutterstock

27. Get a Cooler

There are some people out there who have a second refrigerator or freezer in their basement or garage to accommodate enough food for large parties. Obviously, not everyone has the money or the space available to do that. Instead of a second fridge, tt would be a good idea for you to buy a cooler and fill it up with a bag of ice. We recommend getting a large plastic cooler, like the tried and true 48-quart Coleman.

Large coolers are versatile for Thanksgiving and beyond. Photo Credit: FootMade0525/Shutterstock

The cooler can be used to hold the turkey. You can also have an additional cooler for beverages, since the fridge should be kept separate for the chef to prepare all of their dishes. Obviously, this cooler will come in handy time and time again. It can be used for outdoor parties, going to the beach, camping, and so much more. Once you have one, you won’t regret it.

If you are having a large family gathering, make sure everyone has a place to sit. Photo Credit:

26. Make Sure You Have Enough Space For Seating

Most Thanksgiving dinners have a lot of people gathering at one table. This is why the holiday is usually held at the largest house in the family. However, sometimes people want to host Thanksgiving even when they live in an apartment or a very small home. If this is your situation, and you are hosting for the first time, make sure you have enough chairs to accommodate everyone. If you do not have anywhere to store extra chairs, you might want to consider buying foldable chairs that can easily be tucked away in your closet or garage.

For matching cutlery, you can find some at Dollar Tree. Photo Credit: Alexandru Nika/Shutterstock

You will also need to have enough plates and cutlery to serve everyone who is coming to the dinner. If you want everything to match, you may want to consider shopping at Dollar Tree. They have plates that look just as good as a set bought at department stores. When you look in the Dollar Tree website, you may even be able to order some plates ahead of time to have a gold rim around the edge. Alternatively, you could purposely use mix and match dinnerware. If you have several different sets of china you could give everyone a different piece from each set so that it makes up a full collection. When styled correctly, this can look like you actually did this on purpose.

Your kids will enjoy eating at their own table. Photo Credit: FamVeld/Shutterstock

25. Consider Getting a Fold-Out “Kid’s Table”

If you are having a huge family gathering that is tight on space, you may want to consider having the kids sit at a different table than the adults. This serves two purposes. First is that the kids are able to hang out with each other and talk one on one about topics that are interesting to them. This is especially great for cousins who do not get to see each other very often. It can also be an alcohol free table while the adults can enjoy having wine on their side of the dining area.

Kids have fun talking to one another and enjoying their holiday. Photo Credit:

Kids are also far less picky when it comes to how nice their place setting is. The fine china can go to the adults, while the kids have whatever else is left. It could be as easy as taking a fold out picnic table and putting a colorful tablecloth from Dollar Tree on top. Some people even buy paper tablecloths that the kids can color on. Having separate eating spaces is also great because if a kid makes a mess, it’s not a big deal, because the tablecloth will be thrown away afterwards. You can also get away with giving kids paper or plastic plates which will help cut down on the amount of dishes that you have to do.

Always remember to double check your ingredient list. Photo Credit: sergiophoto/Shutterstock

24. Double Check Your Grocery List

It is crucial to double and triple check your grocery list before you go shopping for your Thanksgiving dinner. This is going to be a very expensive meal, so you do not want to waste money by buying too much of an item that you were not actually going to use. Many stores are also closed on Thanksgiving day, so you may not have the option to run out for an ingredient that you forgot.

Cross off your items as you buy them in the store. Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, double check your cabinets to make sure that you have everything that is called for in the recipes. Confirm with your guests who promised to bring certain dishes to your party to make sure that they are still going to follow through. If necessary, ask a second person to look over the list with you and ask if they can think of anything that you forgot.

If you want to save a lot of time, consider using Walmart Grocery Pickup. Photo Credit: Oc Register

23. Schedule a Walmart Grocery Pickup

If you want to make your life a lot easier, then you might want to schedule a Walmart grocery pick up. This is a totally free service. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, all grocery stores are going to be swamped with people who are making last-minute purchases for their meal. This can take a couple hours of shopping in the store and standing in line. If you want to save a lot of time, go on the Walmart website and create an account for grocery pick up. You will also want to download the app on your phone.

