In the early 2000s, we lived right down the street from my mother-in-law’s house, and the whole family would gather at her place for a big family Thanksgiving…until 2010 when my mother-in-law was out of the country for the holiday. I took a deep breath and told everyone to still come! I decided I would host Thanksgiving.
*picture me in superhero stance, wind blowing my cape*
Luckily I didn’t have to do it all myself. Each family brought part of the dinner, either ready-made or to-be-made at one house or the other, and one family even got a free turkey through work, so they brought and cooked the turkey at my house!
If you’ve been tasked with hosting Thanksgiving, take a deep breath and know that you are in the right place. I’m going to give you some tips and provide you with every resource you’ll need, from placecards to pies!
How to Host Thanksgiving
Below you’ll find absolutely every resource you need to host an amazing Thanksgiving, whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time or the 21st! I’m going to share resources for planning and organizing, top recipes for every dish from turkey to cranberry sauce, décor ideas, party games, activities for the kids, and so much more!
First some tips.
1. RELAX YOUR STANDARDS
If, at the end of the day, everyone has had some turkey and pie (or whatever you choose to serve!), you’ve succeeded. The table does not have to look picture perfect (but can, with a few simple touches- see below!), every single side dish does not have to be a winner, and if some of the relatives don’t get along, well that’s on them! Short of throwing a fit and overturning the dinner table, give yourself grace and know that you’ve got this!
You could do it all on your own, but you don’t need to! If you’re welcoming others into your home for the holiday, you can also invite them to bring a dish! Most people will be thrilled to bring something, even if it’s just because they are so happy they aren’t hosting at their place. Ask what they’d like to bring if you want, or just assign it. If they need help with their assigned recipe, just send them the recipe link below!
The more prepared you are, the less stressed you’ll be! Check out some of the organizing resources below and start preparing several weeks in advance. You may even want an hour-by-hour schedule for the big day itself, to ensure that all the food is ready and everyone is at the table at the same time.
4. REWARD YOURSELF
Planning a big event, especially when the main focus is on an amazing meal, isn’t easy! My recommendation: get a face mask and a bath bomb ahead of time and reward yourself after your successful event with a hot bath and some relaxation time!
Now on to the resources!
The Ultimate Thanksgiving Resource List
I’m linking out to a lot of sites both to share the love and because I’m not an expert at these things. Luckily other people are! Enjoy the beautiful Thanksgiving décor ideas, easy tablescapes, kids activities, party games, crafts, and of course all the Thanksgiving food!
A big day requires planning ahead of time! Plus, when you’re preparing a big meal, you may even need an hour by hour schedule so that everything comes out ready to eat at the same time.
- These free Thanksgiving planner printables will go a long way in being prepared!
- This is the first post in a series of getting ready for Thanksgiving, starting at five weeks out.
- Here are some excellent tips for how you can involve eager young chefs, with tips on how kids can help at different ages.
- These are some great tips for an organized Thanksgiving.
These posts all include different versions of a Thanksgiving countdown, where they tell you what to do in the weeks and days leading up to the event:
- Get Organized for Thanksgiving Checklist
- Thanksgiving Countdown Planner
- How to Plan & Organize Your Thanksgiving Dinner
Now that you’re organized, let’s decorate!
Thanksgiving Decorations & Crafts
There are so many clever and adorable ideas out there- this is just a few of my favorites that I found! There are so many cute Thanksgiving decorations and craft ideas to be found with just a few minutes of Pinterest surfing.
- Painted Wood Slice Pumpkins
- Give Me All The Turkey Free Thanksgiving Printable
- Turkey Ornaments
- Thankful Handprint Pumpkin
- Reversible Pumpkin Decor
- Pumpkin Pie Thanksgiving Garland
- Happy Harvest Free Thanksgiving Printable
- Dollar Store Pumpkin Makeover
- Decorate Plain White Candles
And if you have a Silhouette or Cricut machine and are extra crafty, check out these projects:
Crafts for the Kids
Kids love to craft too! These Thanksgiving crafts are especially fun to do with little ones:
- Pumpkin Pie Kids Craft
- Potato Masher Turkey Craft
- Kids Fall Wreath Craft
- DIY Pine Cone Turkeys
- Potato Masher Corn Craft
- Family Handprint Turkey
Thanksgiving Dinner Table
Let’s face it, your Thanksgiving dinner table should mostly be covered in food! But it’s always nice to make the table look a little dressed up and classy, so here are some great ideas and examples of how you can elevate your Thanksgiving dinner table experience!
- Easy Thanksgiving Tablescape
- Thanksgiving Burlap Silverware Holder
- DIY Pumpkin Flower Arrangement
- DIY Turkey Thanksgiving Napkins
- Easy Pumpkin Centerpiece
- Tablescape with Printable Thankful Tag
- Modern Rustic Thanksgiving Tablescape
- Thanksgiving Table Decorations & Place Settings
- Thanksgiving Succulent Centerpiece
Creative Place Cards
Can’t have a big Thanksgiving dinner without place cards! Well, you could, but would you want to??
- Glitter Top Pumpkin Place Cards
- Family Photo Place Cards
- Mason Jar Place Cards
- Free Printable Thanksgiving Place Cards
- Easy to Make Folded Fan Place Cards
- Fall Place Setting with Printable
Kids Thanksgiving Activities
It’s really smart to have fun, on-theme activities ready to keep little ones busy while the meal is being prepared. Check out these awesome ideas, including coloring pages, word searches, quiet games, and cookie decorating!
