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Hosting Thanksgiving? Don't Freak Out.

If you’ve offered to host Thanksgiving this year (or you do it every year) I have a few tips. We’ve hosted our family for years and there are a few things we’ve found make the day full of memories instead of full of stress. I remember one year, we bought a car on the same day we were hosting Thanksgiving. I don't recommend that. We celebrated on a Saturday and thought we'd just go peek at a car before our guests arrived. I was thrilled to have a new car, but that day probably could have been less stressful if we'd just hosted Thanksgiving. So, if you're not planning to buy a car, what other things are there to stress about?


Practically speaking, you don’t want your guests to be grossed out, so your house should be clean. You define what that means to you. For some, that means wiping things down and making sure the floors are vacuumed. Others will be using a toothbrush on the ceiling fan. No matter the level of clean you require, I suggest you do it a few days in advance. Then, as you prep, you only have to do quick tidy. I have a hard time focusing on food prep in a cluttered, messy house. Start with a clean slate.


Have everyone in your family pitch in with cleaning and food prep. But also, ask your guests to bring a side dish. Sometimes, we get it in our heads that hosing means making all the food. That’s crazy. Also, if people are going somewhere for a feast, they will want to bring something. If you know Aunt Susie makes really good pie, ask her to bring it. With a little planning, you can get away with making just the turkey.

Have plenty of drinks.

If there’s something one of us is running store for last minute, it’s drinks. We usually forget to get them on the first run. Know what your family likes to drink and have it on hand. We usually get a few kinds of sodas, juice for the kids, a bottle of wine (only a couple people drink it), and coffee for desserts. If we have plenty of beverages, my family tends to stick around longer and play games. If that’s not your goal, don’t get drinks.

Watch the parade.

We always have the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on while we’re making food. It’s so much fun to see the broadway casts and the marching bands and balloons. The parade is perfect background noise for cooking. And when the dog show comes on, we know our guests will be arriving soon.


If you can work some exercise into the day, you’ll be glad you did. It can feel like too much if you’re hosting, but trust me. A brisk walk or run will relieve stress and put you in much better spirits to greet your guests. We also take a walk after dinner. The fresh air does just as much for me as the exercise.

Chill out

Seriously, if you’re afraid this event is threatening your marriage, you need to calm down. If you’re concerned that your mother-in-law is going to notice the presence dirty clothes in your kids’ hamper upstairs in their rooms, that’s her problem. Sure you want your guests to be comfortable, so make sure your house isn’t covered in dog hair. But remember if you’re super stressed about everything, your guests can’t be comfortable. Come on. We’ve all been to parties like that -the house is too perfect and you’re just waiting for your kid to spill grape juice on their pristine white carpet. Do the prep, but then chill out. Trust me, everyone will thank you.

Links I love:

If this is your first time hosting, it’s also a great time to start some new traditions. Here are some ideas.

Want more than pumpkin pie? Here are some other dessert ideas.


Thanksgiving is about family, good food, and being grateful for all of God's blessings. Don't get caught up in the other stuff of the day. Do some preparation and then just enjoy it. Laugh and eat and be grateful for another year together.




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