When you arrive, you have to notify which spot are are parked in. Photo Credit: Walmart Canada

Once you make your grocery list, you can schedule a time for a pickup, and pay for everything with your credit card online. After your groceries are ready to be picked up, you will allow them to track your location on your phone to see how close you are to the Walmart. Once you arrive, they will usually walk right out with your groceries. However, keep in mind that it is very busy on the weekends, and is likely to be swamped the day before Thanksgiving. Plan ahead a few days, and go in the morning, if possible.

It can be a lot of fun to put on a Christmas movie on Thanksgiving Photo Credit: Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

22. Play a Holiday Movie for the Family

There is a lot of downtime on Thanksgiving while your guests are waiting for the meal to be prepared. We already suggested providing games and crafts for kids, but the adults need some entertainment as well. Many people like to watch the Thanksgiving football game on the television. But if your family is not into sports, it may be a great idea to put on a holiday movie.

Your family and friends will enjoy browsing for movies. Photo Credit: Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

Most consider Thanksgiving to be the first day where it is acceptable to begin playing Christmas music and getting excited for the holidays. So it only makes sense to put on one of your favorite holiday movies. Or, you could choose a classic that you know your family loves to watch every year. Lastly, you could give everyone free rein to use your Netflix account. If you do not already have one, you may want to consider getting a smart TV. This way, everyone in your family will have access to all of your streaming subscriptions at the touch of a button.

Save time by cleaning your kitchen as you go. Photo Credit: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock

21. Clean as You Go

If there is any downside to Thanksgiving, it is the cleanup that happens afterwards. With so many pots, pans, and tools that are being used in the kitchen, there is more to clean than a normal day. If you want to make your life significantly less stressful, you should clean as you go. This is exactly what professional chefs do on a daily basis. Instead of letting things pile up and pushing them to the side, start cleaning while you are cooking.

You can add dirty dishes to the dishwasher as you go. Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Most of the time, you were waiting at least 5 to 10 minutes in between things cooking on the stove or in the oven. Use this time wisely to wipe down the countertops, clean items that must be washed by hand, and if you have not already done so, switch the dishwasher. Sure this sounds like a lot of work. Just think about all of the calories you were about to consume with this meal. The exercise you get from standing and cleaning helps to counter balance it a bit.

Mise en place is a method of putting all ingredients into their place. Photo Credit: Natalia Ruedisueli/Shutterstock

20. Use the “Mise En Place” Method

“Mise en Place” is a French culinary term that means “putting in place”, and it is standard procedure with all professional chefs. It is the process of getting small bowls filled with the ingredients necessary for a recipe. This way, when you are ready to make the dish, all of your ingredients are perfectly organized on the table in front of you. It is a huge time-saver, and you won’t be frantically opening and closing your cabinets and fridge while you look for ingredients.

Mise en place can help you get your cooking done faster. Photo Credit: Sara Paola Weller/Shutterstock

If you do not already have them, consider buying a set of mise en place bowls. While it is not totally necessary to use these exact bowls, it makes the process a lot easier. This is also perfect if you are setting up a station for a friend to make something for you. Remember when we mentioned delegating tasks to others? If you’re going to do that, you might want to set up a mis en place for them before they arrive.

Cushioned kitchen mats will make your life a lot easier. Credit: Amazon

19. Get a Comfortable Kitchen Mat (or Two)

Never underestimate how much your feet are going to hurt after cooking for several hours. If you do not already have one, you should consider buying a cushioned kitchen mat. You can buy one online, but they are also usually available in cute designs at places like Home Goods. In a perfect world, you should have one at your sink to stand on while you are doing dishes, and another at the stove.

Gel insoles will help ease the pain of standing for a long time. Photo Credit:

Alternatively, you could buy some gel insoles to go inside of your shoes. This is a lot cheaper than buying new kitchen mats, and you can use them anywhere. They are also great if you know that you are going to walk around a city or go on a long hike. If you have a particularly difficult time standing or walking for a long time, though, you may want to invest in both. Also make sure you have comfortable sneakers, too.

Don’t worry about making appetizers too fancy on Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: kuvona/Shutterstock

18. Don’t Stress Over Appetizers

Eating before the Thanksgiving dinner is complete can sometimes be a tricky thing. Everyone wants to save room for dinner, because they know that they will be stuffed. However, they may be waiting hours for the food to be ready. And some people might decide to skip lunch. This is why it is usually expected to have some kind of appetizers ready for your guests.