- Thanksgiving Kids Table Printables
- Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies
- Let’s Eat Thanksgiving Coloring Page
- Printable Thanksgiving Word Searches
- Thanksgiving Letter Sorting
- Free Printable Thanksgiving Activities
- Thanksgiving I Spy Printable
- Pilgrim Hat Cookies
- Turkey Placemat Printable
Fun Thanksgiving Party Games
These fun Thanksgiving party games will keep everyone entertained before or after dinner!
- Stuff the Turkey Game
- Thanksgiving Riddle Treasure Hunt
- Thanksgiving Bingo
- Thanksgiving Charades
- Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
- Turkey Leg Ring Toss
Decorations and activities are nice, but it’s time to get serious. We all know what we’re here for…the Thanksgiving food! Below you’ll find recipes for every Thanksgiving dish, instructions on cooking the turkey in different ways, drink and dessert ideas, instant pot recipes, and even full menu plans done for you! Let’s get to it!
Thanksgiving Menu Plans
If you want to avoid sifting through hundreds of recipe options on the internet, this section is for you!
Wendy put together a solid Thanksgiving dinner menu for you with everything you need for a delicious meal.
At Cook’s Illustrated you’ll find a variety of dinner menu options, from Classic Thanksgiving Menu to A Southern Thanksgiving and (my favorite) Thanksgiving for Beginners.
Country Living also offers several Thanksgiving dinner menu ideas, including Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Menu and Vegan Thanksgiving Menu!
I don’t really have a category for this last one, but here is a really cute Thanksgiving breakfast idea: Turkey Pancakes!
Thanksgiving Appetizer Ideas
Even though the big event is the dinner, everyone loves to have snacks around while you’re getting everything ready and enjoying one another’s company. At my house, these were pretty simple: chips and dip, cheese and crackers, and my mom’s crockpot meatballs! Here are some yummy ideas you might want to include in your Thanksgiving appetizer options:
- Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
- Tangy Cranberry Meatballs
- Pumpkin Hummus
- Crock Pot Bacon Wrapped Cocktail Weenies
- Cheese Platter Ideas
- Cheesy Spinach Crescents
- Cheesy Pull Apart Bread
- Thanksgiving Deviled Eggs
- Chili Cheese Dip Recipe
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes
Time to cook the big bird! Here are a few different ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey:
- How to Roast a Turkey
- Applewood Smoked Turkey
- How to Cook a Turkey – Brown Bag Method
- Herb Roasted Turkey
- How to Cook a Moist Turkey
Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Nothing’s better than piling your plate sky high on Thanksgiving! Here are some side dish recipes to fill your table:
- Easy Gravy Recipe
- Mashed Potatoes
- Cornbread Sage and Onion Stuffing
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Crock Pot Corn Casserole
- Easy Ambrosia Recipe
- Crock Pot Glazed Carrots
- Potato Rolls
- Slow Cooker Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
- Frozen Cranberry Salad
Thanksgiving Instant Pot Recipes
I know some of you out there have a special love for your Instant Pot, so here are some alternative recipes using the Instant Pot or another pressure cooker!
- Easy Instant Pot Turkey
- Instant Pot Stuffing
- Easy Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Crusty Instant Pot Sourdough Bread
- Instant Pot Sweet Potato Casserole
- Instant Pot Green Bean Casserole
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash
- Pressure Cooker Creamed Corn
- Instant Pot Blackberry-Peach Cobbler
When we have Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, my sister-in-law makes the most amazing Crock Pot cider. Mmm! Gotta top off all that delicious food with some good drinks!
- Slow Cooker Apple Cider
- Thanksgiving Party Punch
- Fall Punch
- Crock Pot Cranberry Cider
- Pumpkin Punch Recipe
- Apple Cider Recipes
You might need to take a break after the main meal, but you can’t forget about dessert! This section is divided into two: pies and non-pies. Here are all the sweet, clever, non-pie Thanksgiving desserts:
- Cranberry Apple Pie Braid
- Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies
- Acorn Donut Holes
- Caramel Apple Recipes
- Chocolate Acorns
- DIY Indian Corn Cakes
- Chocolate Pumpkin Fudge
- Candy Pretzel Turkey Bites
- Rice Krispies Turkey Legs
Thanksgiving Pie Recipes
Here we are, at the best way to end a busy Thanksgiving day- settling down on the couch with a piece of delicious pie! Deep sigh of relief- you did it!
- Frozen Peanut Butter Pie
- Homemade Caramel Apple Pie
- Amazing Pumpkin Pie
- French Silk Tart
- Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie
- No Bake Pink Lemonade Pie
- Dutch Apple Pie
- Best Key Lime Pie
- Bourbon Pecan Pie
Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes
Thanksgiving leftovers are almost as great as the main meal! If you hosted, you’ll probably end up with a fridge full of food to snack on into the weekend! Here are some ideas of what you can do with that leftover turkey!
- Turkey Enchiladas
- Roasted Turkey, Cranberry, and Brie Grilled Cheese
- Turkey Chili
- Turkey Tetrazzini
- Crock Pot Three Bean Turkey Soup
- Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Turkey Sliders
I think that covers it all! If I’ve missed anything else useful, please let me know so I can add a section or a link!
I hope this resource helps you to have the best Thanksgiving ever, and hey if anything goes wrong, you can just shop it out on Black Friday. ;)