Are you planning to host a Thanksgiving dinner this year? If so, you might be feeling overwhelmed by how you’re going to get it all done, but we believe proper preparation is key! Getting your home and your meal planning complete in advance will help you stress less and enjoy Thanksgiving more. Whether you’re hosting a dinner for the first time or just looking for a better way to plan, our Thanksgiving dinner tips will help you create a fabulous holiday experience.

Organize Your Guest List

Before you plan a menu or start getting your home ready for the big day, start by organizing your guest list. How many people will be attending dinner? Are there any dietary restrictions? If you’re unsure, check with your guests before you start planning.

Prep Your Thanksgiving Table & Decorations

Once you know how many people you’ll be expecting, it’s time to take inventory of what you have. Do you have enough tables, chairs, table linens, glassware, and place settings? Create a list of any items you’ll need to serve the meal. Taking stock of what you have will help you avoid the faux pas of coming up short on flatware last minute!

Next, let’s talk decorations. Every Thanksgiving table needs a centerpiece. What will yours be? At Joy Design + Build, we’ve been in obsessing over floral seasonal centerpieces like this one.

Thanksgiving table decorations
Thanksgiving tablescape

Plan Your Menu

With the guest list ready and any dietary restrictions noted, your next step is to plan your menu. With all your dishes outlined, you can then create a cooking schedule that will ensure your meal comes out on time. This is also the time to create your shopping list. When you’re equipped with both the schedule and your list, you’ve already knocked out a huge portion of the planning work.

Thanksgiving dinner menu
Thanksgiving dinner menu planning

One Week to Thanksgiving

The week of Thanksgiving is a busy one for the holiday host. Fortunately, with all your advance planning, this week doesn’t have to be chaotic. Start off by deep cleaning your entertaining spaces and guest bathrooms. We highly recommend scheduling a professional cleaning for this event. Schedule this well before the week of Thanksgiving to be sure you’re preferred cleaning company can fit you into their schedule. Doing this in advance will save you time and give you peace of mind.

Once your space has been prepped, it’s time to decorate. You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving Day to put out your decorations, we recommend the opposite. About one week before Thanksgiving, start placing decorations throughout your home.

This is also the time to grab your list and go grocery shopping. Don’t wait until the last minute to stock up on supplies. Many stores run out of popular holiday items. Purchasing in advance will help you avoid running to the store last minute to pick up the cardamom.

Holiday ready home
Home ready for the holidays

Four Days to Thanksgiving

You have your food, you have your decorations ready, but have you stocked your liquor cabinet? Four days prior to Thanksgiving is a great time to think about what drinks you’ll be serving and if you need to buy any additional supplies.

It’s also the time to create your activities plan. Will there be children coming? Get festive by creating Thanksgiving turkeys — or better yet, let the children design their own! Simple coloring stations, board games, and cards will always entertain the little ones.

holiday cocktails
Thanksgiving at home

Two Days to Thanksgiving

Two days before the big day is the time to prep and tackle any ingredients you can in advance. Clean and peel all vegetables and cool them two days before thanksgiving (keeping them in water can keep them from browning).

Desserts are also an easy item to make before Thanksgiving. Get a head start by baking two days before your dinner party.

When the big turkey day arrives, you’ll be ready to host!

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