Appetizers could he as simple as crackers and dip. Photo Credit: Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock

Some people make the mistake of believing that they need to make really fancy appetizers that are special for Thanksgiving. However, this just adds to the stress of everything else you have to accomplish in a day. Appetizers could be as simple as buying a pre-made appetizer tray of vegetables and dip at Walmart, or buying a box of Ritz crackers and cutting up some cheese.

Expect to make mistakes. It’s going to be okay. Photo Credit: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

17. Mentally Prepare Yourself for Mistakes

If this is your first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you might be afraid of making a mistake. Don’t worry! Almost everyone makes a mistake, especially if they are new to cooking. Just be prepared for something to happen. You may want to have some extra items in case others get burned.

There is no use crying over spilled milk. Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

And if something does go wrong, don’t panic. Most problems can be solved with a little tweaking. Your guests will most likely be understanding, especially if it is your first time. In the worst case scenario, you could always order Chinese food.

Adding onions, celery, and spices to box stuffing makes it taste even better. Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker /Shutterstock

16. Jazz Up Store-Bought Items With Additional Ingredients

When most people buy store-bought food they assume that they should just make it exactly as it says on the instructions behind the box. However, you can jazz up some of your store-bought ingredients with additional and items around your kitchen. For example, Stove Top Stuffing usually instructs you to just use water and melted butter. But you can choose to add some chopped celery, onions, and even sausage to make the stuffing taste even better.

Pumpkin soup could be made by jazzing up store bought products. Photo Credit: NatalyaBond/Shutterstock

You can do this with almost any type of plain boxed ingredients. If you’re not sure what to add to make something taste better, search on Google about hacks to making something taste more like it was homemade.

Encourage your friends to “BYOB” for Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Photonell_DD2017/Shutterstock

15. Stock a Bar Cart, or Invite Everyone to “BYOB”

When you are throwing a party for a lot of people, alcohol can be expensive. Before you know it, you will be spending over $100 at the liquor store. One of the easiest ways to avoid spending a lot of money is to invite your guests to “BYOB”.

You guests will enjoy their appetizers and wine while they wait. Photo Credit: Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

Alternately, if you have a healthy liquor collection at home, you can place everything out on a bar cart. There can also be a cooler filled with ice if you have bottles or cans of beer. Tell your guests to feel free to take what they like, because hosts will not have time to make cocktails for everyone!

Remember to empty the dishwasher before you start cooking. Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

14. Empty Your Dishwasher Before Dinner Get Started

Cleaning up is going to be very difficult after Thanksgiving is over. This is especially true for dishes. One huge life hack to getting this done quickly is to empty the dishwasher before your guests arrive. Then, as you are cooking, start to load the dishwasher with your pots and pans that you are done using. Once it is full, you will want to start a load of dishes before dinner gets started.

Load the dishwasher as you go. Photo Credit: pikselstock/Shutterstock

Then, by the time you are done eating, everyone will be ready to take their plates to be cleaned. Your pots and pans should be done by then, and you can quickly unload and place the plates into the dishwasher, instead of letting massive piles sit in the sink.

Buffet style can be great for Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

13. Lay Out Your Food Buffet Style

When we think of Thanksgiving, a lot of people imagine a family style meal with all of the bowls on the table. However, if you have a lot of guests, it can be cumbersome to constantly ask someone to pass the potatoes. It can also disrupt someone’s enjoyment of the meal if there are things constantly being passed back and forth over their plate. If you want to make things easier on everyone, consider having a buffet-style meal.

Laying out the food for everyone to dig in will make things easy. Photo Credit: CCat82/Shutterstock

This works perfectly if you have both a kitchen and dining room table. As the food is done, you can set up the buffet on the kitchen table, and have the main sitting area set up in the dining room. Once everyone is ready to eat, they can refill their plates and walk back to the dining room.

After Thanksgiving is over, you will have a ton of food left to give away. Photo Credit: P Maxwell Photography/Shutterstock

12. Prepare to Give Away Leftovers

When Thanksgiving is over oh, it is more than likely that you were going to have a ton of leftovers. Unless you have a big family, there is probably no way that you guys are going to eat everything once the party is over. This is why it would be a good idea to give away some of the leftovers to your friends and family.

You may want to stock up on food containers to give away to friends. Photo Credit: Stanislav71/Shutterstock

If you do not already have extra food containers on hand, they are very affordable at Dollar Tree. Encourage your friends to keep the containers, since they were so cheap anyway. It might also be a good opportunity for you to get rid of any extra containers you had in your cabinets, but no longer feel a need to keep.

You might want to offer several different dessert options. Photo Credit: Valentina_G/Shutterstock

11. Offer Multiple Dessert Options

Pumpkin pie is the classic Thanksgiving dessert in most people’s minds. However you should not assume that everyone is in love with it. As a host, you should try to give some other dessert options for your guests.

Pumpkin and apple pie are traditional Thanksgiving desserts. Photo Credit: Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Consider also providing an apple pie, brownies, or chocolate chip cookies. This might also be a good opportunity for you to ask your friends and family to bring their favorite dessert with them. Don’t forget to stock up on coffee, because some of your friends will need a cup before a long drive home!

Remember to call your family on Zoom or Skype. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Celebrate Virtually With Family Who Can’t Make It

Recently, the world has gone through a huge change where we can no longer see our family and friends as easily as we once did. This is especially true if you have relatives who live far away. If you have your immediate family or a close-knit group in your bubble celebrating together, take some time to call your loved ones. Everyone can get in on a gallery call on Zoom, so it’s still possible to see everyone’s faces. Check in with family and friends to make sure they aren’t alone.

Call your friends who are going to spend Thanksgiving alone. Credit: Shutterstock

Remember that this separation is only temporary. During the Thanksgiving of 2020, so many people broke the rules so that they can spend the holidays together in person, and it ended in disaster. So please try to make the best of the situation by celebrating online.

Getting tested will help keep your family safe. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Get Tested so Everyone is Safe

If you are having family and friends come over for Thanksgiving dinner, make sure that everyone has been tested for the virus before they arrived. Keep in mind that it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to show up in someone. They could unknowingly have the virus without even realizing it. So never assume that just because everyone is feeling fine that they truly are.

Getting tested will protect your parents and grandparents. Credit: Shutterstock

If it is possible, the best course of action would be to have everyone stay in isolation for 2 weeks leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, since people still have to go to work and live their daily lives, it might not be possible for them to isolate before they go to dinner. If this is the case, you might want to consider leaving those people out of the dinner completely. Remember that no one should take this personally. It is all about keeping everyone safe.

These friends are having a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner outside. Credit: Shutterstock

8. If Weather Permits, Have the Meal Outdoors

Depending on where you live, it may be possible for you to have Thanksgiving lunch or dinner outdoors. This would be a much better option if you’re planning to host someone for dinner, since they would be sitting in the open air. If you invest in a long picnic table, this can double for outdoor parties that you have in the future, too.

A gorgeous outdoor Thanksgiving feast. Credit: Shutterstock

Even if you live in a warmer climate, chances are that it will still be cold. Consider buying or renting an outdoor heater. Or, give them blankets so that they can stay warm. And if you have a fire pit, consider lighting it up near the dinner table so that there is warmth radiating towards everyone while they eat.

This Thanksgiving is small, but beautiful. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Focus on What You Can Do, Rather Than What You Can’t

This Thanksgiving, you might not be able to do everything that you were able to do in the past. You might not be able to buy as much food as you want, or see the family and friends that you usually visit. This can be really difficult. But we’re all in this together. When you feel a sense of lack and loss, it’s really difficult to say happy. So instead of focusing on the past and all of the things that you can’t do anymore, focus on the things that you can do, instead.

I sincerely hope you can have your parents at Thanksgiving soon. Credit: Shutterstock

After all, Thanksgiving is about gratitude! Think about the true meaning of the holiday. If you have a roof over your head and food to eat at all, that’s something to be grateful for. Even if you’re feeling very depressed over the circumstances, try to build a ladder. Focus on one thing you’re grateful for, and then go on to the next. Keep climbing that mental ladder until you can start to feel happy again.

Take pictures of your Thanksgiving dinner to capture the memories. Credit: Shutterstock

6. Capture the Memories

Even if you have a small crowd with you during Thanksgiving, still take time to capture the memories. Take pictures of the group you have together, as well as the meal that you made. It doesn’t matter if it’s more modest than normal. Someday, we will all look back at this and remember how we managed to make it through the hard times. You’re probably going to be so proud of yourself for the way you handled making it work.

Remember to capture the memories. Credit: Shutterstock

It doesn’t matter if you’re alone, or if you have a hundred people with you on Thanksgiving. The point of a holiday is that you should remain grateful, and try to make the best of it. So try to cheer up and take some photos of your meal. Post it on Instagram, and interact with your friends and family on social media.

This front door is decorated with natural decorations. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Decorate the House for the Occasion

Whether you’re having a huge party or just keeping it intimate, it still appropriate to decorate for Thanksgiving. When you decorate for a holiday, it makes everything feel more festive and joyful. Even if you’re on a small budget, Dollar Tree has plenty of decorations for every holiday Under the sun. Just make sure you go there at least a month ahead of time in order to get some decorations for Thanksgiving. Holidays have been selling out quickly since more people are decorating their homes during lockdown.

Have the kids help you make cute turkey decorations. Credit: Shutterstock

The great thing about Thanksgiving is that a lot of these decorations can be accomplished using natural materials. Even if the only things you purchased were hay bales, pumpkins, and corn stalks from your local farm, that would be enough for you to have amazing fall decorations in front of your house. Using autumnal decorations like this also makes a lot of sense because it will carry over throughout the rest of the Fall.

Your kids will probably get excited to help you cook for Thanksgiving. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Ask Your Kids For Help With Cooking

Instead of doing all of the cooking and cleaning by yourself, use Thanksgiving hours of opportunity to teach your kids how to cook. It doesn’t matter if they’re still too young to do any of the heavy lifting. Find a task that they are able to do, and get them involved in the process.

Thanksgiving can be a great opportunity to teach your children basic cooking skills. Credit: Shutterstock

Remember that this is all part of a teaching experience. When I was young, my mom always made my brothers and I peel the potatoes and carrots. This was easy enough for us to do is kids without getting hurt, and it genuinely helped save her time.

These beautiful cookies deserve their own photoshoot. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Make Instagram-Worthy Dessert

Even if you’re not a master chef, it’s still relatively easy for most people to make dessert. There are so many cute dessert ideas on Instagram that you and your kids can make together. Even if it’s as simple as chocolate covered pretzels shaped like turkeys, that is still something to celebrate. Take some pictures and post it on social media to show to your friends.

These pretzel rod turkeys are easy to make. Credit: Shutterstock

Don’t feel embarrassed. Everyone loves to see a cheerful baking experiment, even if it’s a little bit messy. Think about the show “Naild It” that is all about making disasters. Sometimes, making other people laugh is the key to opening up your own heart to joy and laughter.

Even if the table is small, make it beautiful. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

Depending on your situation, you might not be able to afford as much food for Thanksgiving this year. Even if you have fewer dishes or a smaller turkey, you can still focus on making them as delicious as possible. Consider pulling out an old family recipe, or call to ask your parents how they make certain dishes that you loved growing up.

Even if it’s just your immediate family, Thanksgiving is still a lot of fun. Credit: Shutterstock

Same goes with people. You might have a fraction of the number of people you normally invite over for Thanksgiving. But instead of feeling down in the dumps, look at it as an opportunity for you to spend more quality time with the people who are in your inner circle.

Reach out to members of your community to see if there is anything you can do to help. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Check to See if You Can Help Your Community

Sadly, there are a lot of people out there with children who will go hungry on Thanksgiving. If you have the financial means to do so, consider donating to your local food bank. Also try to find extra winter coats and blankets that you can give to the homeless.

Volunteers helping at a food bank during the week of Thanksgiving 2020. Credit: Shutterstock

For almost 10 years, I volunteered at a community project where we served Thanksgiving dinner to people who were homeless, or lived in assisted living facilities where they didn’t have families to spend the holiday with. During the pandemic, we could sign we no longer have this event. But if you’re reading this article at a time where it’s possible for you to volunteer, consider doing so. However, I was only able to do this in the early morning for the Thanksgiving lunch that we served, and then rush home to finish dinner for my own family. It was always a very tiring day, but I always filled my heart with love and gratitude.